Sunday, December 2, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 23 ...

     For our second entry in the K.A.C., we salute film and television composer Milton DeLugg on this, his centennial birthday. 

     Mostly known for his television compositions, DeLugg had a gift for the bizarre and the kitschy (which is why he fits so perfectly here). As Wikipedia states: "For decades, Delugg was NBC's musical director. In 1966, he was briefly musical director of The Tonight Show Band during the tenure of Johnny Carson.
Delugg enjoyed a long association with Chuck Barris, beginning as arranger of the original theme to The Newlywed Game in 1966. From 1976 to 1980, he was musical director of The Gong Show (appearing with his "Band With a Thug"). Delugg often appeared on the show as a comic foil, in the characters of bad joke teller Naso Literatus and philosopher Old Drool. Delugg's venerable "Hoop Dee Doo" became a fixture on The Gong Show, and was used whenever the contest winner was chosen.
Delugg also wrote the theme music for other Barris projects including The $1.98 Beauty Show, Camouflage (where, in a throwback to an earlier era of game shows, the music was actually performed live by Delugg and his band), Leave It to the Women, Three's a Crowd, and The New Treasure Hunt. He also recorded new versions of the theme songs to the 1970s versions of The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, as well as providing the themes for their 1980s revivals. Delugg and sidemen Mark Stevens, Billy Neale, and Ray Neapolitan appeared in Barris's The Gong Show Movie (1980) as The Hollywood Cowboys.
Delugg remained active as musical director of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through 2013, and made one final, on-camera appearance during the 2014 parade." 

     His film composing career was equally eclectic, specializing in soundtracks for American releases of German and Japanese animated children's films, such as Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon (Japanese, 1965), which I saw at a children's matinee back in the day ... mind-numbing doesn't BEGIN to do this picture justice, and DeLugg's saccharine tunes just made the experience more 'memorable' ... 

     Other titles from the same time period included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Germany, 1955), Cinderella (Germany, 1955), Sleeping Beauty (Germany, 1955) and Puss in Boots (Germany, 1955) - a Very Busy Year!

     But the film we're MOST interested in and the reason we're celebrating him comes from 1964, the one, the ONLY perennial holiday favorite for discerning children and adults alike (of a certain type), SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS! 

     The title alone should warn you off if you're not familiar with it. The film has had a MUCH longer shelf life than it ever deserved, thanks to the fact that the young Girl Martian (named Girmar = 'Girl Martian' - sigh - and before you ask, yes, she has a brother named Bomar = 'Boy Martian' ... that's about how intellectual the script gets!) was played by future starlet Pia Zadora!

     The film is an annual rite of passage for unfortunates who've never seen it before, livened up by commentary via MST3K (which is the BEST way to see this). It also brings us back to Milton, who contrived the insidious earwig main theme for this monstrosity, entitled "Hooray For Santa Claus"! How bad could it be, you ask? Well, feed a children's chorus an overdose of SweetTarts and other sugary goodness, give them the simplest of lyrics to mangle and make DAMN SURE they can't pronounce the word SANTA and turn it into 'SANTY' over and over and over again ... and you get the idea! But far be it from me to let the less fortunate of you not hear this classic ... just click on the link below and watch the end scene and end credits of the film (the chubbby-cheeked smiler on the bottom left of your screen is young Pia, BTW) - make sure you have your speakers up LOUD for the full experience! 


     But what about the PLOT, you say? For those of you who can't bear to sit through the film but STILL want the experience, we have you covered, as well! I've written before about these films from my misbegotten youth and the occasional tie-ins that you'd find in the movie theatre lobby - namely, the Dell or Gold Key comic versions of the film! Well, never one to miss a way of getting MORE money from the young tykes (or their parents), this film had a Dell tie-in, as well (see picture at right). The best part: Mike at the awesomely appropriately named website The Wonderful World of Stupid! has scanned the ENTIRE comic for you to enjoy!  And just like the FILM that makes no sense, some of the pages of the comic are scanned out of order, so THEY make no sense either! ENJOY !!!


     So a BIG Thank You to Milton DeLugg for leaving us this magnum opus to cheer us up at this time every year. Every composer hopes to be remembered for one song during their career; for us here at Conjure Cinema, we'll always remember (no matter HOW MUCH we try and forget it!) 'Hooray For Santy Claus!'  (And a tip of the Elf Hat to long time CC fan Ande Lyon for the centennial tip!)

      Coming Tomorrow: We challenged ourselves to come up with the LEAST LIKELIEST show to have a Christmas Celebration attached to it ... and you'll be AMAZED at what we found! Place your bets what it is!

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