Sunday, December 9, 2012

#25, Alias Micky Dolenz

"I was a Has Been. Now I'm an Am-Is!"

First aired: March 6, 1967

Premise: Micky looks just like a gangster, "Babyface".  The bad guys mistake him for the gangster. The cops want him to impersonate the gangster to catch the rest of the gang.  Hilarity ensues.

Teaser: Micky is parking the Monkeemobile when a member of Babyface's gang spots him.  He gets beat up.

Mike convinces him to go to the police & yet not help them when they suggest he stand in for the killer.  The episode is a light version of the cop show, Dragnet, without the classic narration.

Micky leaves and there is the standard drive-by shooting scene (See Jimmy Cagney movies of the 1930's)  Note speeded-up sequence (allusion to silent movie comedy), in which he runs back into the police station, terrified and ready to help.  As Mike leaves the police station with his guitar case, everyone ducks b/c in the Hollywood Chicago gangster idiom of the 1930's, the instrument cases all held tommy guns. (Gun invented by some guy named Thompson, used in WW1 & during Prohibition. Classic image of what Al Capone's guys would carry).

In the jail cell scene, note that the bars of the jail never actually appear.  A clever lighting technique is used,  called a GOBO ("Go Between"/"GOes Before Optics"), which is a small round silver cutout which gives the illusion of a certain shadow. In this case, jail bars.

Ruby his girlfriend, recognizes him.  "Aren't you gonna kiss your Ruby?" (he kisses his ruby pinkie ring, not the girl named Ruby). The actress is doing a scratchy-voiced version of a gangster's moll.  Her look reminds me a bit of Mia Farrow (although not waif-like), but I can't place her voice.

In the fight scene, during the romp, there is another woman dressed exactly like Ruby.  Probably the actress' stand-in.  Here is where it gets kooky: the stand-ins never usually appear ON CAMERA.  But since they are playing with the whole notion of twins with the Micky/Babyface thing, they include a shot where the girls walk by each other, realize they are dressed alike, and fight!  (Maybe they realized there weren't many other women in the scene, especially after they do a gag where all the other women run into the Ladies' room).

Mansion sequence: gang members attempt to reclaim stolen jewels.  Best unacknowledged gag: they had hidden them in the very room from which they stole them.  And years later, it just so happens to be empty b/c the owners are out of town. Mike puts dynamite in the fireplace, but blows up the piano instead (the absurdity of defying the laws of physics and reason).  Cop comes by and sells tickets to the Policeman's Ball (a euphemism for a thinly disguised bribe. Not sure of the actual prevalence of the practice among real life cops, but consistent with ongoing mistrust of authority figures throughout the series and the sixties).

Note the inexpensive effects of shooting a double for MD, someone who supposedly has the same hair and build facing the actual MD. (Although the stand in's hair has a bit of curl to it) Use of split screen when they appear side by side in the doorway and in the final scene in the jailhouse.  Their sightlines seem to be slightly off in the scene when they are confronting each other in the doorway.  It works pretty well for a quick effect, especially since they probably had to cut & match the film by hand, frame for frame!

Steve Blauner is mentioned as driving the getaway car and hitting a cop.  As the Simpsons would later learn, use every advantage when mentioning a full name.  It's a reference to a guy who has quite a history.  He was Bert Schneider's best friend (from cradle to grave).  He was a huge fan of Al Jolson and Sammy Davis Jr., and was actually Bobby Darin's agent.  He helped work behind the scenes, to get the Monkees on the air when RayBert came to him with an idea.  To quote him quoting (from Wikipedia), "Right after we showed the pilot, the director of NBC, Mort Warner, stood up and said "I don't know what the hell we've just seen but I think we should put it on the air!"  (Note that this is an alternate creation story, as most mention the test audience giving the poorest ratings ever to the pilot)
He later went on to form BBS (RayBert= Bob Raphaelson & Bert Schneider upgrading to Bert, Bob and Steve); they did a few tiny movies including "Easy Rider".  In the 1980's, he was the Executive Producer of the "New Monkees" (no further discussion will be made here of THAT show).

Reward is splitting up the jewelry among the boys.  Which is weird on lots of levels (but is exactly what you would do if it were a child's game-which is a viable premise).  If you accept the conceit that the series was envisioned for the tween and pre-tween age bracket (before the concept was even coined),then the plot lines in Season One can easily be seen as modeling child's play.  Especially when you consider that the father of Bert Schneider (the producer & creator) was the president of Columbia Pictures.  They had his daddy's backlot, sets and costumes to start from.  Most of the scripts were a mashup of old vaudeville routines, plotlines from other shows, and cameos of familiar acting faces and extras from central casting.

The title is a vague reference to gangsters having odd nicknames. "Alias Boston Blackie" (1942), "Alias Jesse James" (1959, Bob Hope movie), "Alias Smith and Jones" (1971-which is what I had mistakenly thought they had taken the title from).  The "Babyface" gangster nickname was actually used by George "Babyface" Nelson (enemy of Al Capone).  There was a movie in 1957, "Baby Face Nelson" starring Mickey Rooney.  His kid, Mickey Jr., auditioned for the Monkees.  Personally, I think it's just a great excuse to get Micky to call himself "goo-goo eyes".

Davy doesn't act in this one, but appears in the end interview (on the DVD) talking about visiting England for his sister's wedding.  He throws a fake- and uncharacteristic to the character "Davy Jones"- hissy fit at the end, kicking a chair, but mostly as a way to end the segment.

"The Kind of Girl I Could Love", "Mary, Mary"

The first romp is essentially a bar brawl.  The classic Hollywood Western includes the idea is that once people begin fighting, everyone gets into the act.  Usually there is some attempt to develop this organically, i.e. someone hits an innocent bystander, who retaliates.  This segment quickly devolves into a fighting orgy of extras eager to smash up the sugar-glass liquor bottles and breakaway furniture.

The "Mary, Mary" segment reveals a very early concept of what the "music video" was.  Why don't they just have the guys play their instruments and sing? Close up of Micky, the drummer, singing lead.  (Dullsville)  They are in their blue Monkee uniforms.  Watch for them in every shade.

Memorize these bits of dialogue to amaze your friends!
IMDB Quotes from "Alias Micky Dolenz"

Detailed notes & trivia used for the DVD:Monkees TV on Tripod (formerly Aaron Handy III's TV Web Shrine)

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