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Friday, April 11, 2014

It Was The Best Of Mickey Rooney....(2)

As Mickey Rooney grew into adulthood, as much as he could grow,  a hard-and-fast rule began to  develop:  The more control he had over a project, the more star power he had to exert, the worse the project would come off.
This was particularly true with movies.
Past 1949, if Mickey Rooney was the star of the movie, name over the title, the bigger abomination it was.
I'll discuss this more when we get to "The Worst of Mickey Rooney",
Conversely, the smaller the part he had in a movie, the better the movie was, and the  better he was in it.
In 1957, there was a serviceable service comedy called "Operation Mad Ball".
This was essentially a good movie, with some lovely moments in it.
Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs were the two main stars in it.
I always thought that Lemmon was overrated, and Kovacs was a great TV innovator, but not that much of a screen presence.
The story was simple:
World War Two was over and the G.I.s wanted to celebrate the closing of the Army hospital by secretly attempting to throw a wild party.
Mickey Rooney  had two scenes as Chief Supply Officer Yancey Skeebo, both with Lemmon and Dick York, in his pre-Darren Stevens days, where they were trying to convince Mickey to move papers around in order to get the supplies they needed.
Skeebo had apparently memorized the Almanac.
And all the information at his fingertips.
In these two scenes, he completely wipes the floor with Lemmon and York, thoroughly improves the picture, and walks off with it.
Those scenes are on YouTube.
Just type in Mickey Rooney Operation Mad Ball, and enjoy.
He did a small part as the Japanese neighbor in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
It might strike some as rather racist, because he had those oversized buck teeth.
But he was hilarious.
He had major success on early TV.
He starred in an episode of Playhouse 90, written by Rod Serling, called "The Comedian"
They showed it on a PBS series called "The Golden Age of Television"
Beforehand, they showed an interview with John Frankenheimer, who directed it.
In it, Frankenheimer noted that during the two-week rehearsal process, Rooney was brilliant.
But he was differently brilliant each time.
He constantly strayed from the script.
Just as he did when he did with Tony Randall when they did "The Odd Couple".
And none of the strayings were as good as what Serling wrote.
Frakenheimer called him on it.
Rooney replied "The only time I do it word for word is for ol' Willie Shakespeare, boy!"
Frankenheimer played him: "Well that's all well and good, but you see this line here?  Well there's a man in the booth who pushes the buttons, and until he hears this line from you, he's not going to push the button that gives you your close-up.
According to Frankenheimer, from then on Rooney was letter perfect.
If you want to see just how  Emmy-Winningly perfect he was, the entire kinescope of "The Comedian" is on YouTube, and it, and he, is brilliant.
I have more praise to heap on Mickey Rooney, and  I'll do it next time.  

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:  www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman
Add to this, my new Kickstarter project, "Another Network".  Please check it out at Kickstarter.com
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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."