Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Route 66

The classic television show, Route 66, was re-released on DVD recently. The show ran from 1960 - 1964 starring Martin Milner and George Maharis as Todd and Buzz - two young men traveling the back roads of the US taking odd jobs as they go and meeting the diverse people who make up America.
The show was primarily the work of Stirling Silliphant. He made a name for himself with the show as he delved into the darker side of people's characters showing a world that frequently wasn't what it appeared to be on the surface. He also made a name for himself with his character's dark soliloquies. In about the 4th episode Lew Ayres (playing a Nazi hunter (the show was only about 15 years out of WWII)) delivered this gem:
"I hope you live a long life and never know the blistering forces which sear and destroy, turn men into enemies and sweep past the last frontiers of compassion. Once you've seen that dark, unceasing tide of faces... of the victims...the last spark of dignity so obliterated that not one face is lifted to heaven, not one voice is raised in protest even as they died..."
Of course, it's all pretty fantastic and idyllic. Halfway through the first season they might have intersected with route 66 once.
What I am really loving about watching the show, however, is that it was almost completely shot on location around the country. The backgrounds and sets - the houses, offices, farms and towns offer a very real glimpse of life in America in the early 60s.
And it's all shot in stunning black and white !
The supporting guest stars are a daggone Who's Who.
Lon Chaney Jr, Roger Carmel, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Leslie Nielsen, Bruce Dern, Suzanne Pleshette, Pat Hingle, Inger Stevens, Harvey Korman, DeForrest Kelley, Lee Marvin, Anne Francis, John Astin, Peter Graves, Barbara Eden, Susan Oliver, and a seriously hot Donna Douglas.
All in all, it's a great look back at a time that wasn't in a time that very much was.

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