Advertisements

Tag Archive: Green Acres


It was about the time when I got my first dog (first of what would eventually be 12) when my Mom took me to the old Wakonda Theater to see For the Love of Benji.  It was 1977 and the film was a life-changing movie for a little kid.  The original film premiered in 1974, titled simply Benji, and everyone saw it and fell in love with its lead pooch.  Its song, sung by Charlie Rich, was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe Award.  The movie marketers of the day, well aware of its surprise success, used its word-of-mouth popularity in its ongoing promotional campaigns, and the film’s success led to eight movies, two documentaries, and a short-lived TV series.  They hold up surprisingly well because the star character, second in all-time popularity only to Lassie, was a great actor (actually actors), and the stories were about good kids being good to their four-legged friend.  Next month Benji makes his way back into a feature film, one of the new brand of movies released exclusively on Netflix.  It’s a remake of the original, also called Benji, brought to life by the original family that created the character nearly 45 years ago.

The original canine star of the films was a mixed-breed black and tan dog named Higgins, who had a 14-year career in film, going back to Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Green Acres.  Higgins even co-starred in 1971 with Vincent Price and Zsa Zsa Gabor in a film called Mooch Goes to Hollywood.  He came out of retirement at 14 to make the original Benji.  Remember Tramp from My Three Sons?  That was Higgins’ son Mac.  (My grandma named her dog after that character).  But Higgins’ daughter Benjean would go on to star in several films taking on the role of Benji, from For the Love of Benji in 1977 to Benji the Hunted in 1987.  It was Benjean who took on the human voice of Chevy Chase in the very funny and memorable 1980 comedy Oh, Heavenly Dog!  In that film Benjean acted alongside Jane Seymour and Omar Sharif as a reincarnated detective (Chase), seeking revenge on his murderer.

Everybody in the 1970s loved Benji. That’s Higgins (left) on the film re-issue poster and Benjean (right) on the cover of every kid’s favorite magazine.

All the time it was creator, writer, and director Joe Camp who kept the Benji stories fresh and fun.  For this year’s film, Joe’s son Brandon Camp will take the helm, writing, directing and producing the film.  Brandon, who appeared in For the Love of Benji when he was six years old, previously directed Love Happens with Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston, and he wrote the script for the film Dragonfly (which starred Kevin Costner, Susanna Thompson, and Casey Biggs).  His new film stars a new dog unrelated to the past family of Benji stars, and features two kids, played by Gabriel Bateman and Darby Camp, who oddly enough does not appear to be related to Joe and Brandon Camp.

The new poster (above) was released this week.  And check out this trailer for the film:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: