Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stan Freberg: 1926-2015

There have been a lot of comedians, comedy writers, and brilliant witty minds over the course of the last 50+ years. Comedy is subjective and there are many styles of humor...and there are certainly many performers of those many styles of humor. Comedy ranges from the gentle to the provoking...the folksy to the urbane...parody...satire...it all goes into the mixer. Satire is not everyone's cup of tea, though, Stan without question was a master satirist. The ironic thing about it all is most satirists are entertaining and witty, yes, but on some level a satirist can be off-putting or just too aggressive/relentless in their efforts (coming across as being bitter or vindictive). Even though Stan is quoted as describing himself as a "guerrilla satirist" I don't happen to think it fits. I think Stan's unpretentious personality shined through on all of his records...whether it be a song or a comedy sketch...and even if the intent on Stan's part happened to be that of a savage, take no prisoners style, you couldn't help but be entertained by the results and that's something, in my opinion, that elevates his material above any of his competitors in the field of satirical entertainment. I'm sure he's said things in his recordings that a listener may not have agreed with...but I bet those same listeners found themselves laughing at something they heard, nevertheless.

On April 7, 2015 Stan Freberg passed away at the age of 88 (born August 7, 1926). In the above photo I'm displaying the must-have 1999 project titled Tip of the Freberg. I became familiar with the name of 'Stan Freberg' by accident...it happened during the 1990s at a time when I started to pay more attention to the opening and closing credits of cartoons. Nickelodeon used to air Looney Tunes cartoons and during several episodes some of the cartoons from the mid to late '60s would get some air-time. These cartoons were produced after the exclusive screen credit for Mel Blanc had expired and we got to see more of the names of Mel's co-stars appear on-screen.

Well, like I said, I seen the name 'Stan Freberg' in the opening credits of a late '60s Looney Tunes cartoon.

Coincidentally a certain collection of Christmas comedy songs came into my possession in the early 1990s, too. The various artist project, titled Christmas Comedy Classics, originated in 1985 but I didn't a copy of it until the early 1990s. Stan has 2 recordings on that project...the whimsical rendition of "Nuttin' for Christmas" and the gutsy "Green Christmas". Talk about 2 recordings that are the polar opposite of one another! I later discovered that Daws Butler played the part of Bob Cratchit in "Green Christmas".

As I've pointed out a lot of times I didn't begin to become familiar with the names of voice actors/actresses until the 1990s...and so I was still learning a lot about those that worked alongside Mel Blanc in the Looney Tunes theatrical cartoons. In 1949 Stan joined forces with Bob Clampett to create the puppet series, Time for Beany. Stan provided the vocals for half of the characters. This program also featured the vocal talents of Daws Butler and he voiced a lot of the other characters. The 2 main roles for each voice artist happened to Beany and Captain Huffenpuff (voiced by Butler) while Stan voiced Cecil and Dishonest John. Years later an animated program based on the puppet series debuted on television. The animated series, Beany and Cecil, didn't feature the vocals of either Stan nor Daws Butler. By the time the animated cartoon had premiered Daws had become the top voice artist for Hanna-Barbera and Stan had moved on to advertising all the while keeping his lengthy recording career intact. In the picture above it's Stan's partial autobiography...the book covers his meteoric rise up the ranks amongst voice-over artists in the late 1940's and all the twists and turns his career took on through the early part of the 1960s.

The book arrived in 1988...but yet it cuts off in the early 1960s. That in itself is comical...and there's never been a sequel that picked up from the early '60s...hopefully there's going to be some sort of memorial magazine (hint, hint) that'll be released at some point this year that can offer highlight and insight, in book form, into all of Stan's activity from the mid '60s right on through his final days.

Until such a memorial magazine comes along, though, it's best to research his career on your own and along the way enjoy the comedy recordings and television commercials he worked on.

Some of the animated cartoon characters that Stan became associated with over the decades included Pete Puma, Junyer Bear, Chester the Terrier, Bertie the Mouse, and Tosh, one of the Goofy Gophers (all appearing in the Looney Tunes franchise). In addition to those roles Stan also gave voice to the Gambling Bug in a cartoon titled "Early to Bet" and one of the chefs in "French Rarebit". Each of those cartoons directed by Robert McKimson. He voiced the Beaver in the Disney film The Lady and the Tramp and for pure trivia sake he voiced a cattle baron in a Tom and Jerry cartoon titled "Posse Cat".

I had taken a series of photo's of myself in late March of this year for future blogs that I happen to write and given the recent death of Stan Freberg I felt this particular image to be perfect. I happen to feel it can be interpreted as a bit of visual humor related to Stan's hilarious parody of "The Banana Boat Song" (also known as "Day-O"). I'm either displaying my euphoria over the bunches and bunches of 'ripe banana' or I'm frightened by the black tarantula...take your pick. You can hear that song on various sites on the internet...I heard it for the first time on one of the CD's in the 1999 career retrospective I posted in the photo at the start of this blog. Tip of the Freberg...that's the name of the box set...I already mentioned the title of the project and it's year of release in the opening and I'm mentioning it once more...I mention it just for the sake of the facts...just the facts...and that of course should make any fan of Stan Freberg instantly think back to "St. George and the Dragonet"! This recording happened to be a sketch comedy featuring Daws Butler and June Foray as co-stars. Stan and company made 2 additional Dragnet parodies: "Little Blue Riding Hood" and "Christmas Dragnet". The box set provides a lot of material from Stan's radio program from 1957 and some of his recordings from the "pay radio" concept album Stan issued in the mid 1960s. Some of the biggest personalities of the 1950s found themselves being a target of Stan's humor. Ed Sullivan's program received spoofing by Stan in a sketch called "Most of the Town". Lawrence Welk became the target in the hilarious sketch "Wun'erful, Wun'erful!". Elvis and a host of other rock and roll performers had their recordings parodied by Stan...and then there's the incredible take off on Arthur Godfrey in a sketch called "That's Right, Arthur" that had never been heard until the 1999 box set came along. Among the many highlights in the box set is "Elderly Man River"...it's a prophetic comedy sketch featuring Stan and Daws. In the sketch Stan attempts to sing "Old Man River" but the censor (Daws Butler) objects to so many words and phrases that the song is re-titled "Elderly Man River". It's years ahead of it's time...it skewers political correctness decades before the movement began to latch on and grow tentacles in pop culture.

The box set features recordings lifted from Stan's 1961 album, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years. Paul Frees does the narration of the project. Ironically the supporting players do not include Daws Butler but June Foray is among the cast as is Marvin Miller, Jesse White, Walter Tetley...just to name a few. It's largely regarded as Stan's masterpiece. A follow-up arrived decades later in 1996 (!) to nostalgic waves of support. By this time Stan had become an icon in the advertising business...his funny, sarcastic, and iconoclastic television and radio commercials became Clio winning slices of comedic salesmanship. The Clio is the top award in the advertising industry.

It was in the 1990s that seen Stan become a radio commentator, of sorts, on NPR stations in a series of essays airing under the Stan Freberg Here... banner. Several of those commentaries appear on the 1999 box set. Four years earlier, in 1995, Stan became the second host of the syndicated old-time radio tribute program When Radio Was (Art Fleming had been the previous host). I have fond memories of this program, as hosted by Stan Freberg, and I remember listening to episodes of it on a local AM radio station at the time. It aired from 11pm to Midnight. Fred Foy, of The Lone Ranger fame, provided the introduction for each of the episodes Stan hosted. The intro included some of the dialogue Fred used in his intro's for The Lone Ranger. I assume Stan's affiliation with old-time radio and his reputation as a champion of 'theater of the mind' entertainment happened to be the big reason he was picked to host the old-time radio program.

I got word of Stan's death like most of the other millions of people...through social media and internet reports. I couldn't believe the news, though, because in my mind I had always pictured Stan to be in good physical health in spite of his older age. In one of the internet reports it indicated that he may have been suffering from pneumonia...but other than that there hasn't been any official statement given as to the cause of death. Stan had a long and successful career...his recordings are going to live forever. If you had never heard of him until today then do yourself a favor and visit YouTube or Amazon and get yourself familiar with his contributions to comedy.

Here's a brief time-line:

1926: Born on August 7th.

1944: Arrived in Hollywood, California (age 17).

1946: voices Bertie in Chuck Jones' "Roughly Squeaking".

1947: voices Charlie Horse in Bob Clampett's "It's a Grand Ole Nag".

1948: Succeeded the late Kent Rogers as the voice of Junyer Bear; "What's Brewin', Bruin?".

1949: helped create television program Time For Beany; Voiced Cecil and Dishonest John, among other puppet characters; remained in production until 1955 and received multiple Emmy awards.

1951: Released his first recording for Capitol Records, "John and Marsha".

1951: voices the Gambling Bug in the cartoon "Early to Bet".

1952: voices the dimwitted hunting dog in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Foxy by Proxy".

1952: Released "Try", a parody of Johnny Ray's hit single, "Cry".

1952: voices Pete Puma in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Rabbit's Kin".

1953: Recorded "St. George and the Dragonet"; hit #1 in October 1953; B-side is "Little Blue Riding Hood".

1953: Released "Christmas Dragnet".

1954: Starred in the CBS radio sitcom "That's Rich" (January-September).

1954: Released "A Dear John and Marsha Letter".

1954: voices the rancher/cook in the Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Posse Cat".

1955: Released "The Night Before Christmas" and "Nuttin' For Christmas".

1955: voices the Beaver in the animated Disney film The Lady and the Tramp.

1957: Released "Wun'erful, Wun'erful!".

1957: Host of The Stan Freberg Show, the last-ever network radio comedy program (July-October).

1957: Provides narration and voices all the characters in the cartoon "The Three Little Bops".

1957: Released a parody of "The Banana Boat Song"; B-side is "Tele-Vee-Shun".

1958: Released "Green Christmas".

1960: Released "The Old Payola Roll Blues".

1961: Released the album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America.

Beginning around the same time as the release of the 1961 album Stan became heavily involved with advertising (his earliest commercials date back to 1956). His recordings began to grow further and farther between but every so often he'd release something.

1966: Released the album Freberg Underground! (billed as 'pay radio'; the LP featured a presentation in the form of a radio sitcom).

Stan remained active in advertising...among his clients were Esskay, Chun King, Sunsweet, Contidina, and Jeno's. Stan also provided voice-overs for movie ads and dabbled in political humor during the height of the Vietnam protests. Some of his ads for George McGovern, for example, are featured in a later career box set.

1982: Starred in the PBS special, Stan Freberg's Federal Budget Revue.

1985: narrates the cartoon series The Wuzzles.

1988: Released autobiography "It Only Hurts When I Laugh".

1995: Inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

1995: Began hosting old-time radio anthology series, When Radio Was.

1996: Released the CD Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volume Two.

1997: voices Pete Puma in the cartoon "Pullet Surprise".

1999: Rhino Entertainment issues the career retrospective Tip of the Freberg. It's a must-have for any fan or admirer of Stan Freberg's work; it spans the years 1951-1998.

2000: voices Cage E. Coyote in the cartoon "Little Go Beep".

2003: narrates Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age of the Looney Tunes documentary for the DVD project titled Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One. Stan appears on-screen in various bonus features throughout the entire Golden Collection DVD series in the mid 2000s.

2006: Retires as host of When Radio Was after 11 years.

2015: Dies on April 7th at age 88.

Stan Freberg: 1926-2015

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Gary Owens: 1934-2015

Longtime voice-over specialist, disc jockey, radio and television personality Gary Owens has died at the age of 80. The cause of death is Diabetes related.

The first time I remember hearing the voice of Gary Owens is back in the 1980's most definitely. Although at that point in time I wasn't really into learning the names of the voice actors and actresses, I had been unknowingly hearing Gary's voice for several years before I found out. My first memory of hearing that voice is on the cartoon series, Space Ghost. I found out the name behind the character in the late '80s on Nick-at-Nite. Although the cable channel aired it after most kid's bedtimes, I couldn't help but stay up just a little longer and see a particular program that aired at 11pm called Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

Does someone around 14 or 15, seeing the program for the first time in the late 1980s, really comprehend all of the one-liners and late 1960s topical jokes? Unless the child is amazingly gifted in American culture history at that age then my answer is "no". Why did the series appeal to me? I think it appealed to me because of it's cartoonish delivery and it's zany atmosphere. Also...the presence of that voice...the voice of Gary Owens and his hysterical seriousness amongst all the chaotic happenings around him.

He served as the program's off-screen announcer, calling the names of the host and cast members, but doubled as an on-screen broadcaster, cupping one hand to his ear, and delivering all sorts of insane dialogue in the guise of a serious news bulletin. Most often a scene would cut from one joke and then to Gary and then to another joke or back to a cast member just looking into the camera and not saying anything until they break up in laughter and leave the stage.

The comedy series had a major impact on television viewers and created several catchphrases. It ran 6 seasons, 1968-1973. Due to it being a mid-season replacement series it had the opportunity of having roughly half a season's worth of programs on the air several months before the start of the official 1968-1969 season. It premiered on January 22, 1968 and initially ran until April 29, 1968. It returned in the fall of 1968 to begin it's first full season and it officially remained in production until early 1973. Gary appeared on every episode during it's five and a half season run. Some of the notable guests that appeared were Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Tiny Tim...and most of them appeared in split second fashion on-screen uttering a one-liner or one of the program's catchphrases. John Wayne appeared in a much longer clip, by comparison to the usual rapid fire pace of the surrounding clips, and delivered a poem in a manner parodying Henry Gibson. Laugh-In also aired, originally, as an hour long program. During it's rerun life on Nick-at-Nite those half hours were cut and edited and spliced into individual half hours.

Unfortunately by my living in the Midwest I didn't get to experience hearing Gary's legendary radio programs that aired in California throughout the '60s, '70s, and into the '80s. His most durable role is that of disc jockey/radio personality and in between songs there'd be comical sketches or banter heard on the air. I wouldn't call him a shock jock, based on today's definitions, but he certainly became legendary for the insertion of humor and intentional blatant nonsense in his broadcasts that you just didn't hear that much of anymore on radio. I've heard snippets of a couple radio broadcasts from his Los Angeles program and the closest thing the Midwest had to Gary Owens happened to be a Cincinnati radio personality named Gary Burbank. The Cincinnati radio entertainer has since retired but he often replied, if asked, that his on-air name is inspired by "Gary" as in Gary Owens and "Burbank" from Gary Owens' Laugh-In catchphrase "...beautiful downtown Burbank". After hearing snippets of the radio program from Gary Owens and being familiar with Gary Burbank's style of radio comedy for so many years I can definitely hear the influence.

Here's an air-check from a 1969 Gary Owens radio program...click HERE. It features the sort of comical banter he'd fill his programs with between songs or introducing commercials and it includes real and fake commercial readings. It's nearly half an hour. Scroll down to the audio button after you click the link. Gary makes on air mentions of Geoff Edwards, Dick Enberg, and more. It's a fabulous audio time capsule. After listening to that, you can click HERE for an air-check from 1970. You'll hear the voice of another Los Angeles DJ, Dick Whittinghill, in that audio clip and other personalities at KMPC in that era. A promo for the California Angels baseball game from Dick Enberg is included in that air-check.

His radio career can be traced back to the early 1950s. He held his KMPC job for 20 years (1962-1982). In his career he had stints at KORN, KMA, KOIL, KROY, KEWB prior to KMPC. After KMPC he found himself working at several stations throughout the 1980s. Those included KKGO, KPRZ, and much later for a brief time on KFI. He continued being associated with radio, on and off, and throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s he was part of the Music of Your Life format of programs. The series, by the time Gary came aboard, featured celebrities and former AM radio disc jockeys hosting individual radio programs of their own and so Gary happened to be a natural choice. He remained hosting radio programming for Music of Your Life until 2004 according to most sites I've read over the years.

I purposely haven't included a really thorough detailed time line (such as providing specific months, dates, or years) about his radio, voice-over, and television careers because the information is easily available on other sites and blogs all over the internet. This short tribute is more about my thoughts, opinions, and memories.

Along side his radio career he did the announcing on a diverse list of programs and did voice overs for commercials for both radio and television. Myself being a cartoon fan, Gary had the biggest impact on me through not only his Laugh-In appearances but through his vocal performances as Space Ghost and Blue Falcon. Later on in the 1990s I learned about Roger Ramjet thanks to the reruns that were airing at the time on The Family Channel. You can click the collage for a bigger examination. Space Ghost used to air in reruns on a USA Network program called Cartoon Express. This USA series is also where I first seen episodes of Blue Falcon. Technically, though, Blue Falcon didn't have his own self-titled program. Blue Falcon appears on the series, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. In each series Gary provided the voice for the superhero...Space Ghost is more of a legitimate action-adventure series. It's set in outer space and the plots typically revolve around Space Ghost and his team of helpers (Jan, Jace, and Blip) fighting all sorts of monsters, creatures, and dictatorial leaders from far off galaxies and universes. Space Ghost travels in a ship called The Phantom Cruiser and all members of the crime fighting team have the ability to turn themselves invisible if needed.

The series aired for one season, 1966-1967, and it contains 42 individual adventures. It remained in reruns for another season, 1967-1968, prior to it becoming a long running series (in reruns) in local syndication for the next 10+ years. The Space Ghost series was revived in 1981 as part of a package series called Space Stars. Gary returned as the voice of Space Ghost and an additional 22 episodes aired. So, altogether, Gary voiced Space Ghost on 64 episodic adventures.

Blue Falcon, by contrast, appeared on a comical action-adventure series. Although Blue Falcon is depicted as a serious crime fighter and his vocals provided by Gary Owens in that deep baritone bravado, his sidekick Dynomutt is a klutzy robotic canine that's forever messing up Blue Falcon's strategies and getting the duo in all kinds of predicaments. Gary voiced Blue Falcon during the 1976-1977 television season and later the character surfaced on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics and it's sequel, Scooby's All Stars during the next couple of seasons on Saturday morning TV. In those series Blue Falcon and his sidekick had recurring scenes as part of the Scooby Doobie team. The latter two programs are a parody of the Olympics and ABC-TV's Battle of the Network Stars. In all, Gary performed the voice of Blue Falcon on 20 individual episodes during the 1976-1977 season. The adventures are most often aired in reruns as part of package programming due to the limited number of episodes available.

In his later years Owens often appeared on nostalgia programming centered either on AM radio or on the television series, Laugh-In. He had a fascination about Dinosaurs, too, that isn't as widely known as his TV and radio work happens to be. He wrote a book about being in the voice-over business and you can see that book in the above collage I posted. It's available at Amazon. He provided the voice-over messages for classic television network, Antenna TV, during the final years of his life. 

Here's an ARTICLE that features commentary from Barbara Eden and Wink Martindale about their thoughts on Gary.

Gary Owens passed away on Thursday February 12, 2015. The news didn't reach the public until Friday. In a bizarre chain of events the story of his death appeared in a post from Variety magazine early in the morning hours on Friday. There as not a single story confirming the news Variety posted and I immediately assumed it must be one of those death hoaxes that seem to be commonplace particularly with yesterday being Friday the 13th of all days.

Strangely enough more than 8 hours after the news of his death appeared in a social media message from Variety, the publication re-posted the news once again. Suddenly, not long after that re-posting, reports started to pour in from all news sites and from there it became a snowball of reports about him passing away. In the link I posted, if you look at the time it appeared on-line, note it's late in the day on Friday. It happened to be the 5-6pm time frame in which the news of his death spread all over the internet.

Here's something to think about...

Some sites state that he was born in 1936 and others say 1934. All over the internet the various reports say he happened to be 80. His birth month and date is May the 10th and if his true birth year is 1934 then indeed he really was 80. The funny thing is, prior to Friday, all the internet sites listed May 10, 1936 as his birth date. I'm sure 1934 is his accurate birth year...and all of those sites I'd taken a look at Friday have since changed their year of Gary's birth from 1936 to 1934. I'm using the 1934 birth year because that's the one reported by so many outlets and there isn't any conflicting stories using 1936 as his birth year. In the future should it be revealed that 1936 is his true birth year I'll correct the title of this blog entry.


Gary Owens: 1934-2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Charles Bronson: Love and Bullets overview...

In this 1979 movie, titled Love and Bullets, Charles Bronson stars as American cop Charlie Congers. He's approached by his superiors and members of the FBI to journey to Europe, specifically Switzerland, to locate an American woman named Jackie Pruitt (Jill Ireland), the lover of a Godfather-type named Joe Bomposa (Rod Steiger).

The FBI hopes that Pruitt can provide inside information about Bomposa and all of the crime that's taken place in that part of the world. The FBI can't perform this task because it's outside of the United States.

If you haven't seen the film and might be interested in it, don't read further because there's plenty of **spoilers** among my commentary.

In the meantime, as Charlie makes his way to Europe, several of Joe's inner circle of thugs inform him that Jackie's become something of a threat and they feel that she'll turn against them at the first opportunity. They talk Joe into plotting Jackie's murder, a suggestion that sends Joe into all kinds of hysteria due to his genuine love for her, but deep down he also feels that Jackie might stumble onto something that may help the police at some point.

Adding to his miserable feelings is the fact that the more excitable he gets the more he stammers and the more he stammers the more physically assertive he becomes. Critics at the time considered it over-acting but I think it fits the part he's playing to a tee.

Jackie, meanwhile, is from the southern regions of the United States. This fact is pointed out rather conspicuously given her deep southern accent and her habit of wearing wigs. She's pretty much a parody of Dolly Parton. After Charlie and Jackie go on their journey across the continent he can't help but starting falling in love with her. In one scene that takes place on a train Charlie asks her to remove her make-up and hair. She at first refuses but later complies after he threatens to remove them himself. She emerges in shorter hair and no make-up and Charlie loves what he sees. She jokes that the only reason he likes the natural look is because he's used to looking at dead people.

In the next scene they drive to an auto train and are carried from one part of the terrain to another...however, Charlie spots some of Joe's thugs in another car further back in the auto train. Charlie gets out of this by driving his car off the side of a snowy mountain. As the car's rolling out of control, he and Jackie leap out and it crashes into a small electrical station...setting the car on fire.

As the pair make their way through the snowy landscape and to a cabin his persistent questioning causes Jackie to suspect he's a cop. He had been masquerading as one of Joe's hired men up until this point. Charlie confesses to Jackie that he's indeed a cop and that a certain cut-throat by the name of Lobo had turned her name over to the FBI in exchange for a new life and identity. Charlie asks her to tell him anything she can about Joe's murderous dealings and corrupt schemes but she genuinely knows nothing. She tells him that Joe never filled her in on any of his Mob activity...but yet paranoia and the constant badgering from others in the Mob inner circle continue to cause him to suspect her true nature.

Later, one of Joe's thugs discovers the smoldering car and tracks the pair to the cabin hide-out. He sneaks in and threatens Jackie but ultimately passes her by and sets his sights on an unsuspecting Charlie whose outside chopping wood. Just as the thug is about to attack Charlie, Jackie screams out his name and it alerts him to look up near the cabin just in time to see the thug standing on the roof.

The thug fires his gun but Charlie ducks out of danger and devises a trick to create a distraction. As the thug looks off to his left, Charlie comes out of hiding a hurls a hatchet into the guy's back. The thug falls off the roof and rolls down the side of the hill...each tumble and turn pushing the hatchet in deeper.

Later, Charlie and Jackie find themselves in an airway cable car as they continue their journey to the aircraft that'll return both of them to the United States. Upon the cable car's stop at it's next location, the door opens and a massive slaughter takes place as an assassin opens fire on everybody in sight (except for Charlie and Jackie, who manage to escape). The assassin meets his gruesome end almost immediately as he falls underneath the cable car during it's take off to the next location.

Some time later Charlie calls in to report on the progress of his journey. Given his personal feelings for Jackie he tells his bosses that he ants to get her out of the country and back to the United States sooner than planned. The FBI balk at this idea and scold him for getting personal and becoming a one man killing machine and they remind him not to do anything more that'll likely cause an international incident.

After this phone conversation Charlie, of course, feels that the bureaucracy has no real idea of what it's like out in the field of operation and that most of them are only interested in covering themselves politically and economically above all else. In a scene that anticipates the television series, MacGyver, by 6 years we see Charlie take apart a lamp and build a home made nail gun from the parts inside. Using the invention, Charlie ends up killing a couple of informants connected to Lobo. In Geneva, the FBI catch up with Charlie and Jackie and they inform him that they're taking over custody of Jackie and that they no longer need his services. The exchange plays out like an empty thank you...basically telling him that "since you did the dirty work and put your life on the line to find this woman, we'll take over from here...".

As Jackie makes her way under the protection of the FBI to the airplane she asks if she can talk to Charlie, alone. As the two approach one another and state their thoughts and feelings over the entire ordeal they share a kiss...and at that moment a shot rings out and Jackie falls to the ground. The killer happened to be Lobo, whose shot multiple times by members of the FBI.

Charlie finally makes it back to the United States and gets an earful from his less than gracious boss still fretting over foreign relations and social, political, and economic turmoil that his department may potentially be held responsible for. Charlie makes a visit to Louis Monk (Strother Martin) at a private pool. Charlie threatens to drown him unless he hands over information detailing Jackie's death. Not sensing the danger, Monk refuses to come clean and the last thing we see of Monk is him going under water one final time. In the closing scene a casket arrives at the Bomposa estate. Charlie delivers it personally but none of the Mob bosses have any clue who he is. He informs them that it's been sent there from someone named Farroni (Henry Silva) and the body is Jackie Pruitt from Geneva, Switzerland and that's all he knows.

After initially refusing to accept the casket, Joe reluctantly agrees to keep it and reads the card that's attached "Love and bullets, Charlie.". He calls for some of his underlings and they slowly start to lift the lid...the next thing we see is a gigantic explosion as the entire estate is consumed by fire. Inside his car, a smiling and vindicated Charlie drives off to some unknown destination and the scene freezes on his facial expression and the credits roll. Although Charlie says it's Jackie Pruitt in the casket it's probably Monk or it could've been empty and simply rigged with the explosives. It was never revealed one way or the other.

All in all I found the film completely fascinating and entertaining. The movie critics of the time period and even latter day critics may have you believing that this is a terrible movie or it's a hodgepodge collection of confusing melodrama and European sight seeing but believe me it's far from that. It's a pleasant story of two unlikely people falling in love but in traditional melodramatic conventions heartbreak trumps happiness and Jackie falls victim to an assassin's bullet.

Love and Bullets had several releases throughout 1979. It's original release happened in April 1979 in West Germany. It didn't make it's United States premiere until September 1979. It's been released many times on VHS and it's seen several releases on DVD. It's official run time is 1 hour, 43 minutes. The movie is a lot better than critics would have you believing.