Ah, the gloriousness that was The Avengers. The program’s stories successfully mixed elements of Cold War with sci-fi. Furthermore like 1967’s The Prisoner it found a cult following when it reached the states. How could it not though? Especially when in 1965 it added the beautiful Diana Rigg as Emma Peel to the mix? A perfect foil in fact to the more proper gentleman represented by Patrick Macnee’s John Steed!
While I was born a little too late to catch The Avengers in it’s original airing. I was lucky enough in High School to see the episodes that were played in reruns on A&E. I really fell for the show in a hard way. Even mimicking the clothing style of John Steed…to a degree. I certainly couldn’t afford to go to school in a Savile Row suit – but a trenchcoat and fedora would do in a pich. As well as a sturdy umbrella at my side and it was all too easy to play the part of the gentleman.
Of course back then I didn’t actually realize I was actually just a young Anglophile. But thanks to a video posted on Facebook the other day by RetroArt. It seems like some elements of The Avengers crept into real life.
Or is it actually real life elements being brought into that series? As this film for the amazing anti-thief security case was released on December 18,1961. So says at the very least, the British Pathe website.
It bears mentioning that John Steed didn’t start wearing his trademark attire until the 1962 season of The Avengers. Previously he actually wore a trenchcoat and acted as an assistant to Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry). Beginning in 1962 with a rotating trio of partners – Steed began to dress the part of the gentleman.
Now make sure to hop on over to British Pathe site for the full “Beat the Bandit” video. In addition to learning things like the briefcase was named the “arrestor”. You will also see how well a steel lined bowler stands up to be driven over by a car.
Now that you’ve witnessed the inventions of 1961 possibly affecting The Avengers series. Why not take a moment and enjoy Macnee and his co-star, Honor Blackman’s “Kinky Boots” from 1964?
Think Reagan ended the Cold War? Or maybe Rocky IV? Perhaps they did. But Russkies certainly helped finish it off.
Russkies is a 1987 film about three boys in Florida (including Peter Billingsley and Joachin “Leaf” Phoenix) who find a stranded Russian sailor named Mischa. I was faintly aware of it during the 80s, but I never saw it. I’m not even sure I saw a trailer for it. And that’s really too bad because Russkies has all the classic elements of good 80s cinema. We have an “alien”, fish out of water character, enemies who become friends, unrequitable love (including a slow kiss while fireworks explode overhead), a bigoted opponent who comes in at just the wrong time, a daring plan to foil the powers that be, a couple of montages, wish fulfillment, and a finale in which everyone comes to understand each other. If you’ve been missing that unique feeling of glastnost and are looking for a way to get it back, you could do worse than Russkies.
I’m still under the influence of the discussion we had on the Cold War and it’s affect on pop culture in the forums. That discussion first led me to look up a young adult book series I vaguely remembered called After the Bomb. Now it has led me to a similar series called Firebrats.
This is the UK cover. I got the UK version because it was cheaper, but I like the American cover better.
See? Told you it was better.
If After the Bomb is The Day After, then Firebrats is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. There is a fairly chilling sequence in which suburban America is bombed by the Russians. However, rather than giving a more realistic account of the clean up and rescue efforts following such an attack, Firebrats focus on two teens who have to contend with roving gangs. Actually, that might be pretty realistic as well, but it is a different arena of realism than what After the Bomb presents. There is a romantic subplot, of course, and some life lessons/growing pains/raising up to meet the challenge parts as well. All pretty standard, but as I’m a kid of the 80s, I can’t get enough of it.
There were four books in the Firebrats series: The Burning Land, Survivors, Thunder Mountain, and Shockwave. That’s twice what After the Bomb had. I only read the first book. Since there are no e-copies that I could find, and since the hard copies are very expensive, and since I’ve been told that the series does not come to a conclusion, I might not pick up the other three. I had a good time with the first, though. It really took me back to those days when we were sure the missiles could fall at any moment, which, strangely enough, was not entirely unpleasant.