The Incredible Inman: 1956's 'World Without End' was youngster's sci-fi cyclops shocker
Q: I am beginning to think I have lost my mind. I can remember a movie I went to see as a child, and I cannot find anything about it. I know I went to it with friends while in the third grade, somewhere about 1956. It was a sci-fi movie with a cyclops in it. I saw this several times, and it scared me to death.
A: The movie you remember is “World Without End,” a 1956 film with Hugh Marlowe, Nancy Gates, Nelson Leigh and Rod Taylor. It's about a group of astronauts who break the time barrier and end up in the 26th century, aka Cyclops Time.
Q: I'm trying to find the name of a song. There's a line in it that goes “don't want to make waves, can't you see?” And the verses are silly — like about a man who thinks he's a chicken, and the family wants to have him committed, but they need the egg money.
A: That's a song called “Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation,” written by Dick Feller. The most popular version was probably recorded by Ray Stevens, and the chorus you remember goes like this:
“He's just makin' the best of a bad situation,
don't wanna make waves, can't you see?
Yes, he's just makin' the best of a bad situation,
reckon I'd do the same if it was me.”
Q: Back in the late 1950s or early '60s, I saw a black-and-white movie in which a family was fleeing from a California city (L.A., I think) after an atomic bomb attack. I believe the father was played by a big-name star at the time. The dad, mom, teenage son and daughter were out in the country trying to avoid gangs of people looking for drugs and food. The dad and son fight with a couple of drug addicts and save a girl the addicts had been holding captive. I believe the girl and the son were in love by the end of the movie. Can you tell me the title?
A: Sounds like the 1962 film “Panic in Year Zero,” which was directed and starred Ray Milland as the father. His wife was played by Jean Hagen, and their teenagers were played by Frankie Avalon and Mary Mitchel.
Q: While watching “The Ten Commandments,” I thought the voice of God coming from the burning bush sounded suspiciously like Charlton Heston. Is it he?
A: Yes. He wasn't credited at the time, but it was Heston.
Q: With all the fuss over the recent release of the motion picture “Les Miserables,” I'm confused. I clearly remember a release of that same movie during the late 1990s, starring Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean! Am I completely crazy? Did I dream the entire thing?
A: There was a movie version of “Les Miserables,” and it did star Liam Neeson. But it wasn't the musical version. It also starred Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Uma Thurman as Fantine and Claire Danes as Cosette, none of them singing. It's on DVD.
Q: Several years ago, I saw a British movie where inmates get approval to enter the Chelsea Flower Show. An older inmate had encouraged a younger one to participate. I believe this younger inmate was Clive Owen? Also, Maggie Smith might have been in the movie. If I have the actors wrong, what is the name of the movie?
A: That's the 2000 film “Greenfingers,” with Owen and Helen Mirren.
Q: At this year's Academy Awards, there was a salute to the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movies. I have heard that all of the actors who had starred as James Bond were to be on the show and it was canceled because Daniel Craig wouldn't do it. Is this true?
Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan also turned down the opportunity to appear, which means that the only actors representing James Bond would have been Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton, which would seem kind of sad.
Q: Before your time, there was a radio comedian who had two sidekicks named Bottle and Beetle. Can't remember the name of the comedian. Can you help?
A: The comic was Phil Baker, who had a successful radio show through most of the 1930s. Then, in the 1940s, he took over as host of the quiz program “Take It or Leave It.”
Beetle and Bottle were a part of Baker's show in the 1930s. Bottle was his English butler, who had a dry wit and usually ended up insulting Baker. Bottle was played by Harry McNaughton. Beetle, on the other hand, was unseen by the studio audience. Supposedly he lived inside of Baker's microphone and was always available for an insult. Baker had worked with a heckling stooge in the audience as part of his vaudeville act, and his interactions with Baker were similar to that. Beetle was played by Hank Ladd.
Write David Inman in care of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, KY 40201-7431; or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.