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Saving "You Bet Your Life"
March 13, 2013 7:39 PM   Subscribe


 
So glad we didn't lose all those episodes. "You Bet Your Life" remains a high water mark for TV comedy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:52 PM on March 13, 2013


My wife and I have been watching this on Netflix. Groucho is of course compelling, but the show itself is fascinating. It is aware of itself as an arbiter of popular culture and tastes and simultaneously aware of just how unimportant that status is (at the time).
posted by infinitewindow at 7:56 PM on March 13, 2013


Wow.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 PM on March 13, 2013


Bless you, Andy Marx. And bless you, Jack Nicholson, for chiming in like you did. I've had so much fun watching episodes of YBYL across the decades. So, thanks for that. Very very very much.
posted by hippybear at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone ever seen 23 Skiddo, starring Groucho? Now that's a movie.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2013


Wow, paid $700/week (in today's dollars) to watch Groucho reels. I'll take that job.
posted by notsnot at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, paid $700/week (in today's dollars) to watch Groucho reels...

...in Groucho's house with Groucho regularly joining you.

Fuck yeah, I'd totally take that job.
posted by hippybear at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


Wow, paid $700/week (in today's dollars) to watch Groucho reels...

That $150 was per week:
I was paid $150 a week and my duties consisted of spending eight hours a day at my grandfather’s house
... and I'd still take it.
posted by Elsa at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is such a great story, thanks much. Now I have to get netflix. Damn you, metafilter, why do you keep dragging me out of my luddite cave?
posted by dejah420 at 8:43 PM on March 13, 2013


You can thank Andy and Jack, but the real credit goes to that nameless warehouse worker who had the good sense to make the call!!
posted by MoxieProxy at 8:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


I love stories like this. Except inasmuch as I hate them, for reminding me of just how terribly, terribly often the other thing has happened.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:54 PM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Neat. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:06 PM on March 13, 2013


This is what I call a true 'feel good' story--and it is especially welcome today. Thanks, vibratory!
posted by Anitanola at 10:33 PM on March 13, 2013


We've gotten used to thinking of data storage as basically free. Every movie ever made will now fit on less than one shelf, and perfect copies can be made effortlessly. Now imagine trying to store 5000 reels of film in your apartment just to have a copy of the run of one TV show. If you're not running a museum, that would make you a hoarder.

Bless those who paid an unreasonable price to preserve the good old stuff for all of us.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


just how terribly, terribly often the other thing has happened

Yeah, it makes the BBC's "wiping" of classic Avengers or Doctor Who episodes a little more understandable, inasmuch :) as that also infuriates. How many shows didn't have a Jack Nicholson sitting in the living room at the other end of the line when the phone call came?
posted by dhartung at 11:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


We've gotten used to thinking of data storage as basically free

It still isn't though, not for the movie and television studios. The finished product, in blueray or dvd or whatever version is cheap to store, but the base material it was assembled from? That's terabytes of stuff you need to keep if you want to have any hope of doing anything with it.

(Wasn't there a recent post about this?)
posted by MartinWisse at 11:42 PM on March 13, 2013


My kids, teenagers all, love watching old Marx Brothers films, the Three Stooges, the Honey Mooners, I Love Lucy, Laurel and Hardy, Leave it to Beaver, Our Gang, the Dead End Kids, and many more of the classics. We have a blast as a family wasting away a rainy Saturday afternoon. They will love this article. If I could only get them to listen to the old radio shows.

Thanks.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:02 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Never. Delete. Anything.
posted by fullerine at 1:07 AM on March 14, 2013


> That $150 was per week:

$150/week in 1974 has roughly the buying power of $700/week in 2013. Which I think was his point.

Prices of everything don't go up at the same rate, of course. Housing was disproportionately cheaper in Los Angeles 40 years ago...
posted by ardgedee at 4:17 AM on March 14, 2013


Wow, great story. We recently restored a bunch of old tapes from when my late father-in-law worked at KSTP in Minneapolis and then NBC in New York in the 1950s. It was great fun listening to them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:41 AM on March 14, 2013


If I could only get them to listen to the old radio shows.

Family road trips are great opportunities to sneak in some old time radio. Pick a good episode or two of Fibber McGee & Molly, The Jack Benny Show, and The Shadow, and you'll have them hooked by the time you reach your destination.
posted by hippybear at 5:44 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So was that warehouse worker a Groucho fan specifically, or did he make calls for all the shows that were in there? Because I assume everything else ended up at the bottom of the harbor.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:59 AM on March 14, 2013


So what did they burn the next day?

I'm hoping wrestling and not Your Show of Shows.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:54 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Talk about luck. So much of our TV and movie heritage was destroyed for cost reasons before the realization that they could still make money. Imagine a world without Monty Python or I Love Lucy or Star Trek.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:20 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what did they burn the next day?

According to the wikipedia entry of lost television broadcasts, NBC wiped the entire run of Tonight Show episodes with Jack Paar and the first 10 years of Carson (1962-1972), so the time frame seems to match up, including the fact that Tonight was done in New York until 1972.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is great. I love the image of Groucho's house filling up with boxes, it makes me wish his brothers would have been there to ask for two hard-boiled eggs.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gilbert Gottfried does the best Groucho impersonation. Not "Duck Soup" Groucho, but "85-year-old telling long pointless stories on Dick Cavett" Groucho. Can't read this without hearing it in that voice.
posted by dr_dank at 8:46 AM on March 14, 2013


According to the wikipedia entry of lost television broadcasts, NBC wiped the entire run of Tonight Show episodes with Jack Paar and the first 10 years of Carson (1962-1972)...

And Mississippi John Hurt was on in 1967.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're not running a museum, that would make you a hoarder.

Hello, room service? Send up another room.
posted by gimonca at 12:25 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Love to watch them all, but I've got a cigar that needs smoking.
posted by Twang at 3:22 PM on March 14, 2013


What a wonderful story! As a child in the 70's, I'd watch the "Best of Groucho" on Saturdays or late at night and laugh my tuchis off.

That said, I can't help but feel a little sad for all those old DuMont kinescopes, now probably dissolved in the muck that is the estuary called the East River, dumped there by ABC. :|

Thank goodness "The Honeymooners" were saved!
posted by droplet at 5:08 PM on March 14, 2013


OK, so where is the DVD boxed set containing every episode? Why, yes, I would pay several hundred dollars for one.

Seriously, if you have a look at amazon, there's only a handful of DVDs.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Erin (Groucho's "companion -business manger" at the time) had anything to do with the promulgation of these reels. Yes, she was serious crazy, as has been proved, and ahe abused the poor old comic genius, but she could also smell a nickel a mile away.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:17 AM on March 15, 2013


And Mississippi John Hurt was on in 1967.

Really wish you hadn't told me that.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:48 PM on March 19, 2013


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