Just when you think the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, from behind the dark clouds drifts to Earth a radiant angel, dressed in a resplendent robe of shiny filmstrips and glittering tales of lore. With the soft God-like voice of Tim Curry, he allays mortals’ fears and yearnings with one arched brow, and gingerly turns his magic key to open a giant golden box. Out fly Disney’s animated bluebirds, Universal Studios’ harmless bats, and the assuaging notes of a Boswell Sisters’ melody. This refugee angel, let’s call him Adam Roche, lifts from the shiny chest a silver, tuberose-scented miasma and gingerly lays this sweet cloud upon a pink satin pillow. This gift to mankind reveals The Greatest Podcasts Ever Told: The Secret History of Hollywood and Attaboy Clarence.
And these are not gifts to the world in a passive-aggressive “To Serve Man” kind of way. Adam Roche’s podcasts are brilliant, genius gems of edutainment, so incredibly wonderful they made me say “edutainment”.
Those who know me know I’m not one to gush. OK, I am one to gush, but I am very selective as to about what I gush, and Mr. Roche’s podcasts have me just about gushed out. The intelligence, research, insights, humor and plain wonderful-ness of these podcasts cannot be overstated. Englishman Adam Roche started his first podcast, Attaboy Clarence, as a way to share radio shows, sings and tidbits from the 30s, 40 and 50s, woven through with humorous skits and his own sunny disposish. (Fans of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” will know where he gets the title.)
Much as I love Attaboy Clarence, my frenzied gushing is really reserved for the monumental The Secret History of Hollywood series. You enjoy classic movies. You can be a beginner or a doctorate level lover like I, it doesn’t matter. For example, he has a series that explores the life and career of Val Lewton, mostly known as the producer of RKO 1940s “horror” hits like Cat People(one of my favorite films), Curse of the Cat People(among my top 5 favorite films), and The Seventh Victim. The series, broken into several multi-hour episodes, entertains and informs with little-known facts and anecdotes. We get to hear about Val’s boyhood, Tom Conway’s boyhood, George Sander’s lassoing rats in prison, silent star Alla Nazimova crushing it as a lesbian goddess in Westchester, NY, eerie Russian folktales, who inspired the little girl in Curse of the Cat People, what an asshole Benedict Arnold was, how Hollywood screwed people over, how Zsa Zsa Gabor got her first break – the list goes on and on. And yes, these podcasts are titularly all about Val Lewton. But that’s where Adam’s true genius comes in. Like James Burke or others who understand the fascinating interconnectedness of everything, Adam weaves wonderful stories of so many things into all his podcasts. I learned way more about John Andre and the American Revolution in his podcast about Curse of the Cat People than I ever learned in school. And I’ll remember it – because it was really engrossing and fucking sad)!
Will you like Adam’s podcasts? Hmmm…are you reasonably intelligent? Then probably. If you like classic movies, old Hollywood, history, good stories and quality entertainment, then a resounding yes. I recommend you go to wherever it is you get your podcasts and start listening. Also, I implore you to go to his website and support Adam’s saintly endeavors. As he says, even a dollar is welcome. (But please, give more than just one dollar. I mean, come ON.)
I really can’t gush adequately. I would need to tie the femur bones of Jack Warner around my waist and dance naked around a fire, in the moonlight, chanting to an over-the-top Max Steiner refrain, to more accurately convey my devotion. Probably a sacrifice of some small child should be involved. But since our government is doing just that in spades right now, I’ll harm no children and just offer Angel Adam any additional listeners who are wise enough to heed my unabashed recommendation.
Now my children: Go forth and download!