WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN JUNE 1950
 
 

The Third Man Theme tops the American charts after a long run as the most popular song in Great Britain, introducing the zither to worldwide audiences while becoming one of the most unlikely hits of the era.

The film from which it was taken, a cynical critique on post-war morality in war ravaged Berlin, was directed by Carol Reed who heard Anton Karas playing the zither, a wooden stringed instrument, at a Viennese wine garden and asked him to write the music for the movie.

Karas accepted the offer despite having never written music and became a worldwide star, much to his chagrin, after composing the theme which arguably became the most identifiable film music in history. At times sounding both jaunty and haunting, the instrument itself was so unusual to the ears of the audience that embraced it almost as a novelty record that even with countless other versions being cut they all had no choice but to attempt to copy the unique tune as closely as possible.
 
 

 
 
 
 

The Korean War starts on June 25th becoming the first major armed conflict of the post-World War Two era involving the world’s superpowers, as the Soviet backed North Korean forces invades South Korea by crossing the 38th Parallel which had divided the two regions for the past few years.

The United States quickly led U.N. forces on the peninsula to repel the Communist troops, gaining an early advantage and pushing the KPA (Korean People’s Army) back to the China border in October, but the Chinese then got involved and through two years of brutal fighting the opposing sides essentially held their ground, relinquishing and then taking back the same territory without making significant headway.

Afraid of looking soft on Communism aggression, yet equally wary of precipitating an all-out war with their Soviet sponsors, American troops were essentially used to maintain the status quo at the loss of three million lives on all sides.

Though an armistice was signed in July of 1953, the war itself never officially ended with a peace treaty, thus remains technically ongoing seventy years later.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One of the first “revisionist” westerns, The Gunfighter, debuts in theaters bringing added psychological conflict and depth to a genre that had long subsisted on rote action and stale cliches.

The movie features Gregory Peck in one of his signature roles as the brooding Jimmy Ringo who patiently waits for the gunmen who are in pursuit to kill him while a local quick draw artist hopes to make his own name by goading Ringo into a showdown.

As the tense waiting game in the deserted saloon drags on Ringo’s motives come into focus as he wants to reconcile with his wife, a local woman who’s changed her name to avoid any connection with the notorious gunslinger, having never told their son who his father is.

The film was decidedly existential compared to the shoot ‘em up westerns of the day and deemed something of a box office disappointment at the time, although the script by William Bowers and William Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award. Years later it’s considered one of Peck’s greatest performances and a classic of the genre.
 

 
 
 
 
 

Are you tired of your old internal organs? Maybe would like to see one in a new color, shape or style to accessorize with your wardrobe? Well, until now you’ve been stuck with the factory installed editions but thanks to the miracles of modern science that’s about to change.

On June 17th in a Chicago hospital Dr. Richard Lawler transplanted a kidney from a cadaver into Ruth Tucker making it the first successful human organ transplant. The concept itself of replacing diseased organs with the healthy counterparts from someone recently deceased had first been raised almost a half-century earlier but it hadn’t been attempted until 1933 when the effort failed due to differing blood types in the patients.

Though Tucker’s body eventually rejected the donated kidney after ten months as immune suppressant drugs weren’t yet available, the transplant allowed her own healthier kidney enough time to recover and she was able to survive another five years as a result.

Today the average life span added to a patient with a kidney transplant is closer to fifteen years although immunosuppressive drugs are still required.
 
 
 
 
 
 

After bursting onto the scene three years earlier with an Academy Award nominated supporting role as a sadistic killer in Kiss Of Death, Richard Widmark arguably reaches his high point in a long and rewarding career with two major releases debuting this month which showcase him in polar opposite roles.

As a stubborn doctor in New Orleans fighting city hall to prevent the spread of the plague brought to the country by a diseased small time criminal on the loose played by a scene stealing Jack Palance in the hard-hitting drama, Panic In The Streets, Widmark gets to shed the seedier side of his persona while still retaining the tough guy exterior as he hunts down Palance through the city’s back alleys and waterfront, all shot on location by director Elia Kazan in a film that is widely hailed as a gritty minor classic.
 


 
 

At the same time Widmark was less well received as Harry Fabian, a desperate semi-crooked wrestling promoter trying to stay one-step ahead of the law and his adversaries in Night And The City, a film noir set in Britain that was as bleak and unrelenting as any in the genre’s history – too much so for the general public at the time.

In years to come however the movie underwent a critical reappraisal and today Widmark’s role as the twitchy beady-eyed scam artist is considered by many to be his best performance.


 
 
 
 

The anti-Communist scribe Red Channels is published which is nothing more than lists of those writers, directors and actors working on television with suspected Communist sympathies based on such probing investigations such as scanning the names of those who happened to attend a May Day rally, or speaking out against antisemitism, opposing the H-bomb and nuclear annihilation or signing a petition for increased Civil Rights.

Those who put this out then used the threat of blacklisting to force the networks to pay them to look up the backgrounds of anyone they were considering hiring – for $25 a name – and if that person had any potential security issues the “suspected pinko” would be offered a way to expunge their record for $200 and be cleared. So much for their claims that this was a patriotic duty to rid the country of subversive foreign influence. In truth it was little more than blackmail, ironically the same kind of shakedown tactics used by totalitarian Communist regimes.

This insidious practice was allowed to exist unchallenged in the television industry for over a decade with most of the accused being totally apolitical people whose lives were ruined as a result of these fabricated charges.
 
 
 
 
 
 

For those housewives who are sick of dishpan hands comes a revolutionary life-changing appliance from General Electric… the wonderful new portable dishwasher.

No installation is required for these bulky over-sized items, for you simply wheel it into the kitchen after meals, load as many as one hundred pieces of fine china, cutlery, pots and pans – all simply piled atop one another with no regard for their safety – and turn it on and the hot water sprays off the remaining food in minutes. Then just open the lid and let the remaining dishes that weren’t broken by the ordeal air dry before putting them away… or throwing them out.

This time-saving device can be yours for just $169.50, a pittance compared to replacing the ruined floor you’ll get from dragging this water-filled monstrosity across the kitchen each night because your lazy husband won’t get off the couch to help out.
 
 
 
 
 

RECORDS REVIEWED FOR JUNE 1950:

GOREE CARTER: Let’s Rock
GOREE CARTER: Everybody’s Love Crazy
LITTLE ESTHER (with MEL WALKER & JOHNNY OTIS): Cupid’s Boogie
LITTLE ESTHER (with JOHNNY OTIS): Just Can’t Get Free
SAMMY COTTON: Cool Playin’ Mama
SAMMY COTTON: Heart Full Of Pain
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Kissing Bug Boogie
CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Hard Driving Woman
AMOS MILBURN: Hard Luck Blues
AMOS MILBURN: Two Years Of Torture
ED WILEY (ft. KING TUT): My Heart Is Going Down Slow
PAUL WILLIAMS: Rye Boogie
PAUL WILLIAMS: Weasel Swing
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Let Me Dream
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Gimme A Pound O’ Ground Round
T. J. FOWLER: Hot Sauce
ANNIE LAURIE & PAUL GAYTEN: I Ain’t Gonna Let You In
ANNIE LAURIE: I Need Your Love
LESTER WILLIAMS: Dowling Street Hop
LESTER WILLIAMS: Don’t Treat Me So Low Down
THE THREE RIFFS: Jumping Jack
ARCHIBALD: Shake Shake Baby
ARCHIBALD: Ballin’ With Archie
LARRY DARNELL: My Kind Of Baby
LARRY DARNELL: I Love My Baby
THE CAROLS: Please Believe In Me
THE CAROLS: Drink Gin
TINY BRADSHAW: Boodie Green
THE ROBINS (with JOHNNY OTIS): I’m Living O.K.
THE ROBINS (with JOHNNY OTIS): There’s Rain In My Eyes
HUBERT ROBINSON: Old Woman Boogie
LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Cheerful Baby
LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Happy Pay Day
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Sugar Foot Rag
FREDDIE MITCHELL: On The Alamo Boogie
THE ORIOLES: Everything They Said Came True
THE ORIOLES: You’re Gone
KITTY STEVENSON (with TODD RHODES): That’s The Guy For Me
KITTY STEVENSON (with TODD RHODES): Make It Good
THE RIVALS: Rival Blues
THE RIVALS: Don’t Say You’re Sorry Again
PEPPERMINT HARRIS: Fat Girl Boogie
HAROLD LAND: San Diego Bounce
WYNONIE HARRIS: Good Morning Judge
WYNONIE HARRIS: Stormy Night Blues
THE RAY-O-VACS: Bésame Mucho
THE RAY-O-VACS: You Gotta Love Me Baby Too
BILLY WRIGHT: Man’s Brand Boogie
BILLY WRIGHT: Beg A Dog

 

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NEXT: JULY 1950