Thursday, June 14, 2007

William Shatner *and* Adam West? Yes, it really happened...

...and when else but in the Sixties? (They could encounter each other nowadays, but who would care?)

Here's my original blog entry:

That’s right, it’s two of our childhood heroes acting opposite each other in a program that has been forgotten by all but the most diehard fanatics: a failed pilot for a projected series about Alexander the Great (!) that united for the first and only time William Shatner and Adam West. Shatner is Alex, and Adam West is his aide-de-camp Cleander. The film was shot in 1965, right before Shatner donned the mantle of James Tiberius Kirk and West put on the bat-cowl for the first time. It didn’t air until 1968, when it was dumped on a children’s series called “Off to See the Wizard,” which I believe aired on Sunday nights. The Shatner-West pairing is the first thing that makes Alexander a “great” find (had to), but there are several other reasons to be intrigued by this somewhat dubious historical epic: it was directed by hardcore noir director Phil Karlson (who was deep into the Matt Helm films around this time), written by Robert Pirosh (A Day at the Races, I Married a Witch, Hell is for Heroes), and has a supporting cast of character actors that includes Simon Oakland (Psycho, Kolchak), Ziva Rodann (Macumba Love, Batman’s “Queen Nefertiti”), and Cliff Osmond (Kiss Me Stupid). And if you’ve read this far, you deserve to find out the identities of the “Special Guest Stars”: Joseph Cotten and John Cassavetes! (Yes, Johnny C. must’ve needed money to finish Faces, and if he could work with Ronald Reagan, he could certainly work with Shatner and West).

I presented clips from Alexander the Great in the first year of the Funhouse (early ’94), and haven’t shown it at any point since. In that time, I have not come across a better copy anywhere (and that takes in a lot of trips around the bootleg tables at fan-cons), so I do apologize for the sometimes wavery image and the washed-out sound. I should also thank our friend M. Faust for getting this rarity to me, and I delight in sharin’ it with you.

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