Laurel & Hardy Tribute

Babe & Stan Return

A relatively unknown BBC radio drama is turned into a slight one-hour movie about comedy team Laurel and Hardy. It is set in 1957 when Stan makes a death-bed visit to his old teammate after being estranged for a year. It’s called Stan, but should be Stan & Ollie.

Since Laurel always wanted to be a stand-alone act, the title is Stan.

For fans who remember them from two-reelers, this short film is a joy forever. It explains in flashbacks how their rocky start together transformed each—and made them immortal Hollywood icons.

What makes this little film so special and why it works is all in the casting. Not only are the elderly men reminiscent of the duo, but so are their younger versions. As the old men, with Hardy suffering from a stroke are Jim Norton as Stan and Trevor Cooper as Oliver. The younger versions are extraordinary too, lending to the verisimilitude: Nik Howden (Laurel) and Mike Goodenough (Hardy).

Of course, the younger generation, used to SNL weened comedians, may have a tough time identifying with the Great Depression duo. Laurel and Hardy do analyze their importance, to make their lives feel worthy, at the end. They were ordinary, and made audiences see humor in the worst of times.

Stan recalls their initial teaming and how he opposed it. Though Laurel was actually the brains of the twosome, he basically came up with gags and directed their scenes. Yet, Oliver Hardy made contributions that Laurel recognized as highly valuable.

Stan re-lives his past by watching their old films and thinking of new bits—but time has passed them by. With bittersweet moments, this is a fitting tribute to Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.

Available on Amazon Video.

Bette & Joan: The Bitter End

DATELINE: Final Round

 coda  Great Eternal Stars

If you are waiting for the moment after Crawford died when Bette Davis spoke her insightful comment, “They don’t change just because they’re dead,” you won’t find it in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries.

We do hear Davis tell a reporter that her mother taught her to speak only good about the dead.  Bette then gives her quote for the obituary: “Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” And, she hangs up on the press.

The end for Joan features a soundtrack recording of The Doors’ song of that name while Joan filmed Trog, in ill health and with deplorable low-budget conditions. It’s either a depiction of poetic justice or cruel fate.

The attempt to wash her tainted Crawford image clean comes with a scene of Joan hallucinating a conversation with Hedda Hopper, Jack Warner, and Bette, the week before she died. How could anyone know about this or what Joan thought in her dying days?

Both women were about to suffer the cruelest cuts of all by their daughters’ memoirs that tried to sully their accomplishments in a world of art and pretense.

Victor Buono, their one-time costar, tries to encourage Bette to reach out to Crawford—but who knows if she made a phone call in the middle of the night to her nemesis?

Joan and Bette lived in a world where publicity machines were gospel. At the end, publicity machines became scandal dispensaries.

The series can only end as life ends: growing old with ill health marking the last days of great stars.

In old age Joan and Bette tried to maintain their dignity, live with clear regrets, and ended up going pathetically into the dark night of movie history.

The early series humor and boisterous, but ribald, energy of the women faded with each episode of the miniseries, leaving fans with the greatest regrets about how it inevitably turns out.

Movie Gold = Blue Gold

DATELINE: Blue Denim without Brandon De Wilde

 blue gold

Though we expected this documentary to be frivolous, it turned out to be entertaining and smart.

Blue Gold: American Jeans tells the story of how the fashion-plate pants of the Old West have become a big business and an art form. Yes, you will regret having tossed out those moth-eaten old pair of blue jeans. They are worth thousands of dollars today.

Oh, the film traces the historical process of how jeans are made with indigo dye and rivets by Levi Strauss, or Lee, or Wrangler. You will surely learn how the business of fashionable jeans in America has gone to the Far East.

This little film compiles everything you want to know about blue jeans—from Calvins to Brooke Shields with nothing next to her. Every morsel of trivia about blue jeans is here. And, you can’t be much closer to a subject than how it fits and shapes your scrotum and ass.

Authentic blue jeans are indeed valuable, especially in Japan nowadays. Collectors travel the Midwest and Nevada to find old trunks with old trunks. You will not find many documentaries that will combine Bob Dylan, Bruce Lee, with Iggy Pop and James Dean.

It struck us that those looking for authentic jeans, worn by real workers years ago, are actually big phonies. They never worked for their jeans, but they paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of looking like blue collar types in their pantaloons.

With a main host who looks a great deal like John Goodman on a lark, the film will not make your butt look fat.

Directed with holes in the right places by Christian D. Bruun, the film is sheer delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Julian Edelman’s Hairless Chipmunk

 JULIAN Julie after

BEFORE & AFTER SHAVE

While Tom Brady went on a world tour without his teammate Julian Edelman, the slot receiver created his own buzz.

Together with his own follower, Danny Amendola, the two close friends went to Mexico to learn how to wrestle. And, upon returning, won the notoriety that comes with being a nude inlay spread for ESPN’s naked athlete edition.

Posing in capes and masks may seem like child’s play, but ever since growing that mangy beard, Julie needed to compensate for something.

Now, our crack investigative skills have solved the mystery. We examined “before and after pix” of the twelve-packed short receiver in a variety of poses. We are now ready to deliver the fake news of the week.

It seems likely that Julie E and his constant donut companion Danny A have taken up the painful hobby of full body waxing.

It has paid off with an in tandem photo shoot with another Boston pipsqueak: Isaiah Thomas who bares all his tattoos in the upcoming ESPN Body Issue 2017.

Julie has spared himself the pain and agony, not of defeat, but of ink blots. Thomas, on the other shoulder and arm, has not. Both men have kept the Inkster away from their keester. Thank you, ESPN, for this salient bit of real news.

For months, Julian Edelman dropped hints that he had dropped his pantaloons for ESPN’s notorious nude issue. This year, following Gronk in 2012, five years earlier, Julie E flaunted and teased, his modus operandi in many spheres of life.

This time, he took with him another Boston superstar and admirer of Tom Brady: the chipmunk of the NBA, the effervescent Isaiah Thomas, a diminutive scoring machine of the Boston Celtics.

Both men are small for their sport, but normal in all matters not requiring mental agility and physical freakishness. Now they share the glow of healthy skin in a nude magazine spread.

It’s that glow of skin that has amused us: it was not always that way. We never forget a follicle, even if Tom Brady has had them transplanted from below his head. And now, hirsute Julie E.

 

Twin Peaks (s3 Half-Way Point)

 DATELINE:  NO Spoilers Possibletwin peaks

There is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks. We are not even sure we are still in Twin Peaks after the face of Laura Palmer emerges from the mist in the opening credits.

We have now come to the half-way point of no-return for Season 3 on the bizarre David Lynch TV series, and we can explain everything that happened and you will have no idea what we are talking about.

The episode started with Kyle McLachlan’s Doppleganger Agent D.B. Cooper in a jail break with an accomplice who promptly shoots and kills him. Then, he is beset upon by demonic spirits that apparently bring him back to life.

At this point there is a flashback to a flashpoint in the plot. We find ourselves in Desert Sands, New Mexico, as the first atomic bomb is detonated. If you think of this as a hole in the plot, you may have fallen into the trap.

We are then thrust into a five-minute Stanley Kubrick-style hallucinogenic trip inside a radioactive cloud. When we emerged, we found ourselves in a 1950s black and white horror movie with zombies murdering people.

Oh, yes, somewhere in there we found ourselves in the waiting room of an imperious theater where Lurch the Butler of the Addams Family sends a golden plasma bubble with the face of Laura Palmer back to Earth.

Back on Earth, an alien lizard with wings hatches from an egg near the site of the nuclear explosion in 1956 and enters the mouth of sleeping adolescent girl. Now we feel the Illuminati are lurking somewhere in the storyline.

Is that clear? Are you spoiled yet? Have you any idea if David Lynch has lost his lunch?

Yes, we will watch again next week, not that it matters.

Is Aaron Hernandez Mansion Haunted?

DATELINE:  Ghosts at Home

armlessinattleboro  Police Remove Hernandez from N. Attleboro Home in 2013.

Realtors hate to answer this question because it puts a damper on buying possibilities.

Shortly after he was taken away on murder charges, his common law wife moved out. The house owned by the convicted killer of Odin Lloyd has basically been empty and on the market since then. This week the house listing price was dropped over $200,000 to the price Hernandez originally paid:  $1.3 million.

The North Attleboro house may indeed be haunted, not only by Hernandez, but by one of his victims who spent time there: Mr. Lloyd, the murder victim.

Having lived in a haunted house, we know something about the likelihood. Unlike the Hernandez case, our realtors did not know that our home was part of the estate of two victims who died on the Titanic. We quickly learned the house was not exactly empty—and investigation showed who might be here exactly.

Our spirits are friendly, probably loved the street they lived on—but true ghosts are bound to a location from their lives. They are likely trapped on Earth, refusing to move on to another astral plane.

Apart from prospective buyers, the only people who have spent time at the Hernandez house in North Attleboro were jurors, judge, and lawyers from the first murder trial. No one wants to give the house an overnight stay. We wonder what could be there to prevent visitors from making a permanent home in the mansion.

Even in our house, there was initial resistance from the spirits who knocked down hanging pictures and made bizarre noises. They still take umbrage at unexpected company. We have had overnight guests who heard footsteps coming to their bed—checking them out before moving away to another part of the house.

Is Aaron Hernandez still stalking the rooms of his North Attleboro manse?  We wait for the brave souls who choose to live there to give us the answer.

 

Author William Russo has written two books on the subject:  The Strange Case of Aaron Hernandez and Haunting Near Virtuous Spring, about ghosts from the Titanic at his own home.

Rita, Kim, & Frank: Pals of Joey

DATELINE:  Another Lost Classic

star power

From 1957 comes an overlooked musical from Rogers and Hart, based on a John O’Hara book. Pal Joey has top-drawer firepower with Kim Novak, Rita Hayworth, and Frank Sinatra.

Set in San Francisco with much location shooting, you will have a sense of what it was like in the Red Light district. Not a year later, Hitchcock would bring Kim Novak back to the setting for Vertigo.

Sinatra is in typecast form as the brash lounge singer who foists himself on whoever is handy. He downplayed what he didn’t like and made the character a version of himself. His dream is to have his own nightclub where he can sing and star. In the meantime, his two-bit hoodlum act wears thin on almost everyone, but he is a ladies’ man, as they used to say.

Sinatra could not have two better, bigger co-stars. Sinatra even gave Hayworth top billing as the “older woman.”  Mae West was originally considered for the role with Billy Wilder directing.

Rita Hayworth is on the cusp of middle-age and seems to be playing her patented Gilda a dozen years later. She is now a rich widow with a tainted show busy past. When Sinatra forces her to perform at a charity auction, she seems about ready to sing “Put the Blame on Mame,” and actually does a satiric number in which she strips off her gloves (both of them, this time).

Sinatra woos her for the start-up money for his lounge on Nob Hill—and voluptuous Kim Novak rises from the chorus to a featured singer and dancer.

Once the tunes start humming, you have a bunch of standards coming one after another: Sinatra sings “The Lady is a Tramp,” to Hayworth—and Hayworth sings “Betwitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” while Novak gives a sensitive rendition of “Funny Valentine.”

Sinatra even re-did the final fantasy dance scene with all three stars, which is sad because Rita Hayworth was a real dancer.

The film shines, despite changes orchestrated by producer Harry Cohn and Sinatra. It’s still classic crooner Sinatra.

Hurricane Clint Eastwood Downgraded to Breezy

DATELINE: Better to Stay Lost

breezy

In his third directorial effort, back in 1973, Clint Eastwood took up the challenge of a romantic comedy.  It probably sounded easier than he expected because he had William Holden, even aging and falling apart, as his charming, cynical leading man.

This atrocity is called Breezy, rhymes with easy, named after the hippie free spirit who haunts William Holden. It might have been more hilarious if Breezy was a teenage boy. But Clint doesn’t eat sweets.

However, the moribund script features one fantasy hippie girl who believed in free love of the era. Perhaps it was realistic back in the early 1970s in L.A., but Kay Lenz presents one of the most annoying, anachronistic versions of a promiscuous teenager we have seen in decades.

We cannot figure out why Holden’s well-to-do businessman didn’t toss this annoying and cloying girl out on her keester when she first appears to panhandle and try to con him. Are all men victims of their sex drive?

That Holden falls in love with her seems to stretch credulity for a character who never has fallen in love with any woman.

On top of all this, we are then faced with the embarrassments of May-December romance being denigrated by every other character Holden knows in the movie script. Really, Clint?

We almost hoped Holden would turn into Dirty Sex Harry and shoot the whole lot of slut hustlers. Of course, it’s not that kind of film, alas.

If the saccharine hippie girl isn’t enough to rot the script, you have an overlay of Michel Legrand music. Apparently, Clint gave himself plenty of challenges to overcome. You may drown in movie sweetness, not typical Eastwood.

Clint fans knew better than the novice director—and ran away from this clinkeroo. This was not even a good character-driven story, though you can see how Eastwood wants to develop it. The film wastes William Holden– and Eastwood too.

Many critics in hindsight think this was Clint’s most “personal” film. We doubt it. He was still learning his craft by directing in an unusual setting and genre.

Destroying the film negative might be a better challenge to undertake. Clint likely chose to ignore the movie as time passed as an experiment in directing. This movie is a freak of his oeuvre.

Depp is Really a Dope

 DATELINE: Actors & Politics

Tonto Means Dopey Depp Johnny Dope

They don’t call him Johnny Dope for nothing.

The semi-intoxicated movie star named Johnny Depp called for the assassination of President Trump at a British music festival this week. He compared himself to another actor named John Wilkes Booth.

That comparison raises Depp a few steps above his talent range.

Wilkes Booth was a noted actor of stage, known for his good looks and his explosive talent. Depp has always fallen short on both levels.

Booth, of course, assassinated President Abraham Lincoln with a group of misfits he assembled. There’s no doubt the Depp probably can muster up a group of misfits from his devotees. That’s his likely fan club.

As far as actors killing presidents is concerned, we believe Booth was a better actor, but as Depp brags: he’s a better liar than Booth. Heavens, there is no end to his talent: until now.

Threatening to kill a president you disagree with is a new low even for Hollywood liberals.

John Wilkes Booth was a great Shakespearean actor even at a young age. However, Booth was dead at 27, after a manhunt by authorities. Depp is still alive and kicking and pushing 60.  After his recent comment, nobody will be chasing him, especially film producers.

We also believe the Depp has never really tried Shakespeare, which separates the actors from the drunken liars.

The Secret Service is said to be aware of Depp’s Kathy Griffin moment. If we are lucky, the man who has played Tonto will be sent into retirement, not a moment too soon. His performance was an insult to all Native Americans.

In case you’re wondering, Tonto is Spanish for stupid. That may be the highlight of Johnny Dope’s career. Put it on his tombstone.

Sumo Like It Hot for Tom Brady

DATELINE: Great Wall of China Meets Great Brady

sumo like it hot

When Under Armor sends Tom Brady around the world in eight days, you can expect some great moments.

Phileas Finn had his sidekick, and Tom Brady had his young son along for the ride.

So, the Greatest of All Time in football quarterbacking met the Greatest of All Time in Walls. It was enough to make President Trump jealous. Or, perhaps Tom was there to give Trump a report on how well walls work in the world.

Great Wall Meets Great Brady

Sublime met the ridiculous again when Brady decided to doff his shirt (not stolen by agents of North Korea) and do a tag team wrestling match against some heavyweight Sumo guys.

Tom is not quite the Pillsbury Doughboy when it comes to muscle, but he is not Arnold either. He posed, rather ill-advisedly with Sumo wrestlers in their diaper wraps. Tom had the good taste to wear his patented sleepwear pantaloons.

Some Brady groupies are agog at the fleshpot photos of Brady among the Sumos.  We are less impressed that Sumo like it hot.

Pictures like these generally come back to haunt. In this case, it may never go away long enough to be missed. We may take a long time to try to expunge the image from our memory banks.

We can’t imagine that Tom will sell his sleepware to many wrestlers who seem to revel in having their hot flesh bare in bed.

We aren’t sure who is advising Tom on this latest cavort. At least he managed to escape the clutches of his own Passepartout, Julian Edelman, for a few days.

Dramatic Musical: The Bolero

DATELINE:  Best Short Film 1974 Oscar

Mehta

Winning the Best Short Subject Oscar for 1974, The Bolero may be one of the most breathtaking documentaries about music put on film.

From its opening scenes, setting up chairs for musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, to its climax, you will have a deep appreciation for the challenge and creativity of symphony orchestras.

Most people know Ravel’s “Bolero” from the Walt Disney animated classic, as the music that portends the end of the dinosaurs. Or, worse, you may recall Bo Derek.

At first you have violinists, bassoonists, and flutists, all making mention of the difficulty of small solos in the overall performance. Behind them you hear the occasional melody from the piece.

Zubin Mehta was young and dynamic as the conductor, expressive and humorous. He notes after this performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic he never wants to do The Bolero ever again. His tongue is firmly in cheek.

Drama always builds slowly, and if Mehta has any real challenge here, it is in keeping the pace of the music in check.

When the orchestra begins to play the entire score, you see them lit against a satin black background—and you are faced with fierce concentration from individual players as they read their music, look up to the conductor, and listen to their colleagues in the symphony. It mirrors any struggle Jack London ever described in Nature.

Mehta plays a conductor as you always expected one to be. When he is in full charge, his face shows how much he loves music, art, and helps director Alan Miller create something so special that 45 years later, you will be thrilled and delighted by the 25-minute experience.

 

 

El Escape de Hitler in Any Language

DATELINE:  Old Friend Dullest

dullest

This 2011 film from Argentina is only available for streaming video and has subtitles. That’s enough to send most viewers scurrying for the remote. An Argentine film uses the Spanish title: El Escape de Hitler.

However, don’t be hasty. This little film may be a lost gem in the ‘Where’s Adolph?’ sweepstakes.

The recent Bob Baer series on History channel took many ideas from this 87-minute documentary—and left out some of the most intriguing theories.

Some rather suspenseful direction from Matias Gueilburt helps to hold your interest with effective historical movie clips, and host Carlos de Napoli is hilariously mysterious in his demeanor as he follows the trail from Nuremberg and Austrian locations to the Argentine border of Bariloche where Hitler and his bride seemingly ended up.

If the area in Argentina didn’t already have a Bavarian appeal, the local German residents went all out to make it homey. They even planted trees imported from Germany to make the local lake look even more like the Fatherland.

Our old friend from the CIA, Allen Dulles, shows up here as the man who orchestrated a deal with Hitler to have him disappear in exchange for all those rocket scientists who later put an American on the Moon. This sort of discounts all those Ancient Alien types who think Hitler jumped instead into a time machine called The Bell and took off for parts in the distant future.

So, with American cover, the Nazi murdering monster went missing while everyone looked the other way. Flown out of his bunker well before the Soviets came by, he jumped onto a U-boat and disembarked in Argentina, traveling across the country to the Andes.

If true, Hitler and his wife lived out their golden years in a remote luxury mansion with all the accoutrements of Alpine living, including their round-the-clock security and nearby airplane for a fast getaway.

It’s fascinating, if nothing else.

Life Begins Again for Alien Blob

DATELINE Nice Guys Finish Last

Meeting the Enemy--It's US! Pods Unite!

LIFE should never be confused with L I F E. The two movies are like night and day. Each film had some bright leading men. The first had Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson, a couple of actors you always play dubious characters.

The other film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, a couple of actors who are completely nice guys, all the time. The second L I F E is a science-fiction movie and the bad guy is a pipsqueak space alien who feeds on humans.  This allows the leading men to play like vanilla ice cream, melting slowly. Fear not: the second L I F E film is far better than the first, blank space not withstanding.

Daniel Espinosa who gave us the chlllingly depressing tale of a Russian child molester, Child 44, directs this intense combo of the Blob Meets Alien. And, it’s a doozy all right.

Because the science nerds in this film are so serious and the science is so accurate, this tale becomes more horrifying and realistic as a group of bland astronauts finds a one-cell lifeform from Mars that rapidly grows into a threat to the human race—while still on the space station.

It’s all familiar, yet fresh in a more disturbing way in the hands of Espinosa. You have your vanilla ice-cream ethnically-diverse heroes looking to follow protocol. It didn’t work in the Thing from Outer Space in 1950, and it won’t work for these guys.

If you enjoy a good squirm in your seat movie, you have one here. However, there is a considerable amount of weeping among the crew—and gnashing of teeth, rather than decisive action.

If you want to bemoan the state of today’s film plots, you need only wonder how much different this picture would have been if John Wayne had been among the crew.

No Joke: The Seven Dwarves of Auschwitz

DATELINE:  Fascinating True Story

7 dwarves

Though it sounds like a sick joke, the fate of the vaudeville Orvitz family came down to the misfortune and good fortune of being dwarves and Jews. A documentary called The Seven Dwarves of Auschwitz is harrowing and inspiring.

Brothers and sisters, the seven Orvitzes entertained Europe in the 1930s with song, dance, patter, and capitalizing on their own physical situation. They were tiny people who joined many others of the era by entering show biz as the best way to make a living.

They exploited themselves, and ran from the terror of the Nazis in Europe.  They ignored the horror stories, but finally the Nazis came to capture them in Transylvania and transport them in 1944 to the death camp at Auschwitz.

Through pluck and luck, they came to the attention of an ironic savior, the unstable Dr. Joseph Mengele. One of the guards told the doctor that he had found more specimens for the infamous ‘Mengele Zoo’, as it was called.

Yet, it meant that they would live as experiment specimens for the deranged medical practices of Mengele. However, he was also intrigued by their ability to entertain. It was that which kept them alive while others with deformity were slaughtered.

The tale is told by actor Warwick Davis, a small person himself, with an interest in the history of show business dwarves. He made a name for himself in movies, playing Ewoks and whatnot.

The horror of the tale is etched on his face as he travels the route suffered by the seven Orvitz dwarves. They were tortured by odd experiments, but managed to survive. Mengele allowed them to live to perform for him.

The film is unique in its perspective and deserves to be seen and will never be forgotten.

A Good Mechanic is Hard to Find

DATELINE:  Off-duty Killers

 Mechanics off duty

Charles Bronson teamed with Jan-Michael Vincent in 1972 for their fascinating mob hitman movie called The Mechanic, which was changed to Killer of Killers when a bad remake of the original was made recently.

In contrast to the recently viewed The Assignment, this has more stops pulled out, but the gender-issues came across in full force. Bronson, in fact, demanded that a scene with his wife Jill Ireland be gratuitously added to the movie so the main character, Mr. Bishop, could be seen having sex with a woman. It was pointless. He only has eyes for the son of the mob boss.

When Bronson meets the beautiful blond Jan-Michael, all is lost.

Their courtship as partners in the assassination business tells all. When they go to a strip joint, they have eyes only for each other—and ignore the cavorting girls who are nude on stage. Vincent seems to have moved into a luxurious art-laced house with Bishop, “Nice to see what inside your mind looks like,” opines the seductive Jan-Michael.

However, their murderous relationship runs afoul of the mob that disapproves—of something that dares not speak its name. It is 1972, after all, when Boys in the Band was nascent.

Bronson’s need for a companion is his undoing when he starts to suspect his young friend has a hidden agenda. Mr. Bishop needs a companion, and his young protégé notes, “That’s your weakness.”

“See Naples and die,” becomes more than a throwaway slogan amid the explosions and gunfights as the film moves swiftly to a surprise ending.

Beautiful settings and beautiful sets make the sordid story fly by. If you want a lost gem, The Mechanic still shines 45 years later.

 

 

 

 

Unusual True Ghost Story Revealed

DATELINE:  New Book about Spirit from Titanic Disaster?

mystery kindle coverIn his new book Mysterious Mill Circle, almost as an addendum, Dr. William Russo has finally told part of the true story about the strange activities at the former estate of two victims of the Titanic disaster.

In the final chapter of the new book comes the revelation about a possessed doll and its strange connection to the Titanic.

For years the story has circulated privately and quietly among local residents of the sleepy New England town where two victims of the Titanic were born and raised. Only one is buried nearby when his body was recovered. The other was never found in the North Atlantic.

Is the spirit or ghost taking hold of a doll version of Edvard Munch’s “The Silent Scream”? According to the author, the inflatable doll deflates and inflates on its own. But, that is only part of the mystery.

scream up close  “Silent Scream”

Previously Dr. Russo told the story of the victims in his nonfiction biography entitled Tales of a Titanic Family, but that historical work did not explain some of the paranormal activities associated with the neighborhood where the victims formerly lived.

The book also contains several tales of grotesque and odd wildlife on Mill Circle.

Now on Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions (strictly for smart readers).

 

 

 

Th

Original New York Terror Movie

DATELINE:  Classic Thriller

 

Matthau

Taking of Pelham One Two Three, from 1974, is a masterpiece

Directed by Joseph Sargent, it holds up after 40 years of action thrillers have passed into oblivion. Twenty-five years before 9-11, it showed New York City in full terrorist mode. Of course, back then, it was not called “terrorism,” but when a gang of dangerous criminals hijacks a subway train, the word fits.

Acutely written and underplayed by a bunch of New York actors, the leading transit policeman is Walter Matthau, a man give over to snippy one-liners and packaging disheveled frumpiness. He is at the top of the game here. And, his sidekick is Jerry Stiller, not Jack Lemmon.

Indeed, the passel of familiar faces from TV and movies of the era is a who’s who cast: James Broderick, Tony Roberts, Dick O’Neill, Kenneth McMillan, Dolph Sweet, Tom Pedi, and Doris Roberts. For the most part they throw out some zinger lines to break up the tension.

The bad guys are gems: Hector Elizondo and Martin Balsam, of course, effective as always, but Robert Shaw added another villain portrait to his growing gallery as the mercenary ringleader. His end rivals his work in Jaws the following year.

New York City is magnificent as itself, harsh, bustling, dirty, cynical, and unique.

To watch a well-put together suspense thriller, you may be surprised to learn it won next to nothing in awards, a few nominations, but nothing from Oscar land. They didn’t take terror films lightly back then, and this one dishes out some great entertainment along with the speeding subway trains and crashing police cars.