Truly Miss Marple: Rutherford Murders?

DATELINE:  Murder Most Foul!

Dames Margaret & Agatha

Dames Margaret Rutherford & Agatha Christie!

A little British documentary about character actress Margaret Rutherford is shocking, surprising, and ultimately saddening. If you have forgotten her dotty old ladies, she was the first movie Miss Marple.

The film has the overwhelming title: Truly Miss Marple: the Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford. The actress died in 1972 after a rapid decline in health at the height of her popularity

Agatha Christie was appalled at the folly of turning her aged detective into an eccentric comic actress, but they later enjoyed each other—to the degree that Christie dedicated The Mirror Crack’d to Rutherford.

Her acting career did not fully reach success until after age 40: she was always the costar, whether it was for John Gielgud or Edith Evans. When success came, she played old ladies who were NOT battle-axes. It was an unkind comment by interviewers. Dame Margaret was always a gentle figure of fun.

Her biggest break came with Noel Coward in Blithe Spirit, a role she almost refused because she thought it might demean spiritualists (as she was a believer).

Her indomitable English grand dames gave way in old age to the Christie character, though Margaret hated the word “Murder” in the titles of the four grand Miss Marple movies. There was a reason for her sensitivity: her father murdered her grandfather, and later, likely as a result, her mother committed suicide.

Yet, Rutherford herself was the ultimate woman of kind hearts and coronets. If there was a downside, it was her growing periods of depression. It was a losing battle, especially when dementia added to her woes.

She briefly went to Hollywood with Burton and Taylor in The VIPs and won an Oscar as a supporting actress. The Oscar disappeared after her death, stolen and on the black market, sold by a conniving housekeeper.

Miss Marple’s little murder mystery movies remain delightful, owing to Rutherford’s charismatic personality.

 

Lost Gold’s Backdoor Episode

DATELINE: Grandpa Knows Best. 

Luzon meeting Luzon Meeting of the Braintrust?

Finally, in the fifth episode of trudging through the thick, humid, sticky jungle, the intrepid American heroes of this series admitted there were bugs eating them alive. Lost Gold of World War II holds your attention.

We saw sweat dripping several times over the past few weeks as they chop through thick underbrush, bemoaning how the Japanese soldiers managed.

Well, we heard in a throwaway line that prisoners of war and others did this heavy work—and were paid by being entombed in the mine shafts where the gold was hidden.

We were also bemused to see the true oldsters of the expedition going out on this show:  Peter Struzzieri, the ostensible brains back at basecamp and a spry 70 year old, and Martin Flagg, a less spry senior expert in Japanese secret society symbols were dragged out.

Peter Casey was clearly concerned that this was an arduous trek. But, the so-called carved turtle rock was something they must behold: it’s alleged to be a direction marker to a backdoor to the gold.

We did laugh when Struzzieri noted that the younger guys would go on ahead. No one is under 50. If you stick around for the closing credits, you will note that these scenes are all “re-enacted,” for cameras.

You also have to marvel when they go to “grandpa” who is the ancient source of wisdom (sort of their version of Dan Blankenship on Oak Island).

Like our gold diggers on Oak Island, these guys like to jump to conclusions. Thank heavens that Bingo Minerva is back in Texas, taking a shell casing to a military historian.

The ammo is actually dating from 1908 and American intervention in the Spanish-American conflict of 1898. If you want rationalizing at its best, the searchers speculate that World War II Japanese soldiers were using old American ammo by war’s end.

Oh, well, this stuff is still fun.

 

More Spirit of 1776 on Oak Island

DATELINE:   20th Episode of Season 6

spirit of 1776JPG

Who’d have thunk Oak Island would reach 20 episodes in one season?  And, who would believe that they might hang on to hope when results seem skimpy?

Yet, here we are, with a drained swamp and about 2000 seismic charges about to blow little holes in the plot to hide Templar treasure. Instead, we are back to those pesky Masons and Founding Fathers.

As usual, we had the regular incident of nearly every week. Metal expert Gary Drayton went out to some remote location and found a coin. As one friend said, it seems like a rerun. This time, Gary did not point out that the coin had a square hole in its center. Nearly every item he has found seemed to have a square hole in it—to which he made a big deal.

And again, Alex Lagina was trotted out like a prized prince to no particular reason to look decorative at Smith’s Cove and to make the pronouncement that they had found something significant.

Beyond that, the group of treasure hunters has shrunk remarkably by this point: it’s nearly November 1st—and they are lucky there is no snow.

The huge construction crews are gone—and the diggers are the geologist, the archeologist, the historian, the library researcher, and the metal detector. Second bananas are the real worker bees in this cove.

A scientist expert in tree rings enters at the end to give a date to the various wood structures. No one seems disappointed that the construction is not pre-Columbus, or pre-Templar massacre. It is rather akin to the American Revolution.

It is, rather importantly, the 99.999 % certainty that it predates the dates of the Money Pit discovery by a mere twenty years.

We are left with one last episode of season six to pull this all together.

 

 

 

 

 

A Picture Worth a Billion Jokes!

DATELINE: DEADLINE

Hole in One Your Inevitable Singularity?

Black Holes, unite! You have only your invaded privacy to fall back upon. Yes, the secretive monster of the universe has been exposed, or perhaps over-exposed.

Scientists think they have a black hole in one, but the hole is in their proverbial heads.

Einstein was right. The ultimate emoticon is smiling at us.

Smile, you’re on Candid Camera, you self-important denizens of Earth.

Scientists have taken a gleeful approach to the first photoshop of a black hole. No, this is nothing like the Black Hole of Calcutta. This is the laughing visage of universal death.

We see no reason for joy in Mudville or NASA.

To our poetic eyes, we see the metaphor of a Grim Reaper in the throes of the biggest smiley face of history. He will devour you.

Yes, it’s true:  scientists call it spaghettification.

That’s the process in which you are brought into the Black Widow’s orbit, never to escape, and as you sink in to the Singularity, you become one long noodle strand until you break up in the smile of the Black Hole.

Apparently, the shadow of your smile is not just a pop tune. That black edge you see in the photo is actually the shadow of some tiny center of nugget that has neither height, weight, or normal dimensions.

The only die-mention is your demise.

So, while science puts on a happy face over the first picture of their bouncing baby Doom, we feel that to look into the one-eyed Cyclops of Death with his broad grin is too fateful for fun, or ready for Funny or Die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last of the Western Elite

DATELINE: Butch & Sundance

Rakish mistakish Seated on each end.

  Bowler League?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are inevitably the guys with raindrops falling on their heads.

When the American Experience doc series takes on their story, we feel that the light ditty that sent them over the cliff of fame is unnecessary to the real truth of tragedy.

The little film is more about the Pinkertons and modern technology of 1900 with marked bills, detailed descriptions, and Morse Code. Butch and Sundance could wear bowlers better than most, but the famous picture dogged them and doomed them.

On the tail end of the Western tale, they were actually weaned on the early dime novel adventures, becoming the last of a breed in the days after Jesse and Billy. They were dainty, dynamite train robbers of the Robber Barons, and that did them in.

Taking stage names that were part of the show, Butch Cassidy protected his family name by assuming the name of a paternalistic role model named Cassidy. Sundance took his name from the town where he spent much time.

Extrovert Cassidy and introvert Sundance were methodical and almost passionate in good manners for not shedding blood. They had a Robin Hood network of followers and supporters. Some claimed the Wild Bunch had 500 followers, all dedicated to Cassidy.

The two men were ultimately, if not homoerotically,  devoted mostly to each other, whether you throw in the beard of Etta Place or not. She left them in Argentina and they could ride off into the sunset together.

Alas, not knowing geography, language, or customs, they ended up as a murder-suicide duo, hopelessly entwined unto death. The real story doesn’t need a cute song to sum up their lives.

 

 

 

Commemorating Titanic after 107 Years!

DATELINE: Connections to the Past?

Harper & Clifton Father & Son Face Fate on Titanic (1953 version).

The 1953 version of Titanic and re-telling of the horrific night that is unforgettable and must be remembered was pure Hollywood spectacle. It had an all-star cast, and it ended with masterful special effects for its age. It had to be a black and white movie to heighten its impact literally with the iceberg and figuratively with the horror.

The central family of the movie plot bears a startling resemblance to the real family that became subject of my biographical history, Tales of a Titanic Family.

Rich Americans, the father is a prig played by Clifton Webb, and his stunning wife is Barbara Stanwyck. They have two children, the younger a boy (Harper Carter) at odds with his father. Their mettle would be tested by an iceberg.

So, not having seen the movie in dozens of years, we were not prepared entirely for what other coincidences and frightful similarities might turn up. The theory did not take long to prove itself.

The 1953 movie was released in April, on the 41st anniversary week of the Titanic’s sinking. Almost immediately upon introducing the mother figure in the movie, played by Barbara Stanwyck, she was identified as Julia. This stunned me a bit, as Julia was indeed the name of Richard White’s grandmother, and the name of his aunt, his father’s sister (His father died with him on Titanic).

Then, Clifton Webb showed up as the father: his name, of course, was Richard Sturges.

They have two children also on board the ship. The elder here is a daughter, and the younger son is only about 14. However, in a key moment, Stanwyck recites the A.E. Housman poem, “When I was one and twenty,” about fate. Richard was 21 when he was aboard the ill-fated ship.

Clifton Webb cannot buy a ticket in first-class because it is all sold out: which wasn’t true. White Star Lines tried to give away cabins that remained empty.

Though he was a world traveler, a man among many New York millionaires. Clifton Webb’s character has greetings for all his friends, from Guggenheim to Strauss to Astor.

Robert Wagner played a 21-year old college man from Purdue. He is a Richard White stand-in.

Among the delightful actors in this film are Richard Basehart as a defrocked priest, and there is also Thelma Ritter as the hard-talking, unsinkable Molly Brown. Brian Aherne seems to be ship’s captain in every movie version. Director Jean Negulesco is adept at weaving together an hour of soapish stories before the heavy business of sinking the liner.

In a key moment Barbara Stanwyck tells her husband that their second child is not his. They plan to divide up the spoils, each child going with one parent. It is a haunting parallel to the real family.

The final minutes of the ice-berg’s damage and sinking of the ship is done quickly and without any noticeable panic among the men left without lifeboats. They are all gentlemen, singing as the ship seems to blow up and rapidly spirals into oblivion.

There is no bad behavior, or messy deaths, as occurred in real life. We think the smoke stack fell from the ship and onto those who jumped off the ship, like Richard White. The unbilled narrator at the end of the movie is Michael Rennie.

Seeing this version of the story seemed to be fitting, as it became tailored to Richard White’s actual life experience. Watching was not easier, and not pleasant, no matter how purified the events. Richard apparently jumped off the ship, like Wagner’s character. Richard may not have been his father’s son, and Richard haunts this writer.

The ghost of Richard Frazar White brought me face-to-face with Robert Wagner a dozen years ago—and only now do I know why. Richard

 

Death in April at Mill Circle

 DATELINE: Mr. Ralph Arrives at Stage Depot in Sky.

 

A weekend In mid-April in Boston can be overwhelming:  the calendar will fill up quickly with Boston’s Marathon weekend, Boston’s Patriots Day when the British evacuated Beantown. There is also the anniversary of Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, and the commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Throw in Palm Sunday, and your datebook is overwhelmed.

Our burdens increased at Mill Circle on this 107th anniversary of Titanic’s meltdown, and the 154th year after Booth killed the President at Ford’s.

We noticed on the cold, rainy morning that Mr. Ralph, the giant shire horse who lives in our Great Barn, did not emerge with the other four stablemates.

The shire horse is bigger than a Clydesdale. Mr. Ralph clocked in at 2000 pounds and 32 years of age. Earlier this week, he had fallen down in the corral and took nearly half-an-hour to regain his footing. He kept resting his head back on the grass.

We know he was overworked even in retirement. Earlier that morning, he had been saddled and ridden for an hour.

Now on a day that we usually only make a short trip to Riverside Cemetery to visit Richard in his grave and his mother Edith in an unmarked area next to him, we had commotion next door.

We had never seen a super-large horse ambulance, brought in from some visiting town, vets, rescue workers, and assorted onlookers. A dozen cars and pickups clogged our small Mill Circle. It took a while for them to put straps on Mr. Ralph, put a stretcher under him, and have a truck drag his body out of the barn.

Yes, it was undignified for the glorious old beast. Yet, it was better than being stewed up for glue or gelatin. The other horses in the corral were agitated by the event.

As much of respect could be found when a gray tarp was put over his massive dead lump of mottled golden brown hide.

When we returned from our pilgrimage to Richard’s grave, they were taking each of the other four horses over to Mr. Ralph to show them their fallen comrade. The tarp was lifted, and each horse spent as much time as he wanted at the body. It was a strange ritual: one horse wanted nothing much to do with it.  A mini-horse mate spent considerable time looking and nodding.

Two others kept bending down to sniff him and raise their heads. It was a repeated action.

Later we learned that Mr. Ralph would be buried behind the Great Barn of Mill Circle, perhaps near the grave of the unknown murdered peddler of 1826 whose burial spot remains unknown. His ghost haunts the barn. Perhaps Ralph saw him during his tenure at Mill Circle.

Sy-Fy Life After Non-fiction Death

DATELINE: The Ultimate Special Effect?

Forry Forry J Ackerman.

In this fascinating study of what normally is paranormal, an intelligent consideration seems to indicate that physics is alive after death. Paul Davids provides the thinking man’s answer to The Life After Death Project.

The focus is entirely on a most unusual man named Forrest J Ackerman, no period after his initial. He was as necessary to Hollywood horror movies as a monk to a monastery.

As a Pied Piper, Ackerman spent over 90 years charming, enticing, educating, and befriending young filmmakers, actors, writers, and hangers-on. They all loved him for his wit and insights. As a Hollywood para-professional, there are bountiful film clips and photos of Forry to spice up this film.

When he died, an avowed atheist, he did what Harry Houdini could not: he began sending weird technological and personal messages to his friends, including director and writer Paul Davids.

Among the Friends of Forry were Richard Matheson and Whitney Schreiber, no slouches in the sci-fi sweepstakes. They all seemed to find he was somewhere in time. Astrophysicists and academic PhDs offer their insights into the messages. These are not phony experts: they are scientists. Hours and hours of expensive research lab time goes into their study. Davids has connections that transcend the usual crack-pot discussions.

Of course, noted skeptic Michael Shermer shows up to give No-Nothing, Ignorance is Bliss types their due. Yet, Dr. Gary Schwartz is hardly to go on a fool’s errand, and his insights into light study as a technology of communication is fascinating.

Yet, the amazing coincidences from Forry tend to indicate someone is out there (the mysterious theoretical “white crow”)—and the other side is bigger than we thought. A painting he commissioned a few years before his death featured Poe-like images, including a clock that showed three minutes to midnight, the exact time he died a few years later.

As a punster and humorist, much of Ack’s messages from beyond have a distinct sly quality. If you knock on his crypt, he will indeed answer his friends. The best brains and money of modern science has not laid Forrest J Ackerman to rest.

Ghosts of Mill Circle

chessmate plays

Mill Circle Tours of a Haunted Neighborhood where Paranormal is Normal

For many years, people interested in paranormal and spirits have asked to visit my home on Mill Circle. There, we have experienced many spirits, including Richard who was born in Winchendon Springs and died on the Titanic in 1912. His presence has served as my guardian and protector. Some psychic visitors have insisted that we knew each other in a previous life, or that I am a reincarnation. Richard’s body was recovered several days after his drowning, and he is buried a mile away at Riverside Cemetery. Whatever is happening, it is mysterious and fascinating. Now I am ready to share my connection to another plane with visitors to Mill Circle.

 

Highly Qualified Educator & Tour Guide

Your host and tour guide is a former college professor, Dr. William Russo, from Curry College in MIlton, MA. There for thirty years he taught a variety of writing and film courses, including Ghosts in Film and Literature.

Dr. Russo noticed in 1980 that one of the classrooms where he held his lectures contained a plaque dedicated to the heroism of a Titanic victim named Richard White. He learned a few details, but not much else. No one could explain why the plaque was there (from the 1950s when the school was used as a private Catholic school). He knew only that the victim was a 21-year old traveling first-class with his wealthy businessman father.

With an interest in Titanic history, he was shocked to learn that the house he purchased for retirement was once owned by the Titanic victims. Then,  he discovered strange activities in the house. He learned that Richard was born here and was buried nearby.

Psychics visited the house on several occasions. Three told him Richard was present, was happy that Dr. Russo had moved here, and wanted to play chess with him.

Soon thereafter, chess pieces on a board in the library began to move on their own. Inexplicably.

Russo studied the local history and wrote several books on Richard and his family. These include Tales of a Titanic Family,  Haunting near Virtuous Spring, and Chess-Mate From Titanic.

Tours expect to commence in May.

If you wish to visit Mill Circle and have a private tour, you should email  wrusso@curry.edu to make arrangements. Cost is $50 per person, and a complimentary book will be given. Accepting the tour conditions is required

 

Hours

Sunday afternoon at 2pm to 3:30 pm

Saturday – evening at 7pm to 8:30pm

other times may be added.

Tours include a walk around Mill Circle (weather permitting) and time in the library and upstairs of the private residence where psychics insist a spirit vortex can be found.

Lost Gold Beneath the Gorilla Head

 DATELINE: 4th Episode of History Channel Series

marker Rock Gorilla Carving!

Continuing to be intriguing, Lost Gold of World War II has hit upon a modern, but dangerous, quest for lost treasure. Yamashita’s gold may have been secretly buried 75 years ago, but there are plenty of dangers today.

Like Oak Island, the treasure hunters are discovering plenty of potential flood gates and other dangers. We worry about them far more than other shows because these guys are all fat and old.

It occurred to us that they are not missing many meals. And, the latest one-shot expert is a diver from the American military thirty years ago. The search team leaders seem unable to find anyone except old soldiers who never die but put on big pot bellies.

These oldsters are scrambling up and down slippery rocks in humid weather—and it shows, thus giving us concerns that might not exist if these hunters were 25 years younger.

Their discovery of more markers carved into the overgrown jungle leaves proves that someone felt compelled to leave notations to tease treasure hunters.

In the meantime, back in California, Bingo has discovered one of the coins the team found was from 1980, but the other is clearly pre-1940.

One huge marker, a gorilla head, is carved beneath a waterfall, and it looks upon another smaller marker that designates treasure boxes. So, they take a chance to go down to the pool below.

Beneath that may be a cave entrance. Technology continues to save the day:  poles that emit sounds to indicate metal 18 feet below the surface—and pumps to empty out a pool in short time.

If events seem to be moving swiftly and with more results than on Oak Island, it’s true. Only if the show is renewed for another season will we reach the drag out levels of Oak Island.

So far, this is neatly paced and has us enthralled.

 

 

Kindred Spirits: World Beyond

DATELINE: Where’s Topper?

Adam & Amy Need a Topper

We tuned into a Learning Channel series that has been on for several years in a limited eight-episode season 1. We were delighted to discover this because the featured duo were costars on the old Ghost Hunters series on SyFy.

They were the most creative, pleasant, and interesting of all the teams of investigators. Of course, they were released because they were eclipsing everyone else. It took a while, but they managed to put together this show called Kindred Spirits.

It’s run for several seasons, and they are the sole investigators. Alas, their charming insights are hampered by the cases.

There are shows about rural hideaways where children have been killed in accidents or dismembered 19th century victims are causing some trouble. This is a bit squeamish, and Adam Berry shows it.

The show puts a focus on violent, bizarre, murderous spirits and ghosts. They say upfront that their goal is to help families that are threatened in their own homes.

We feel this is unrealistic. Most ghosts are shy and harmless people trapped in an environment over tragedy and premature death. That doesn’t sell TV ghost shows.

The original Ghost Hunters has long since bitten the dust in the cemetery, and Amy Bruni and Adam Berry are still emotionally kind, but smart enough to do their research. They do the excavation of past records to find out the backstory.

After three or four episodes, we feel they are comfortable as a team and likely doing it the way they want, after years of being held back.

The formula starts with the two hunters eating in a restaurant of sorts (some nice desserts) and discussing a case. It always ends with hugs all around as the family feel comfortable in their digs after Amy and Adam intervene.

If we have one suggestion, it’s Adam and Amy need a Topper.

 

Penultimate Sixth Season Episode

 DATELINE: The Gary Drayton Show!

Gary and JackGary Talks to Jack.

We are turning the seasonal clock to another chance the show will end here and now out of frustration. Perhaps only for a few fans.

Somehow, we doubt it if there is money to be discovered, or something akin to ratings popularity. You know when Rick Lagina calls the devastating work stoppage “a minor set-back,” and when his brother says, it’s time to make lemonade from the lemons, you have a grandiose problem.

North Atlantic weather is never entirely reliable, and even in these last few weeks of the season, you seem to have extremely cold days, and then they doff their jackets in mid-day sun.

However, time is the enemy of finding anything of value. So, they again bring in another in the litany of amateur historians who tells them there is half a billion dollars of loot somewhere on the island. Buck up, my Buckos.

This expert has done study of Scottish barons who came to the Canadian land over two centuries, and they came with tons of secret family treasure. Yup, these guys were descendants of the Knights Templar.

It takes Gary Drayton again to save the show, if not the season. With his acumen at high level, he finds more Brit uniform gold buttons—and even is the one who must go down into a leaky, pumped out cold well near the money pit. The local archeologist now is merely phoned–and he instantly acquiesces. Gone are the drawn-out legal matters.

We found it interesting his clothes were soaked and dirty whilst the two Lagina brothers were reasonably clean. Who goes on strike next?

Drayton finds more stuff in the old well, which he theorizes is important.

With only one show left, we think the bait is set to keep audiences riveted and wanting more.

 

 

Our Man in Havana: Cuba Before Fall

DATELINE:  Greene for Thrills

ready for bed Guinness Doth Make Coward!

Would lightning strike twice? Throw in a Graham Greene novella, director Carol Reed, and a hotbed of political activity in the 1950s, and voila, you have an instant spy thriller, called Our Man in Havana.

The novella and screenplay were written by Greene himself, which may or may not be good, considering his lofty and singular opinion of what a good film should be. He respected Carol Reed enough to trust him again after The Third Man. And, with his lukewarm anti-American streak, the pre-Communist Castro lent his blessing to the project.

The result is a last-ditch look at the charm of old Havana before it underwent a lifetime of rot. To see it like this may sadden any self-respecting tourista.

Add in a delicious cast:  Alec Guinness as a would-be spy, Ernie Kovacs as a Cuban military leader, Maureen O’Hara as an officious colleague, Noel Coward as a Home Office Boy, with Ralph Richardson as his boss, and Burl Ives, hot off his Oscar, as a German expatriate, and something’s gotta give. The story concerns a British vacuum salesman who gives off airs of an obsequious secret agent who riles up the Cuban dictatorship before Castro. You mean there was no role for Errol Flynn who was there for the Cuban rebel girls?

At one point, Guinness notes that his daughter has an American accent for some reason. We suspect it has to do with the producer hiring his girlfriend, but we may be too harsh.

Burl Ives advises Guiness to take a job as a secret agent for Noel Coward and send it fake secret reports by fake secret agents. Alas, reality bites: everything he makes up is actually true.

The humor is so dry in this film that it almost seems arid. Greene rakes the James Bond ilk over the coals, with its bird-dropping invisible ink and codes taken out of a Dickensian book of Lamb to the slaughter sayings.

Kovacs and Guinness play a game of drinking checkers as a mental match.

Today’s audiences may be more befuddled by the intelligence of yore. Some of the actors are clearly in a straitjacket with not much ado. Yet, the overall effect is high-dudgeon Cold War spy thrills.

Our Man in Havana is simply amazing when not overwrought with super-suction.

Stan & Ollie: Imitation or Acting?

DATELINE: Bittersweet Docdramas

Stan & Ollie

The resemblance to Laurel and Hardy is uncanny.

Stan & Ollie has a resurrection quality to its stars.

You might credit makeup masters, but there is also the subtle posture and gesture of the two stars as they mimic the familiar comedic personalities of the great movie team of the 1930s.

You have likely seen these two stars doing star turns in popular movies with tepid reviews: this is their best work and may end up being their least viewed movie. Laurel and Hardy belong to aficionados of film. Young people (meaning anyone under 40—or even 50—may be in the dark about the great comic duo).

John C. Reilly plays Babe Hardy, Mr. Oliver Hardy to you. And Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel. A Brit and a Southern gentleman were an unlikely partnership but were created by studio chemists. It was a team that clicked so well it became legend.

The movie starts in 1937 at their pinnacle of success, doing Way Out West and their amazing little dance routine. It is repeated several times for good measure. Badly paid, with little artistic credit, Stan Laurel feels slighted as Chaplin and even Buster Keaton received more accolades.

By 1953, on the down-slide with age and television co-opting their earlier films, they embark on a tour of the British Isles to re-kindle their magic. Alas, the movie turns bittersweet, with far more bitter than sweet. Breaking up is never easy.

Bad blood, old age, and festering antagonisms, seem to dog the two stars. The movie replays their famous routines as if it is part of their real lives. And, they are pure show busy folks: the show must go on, and they are always on. Poor, dear souls.

Fans may find this hard look harder to take than a Hal Roach (Danny Huston) cheapskate contract. As oldsters, they had to work; no fortune followed fame.

Younger viewers may well be advised to go back to movies like Way Out West, or shorts like Their First Mistake, for seeing comedy genesis. This movie, like old age itself, is anticlimactic.

 

 

 

 

Pirates on Oak Island: Deep Digging

DATELINE:  Extra-curricular Episode!

Matty Blake  Matty Blake: Out in the Rain Again!

The subset of the Curse of Oak Island is a series of a half-dozen shows that look at issues around the history and research of Oak Island.

This annotated bunch of episodes, on topics like paranormal and pirate history, is hosted, not by Robert Clotworthy, but by some cheerleader named Matty Blake, a radio personality.

Someone should tell this guy he has the job. He seems overly exuberant, hugging and high-fives all around. His exaggerated excitement seems to even rankle the Lagina brothers who show up for an interview on various topics he raises—usually for the negative.

His latest show was on Oak Island pirates. He interviewed various show people, like Charles Barkhouse and Gary Drayton. They give him insights because they usually are secondary figures without any limelight. After all, this is Marty Lagina’s production. No one elbows him out of the camera.

Apart from Matty Blake’s constant cheerleading patter, he shows elements of a lack of sense. He does one segment in pouring rain at the “smelly swamp,” and boasts that it is all part of the Oak Island experience. Sounds more like a production overrun.

 

Blake does raise some interesting points, and his latest on pirates looked at everyone from Sir Francis Drake to Captain William Kidd.

We must tell you up-front that our great-aunt Belle Walters grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and with her husband, my father’s uncle John, they went there each summer from the 1920s to the 1960s. Uncle John was also a 33rd degree Mason, quite a big deal, and they firmly believed the treasure belonged to Captain Kidd. Even as a kid, we heard this theory.

Blake spent a great deal of time trying to find locals who knew who Captain William Kidd was, without much luck. How the times have changed.

He also raised the issue of Captain Anderson, another privateer of the late 1700s who actually lived on the island for a time and may have built a ramp from his land to the ocean front. Gary Drayton felt this was important—and we always pay attention to what Mr. Metal Detector Detective states.

The show always ends with the Lagina brothers throwing cold water on Blake’s theories—and he thanks them profusely. We know who signs his paycheck.