DATELINE: Where is he?
Lost in Art?
Lost in Art?
DATELINE: Dem Bones?
When your typical fictional show about Roswell promises to tell you the truth, you better line up for the sales slip for your ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge. Project Blue Book is giving the business in the second part of a two-part revelation about Roswell’s 1947 crash.
To do so, you must return with us now to six years later.
Yes, the truth is out there—shamelessly taking their nod from the X-Files, or is that now Shatner’s UnXplained files?
When you have one man staging elaborate charades, like putting a large flying saucer in the middle of town as a gag that no one sees, your credibility may already have taken a hit from the Phaser Gun on stun.
The credibility is sorely tested when Air Force personnel waterboard American citizens not under arrest. And, there is footage of an alien autopsy that has been debunked in recent years, but here it is merely a device to restore the abiding friendship between the two stars (Malarkey and Gillen).
With the lid back on Roswell, the military thinks they have bought at least ten more years before the American public is ready for balderdash. Of course, we’re still not ready for alien bones dug up under a tree.
These weird little creatures are, it is explained, the cruel and sadistic work of Dr. Josef Mengele who has apparently switched his allegiance from Nazis to some other force.
To top it all off, our ramrod cutie hero (Mike Malarkey) is still the unwitting dupe of some kind of Commie pinko space alien agent. Oh, yes, it’s a beautiful woman.
A few more shows like this, and we will be done with Project Blue Book.
DATELINE: Another Legend’s Reaction?
DATELINE: Yum Yum!
If History Channel wants to bring back one of its favorite series, it seems to want to provide a new context—as if the wine should be placed into newer, sparkling bottles.
It’s the same old brew.
A new series is called Ancient MonsterQuest, (one word with a cap Q midway), which differentiates it from the usual quest for those monsters. A friend insists they are all hanging out at Area 51, under contract to the Hstory Channel.
Our cynicism is not quite there yet. However, this is more of a sociological or anthropological look at the phenomenon of these creatures. From that view, there is an attempt to connect with legitimate academics on how the idea of a primitive beast of mammoth proportions is real: gigantaspithicus, a big ape or human variation from the time thousands of years ago when all creatures had bigger models.
The Giant Ape died out before the Last Ice Age, or did it? The show does tease that notion that a smart ape would not simply allow himself to be rendered extinct.
The show also takes a newer and more sinister approach to the more friendly Bigfoot notions of recent years. Now, instead of a humorous and friendly giant who hides out of shyness, the giant Sasquatch, Yeti, or dozen other names of Native tribes, is actually a voracious and dangerous cannibal.
Yes, that whistle you hear out in the woods may mean you, dear reader, are the most dangerous game’s target for dinner.
Totems and Native American gatherings apparently speak this unspoken truth in private. Warnings are duly issued that you should not venture out into night alone in the woods. No, it’s not the Big Bad Wolf. It’s the Big Bad Ape who is ravenous for the blood and bones of little children.
This unnerving reassessment would be akin to a scientific decision that Great White Sharks are a nominally evil and dangerous predator with designs on your beachy activity.
We always find new approaches, even with alarms and warnings, to be worth a look.
DATELINE: River of No Return
Died in 1993.
One of those shows about the last day of a celebrity includes a look at River Phoenix. He was also subject to the series Autopsy,but this widens the dredging to include many salacious suggestions. It’s called Final 24.
In case you didn’t know, River was incandescent, much like Marilyn Monroe, having some internal shine that overwhelmed a group of hangers-on and a generation of teen fans. He was surrounded by a bunch of slugs that weren’t smart enough to save him, and were dumb enough to think speedballs can be fun.
With an image of squeaky clean, River Phoenix (ne Bottom) was living a lie. He succumbed to anxiety, pressure, sexual temptations, and pretended to be healthy and environmentally friendly. He was, in fact, mixing drugs regularly.
With a carnival of Halloween costumed witnesses, he died in public on October 30, 1993.
If you want to know that he hated last costar Judy Davis and despised doing a love scene with her, this is your show. He waited till the last day of filming to do it, and he was dead within 8 hours. Miss Davis has no comment.
There are hints that he was a Method actor who never let a role end. If he was a rent boy in My Own Private Idaho, he was a hustler who used the same techniques with movie moguls. Keanu Reeves is not consulted.
He was supported two dozen family and friends—and could not extricate himself from parasites and Hollywood users.
He took, in his final hour, a dose 8 times stronger than humanly permissible of cocaine and heroin. They dumped him on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room and let him convulse to death before calling EMTs. Ten minutes likely was too long to wait—and it killed him.
Hot Chili Pepper Flea hints they were lovers (or friends) with no difference discernible.
River may have been a luminous talent, but squandered talent and self-destruction put an end to creativity in short order. He is for a later generation, their James Dean, and like the earlier one, speed killed, though not in the same way.Ri
Sometimes beauty is a passport to hell.
DATELINE: Masterpiece Emerges
Dafoe v. Pattinson vs. Lighthouse
It was a dark and stormy movie.
If there are two actors making films for intelligent audiences, they are Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Now they have teamed up for a Robert Eggers film called The Lighthouse, and the result is electrifying. Set on a Maine island in the 1890s, it is an amazing setting for an unusual encounter.
Sold as a dark horror picture, that’s a simplification. This may be black and white and filled with atmosphere but this movie sends metaphointo a new realm, away from picturesque seaside imges. This lighthouse is perpetually gloomy and dark.
We have not seen a teaming of two actors in point-counterpoint performance since Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton. You may have had a few of those encounters in the 1960s when thoughtful scripts inspired brilliant actors. Well, we have it here.
The third performer in this weird triangle is the setting of the Maine lighthouse on a rocky, barren, unpleasant little island filled with squawking seagulls. They are, Dafoe tells us, the spirits of sailors lost at sea. To kill one is bad luck, to say the least.
Pattinson is the younger, but no means a lad, but he looks the part. Dafoe is grizzled and the boss who has power on the brain. What results is cabin fever that might make Charlie Chaplin eat his shoe.
With impending doom around every corner, it is hard to look away from Eggers camera. He has provided a compelling picture, nothing short of hypnotic and suspenseful. What we have here is “what?!” which is a scene that shows us an arrangement of derangement. The dialogue is a battle of single word argument: “What.” There is no shortage of seamen in this film.
In terms of overall impact, there is something akin to Kubrick’s Shining here, but the overall doom is far more reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. In any case, you will be watching a most unusual film.
DATELINE: Musketeers Save a King
Two Faces of Louis Hayward
Forget the big budget Leonardo di Caprio version of Dumas’ classic novel, The Man in the Iron Mask. In the 1939 version, you are seeing something completely different and refreshing.
Louis Hayward stars in the double role as the evil, ruthless king—and the twin brother he does not know, but uses as a body double. Was Hayward ever so young and good-looking? Yes, and in a double-your-fun role.
He manages to create two quite different personalities to the twins: the friend and ward of D’Artagnan is quite adventurous and plays off Joan Bennett as young Marie, his betrothed.
How could such an entertaining period drama be made in 1939? We can mention the director: the great James Whale, ending the decade he started with Invisible Manand Frankenstein. He was on the downslide in reputation, but could still put together a brilliant bit of folderol.
The iron mask does not actually show up for over half the movie—and watching Hayward play off his “twin” in great special effects scenes is a delight. His queen-in-waiting is Joan Bennett, positively glowing as she bounces between the impostor and the wicked king.
The diabolical mask is saved for a short period for Philippe, the good twin, and awaits a cruel fate for the king. Whale takes this story off-kilter, but no matter. If it looks like a Western at the end, it may be the foible of the times. And was that really Peter Cushing in a first-time role? And we barely recognized Albert Dekker as the father in his few moments.
Warren William is dashing as the older D’Artagnan—and the quartet have one of those rides into the clouds, so popular in the 1930s.
DATELINE: More Malarkey!
Since the veracity of the series means that the actual investigators of Project Blue Bookcame after Roswell by six years, there had to be a way to send them back. Season 2 makes a start in that direction.
Aiden Gillen returns as the historical figure of Dr. Allen Hynek amid a bunch of fictional supporting names. Hynek was a major opponent of UFOs, but in this series he is the archangel of UFOlogists. Go figure.
Out of clever re-construction of history, however dubious in the entire science fiction genre, nothing is impossible. And, the impossible ties to the past are made. If you’re claiming a spaceship landed in Roswell, you can claim anything.
There is someone blackmailing the overzealous and fictional Gen. Harding (Neal McDonough in a bravura rotten villain role). He has made more enemies than a commie traitor facing the Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s. The entire town of Roswell may be out to get him. His loyal aide, Captain Quinn (Michael Malarkey) is a ramrod cutie-pie who is starting to have doubts about his mission (not his sexuality).
Some kind of soap opera subplot continues with a Russian asset (or alien asset) now romancing Quinn on the side, after going after Dr. Hynek’s wife. Who said the 1950s were dull?
The show continues this season to be atmospheric and suggestive of the era: the names have been changed to protect someone. There is a great deal of cigarette smoking, swallows of whiskey straight, and pay phones on every corner.
The show suggests the government paid off many residents of Roswell with money, not necessarily with threats of death and maiming. We have again heroic Americans standing up to their corrupt government, however inaccurate that is.
In a two-part opener, we are back at Roswell where dead aliens may still lurk.
DATELINE: Social Isolation by Choice
DATELINE: Oak Island Trifecta
If you thought Gary Drayton changed the show since he came into his own, he made yet again another major discovery—as big as his Templar Cross of three years earlier. Curse of Oak Island is on the verge of a treasure trove of winning: a trifecta.
His insights, his luck, and his attitude, makes him a compelling figure. Gary went a long way to make Oak Island’s series the so-called #1 show on cable.
It is Gary who finds “bloody silver,” what the treasure hunters have always wanted: the most brazen evidence yet.
Three sites simultaneous digs meant to receive permits and going into the swamp foremost to dredge out water to show a 1200 AD structure.
They also now seem to have found the original Money Pit that was flooded first in 1805. That was not a factor in the 21stcentury where there is an arrogance that the flood tunnels can be shut off.
What this all means is that there could be three treasures on Oak island. It gels with the theories that different people, at different times, came to the island to do major excavation to hide mysterious historical treasures.
Metallurgist Dr. Christa Brousseau tells them that the tag is not silver, but it is impure lead. It was deliberately created possibly a thousand years ago.
Over in the swamp Dr. Ian Spooner is back, which is a sign that he is on hand for anticipation of something big.
Fred Nolan’s son believes they are looking at vindication of the surveyor’s lifelong hope.
Another metallurgist reveals in the War Room that this tag of impure lead is from an area well-known to the Knights Templar and may even be of similar origin.
The big payoff may be, however, undermined by Hurricane Dorian that is on the horizon.
DATELINE: Ocean’s 11 History!
Frank & Jack!
A bad, inconsequential movie seldom is a watershed of history. So, to find a film that provides a great context for politics, social life, entertainment, and cult of celebrity, you have to stand back and simply be agog at its temerity.
Ocean’s 11, the original 1960 movie, turned out to be seminal and a turning point in mindless fluff having serious impact. The Ocean 11 Story will surprise you.
This gang was called the Summit (and it’s a pinnacle of some lunacy). Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr., were denizens of the Las Vegas show world. That was the descendant of vaudeville—taken a turn toward Godfather syndicate crime and gambling.
These entertainers brought thousands to the desert to pack five casinos along a neon strip. They created a world of entertainment unto itself.
And, the mob was beholden. Their pranks, self-deprecating humor, and interjecting in each other’s shows became an act itself. They soon were joining forces: “maybe” someone else would show up and liven up the audience. Tickets were prized.
Sinatra’s mob connections (notably played out in the Puzo tale, Godfather) made him royalty. His friends like Sam Giancanna could guarantee a Hollywood career however he wanted it.
Then, his hostility to Lawford ended when the actor married into the Kennedy family—and JFK ran for President with Franks support. It was the first time a pop star turned his hit song into a campaign rally tune.
Ties between Sinatra, beautiful Hollywood starlets, and a Kennedy president, became legend: Marilyn Monroe was in there too.
A double-edged mob could protect Kennedy—or kill him.
And, the Rat Pack lived it up, never sleeping, making a cheesy movie with the casino help. It was a movie about robbing the casinos—and the mob loved it.
You could have High Hopes and a Kind of Fool as these loose show-stoppers unloaded on screen and off. They moved off second-banana status with Sinatra’s Oscar coming from here and going to Eternity, Martin’s break from Lewis, and a black man on equal footing.
The Summit of talent heckled each other—and brought in tons of money and popularity. They would never do more than one take in their movie—which was merely an extension of their stage shenanigans. They lacked self-discipline, but who needed it?
They made Las Vegas, and they made Kennedy president. They loved the danger of the Mob, and no one dared cross them. It was a golden age of promiscuity and booze.
This hour documentary turns out to be highly significant about how silly inanity could dominate a century.
Culprit caught red-handed.
DATELINE: What Should Have Been?
In 1968, one of the ultra-cool movies that was meant to be an antidote to the growing counter-culture of long-hair and hippies, was Norman Jewison’s stylish caper film. Sexy cool, with dune buggy rides on Crane’s beach in Ipswich and rooftop brunch on a patio in the South End of Boston, this was your ultimate sophistication.
The Thomas Crown Affairwas meant to be a vehicle showing off a Brahmin Bostonian outsmarting a beautiful insurance agent at his hobby of “crime.”
It has all the looks of a film back in the late 1960s when Alfred Hitchcock wanted to drag Grace Kelly out of retirement with the promise of another Cary Grant co-star vehicle. It’sTo Catch a Thief in reverse. However, nothing panned out. The film settles for second-best.
Hitchcock also had Tippi Hedren under contract—and so they could not even bring her on as the beautiful insurance agent. Yet, Faye Dunaway is clearly wearing the designer outfits and living the life of a millionaire investigator meant for Grace or Tippi. She tangles with a guy in a Brooks Brothers suit who pretends to be a millionaire executive, but looks like a motorcyclist in posh dress.
No doubt that Steve McQueen looks dashing, but we never believed for a second that he could play polo or chess. Not only that, the film looks like it was supposed to play out in London, but they had to settle for Boston. McQueen reportedly could not master a Boston accent and gave up half-way through the film.
It’s the ultimate double-cross thriller that Hitch loved to do, but Jewison throws in modern elements like split-screen moments (all pointless) and Noel Harrison (not Rex) sings “Windmills of Your Mind.” It seems even Dusty Springfield turned them down.
The climax of the movie takes place at Cambridge City Cemetery, a stand-in for ritzy and prestigious Mount Auburn Cemetery across the street, no doubt. We were a tad shocked to see filming near my mother’s recent burial site back then, not far from her grandmother.
Some films you may remember for all the wrong reasons.