Kate Smith Sings Under Cover

DATELINE:  Bless Us Every One?

Kate Smith

A Philly worker is not hugging Kate Smith but putting a noose around her neck as they wait for the crane to cart her off. Major Bowles has rung the bell. It’s Amateur Night in America.

If the revisionist historians have the final say, Songbird of the South, Miss Kate Smith, the ultimate fat lady, has done sung her last note.

In the City of Brotherly Love, the Fat Lady is being draped in a black tarp prior to being carted off the big stage.

Kate Smith has been exorcized. She died in 1986, but her real death is this week.

Yellow journalists are the peril of the past. Now they have uncovered that Kate Smith sang a couple of ditties with “racist” lyrics in the 1930s. As a result, the icon who died  after a late career blossoming as the “God Bless America” queen, has gone with the wind.

She first recorded the Irving Berlin favorite tune in 1939, and it became a staple. The song and Miss Smith sang to sell war bonds to win World War II, but alas, that no longer has meaning.

She has joined Robert E. Lee, waiting by the levee for the men to take her statue out of Philadelphia, have her tune removed from Flyer games, and stop stretching to her song at Yankee Stadium. She has joined Stonewall Jackson as the antebellum loser of the year.

The Moon has indeed come over the Mountain, and the cow is jumping over it too.

Kate Smith is now an outlaw and an outlier.

God once blessed America, but that quaint notion seems to have come to an abrupt end.

 

 

God once blessed America, but it seems to have come to an abrupt end.

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.

 

 

 

 

Dead Give Nothing Away: Lost Gold

DATELINE:  Japanese Gold of WWII

Yamashita HQ  General Yamashita’s Headquarters in Luzon.

The third episode of this intriguing series Lost Gold of World War II  is called, “Dead Giveaway,” in which you come to realize that the Japanese soldiers spent more time setting up fake treasure vaults than real ones.

Here too comes the admission that they have no idea what the treasure may be: it may not be gold. So much for truth in advertising on History Channel.

The series Lost Gold of World War II continues to be compelling, but we are not sure if History Channel will choose to re-new it for a second season. No word has filtered out yet.

The efforts to lead treasure hunters to their doom take on even more bizarre elements. From cyanide in bottles that shatter when a shovel hits them, to flood tunnels that spew forth torrents of water when breached, to now bombs under rocks that are moved carelessly.

If they went to all this trouble to dissuade, if not kill seekers of the treasure, it must be something special.

General Titicaca, oh, we mean Yamashita, apparently made his HQ in one of the remote caverns on the mountain where the hunters are excavating. He held out for almost 3 weeks after the Japanese surrender because he had unfinished business in burying treasure.

The group brings in a highly regards ordinance expert who examines the cavern where they were about to dig—and notes there are potato mashers buried here too. Hand grenades.

The dead giveaways are easy to find treasure spots that are meant to blow up the searcher.

There is real suspense here—and a sense that something may be uncovered, which gives this show a genuine chill factor. 

  

Born Again Ratzi!

DATELINE: Fake Birther!

birther

Never Trust a Birther Certificate!

Owing to the vagaries of the universe, what goes around usually ends up biting you on the big fat t-Rump.

So it is for President Trump who has now admitted that his father’s birth certificate is a big fat fake.

Well, that’s the fake news. The real news is that this birther controversy hints that Fred Trump was not an American after all.

He was born in the heartland of Der Fatherland. Yes, sir, Fred, he was a dyed-in-the-wool Teutonic member of the Austrian crypto-Nazi brigade.

It appears that Fred Trump and Adolph Hitler share some heritage. You could not put a thin piece of paper, like a birth certificate, between them. Hitler and Trump, Sr., were Austrian members of a fascist youth movement.

Three times lately, Mr. Trump, the lesser, has stated that he is proud of his crypto-Nazi Austrian father who was not born in the Bronx after all.

It seems the birth certificate showed by Fred all those years was manufactured by the same people who gave you Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Only a few years separated Die Fuhrer and Fred. As far as we can tell, the Austrian foothills were the place that Fred Trump learned all he taught his son about how to goose-step.

We expect that Donald Trump will soon be giving his father’s favorite Fatherland salute.

Now we know that the dog whistle you don’t hear is a call to all neo-Nazi and crypto-Nazis. Trump is proud of his white supremacist background.

Who would have guessed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enquiring Minds: Pre-Pecker-Pabulum

DATELINE: Checkbook Journalism to Kill-Fees

Dead King Biggest Issue Tease of Enquirer!

The Untold Story of the National Enquirer was not killed by a Pecker kill-fee, but by anthrax. This movie is a breath-taking trip down tabloid history.

You have to admire a documentary by Ric Burns that starts off with Herman Mankiewicz’s stunning film score for Citizen Kane, and then matches with a camera slowly moving up over a chain-link fence like the opening shot of Orson Welles’ classic.

The story of the National Enquirer and its original founder, Generoso Papa (an Italian immigrant who changed his name to Generoso Pope) actually laid groundwork for the Godfather Don Corleone (whom he resembled in character). Pope was pals with the Mob but claimed never to belong. He was an early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and Benito Mussolini.

However, this film is really about his genius and ruthless and cold-blooded son, Gene Pope, Junior. Any resemblance between this Pope and the Vatican is strictly distinctive. Pope went through several wives, disowned and was disowned by his mother, and found himself the apple of his father’s eye—thereby cut out of the will by his brothers.

The man who made the National Enquirer a scandal sheet of influence predates the present kingpin and Trump ally, David Pecker, who has killed stories to help his president. A young Trump is seen in a clip, disparaging the National Enquirer.

The original owner, Pope, would never have condoned such a mad idea.

His son, Gene Junior, went to MIT and finished in two years. What? College entrance hanky-panky back in the 1940s? It seems so.

Gene borrowed money from his mobster godfather in real life, Frank Costello, and bought the New York Inquirer, like Citizen Kane. A marketing genius, he soon tried the “gore” story approach and made it work. You had horror that made the Enquirer’s bad rep and took years of new marketing to alter.

Gene transformed his newspaper two or three times but found the notion of supermarkets to coincide with his “gossip” approach. The inquiring minds of America were hooked in the check-out line.

Pope moved to Florida and made it tabloid heaven. He created checkbook journalism and used ruthless and inventive methods to spy on celebrities. His pinnacle was the notorious Elvis in his casket photo.

A three-pack cigarette addict and workaholic Type A personality, he didn’t last long. A massive heart attack seemed to stymie the Enquirer, but it took terrorism in 2001 with anthrax to destroy everything, including archives.

The film ends with the bouncy music of Brasil, which is fitting. This is a complete documentary, completely satisfying in every way.

Robin and Marian: Aged in the Woods

 DATELINE: Sherwood Denizens Return

shaw as sheriff Nottingham, not Cape Cod!

The idea looked brilliant in pitch phase: Robin Hood and Marian re-unite after 20 years and are older, but not necessarily wiser. You call it Robin and Marian and the critics will go wild. Throw in a cast to salivate over: Richard Harris and Robert Shaw stand out.

The script is by James Goldman who gave us The Lion in Winter, a rather pedestrian and witless look at Henry II and Richard the Lion-hearted. That, of course, was a sequel of sort to Becket, wherein Peter O’Toole played Henry and Richard Burton was the meddlesome priest.

The level of writing descends with each period drama. Now, you have Richard Harris as the Lion-Heart king, fresh off being King Arthur in Camelot.

We presume Anthony Hopkins and Peter O’Toole were unavailable.

Goldman does not botch the tale, but his legend is soggy-bottom stuff. Alas, the youth market of the mid-1970s wasn’t quite ready for middle-age.

The notion of a stellar cast gained traction with the actors: put Sean Connery looking to shed his James Bond image as an older bearded Robin, and Audrey Hepburn would come back as Marian after a film hiatus. Throw in with equal billing, the villain of the decade: Robert Shaw (Quint from Jaws) as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Wow. If you present off-beat director Richard Lester (3 Musketeers, etc.) as the man behind the camera, you cannot lose. It did not work out perfectly but is an adventure for sure.

If you compare this to Richard Fleischer and Kirk Douglas producing The Vikings, you have something less fun and less successful. Oh, it’s highly watchable, but not a romp. Shaw as usual runs off with the movie as the deadpan, time-worn Sheriff who knows Sherwood Forest and its foibles all too well.

Lester tries to steal the movie with his standard atmospheric shots of Medieval times, including people with physical deformity and mud-caked urchins everywhere.They stand out, but not in a good way.

Connery and Hepburn are, well, Connery and Hepburn, acting older. Throw in some choice character actors like Ian Holm as King John and Kenneth Haigh as the Sheriff’s rival, and you have top-drawer performers.

A pleasant time-killer is the least to be expected. What you actually have is a James Goldman version of a geriatric Romeo & Juliet, which does not satisfy.

 

 

 

Kissing Bugs in Sheep’s Clothing?

DATELINE: Creepy?

Creepy Touch

A generation of touchy/feely men are about to have their kind hearts executed at dawn by a bunch of “insulted” or “disgusted” people. Yup, it’s creepy and it’s kooky, and altogether spooky.

Potential presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden shall remain nameless, but not guiltless in this regard.

Yes, there are those men who instantly and impulsively reach out to those around them, in moments of crisis, happiness, or sorrow, and hug, hold hands, or lay on a paternalistic  kiss.

They now have been given a bad rap, and the rap on the knuckles may sting as they pull back from showing any emotional reaction.

This is not to be confused with grabbing someone in a distinctly and disgustingly sexual manner. We all recall the famous bus-trip tapes of Trump’s manner to seduce women.

That is a different kettle to call black-face in metaphor.

No, we express wonder about impulsive men who deign to express their feelings in public. It looks like the late charges are being assessed in absentia, or after the statute of limitation has exceeded its grasp.

You may well ask how intimidating or harassing can it be to reach out and touch someone under the throes of media attention. What might have been construed as scratching the puppy behind the ears now takes on a sinister abusive nature, however latent. This is akin to an alcoholic drinking in public, or worse: playing patty-cakes.

It may be time to end the chest-bumps, the high-fives, the low-fives, pecks on the cheek, a man-hug, and tip-toe through the tulips from afar.

We were never demonstrative physically, thank heavens, and now feel pity for those poor souls who over the years felt compelled to demonstrate their affection and/or goodwill. It was always in bad taste, in our opinion. Now it appears to be the actions of a puppy who has wet the carpet.

 

 

 

 

Terminator: Not a Dead End

DATELINE: More Arnold Around Corner!

Arnold No Spring Chicken, He’s Back in 2019!

If they ever make a musical version, it will feature the tune, “the Cyborg Couldn’t Say NO.”  The first Terminator movie is now 35 years old, and it’s holding up well enough that Arnold is returning this year to reprise his role in a new 2019 movie, reunited with his waitress target, Sarah (Linda Hamilton).

In the original, Ahhnold was catapulted to fame beyond his wildest hopes. In a monosyllabic role that gave him a range up to 3 monosyllables, he simply snarled his way through James Cameron script as the bad robot.

Interestingly, Michael Biehn had second billing. He was one of those good-looking cookie-cutter actors of the 1980s. He belongs in a new movie, but where is he now?

The film starts with a bang: beautiful naked men come raining down out of lightning bolts. It was dishy to see Arnold naked, though he later claimed it was not he. What a pity. He is young and quite attractive here.

As for the 35-year old movie: it features phone books, phone booths, and wide-open gun shops where you can pick up assault rifles of your choice.

There are no PCs, let alone GPS.

Police in Los Angeles are dumbfounded, if not struck dumb, when a woman named Sarah Connor is repeatedly murdered. Well, every Sarah in the book. They missed the unlisted ones.

It seems the cyborgs from the future (like all AI to follow) believe it’s time to rid the world of that problem: human beings. The future in this movie is 2029, and we better start counting our blessings.

The movie features a shoot-out in a disco nightclub, which is quite contemporary, and it features too an office massacre when the Terminator goes into a police station and kills 20 to 30 policemen.

Of all the distinctive qualities, it most resembles a film made a decade earlier called Westworld, wherein the cyborg goes on a rampage, is burned to a cast- iron skeleton and still keeps going.

It also features a female hero survivor in the person of the director’s ex-wife, Linda Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

Robert Kraft Puts Your Tax $ to Work!

DATELINE: Exoneration T. Cornpone

Kraft & Hernandez Expunged & Exonerated?

You can tell that Robert Kraft epitomizes the New England Patriots, the team he owns.

Like killer tight end Aaron Hernandez, he must love trials. He has now demanded a jury trial in Florida on his prostitution solicitation misdemeanor.

Wow! We will have over-priced lawyers, dramatic effect, riveting testimony, hilarious moral dilemmas, and all before a jury!

You only have to ask Hernandez how that turned out. Well, you would have to use a Ouija board because Hernandez killed himself shortly after acquittal for double murder. Kraft likely will survive his ordeal of exoneration.

This is surely a week to choose the exoneration path, especially if you have money, celebrity, and chutzpah. Donald Trump and Jussie Smollett found themselves exonerated within days of each other for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Why should Kraft be any different? He has chosen the route to force the jurisdiction in Palm Beach to spend the taxpayers’ money on a media circus. It’s brilliant because billionaire Kraft has unlimited funds to spend, and the state of Florida will be strapped. And, their lawyers will hardly shine before the Kraft Dream Team of legal minds.

We can see the prosecutors deciding to save money by throwing up their hands, throwing in the incriminating tape of a handy sex act, and washing their hands in the mode of Pontius Pilate.

We see Kraft’s lawyers cashing their paychecks for a million, and they may manage to have Kraft’s money refunded for that bad massage.

There will be no NFL crucifixion of Mr. Kraft. Like Jussie, he fully expects to have his reputation expunged. If only Hernandez has stuck around long enough to see exoneration and expunging are synonyms in American justice.

They go hand-in-hand-job with being rich and famous.

 

Fire in the Sky, Pants on Fire

 DATELINE:  Liar, Liar?

Sweeney in Slime  Sweeney in the Slime!

The 1993 movie version of the second-most famous alien abduction story (after Betty and Barney Hill) is certainly intriguing, whether it’s true or not. Fire in the Sky is no wet blanket sending up smoke signals in the UFO sweepstakes.

A group of young men, redneck loggers out in the woods of Arizona in 1975, encounter something mysterious and glowing. One of them seems to be “killed” by a ray—and the others flee. Later, the town suspects they have murdered their friend Travis Walton.

If the UFO segment were not played out in the final minutes of the film as flashback and Post-Trauma Syndrome, you would have a compelling tale of “witch hunt,” as the young men are hounded by media, tormented by police, and maligned as murderers by the community.

Robert Patrick, as the leader of the young loggers, gives a remarkable and nuanced performance as a befuddled man proclaiming his innocence.

On the other side of the equation is James Garner!

Yes, that big star is Detective Watters! He plays again a wry, cynical police detective. If you wanted a tale to have a certain gravitas, Garner’s appearance is perfect. He is the ultimate skeptic about UFO abduction and is the voice that the entire episode is a fraud.

The film has it both ways.

D.B. Sweeney, a boyish leading man of the ‘80s and ‘90s, nowadays mostly a voice-over man, was a handsome and sympathetic victim. His traumatic flashbacks are fairly disgusting and frightful.

Rednecks around him are all rather insensitive to his immediate troubles, calling on UFO experts before an ambulance when Travis returns after five days missing.

The real Travis Walton has since disparaged the movie’s sensational UFO sequence: yet, that is just a small element of a fascinating character study.

The kidnapping sequence resembles being taken by large insects and put into slimy cells for later digestion. And, the tests done to Travis are fairly horrific.

As Garner’s detective points out, he finds a National Enquirer magazine in the truck after the disappearance, with a headline about alien kidnapping.  Yet, he never truly debunks the story told by the young men, including Craig Sheffer as the problematic Dallis.

This film may surprise you by being at odds with the usual sci-fi films of this ilk; this is extremely well-done, whether you buy into the premise or not.

Eulogy for Dan Blankenship

DATELINE: An Era of Treasure Hunting Passes Away!

95-years Dan.

Can the center hold?  For Oak Island enthusiasts, the answer has shaken the earth of the small Nova Scotian island. The heart and soul of the Curse of Oak Island has gone. He was 95 and lived a life of a treasure hunting adventurer.

As Emily Dickinson once said, “Because I would not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.”

Dan Blankenship showed up now and then at age 95 on the sixth season of the hit series, still unwrapping up this season, and he was always the delight to behold. He was sharp, in seemingly amazing shape for his age, and offered perspective with gentle insights.

Yet, that was merely one surprising element of a man who was physically powerful, as old film clips show. He dug bore holes the old-fashioned way. He chased the demons of Oak Island for the glorious discovery of romantic lost treasure.

Now and then the Lagina Brothers consulted him, trotted over to show him some progress on the hunt for gold on the island where he called home. He would even drive up in a golf cart to observe the progress fifty years after he worked the area.

The season now airing on History was filmed this past summer, and Dan survived another harsh Nova Scotia winter, but he will not be present to see another spring and a seventh season.

He died on a day when Jack the Ripper’s DNA seemed to indicate the solution to that long -standing century-long mystery. He died on a day when NASA released photos of an asteroid that might hit Earth in fifty years when none of us oldsters will see the event.

Dan Blankenship did not miss finding the treasure. His spirit was the treasure, the optimistic and grand character of the human heart. Fans of the show shall miss him but he was a century of the best of mankind to grace the series, the hopes of finding a pot of gold, and enjoying life.

How the series will honor him is not yet clear, but already he gave the series and history its integrity.

End of Season 1 on Project Blue Book

 DATELINE: They’ll be Back!

Season Ending 

Let’s end the suspense right now. The History Channel has renewed the series for ten more episodes next year. Phew! We were worried that they’d prefer more gold searches in remote places.

For the ultimate series finale, Project Blue Book goes for the jugular. No, not the aliens: the believers.

If anything has made an impression on us on the show, it has been the variety of uniforms that Air Force captain ‘Mike Malarkey’ as Quinn wears. It seems he has a wide-range to choose from.

Since major male TV characters tend to wear the same clothes every week, we are curious as to the Captain’s military wardrobe. He wears snazzy ‘50s  civilian wardrobe for the final episode. We have recently seen his regulation military underwear (just that white T-shirt) that has remained uncomfortable and ugly, as a fashion statement, since Roswell.

Wherever our two heroes go, space-shot aliens are sure to follow—even to Washington, D.C., where paranoid right-wing military Blue Book honcho Neal McDonough is having space kittens.

We do like the fact that Captain Ramrod Quinn is one of the few characters on television nowadays who smokes and drinks booze. We didn’t realize how much we missed this 1950s foible with political correctness everywhere.

Perhaps it is government budget cuts, but the show all season has had only one Man in Black. Of course, end of season may surprise us. It did not surprise with the lesbian subplot, of the two women watching Lucy and Ethel in a 1952 episode of I Love Lucy.

The Washington incident of 1952 occurred at night when a half-dozen UFOs shocked the United States, but here it is daytime—and Captain Quinn is going up in a jet to shoot them down.  At the same time, a heavy-set President Harry Truman shows up to give’em hell.

He is acquainted with Dr. Hynek. And the series episode is familiar with The Day the Earth Stood Still, which it copies.

After considerable hostilities, the two characters of Quinn and Hynek unbelievably seem to smooth things over. They must have heard there is another season on the horizon.

A small coda was clearly added after a decision to extend the series was made, trying to make a minor cliff-hanger.

Hollywood Takes on the Bible

DATELINE: Testament of the Trailers

hollywood bible

From 1994, in time for the Passover/Easter season, comes a two-part documentary that relies heavily on newsreel footage and trailers of Bible movies from silent days to the heydays of the 1960s epics.

You can find rare clips from all your favorite epics like King of Kings and The Greatest Story.  It’s all subverted by dry humor.

Of course, the fly in the ointment is that the streaming part two comes before part one. No way to stop that cart before the horse. The Bible According to Hollywood is a fast-paced sermon on the mount.

The narrator sounds like Robert Osborne, late of TMC fame, but it is a wit named Henry Stephens. And, the Old Testament starts off with a hoot and a half as it lambastes all those tacky Adam and Eve movies.

The light-tone and word play certainly makes this an enjoyable documentary. Since Cecil B. DeMille is the name on the marquee most of the time, you have mostly clips from his movies and his interviews.

Now and then, you hear from one of the stars of yore, like Virginia Mayo or Charlton Heston, They offer a few amusing morsels too. Heston contends he made only two Bible movies: the others were costume dramas. We’ll let you guess which ones he believes a truly Biblical.

Most of these sword and sandal films use a copyright free source to save money—and the early silent movies set the tone, and likely made the most money. Profits over prophets seemed to be the Hollywood motto.

Alas, most of the movies flopped:  the Old Testament stuff is far livelier than the New Testament, which is hamstrung by political forces: evangelicals want referential, and Jews don’t want to be scapegoats. The New Testament movies walk a tightrope.

All in all, the two parts could be interchangeable, and they will make you laugh and roll your eyes. What else can you expect from parables adapted for the screen?

Calamity Jane: Other End of 19th Century

DATELINE: Deadwood, or Bust!

Calamity- 2 days before death  At Wild Bill’s gravesite.

The world of manners and civilization of the East and Europe would take 50 years to head out to the Badlands and Deadwood.

With a new TV movie updating the old series with Timothy Olyphant due soon, we figured to find the true story of Calamity Jane: Legend of the West. It’s an effective French-produced film. She was one of those rare women who lived by her own values in the Victorian Age.

The augurs were not sympathetic for Martha Canary, her real name: her mother was an alcoholic and her father deserted the family along the Oregon Trail. Martha was indentured or adopted and began a life of dubious morality.

Though some might hold her up as a transgender model, she never tried to pass as a man: she was always “Jane,” in men’s clothes, hunting, fighting Indians, and carousing. Indeed, sometimes at night she traded her buckskins for petticoats and survived as a sex worker.

She spoke a good game, told great yarns, and found herself the attraction of journalists. Some back east took her name and created a Deadwood feminine cowboy named Calamity Jane.

In reality, she and Wild Bill were only able to tolerate each other, though their love/hate relationship last a few years till his death in a notorious saloon shooting.

From there it was downhill: drinking, arrests, and endless wandering. She was a common law wife on occasion but married one abusive man to be father to her daughter whom she gave to nuns to raise.

Unfit for most jobs, she regularly went into show business, meeting people, selling photos of herself and a pamphlet story of her life. She even Buffalo Bill, but they worked separately at the Pan American Exhibition of 1900.

She had grown most unhappy in the East, and she returned to Deadwood in 1903. She looked like an ancient but was only 47. Hard drinking and hard living took a toll. The West had become gentrified, not to her liking.

Two days before her death, she went up to Wild Bill Hickok’s grave where she had her photo taken. Within a week, the people of Deadwood put her in a grave next to him.

After all, they were legends—and Westerns were about to hit the big screen with the advent of movies. Calamity would ride on forever, even unto a new TV cable movie, Deadwood, this summer.