False Clues and False Positives on Oak Island

DATELINE: Post-Dan Blankenship

muddy mass of leather

Muddy Mass of Leather Deep Underground!

For three seconds before this episode began, you had a quick notation:  “In Memory of Daniel Blankenship, 1923-2019.”

There was hardly time to do much more at this point, with Dan having passed on two days earlier. We presume that in a few weeks there shall be a full-blown biography of his extraordinary efforts for half a century to find the treasure on Oak Island.

We know that old film clips and photos document much of his work from the 1970s, and much more is likely available to illustrate his intriguing life.

This too is the longest season of episodes on record: and they are digging well past summer—and the nasty, rainy, windy weather shows up in the hunter wardrobes. It is cold off the North Atlantic.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is to see how Smith’s Cove is flat and clear of all items as they bring in lidar to find anything underneath. The coffer dam is on borrowed time, and they must excavate soon.

The scientist did note an extremely large object was buried there, under what would be the sea and possible man-made drainage systems to flood the caves of the island.

Gary Drayton again showed his insights and acumen by locating a Spanish silver coin, likely minted in the 1700s.

The dredging also showed frightening promise: another bone fragment, perhaps human, chains, and large chunks of leather. It leads some to speculate that the slaves who worked the site were chained and left to die there.

Also coming up were enormous flat, human-hewn oak timbers that Drayton noted he had seen from old galleons of yore. Dismantled wood used to make a floor or roof to a chamber?

All in all, with a few weeks left in the season, we suspect that answers again will be withheld until next season.

Can it be on the 17th episode of the sixth season, we have Revelations 17:6? “The woman was drunk with the blood of saints when John saw her.”

Pour a tall one before Rick Lagina sees you.

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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.

Unforgettable Vikings

DATELINE: Frolic in the Fjord

Viking Liking Sons of a Black Ram!

What a cast! Liking a Viking!

Forget the new-fangled cable TV series. Go back to the 1958 movie with Kirk Douglas as the Viking raider. If you have never heard the Mario Nascimbene theme, you are in for a treat—as it will stay in your head forever as the theme of Viking warriors.

If you have never seen The Vikings, prepare yourself.

This movie featured an all-star cast in bravura, over-the-top performances. Kirk Douglas and his costar Tony Curtis would return in Spartacus two years later and essentially play the same roles: Brothers under the tunic.

Here, Ernest Borgnine is the rapacious and fierce Viking king and father to Kirk (and to Tony, though no one in the movie ever learns this bit of dizzying plot complication). We are even more amused to learn that Borgnine was actually younger than the man who played his son!

Fresh off his Oscar for Marty, Ernie Borgnine is preparing to play McHale for his TV series by jumping off longboats. He calls Tony Curtis the son of a black ram, without realizing he was self-incriminating.

Throw in juicy actors like Frank Thring as an evil English king usurper (one in a line of magnificent villains—from Pontius Pilate in Ben Hur and King Herod in King of Kings). There is stalwart James Donald as the traitor to England and friend to the Vikings, and Alexander Knox as the suffering priest, with Edric Connor as Tony Curtis’s best friend.

Everyone shines. Director Richard Fleisher manages Viking chaos deftly.

Kirk Douglas plays nearly the entire film with one eye yanked out by a falcon (he wears a white contact lens).  It makes him even more frightful and plays the contrast to good Tony Curtis (whose wife Janet Leigh is the young woman every Viking wants.

This is one of those delicious fun movies you cannot believe they cannot make anymore. When the principals tried to do Spartacus, it became more message and less fun.

Every scene is exquisite in its outrageous melodrama, including amputations, eye-gouges, and a jump into a wolf pack to be chewed up. You can’t beat this stuff with special effects or computer-generated fakery.

With pure Hollywood magic, you have a truly atmospheric tale of 1000 years ago—filmed in magnificent fjords and drafty castles. The dangerous sword-fight atop the castle ramparts at the end will give you vertigo.

We lost track of how many times we heard that Nascimbene tune in various motifs. You will never forget it.

Ghost Chessmate Plays on a Dusty Board

DATELINE:  Titanic Ghost Still Present at His Home

chessmate plays Titanic Spirit Plays On!

Eight months ago, after psychics who visited noted that the ghostly spirit of a young man at Mill Circle wanted to play chess, we offered to keep you updated.

So, here is the first: Saturday afternoon, entering my second floor office, a small place where all blogs are created, we were greeted with a scene of chess movement. The ultimate gesture: the White King was down, a sign in the game of a concession.

It is a humorous response to make one’s first move the endgame gambit.

The chessboard has collected dust, never touched all this time, under the photo of the young man whom we were told was the potential player. He loved to play chess, often with his brother in this neighborhood.

At age 21 Richard White died in 1912 on the Titanic.

He was born and lived at this property, which was the family estate, the headquarters to their 19th century mill empire.  When his body was recovered a few days after the Titanic sinking, he was brought to the Winchendon Springs cemetery a mile away and buried alone. His father’s body was never recovered.

For over thirty years odd encounters with everything Titanic perplexed me.  This has included purchasing a property where Richard White lived. We had no idea at the time, but quickly learned from neighbors that conditions at Mill Circle were paranormal, not abnormal.

Richard sent a variety of signs he was here, present in this home, where he was welcomed. Where else would he go? Where else might he want to be? Psychics told me that he felt safe here in my home.

Psychics said he chose to stay here, and as a free spirit could go anywhere.

When the chessboard in the library featured odd moves and inexplicable actions, we set up another board where I could keep an eye on it daily, telling Richard that he could play the author of The Ghosts of Mill Circle right here.

It seems he has taken up the offer.

We placed a small model of the Titanic in mid-board, partly as a totem, and a yellow rose rests near the board as a symbol of friendship.

And, from a dimension where time is timeless, he has given us another sign, albeit a funny one by conceding the game in his first move.

We love it, Richard, and appreciate your presence.

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. 

 

 

 

 

Dead Again, Guilty Again!

DATELINE: Jussie on Steroids.

HERNANDEZ

If you want to know what makes a ghost return to his haunts, you only have to see another case of Massachusetts justice. It will give you the heebie-jeebies.

The Commonwealth Supreme Court has re-instated a guilty of murder verdict on Aaron Hernandez, the serial killer for the New England Patriots. His first trial had been overturned unceremoniously, and he was “not guilty” in his double murder second trial.

You are never declared innocent, no matter what.

The Hernandez conviction was overturned upon his suicide because in Massachusetts, if your appeal is unfinished upon death, you are declared free at last. It need not matter how heinous you were, or how and who you killed, you are no longer a convicted killer. Your jury has wasted its time. Your victim’s family is thrown into turmoil. You are released from prison for cremation or burial.

The evil you did lives on. The good was interred in the state Supreme Court.

So, the Supreme Court feels it has restored justice by playing ping-pong and pin-ball with the guilt of Aaron Hernandez. The law was called archaic and insensitive to modern victims. Hence, Hernandez is back in the eternal prison cell of ghosts like Jacob Marley.

We presume such a finding is enough to send the dead scrambling back to their previous haunts: like the mansion in Attleboro where Hernandez lived his rococo lifestyle. It remained empty for years. No one would dare stay there overnight.

If you want to guarantee that the spirit of Hernandez remains housebound to the place where his victim often visited, you have restored the dead zone. It is likely that Odin Lloyd, the victim, may also be there.

What a cozy arrangement: killer and victim stuck together for eternity. When you play ping-pong with fatality, your fate may be hell on earth and re-living what is never dead.

William Russo is author of the notorious book, The Strange Case of Aaron Hernandez. You can buy it in the old-fashioned print style, or a version designed for you if you are a smartreader.

Allan Carr: A Spectacle to Behold

DATELINE: Carr-buncle

Carr

Can’t Stop the Hype!

It’s been 20 years since the grand poobah of film, TV, and stage producers has left the spotlight. And, boy, was Allan Carr a hog for the media.

The Fabulous Allan Carr is a misnomer. He was not the stuff of fables, nor legends and myths. He was an obese gay man with a knack for self-indulging and making fun for friends and audiences.

One supposes that such a life is enough to satisfy most people. Yet, Carr seemed a cuddly little buddha, but was more like a cactus version of Jekyll and Hyde. When the good times rolled, he was your pal.

He started out as a talent coordinator for Hugh Hefner’s late night TV show in the late 1950s, where he made the acquaintance of old and new Hollywood.

Carr produced Grease, Grease II, La Cage aux Folles, as well as stinkeroos like Can’t Stop the Music. He could do good stuff with all the bravura of Carmen Miranda and Chiquita.

He was a nightmare when failure knocked on his door, and his all-boy parties in Beverly Hills gave way to funeral processions when the AIDS crisis started taking all the twinks. A generation was decimated, and the Village People went into eclipse.

Carr was mostly voyeur, and he escaped infection from HIV. He lived life on his terms, caftans and moo-moo blouses to hide a multitude of rolls.

Born out of Middle America, he became a cocaine-motivated doyen of Hollywood and Broadway. He should have been nicer to the people going up the ladder because they remembered him when he started down the ladder.

His last years were sad, beleaguered with kidney problems and bone cancer. Every party became a line on his face, and in the end he was about as reclusive as an extrovert might never consider.

 

 

‘Detour’ on Oak Island

Rare Beefcake on Oak Island

 

DATELINE:  Off Road Sites

With the season six crashing all around them, the Lagina Brothers have nowhere to go but down. Hence, they decide at this late date to make a new entrance to the Money Pit. Yeah, it’s episode 16 on Curse of Oak Island, and time is running out until next season.

If anyone is always running late on Oak Island, it is the Lagina brothers. We noticed again this week how they show up, drive up, or cavalierly drop in on a site at Smith’s cover, or at the bore holes, like they are early birds to do some work. However, there are always other members of the team already hard in labor: Laird, the archeologist, Billy on the backhoe, or Jack Begley, man of all trades.

Our two favorite treasure hunters dominated this episode:  Alex Lagina and Gary Drayton. They seldom work together. If public reaction we have measured is any indication, Gary Drayton is by far the most respected member of the series.

Gary found the seeping red dye in the previous episode while casting an eye over Smith’s Cove, and this time with his trusty metal detector, he found yet another rusty old stabbing tool, which he labelled “very, very old.”  He later found an “inge,” which in American translates to an hinge.

An old blacksmith expert noted that the spear weapons were actually crib spike, used in construction. He thought the hinge was for a heavy door, as on a church, or perhaps on a floodgate. He put it as early as 1600.

As for Alex, he is a certified diver and went looking for the weird objects seen by lidar in the previous week. One was an anchor and a mysterious object that was triangular and pointed toward the island. We had a brief shot of beefcake as he poured into his diving suit.

He also trotted along to the blacksmith to retrieve those findings.

As the summer winds down, so does the season’s episodes. We know there will be no definitive results, and we know that we will have to wait until next November to learn what they are.

 

 

 

 

Moby Dick: What Really Happened?

 DATELINE: Whale of a Story

Essex hit by whale   Moby Rams Essex!

You may have blanched at reading the mammoth novel by Herman Melville—few professors require its reading nowadays: too long, big means Moby Dick.

The true story of what intrigued Melville may be better fodder for the short attention span of a one-hour documentary.  And so, we have come down to Moby Dick: the True Story, made in 2001.

Out of Nantucket, the whaler called Essex sailed in 1819, not long after Frankenstein appeared, and it was its own horror story, all true. Though Melville made the First Mate named Starbuck, that was actually the name of one ship’s owner. The captain was Pollard, and his bossy First Mate was Owen Chase (who wrote the memoir on which Melville based his whaling epic). He is played by Shawn Reynolds in the film.

Yes, the Essex encountered the largest whale ever seen at the time, and he was old and cranky. Though one expert on the documentary insists that whales are basically docile, some old males can be aggressive. To say the least in this case.

Perhaps he knew what the ship’s purpose was: and it infuriated the whale.  According to the reports, he rammed the ship once until he was nearly unconscious and then came at it again to sink it.

Therein lies a novel by Melville. The whale did his worst, and as a force of the universe, sailed off, leaving his Ishmael on Queequeg’s coffin.

In real life, three small lifeboats fled the scene for a horrific sail for months. They resorted to cannibalism, and ultimately drew lots to murder one of their mates for dinner.

Three men chose to get off at something akin to Gilligan’s Island in mid-Pacific, which would have been our choice too. They survived and were rescued months later.

The cabin boy Thom Nickerson (played by Trevor Ralph in re-enacting scenes) was 14, and he survived to write his memoirs too, but they were not discovered until 1980, hidden in an attic.

Other survivors did not fare well: Owen Chase went mad, and the captain became a night watchman on Nantucket. Melville’s book flopped, and he watched a mountain in the distance from his home in the Berkshires that when white-capped with snow reminded him of Moby Dick.

Rita, When She Danced

DATELINE: Abused Beauty

Rita Hayworth

Love Goddess: Rita Hayworth

 Marguerita Cansino danced with her father professionally at the Zeigfeld Follies. She was 13, and her abusive old man passed her off as an adult—and his wife.

She played Mexican dancers and cowgirls in westerns before making it big with red hair and molars extracted to make her face smaller.

So began the career of movie legend Rita whose Gilda electrified film noir in 1946.  The documentary of her life comes from France where she is more appreciated and is called Rita Hayworth: Man Created. More like “man dominated.”

Poor Rita was made by her first husband whom she married to escape the incestuous hands of her father. He pulled back teeth, dyed her hair red and made her lose weight. Thus was born the legendary dancer who partnered with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in musicals.

She was the power behind Columbia Studios, but other men like Harry Cohn tormented her and controlled her. She escaped with Orson Welles who likely treated her better than all the others. He educated her and made her an actress.

She became a World War II pinup girl and then startled returning GIs as Gilda, her seminal role. She often said men fell in love with Gilda but woke up with Rita.

Eschewing movie roles like The Barefoot Contessa, she married Prince Aly Khan and later singer Dick Haymes. Her later films were curios: playing aging women with Gary Cooper and Robert Mitchum and Glenn Ford.

Some thought she faded fast because of alcohol, but later diagnosis discovered a rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease, starting before she was 50, causing her memory loss and disorientation.

She had powerful friends like Glenn Ford and John Wayne who tried to help her, but she ended up in the care of her daughter Yasima Khan in whose home she died too young, at age 68. Tragic tale of a grand symbol of energy and talent.

Blue Book Penultimate Abduction

DATELINE: Blue versus Green Book

nemesis  Gillen & Mularkey.

The series Project Blue Book is heading for the final round-up with an episode on alien abduction. What actually happens is that Blue Book Meets Green Book.

Yes, this is supposed to be a re-telling of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction in 1961. It is so far off that even the year is wrong: the episode takes place in 1951.

Also, professional Barney Hill in this series comes off as a crazed, hostage-taking madman who happens to be black. The real Barney was nothing like this TV version, except that he was kidnapped and lost time. His wife is not with him for the encounter, and he draws the map of the universe that Barney’s wife actually recalled for scientists.

Even more peculiar, the show features Captain Quinn in his most unpleasant demeanor yet: we don’t recall a protagonist who exhibits racism as in this episode.

Granted, it might be part of the times, but Hynek is horrified by Quinn’s lack of care about a black man. Well, Quinn has a lack of care about everyone.

In one marvelous moment, the wife of the abductee takes Quinn down a peg. The moment is priceless, and the female soldier next to Quinn gives him such a look as to make everything worth it.

Project Blue Book is wrapping up, but the use of subtle racism echoes the Best Picture, Green Book, because the military headquarters of the project would not be a friendly spot for people of color, or aliens for that matter. The Russian spy/lesbian subplot has gone off its rocker as well.

Dr. Hynek (Aiden Gillen) finally has enough of the arrogant Air Force captain—and they literally come to blows in this episode. High time.

The series conclusion cannot come fast enough, likely with Harry Truman as a centerpiece, just to go out with historical inaccuracies galore.

Trump’s Handiwork in Palm Beach

DATELINE: Massage is the Medium

Yang & Trump Party Another Happy Ending!

A funny thing happened on the way to the Trump Super Bowl party. Another funny thing happened at the Palm Beach massage parlor. We don’t mean funny in a humorous sense. It is distinctly odd.

Now it seems that Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, could not attend the Trump Super Bowl party because he actually was at the game, as part of putting the sixth championship below his belt.

Cindy Yang attended Trump’s shindig where she showed him a good time. Yank, oops, Yang founded the massage parlor game in Palm Beach, a kidney stone’s throw from Mar-a-Lago.

Joining Mr. Trump at his party was the one-time creator of the self-same parlor where Mr. Kraft was handed his arrested development warrant. You guessed it! Cindy Yank has the pull for an invitation.

You have got to hand it to Trump and Kraft. They know how to grab headlines. When you have billions, you can do fairly much whatever you want. The problem is that these handsome seniors have enemies. Yes, there are patrons of the law who blanch at women doing sex work for money.

We eagerly await the visit of Kraft to the White House where he will hand-off a MAGA jersey to President like it’s a Handi-wipe who will hand-out fast-food with and without pickles.

Trump likely feels this massage perk is owed to the super-rich who are now political kingpins, making immigration policy that allows Chinese women to be held prisoner, not in a fortune cookie factory where they might send out a message, but in a massage parlor where the medium is the massage.

The party-goer who owned the massage parlor is a big donor to Trump. She gives freely and often. The little lady deserves a big hand, but we aren’t sure if Trump or Kraft can afford to pick up the tab.

Septuagenarians are worse off than sexagenarians.

If you think there is something funny going on here in Palm Beach, we think the police agree and have a hands-on policy when it comes to a handshake and a smile.

If you think Congressional committees will put their paws on this one, you will have another Jussie Smollett moment on your hands.

Sex and politics are never strange bedfellows. Just let the Stormy days pass—you will have a big hand for the little lady.

Funny like a toothache.

 

 

Brideshead Remade & Revisited

DATELINE: Movies Over TV

Brideshead 2008

Sebastian and Charles in Happier Days.

Back in the early 1980s, one of the grandest early miniseries was that of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It made stars out of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as the stylish Oxford boys of the 1920s.

It’s been re-made, of course, now a regular size movie, not a 14-hour epic. It is digestible, though the character of Charles is not palatable.

This time Ben Whishaw is the foppish noble Sebastian of Brideshead, and his friend is Charles (Matthew Goode) who has affairs with both brother and sister along his calculating life.

An abridged version still manages to capture all the salient details and key scenes, especially in the idyllic and romantic early days with Sebastian. Young Lord Flyte tries to keep Charles from his family, whom he knows will devastate their relationship. He never counted on the fact that Charles brought his own wrecking ball.

Whishaw seemed to have cornered the market on slightly epicene young men for a time, and Matthew Goode has made a career of elevating every movie and series he joins. He even showed up at Downton Abbey.

Emma Thompson is along as the devout Catholic mother of Sebastian, but it is Julia (played by Hayley Atwell) who is a lynchpin of the lynch mob. Nearly every character blames Charles for being a rapacious game player, though he is at a loss to understand the attacks.

The breaking point is Michael Gambon’s effective work as the family patriarch when Charles tries to prevent a priest from giving last rites to the man.

Part of the drama is the lead-up to his denial of self-knowledge that causes him to lose everything of meaning. Sebastian’s friend Antony scathingly notes he thought at first that Charles was a lamb, but later saw he was the true predator.

It may be news for the oblivious in the audience too.

The condensed movie of the longer miniseries is still effective and powerful. Fans of the 1980s version will recognize that one constant came back to replay its role.

Castle Howard once again stands in for Brideshead, and it is still undiminished in its majesty.