Inventor of Xmas? Charles Dickens, Really?

DATELINE:  Ghosts for the Holidays

Dickens with ScroogeDickens with Scrooge!

One presumes Dickens would be appalled that he was given the label as The Man Who Invented Christmas because in 1842 under financial pressure, he wrote a little ghost story in six weeks. We always thought Jesus probably deserved a little credit for inventing Christmas.

Having dozens of movie versions of the famous holiday tale about the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, it seems only fitting that a charming tale, slightly mythological rather than biographical, would be the latest incarnation of the story.

Dan Stevens, hot off Downton Abbey, plays a stylish, boyish Charles Dickens, a man surrounded by his own spendthrift ways and a brood of interruptions in his home, faces a daunting deadline to come up with a novella to make ends meet.

Stories about writers are usually deadly dull and impossible to show creativity, but this film manages to show how the characters, and caricatures, came to life for Dickens.

No small feat is the marvelous performance of the difficult quarry of Scrooge in the person of Christopher Plummer. He argues he wants his point-of-view better expressed, feeling the story is too one-sided!

The cast is up to the weird exaggerations of Dickens, including Jonathan Pryce as the author’s father. Many people in Dickens’ life take a role in his story.

Cute, by some standards, we see snippets of dialogue picked off the streets as Dickens goes on his daily duties. He hears the best lines and incorporates them into his text. But, it is his debates with Scrooge who visits him in his room that is the heart of the film.

Dickens purists might take issue with the pabulum portrait by Stevens, but this is a sentimental story, intelligently told, without profanity, sexual situations, or other unpleasantness, while maintaining dramatic and psychological effectiveness.

This is a film that insists Dickens did more for Christmas than you may want to believe. Yet, this is more than a holiday fest and more than a simple biographical movie. It is charming, an addition to the Christmas canon.



LeCarre’s Deadly Affair

DATELINE:  Cold War Spies

Serpentine dinner

When Sydney Lumet could not use the original name of George Smiley for his spy from the famous book, he came up with Dobbs. However, the man playing Dobbs was the always-brilliant James Mason. He was Smiley in any other name in The Deadly Affair.

As a spy mystery, this movie is the epitome of sophisticated and intelligent drama in the 1960s, down to the Astrid Gilberto theme song.

Few movies would feature a background scene of Macbeth as put on by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the plot. There you’d find a quite young Georgy Girl, Lynn Redgrave, before she teamed up with Mason again in her breakthrough role.

Harry Andrews and Kenneth Haigh provide solid support as allies to Mason’s disgruntled, cold spy who learns a man he interviewed pleasantly as a routine security check was not happy and committed suicide shortly thereafter. He is suspicious, rightfully.

Simone Signoret is right off the boat of Ship of Fools, and Maximilian Schell out of Judgment at Nuremberg. You have here something special in the litany of suspects.

John Dimech, one of the young stars of Lawrence of Arabia, made a small appearance here as a waiter at the Serpentine Restaurant. It was a swan song to a promising movie career.

Back then, this was the antidote to James Bond special effects and glamour. It is full of sound and fury signifying ennui.

The script has a couple of glorious hoots among the angst of the characters. It is, after all, vintage John LeCarre and a dandy spy mystery.




#TylerPerry @TylerPerry & Whatever Else like @TylerPerryNews

Attention: All dedicated Tyler Perry fans!

madea sings like ma

Once in a blue moon, a great story comes out just made for the right star. We have found it: a science fiction murder mystery with just the right dose of laughs.

An exciting and new science-fiction murder-mystery has a great role for everybody’s favorite Madea, impresario and master of movies, Tyler Perry.

Featuring some interesting comic situations, the character of Ma Hattie, rhythm and blues singer, takes on time-traveling space aliens and assassination conspiracy buffs as she helps her niece, an FBI agent, crack the case.

Second Shadow War is a story made for Tyler Perry’s unique talents.

Long-time fan and author Ralph T. O’Neal III, co-founder of the Black Union Conservative Caucus and Booksnbars an educational program for federal inmates, has created a role made in heaven for Tyler Perry’s unique style as director and actor.

Now if only someone can get the idea to Tyler, we’d be cooking.

You can find a website on Facebook, and Instagram for the story @shadowwarseries.

The Second Shadow War!

DATELINE:  Sci-fi, murder mystery, and romantic fantasy combined!


2ndShadowWarkindlecover RECOMMENDED! A True Sequel to Rider Haggard’s She!

Now available on Amazon in both paper and e-book

Author Ralph T. O’Neal III is co-founder of BooksnBars for federal prisoners and knows something about the political and shadow government operating in the United States!

 Following the characters and situations raised by the first Shadow War about the conflict between MJ-12 and the Vatican, the Second Shadow War takes on the motives and conspirators behind the Kennedy assassination. It’s a concoction of alchemy, merging three genres into something totally unusual.

Ralph T. O’Neal III has done it again, throwing the JFK’s assassination into the mix of MJ-12 conspiracies.

An evolving series, the characters repeat their roles and become enhanced with familiarity. Central character is a mysterious teenage boy who is half-human and half-space alien, the work of black ops in the federal government.

According to reviewer Mal Tempo: “If Agatha Christie and Arthur C. Clarke collaborated with H. Rider Haggard, this book would be the result.”

It is not a graphic novel, but something like it –but special, using Foto-Footnotes or illos to annotate the text.

A stunning story and a shocking conclusion! Conspiracy buffs and feminists will come alive reading this tale about She Who Must Be Obeyed, never gone from Earth and back for more.



DATELINE: Penknife Mightier than the Sword


Now read all your favorite blogs for the year in one handy location: your tablet, your smartphone, or your computer.


Now available, The Loser’s Edition.

Normally we compile a book of annual snide comments about the winner of the Super Bowl, but this year we change horses in the fourth quarter.

Now you can trace the sour grapes of Malcolm Butler up to the sacking by Coach Belichick in the final hours!

Now you can see the complete reviews and reactions to Tom Brady’s reality TV series and all its deadly fallout!

Now you can learn how Trump has poisoned the Patriot well of victory!

Now you can find the fake news about Gronk’s Hollywood career!

Now you cannot find much about Julian Edelman, but he still shows up on the pages now and then!

Now you can see how the Yalta Peace Talks between Kraft, Belichick, and Brady really came about and really went nowhere!

Now available on Amazon, cheap price, cheap words, cheap ideas!

Recommended for smart readers always!



Wry Catcher: Why J.D. Salinger?

DATELINE:   Movie Bio

REAL SALINGER Angry Salinger Wants to be Alone

Director Danny Strong joins a list of people who are violating every standard that J.D. Salinger lived by. He hated publicity and adoration of koo-koo bird fans.

You could say the new movie of Salinger’s life Rebel in the Rye is nothing short of a misnomer, however well-intended and well-done.

We are always impressed with Nicholas Hoult, who again here, gives us an American New Yorker accent and a man who lost his mind in World War II after seeing horror up close. The British actor has turned into a new nationality in his movie roles, and adds brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that he is famous for. It is another superior performance in a growing litany of interesting films.

The movie has one big problem: Kevin Spacey. He plays the mentor and admirer of Salinger, editor and discoverer Whit Burnett, who seems almost to have a fetish when it comes to his prize pupil. Alas, Spacey’s personal history almost circumvents the movie and makes us think he was groping Nick Hoult between scenes, or that Burnett was groping Salinger. Yikes.

The producers have left Spacey’s name off the publicity because it’s such a turnoff. Not everyone has Ridley Scott’s money to simply replace Spacey with computer effects.

It’s a shame because Spacey’s presence does distract, though his performance is brilliant—and the movie proceeds on its mission to present us with a writer who loved to write, but hated his readers.

Salinger was no genius, but he had his finger on the pulse of Zen Buddhist seclusion. The attempt to turn him into his own character, Holden Caulfield, seems a bit forced. Boswell was not Sam Johnson, though he wrote about him.

The film is worth it for fans of Salinger, even if they are not wearing red hunting caps and stalking writers who hide out in New Hampshire.

1974’s Murder on the Orient Express

 DATELINE:  Another Christie Version

1974 all-star murder

Before we tackle the newest Orient Express by Branagh, let’s look at the oldest version.

The star-studded Sidney Lumet version took Agatha Christie out of the hands of  1960s-style Margaret Rutherford and Miss Marple.  Murder on the Orient Express is bumpy in the night.

Indeed, the cast is spectacular, one of the last gasps of Old Hollywood gone mad. The suspects are so rococo and bizarre that they make Albert Finney’s weird Poirot look positively like Sam Spade crossed with Richard III.

As the names of stars pass in the opening credits, your jaw may drop. Bacall, Bergman (Bogart’s leading ladies), Perkins, Connery, Gielgud, Redgrave (later to play Christie herself), Widmark, and stellar second bananas too, like Balsam, Bisset, and let’s catch our breaths! Wow.

Lumet is not so much interested in atmosphere as glamour.

If Margaret Rutherford had not died the year before the film, she likely would have been cast in it too. Christie never liked the idea of Miss Marple joining forces with Hercule—but in this sort of movie, you almost expect it.

The new auteur Kenneth Branagh version cannot touch the sheer aristocracy of actors in this film. You have to savor each little gem from Lumet’s cast, as these great stars finally can play it to the hilt one last time and first time as an ensemble.

Agatha Christie was the Shakespeare of crime plots—and so we will have more remakes. After all, we have seen about seven great Hamlet movies. Christie cannot be far behind.

We do condemn the music score that lightly sounds over the credits at the end—which is completely wrong for the mood of the film.

Fincher’s Movie Zodiac in Contrast to History TV

DATELINE:  Docudrama Versus Reality TV

 Fincher style Gyllenhaal & Downey Play Detectives

The new series on History inspired us to go back to 2007 and see what David Fincher did in his big budget, all-star movie called Zodiac.

Suffice it to say, there is some overlap: and the series claims to have discovered an earlier killing by Zodiac at UCLA that was shown ten years earlier in the Fincher film version.

Of course, Fincher uses poetic license to personalize victims and their final conversations; we have no idea what was really said, but his version is fairly likely.

The movie uses big stars in rotating coverage: the newspaper cynical reporter is Robert Downey, Jr., who calls Zodiac a latent homosexual—and then fears for his life that he will be a target.

Mark Ruffalo is the San Francisco detective in full 1960s fashion mode, and quite amusing. Brian Cox steals every scene playing flamboyant attorney Melvin Belli.

The most important character is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Chronicle cartoonist who is an amateur sleuth and is equal to the trivia that Zodiac was fond of using. He notes that Richard Connell story, “Most Dangerous Game” that Zodiac admires—but the movie never did its homework. The story was a short story, not a book.

You may well wonder at the enormous stupidity of everyone at the newspaper, passing around evidence and ruining fingerprints, etc., with nary a thought. And you may wonder why a cartoonist is at the high-level meetings. Described as a “retard” and “Boy Scout,” throughout the film, Gyllenhaal looks like he is auditioning for his next role as a gay cowboy.

If you haven’t had your fill of demented serial killers (called mass murderer in the movie), then you might want to annotate the TV series with a first-rate movie.

Stone’s Throw to Consequence in JFK

DATELINE: Movie History Literally

 Kirkwood's Grotesque  

Twenty-five years after Oliver Stone’s conspiratorial extravaganza, with more Kennedy assassination documents released weekly, it may be time to re-consider JFK.

The movie has become legend—and now checks in at a length worthy of Ben Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. Yet, that still is not enough.

The movie is the ultimate docudrama, providing theory and re-enactments about the death of an American president in Dallas in 1963. Many of the arcane details that made Stone’s movie seem fantastic have become ingrained into the epitome of fake news turned into fake history. As Pontius Pilate once succinctly put it, “What is truth?”

Stone takes the same approach as Jim Garrison: he uses the system to present ideas, in some ways abusing the process and going outside the usual parameters.

Oliver Stone went for the sensational: casting the most minor roles with notable, famous actors. It gave credence to the view that many people, especially celebrities, agreed with his perspective of the facts. He believed Clay Shaw was an assassin’s conspirator.

On top of that, he even cast the aging Jim Garrison as Chief Justice Earl Warren interviewing Jack Ruby in his prison cell shortly before his fateful death from cancer. Tommy Lee Jones made a dandy Shaw, and Kevin Bacon sizzled as the ersatz Russo.

Garrison’s conspiracy case against Clay Shaw, New Orleans businessman with a salacious private life, was built on reports from Perry Russo, who died in 1995 shortly after the movie was released. But, the Russo character turned to stone, or a pillar of salt, suddenly called Willie O’Keefe, a gay hustler who put Lee Oswald into the maelstrom of New Orleans double agent gay life. Russo always claimed he was maligned, but not by his associations.

Whether the connected dots actually mean there was conspiracy, or just coincidental dots connecting, may never be known with witnesses wiped out by accidents, murders, illness, and mystery deaths over the decade after the Kennedy assassination.

We are far more likely today to accept a movie as our historical reference than ever before. With that, Oliver Stone’s well-produced film gains credence. The viewing public who won’t read history are clearly condemned to accept re-enactments in a movie.

Garrison’s case was a case of self-delusion, or invisible and secret government sabotage.

Our friend Jim Kirkwood covered the original trial and befriended Clay Shaw, but Jim always had a penchant and soft spot for killers and those accused of unsavory acts. He called his book on Clay Shaw and Jim Garrison by the appropriate title of American Grotesque.

When we tried to bait him over drinks about the Clay Shaw case in the 1980s, he wouldn’t bite. It left us uneasy then, and later when the JFK movie came out, we were confounded. Jim Kirkwood was gone to the undiscovered country and so was his insider knowledge.

Today, when the latest documents hint at deeper, uglier, unpleasant details, we wish Jimmy Kirkwood were still here to see us dangle on the hook of conspiracy.

Stone’s JFK throws us for a loop still.

Dr. William Russo has written two timely books: Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, on Kirkwood’s life, and Booth & Oswald, on the assassins.

New Book of Movie & TV Reviews

 “A compendium of enormous balderdash and overwrought and underthought insights!”

Mal Tempo, Long Time Ago book consultant


If you enjoy Ossurworld’s movie and television reviews, with their unique and odd insights into what’s really happening in your favorite movies, then you are in luck! 

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews collects the best of the blog reports in one place for easy access and reading.

The books is available for smarter readers, both in e-book and print formats, from Amazon.

If you want the perfect time-killer, Red Carpet Tickets is your ticket to ride. 

Ossurworld’s blogs on movies (& TV streams) select only films that you can and should devote time to watching. Bad films are rarely considered for examination. Bloated budgets, ridiculous acting, and skimpy budgets, will not hurt a film’s chances if something intelligent is presented. Ossurworld will let you know.

You can find Ossurworld’s new book online by simply clicking on this blue highlight!

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews.  (This blog is a self-serving, commercial, and otherwise blatant attempt to win your appreciation of our mini-labors of Hercules.)

James Baldwin: Nobody’s Negro

DATELINE:  A World Unchanged in 40 Years


James Baldwin.jpeg

I Am Not Your Negro is a striking documentary, based on an unfinished manuscript author James Baldwin was writing about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers, all his friends who were murdered. Yes, he was bitter.

Baldwin never finished his book, but the documentary gives its due to the lives of these men and Lorraine Hansberry too, a tragic loss of a black author to cancer.

Baldwin was articulate, passionate, sensitive, and gentle. That the FBI designated him as dangerous may be more indicative of the racism of the era. He interacted with the most famous and infamous of the black movement of the 1960s, though he was on the periphery of politics.

His insights into what ails America stands as true today as it did when he was dismissed as too radical 40 years ago. He saw America through its movie-history lens—and found that white people (whom he liked and admired) were basically morally apathetic, which was a step away from being a moral monster.

The film’s voice is Samuel L. Jackson, reading Baldwin’s words, but there is also a stunning collection of rare historical TV clips. You see Baldwin on a panel with Marlon Brando, Joseph Mankiewicz, Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier, discussing black rights. Amazing stuff.

How much would Baldwin be shocked by the insignificant changes in society since his early death in 1979? He scoffed at the notion of a black president, predicted by Robert Kennedy in 1965, in the dim future of 40 years, as being an insult.

Baldwin wanted white America to face its own black people whom he felt they never truly saw: even today, one study proved that racism lives in wedding photos. The number of white brides who had black people in their wedding party was miniscule.

We think James Baldwin would have snickered at such results, then cried.

Alabama: Home of Vixen Lolita Teenagers

DATELINE: Roy Humbert Humbert Moore


Actress Sue Lyon as 14-year-old Lolita in 1962

You have to feel sorry for Judge Moore: he was constantly being tempted by a series of Alabama-style Lolita temptresses.

Alabama has once again thrust itself into the laughingstock of the United States. Not since George Wallace tried to block little girls from going to school have we seen such paleo-imbeciles, excepting Jeff Sessions testifying in Congress.

Are they all so backward as Judge Roy Beanbag Moore, the crypto-Nazi who disdains every scandalous sin except his own?

Alabama has thrust itself to the forefront of backward backwoods people—sort of like Afghanistan politics in America.

We knew for sure that you might find someone standing in the doorway, blocking the schools in Alabama, but we never suspected that Judge Moore was sizing up the undergraduate sophomores in the high school as potential “dates.”

Yes, a man who wants to be in the US Senate has a past worthy of a man in the Roman Senate 2000 years ago when emperors and senators could buy teenagers for sex without recrimination.

Alabama might serve as the headquarters for pedophiles in politics. At the least, it is the newly discovered capital of Nabokov’s Lolita-ville.

We did not know it was still possible in Alabama to hold court like a combination of Roman emperors and Ozark hillbillies.

However, Judge Moore has drawn parallels to himself and the Holy Bible. Alas, he missed the point that the man interested in young nubile girls was Herod Antipas—and his intended was step-daughter Salome. Now that might better serve as the metaphor of choice for Moore supporters.

The price this time for victory may be Trump sending Sessions back to the Senate, appointed by the Alabama governor, payment for creating a special prosecutor to investigate and to jail his political enemies. It’s the price of good people doing nothing.

Those paragons of virtue and defenders of morality at Breitbart News have sent undercover operatives to dig up dirt on the accusers, or make up dirt if that is the only other alternative.

We have already recommended Alabama as the Neanderthal’s vision of making America great again. Welcome to the new America that starts to resemble Nazi Germany.



Yes, Dr. No is Bananas

DATELINE:  First Bond

in Bond bed

Back in 1963, audiences were treated to a new kind of superhero in the person of Sean Connery:  Bond, James Bond.

The film called Dr. No was a departure on many levels from your usual spy/adventure stories. First, this was tongue-in-cheek (sort of) and came out of a series of Cold War novels by Ian Fleming.

As you might expect in this movie, the spies are decidedly low tech: old fashioned telephone banks are everywhere. There are no computers, and MI-5 or 6 communicates by short-wave radio with its agents.

The shocker: Bond has a license to kill and does so with the aplomb of your everyday cold-blooded sociopath. Of course, it’s all done in the name of the Queen and Country.

This movie deals with an independent terrorist organization that calls itself SPECTRE and is motivated mostly by evil and money, whichever is most handy.

The movie is lusciously filmed in Technicolor in Jamaica where Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a half-Chinese mad genius, has a nuclear power plant where his workers wear what we’d call Hazmat suits today. Yet, the whole bunch of bananas seems like parody, not far from Get Smart.

Along for the Bond ride in this first Fleming novel on the big screen is Ursula Andress in various states of undress and Jack Lord as the CIA agent (before he went Hawai 5-O on us). Wiseman’s half-Chinese villain has no hands (black prosthetics) and cream-color suits that would make Sydney Greenstreet envious.

Bond is nothing less than promiscuous and rather dangerous, and Connery is perfect as the pre-politically-correct man’s man. Don’t shake that martini. Audiences must have hooted every time that Bond music motif hit the screen. It still tingles.

We particularly like the tarantula put into Bond’s bed and crawling up Connery’s arm and back. Ah, those were the days!

Movie Gold or Fool’s Gold?

DATELINE:  Free e-Book


How often is there a free lunch in America?

This weekend may feed your movie-fan soul with a variety of film commentaries from the blogs of Ossurworld.  The latest book is called Movie Gold or Fool’s Gold? We suspect you may find both present in the digital pages.

Yes, the collected reviews are now together like the Musketeers: all in one convenient place for your perusal.  And, for the next few days, the cost is NOTHING!

Ossurworld likes Hollywood history, and this time he has put together recent reviews of classic movies he re-watched in 2017.

Amazon has a special feature for those who like something for nothing and believe you may actually receive more than you might bargain for.

If you want to know how to pick up Movie Gold or Fool’s Gold, just follow this highlight to the book-page to download. The offer is limited to a few short days–and dusk falls earlier as your Trick or Treat experience comes down the pike.








My Cousin Rachel: What’s Your Poison?

DATELINE: Updates & Remakes

 Claflinor Burton original

Novelist Daphne Du Maurier has been both blessed and condemned by being associated forever with Alfred Hitchcock. He made both their names synonymous with mysterious melodrama after the mesmerizing Rebecca came out in 1941.

Ten years later Olivia De Havilland and Richard Burton made My Cousin Rachel with George Cukor, but he quit the film in pre-production after both he and Miss Du Maurier criticized the script. The film was successful nonetheless with director Henry Koster.

So, we come to 2017 when director Roger Michell makes a stab at re-doing the lush period piece with its conflicting and misunderstood characters, Rachel and Philip. The film is beautiful to look at and raises more complexity in the relationships of the characters.

In a nutshell Rachel has married Philip’s cousin and adoptive father Ambrose in Italy. There, Ambrose sends his young ward letters indicating his new wife is poisoning him. According to authorities, Ambrose had a brain tumor that made him paranoid.

However, Philip is not so sure: perhaps he too is a bit paranoid, suspecting Rachel of being a master manipulator of exotic poison. Perhaps she is also plotting to poison him too.

Wonderful and swaggering, Sam Claflin as Philip is no Richard Burton. It is unfair to expect him to be, and Rachel Weisz seems a tad too young for the dangerous older woman. Yet, they convey more subtlety than you might expect.

There are hints and foreshadows everywhere that Philip was more than a ward to Ambrose, and he is inexperienced with women, adding to his possible misconstruing of Rachel’s personality. He also seems to have inherited his “cousin’s” paranoia, perhaps caused by a brain tumor.

The film has occasional lapses of moral rectitude of the era of English country life with Rachel and Philip bursting into each other’s bedrooms in violation of social norms of the period. That aside, this is a sumptuous film that has double-edged suspicions on both sides of Philip and Rachel.

We must laud any film of diligence and intelligence in this day of cartoonish, noise-filled superheroes. We hope today’s audiences can understand subtext while watching this film.