Poirot’s Murder Most Foul, Justice Most Brutal

DATELINE:  Another Remake on the Horizon

best orient express

Best Version of Murder on the Orient Express

The David Suchet version of Murder on the Orient Express is a completely different movie than the glitzy Hollywood all-star version of the 1970s. It is utterly dark. And it is far more cynical than the Christie novel, but is faithful next to the newest star-cartoon vehicle coming out soon with Kenneth Branagh as an unconvincing Poirot.

The teleplay version created a stunning, dank and dark 1930s. Perhaps this was what Agatha Christie intended in far more subtle manners.

From the opening scenes of  Belgian detective  Hercule Poirot being blood-splattered by a suicide to witnessing a stoning of an unfaithful wife in Turkey, the adapted version is far more than an entertaining murder mystery. It is a chilling morality play. It’s a play against films like Twelve Angry Men with a twist.

The Suchet version plays far more on the American nature of the melting pot of train travelers on the Orient Express. As one who defends the justice system, Poirot becomes alarmed, then horrified by the story’s unraveled mystery.

You won’t find the big names of the Albert Finney-Poirot movie. Here you will find Barbara Hershey, Toby Jones, and Hugh Bonneville, if you like name stars, but actors like Brian J. Smith as the victim’s secretary carry a heavy load.

Poirot loses all faith in humanity, and Suchet’s suffering face drives home the horror. In fact, his mustache does not turn off at the ends as much as the earlier shows.

A new version is forthcoming, directed by Kenneth Branagh who plays a flinty version of Poirot, rather unfaithful to the novel. Branagh’s mustache of Poirot is deplorable!

In the protracted series, the Orient Express episode was from the 12th season when the Belgian sleuth seemed bereft of all hope, as if a lifetime of dealing with murder finally sapped him of purpose and optimism. The original tale took its core from the Lindbergh kidnapping case, but became something else in the hands of Dame Agatha.

This compelling little Suchet film is brilliant, but a cold indictment of cruel justice among civilized people. The stark white snow drifts that stall the train on its journey contrast with the dark inner lives of the passengers.

If you want escapist fare, turn to the Hollywood version of Christie’s Orient Express. If you want catharsis, turn to David Suchet’s incisive portrayal of despair.

 

This blog entry is another in a series on Agatha Christie.

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Old Doc Brady’s Homeopathic Remedies

 DATELINE:  Bad Book Advice?

 tom in lost horizon Lost Horizon-bound: Dear Tom

Medical experts are lambasting GOAT Tom Brady, also known around here as Old Doc Brady, for dispensing false medical information in his new best-selling book.

As a result, Tom took to defending his half-baked ghost-written book at the post-game presser. He knows what he knows—and he tells what he believes. Usually on the offense, Tom took up a defensive position.

Brady recommends hydrating to prevent sunburn. Doctors are incensed, if not downright burnt to a crisp over this fallacious advice.

Dressed all in black, like an undertaker or hangman, at a recent press conference, Dr. Tom defended his cure-all advice. He came across like Johnny Cash bad-ass.

Most people fail to realize Tom’s new book is actually a satire. It’s like James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, the novel about a fantasy world called Shangri-La.

The lost Himalayan city called Shangri-La is a place where people stay young forever, owing to some secret rejuvenation in the water. Who knew Tom’s hidden paradise is just north of Foxborough in Brookline.

In his private Shangri-La, as far as we know, Tom could be getting Serum from goat gland injections like old Somerset Maugham used to do. What better way to stay young for an old GOAT than to have goat serum!

If you follow Tom’s highly expensive regimen, you would end up spending $500 for Botox in each area treated. You’d spend $300 for his specially tailored pajamas. And his food program cost another $300 to $400 per month. You can never be too rich or too thin.

This homeopathic doc is certainly not the grizzled, but lovable, sawbones from Stagecoach, the classic movie. Tom sees himself as young Dr. Kildare.

Those trying to stay young forever would have a better chance of finding eternal youth by going to the Himalayan mountains than to follow Tom Brady’s secret recipe.

Whatever Happened to Agatha?

DATELINE:  1979 Vanessa Redgrave Movie

 agatha:vanessa Redgrave with Hoffman

The biopic movie about the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie remains a fairly puzzling non-explanation as can be found.

In Agatha, the Michael Apted movie is scruptiously produced and has big stars of the day in the key roles:  Timothy Dalton, fresh off James Bond, as Captain Christie, the unloving husband who drives his wife to distraction—and Dustin Hoffman as a no-nonsense American journalist who is hot on the trail of the missing mystery writer.

Vanessa Redgrave’s eyes steal the picture as the writer. Willowy, she is hardly like the real Agatha  who was a well-fed Miss Marple type. However, there are hints to indicate this is the same methodical writer who produced so many classics of fiction. Dame Agatha seems to apply her writing habits to orchestrating a disappearance that is inexplicable.

Mrs. Christie actually left her child for eleven days—and was dealing with her mother’s death at the time of her strange disappearance. Neither of these points is made in the movie.

All in all, the viewer is led to believe this was an insensitive publicity stunt, though the writer may have wanted to punish her husband who is having an affair—and Agatha may be researching how to do in her husband’s paramour.

Hoffman is physically dwarfed by the tall, elegant Redgrave, but he gives a sharp performance. However, he too seems to send mixed messages as to his real motives as Wally Stanton, a deceptive investigator. If the real Stanton looked like Hoffman, Christie would have seen her model for Hercule Poirot, a role Hoffman might have played with more relish.

Ultimately, this fictional theory about the incident of Christie’s weird disappearance is about as unsatisfying as you could give the audience.

Along the way, the performances are meant to distract and impress. Indeed, they do. If Christie had plotted this script, she would have done a better job.

(This entry is one of a series of blogs on Agatha Christie.)

Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders with Suchet’s Poirot

DATELINE:  A Worthy Series

ABC

Suchet as the inimitable Hercule

David Suchet’s bravissimo performance over two decades as Hercule Poirot might be appreciated many times. This week we took in The ABC Murders again.

The climactic murder scene takes place in a cinema where Hitchcock’s Number Seventeen is on the screen as a backdrop for the serial killer. We suspect the Master of Suspense would approve.

The Agatha Christie story became the first full-length movie episode from the delightful TV series. For that reason alone, the plot is clever and intriguing. Christie uses a device that brings together the grieving family of the serial ABC serial killer as Poirot’s band of intrepid sleuths.

The notion that the victims’ family would want to take an active role in catching their beloved one’s killer is compelling, even if Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) is exasperated by his friendly nemesis with the mincing steps, and obsessive neatness.

Poirot’s demeanor as a private investigator remains firm in its resolve, but already we begin to see in the nuances of Suchet’s performance that Poirot is beginning to become jaded and horrified by the endless murders he deals with.

Indeed, this serial killer sends Poirot a series of letters, challenging him to stop the carnage. It becomes so personal that the Belgian detective is more distracted by his moral repugnance.

As his aide-de-camp Captain Hastings, Hugh Fraser matches Suchet as the obtuse man of action—as they both seem weary from four seasons of sadistic killers. Pauline Moran’s Miss Lemon, Poirot’s dedicated secretary, is absent from this episode.

Christie had such brilliant creativity in finding ways to develop characters and contrive plots that are truly mysteries to entertain an audience.

Over the length of the Poirot series, bringing all the stories to film (something the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series could not do), is a monumental achievement, matching the flavor of the literature of the Christie stories with film plays. A large debt is owed to Suchet, the driving force behind the detective.

 

 

Melania Trump Suffers from Bookworms

DATELINE:  Beauty Meets the Beast

Melania

Immigrant-come-lately Melania Trump will find no sanctuary in one of the biggest sanctuary cities in the United States. They have put her on ICE.

Our beautiful and exotic First Lady has run headlong into a beastly book monster.

A librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has rejected any overture of kindness from the First Lady—and has not shown her American hospitality in the least.

In an age when most young people are not encouraged to read and won’t do much reading, except on Twitter where sentences are limited to 140 characters, a self-righteous librarian has decided to burn the books gifted to her library in Cambridgeport.

Mrs. Trump sent to the library about a dozen books written by Dr. Seuss as part of a gift she dispersed around the nation.

Melania would read them to her young son, Barron, several years ago and thought they would be a wonderful gift to any well-stocked library.

She didn’t consider they already had some editions, and she didn’t consider maybe she should’ve sent them to an underprivileged library of some wayward public school without much resource.

Nor did Mrs. Trump suspect that among liberal activists, Dr. Seuss is now considered even more suspect of being a secret racist–and hiding it in plain sight of the Grinch.

This gave a liberal librarian the opportunity to say nay– and throw kerosene on the books and bric-a-brac at the First Lady.

Not since Joseph Goebbels took over the libraries of Nazi Germany have we seen such anti-intellectual attitude. And this, from a librarian who prefers to read children books about same sex pecadillos and union organizers.

Mrs. Obama often read the Dr. Seuss books to young students during her visits to school children when she was First Lady. Somehow between Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Trump, the books in question became racist. At least in the mind of one liberal librarian.

So, banning books now has moved directly into the most liberal bastion in America:  Cambridge, Mass., where we once lived as a child—and hated Dr. Seuss as a sidelight.

Little did we know that indoctrination was part of our education.

Mrs. Trump now has been infected by bookworms.

 

 

Lord of the Flies: Donald Trump

 DATELINE:  Free Speech & Concussed Politicians

lord

North Korea has it wrong. Trump is not the Commander-in-Grief. He is the Lord of the Flies, the William Golding horror reborn.

NFL fans of the game may be coming to a rather harsh realization. Freedom of speech cuts. Two ways. They were counter-free speechified by the players on Sunday.

You may boo your least favorite players in the stadium and to their face as they score winning points to help your team. Then, cheers. What manner is this hypocrisy?

On the other hand,  players have a right to express their feelings as well. We think they ought to just thumb noses, instead of a respectful knee to the ground. Save that for the bully-pulpit fans.

You may not like seeing players kneel during Our National Anthem.  It’s almost like praying for a better country.  Fat chance for that under the Lord of the Flies.

Mr. Trump is completely convinced that he would rather be right than president.  Trump is no Henry Clay when it comes to cold feet. He has performed no presidential feat greater than dividing the nation into red and blue. He leaves the white for separatist flags.

Perhaps his wish will be granted. We either will have the end of the world in a nuclear holocaust against another race of the Yellow Peril, or we will have a race war in America. In either case, you have to admit Trump has divided America in ways we haven’t seen since the Civil War.

Russian interference of the election is secondary to Trump hijacking of the Constitution.

Of course, we have come to expect the worst of NFL fans. They laugh and demean the idea of concussions. Ask Will Smith.

They watch gladiator athletes concussed weekly for entertainment. If memory serves, during the campaign President Trump scoffed at the idea of concussions for NFL players as a sign of weakness. Talk about brain bankruptcy.

All this goes to show that what goes around comes around, like Aaron Hernandez and Confederate resurrection.  It’s all in a day’s work for the Lord of the Flies.

Required Reading of Darryl Stephens

DATELINE:  Actor Transcending

 Darryl Actor & Author Darryl Stephens

As stars go, Darryl Stephens has been on low-profile phase for a decade. With cult movies and a cult TV show, he has become a face, an attitude, and a symbol of the modern gay actor.

Now, after years of hearing fans of his 2006 show, Noah’s Arc, ask him for advice about how to live in America in the 21st century as a gay man, he has actually come up with the book to tell us:  Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good.

Stephens is educated, intelligent, and writes well. It is to his credit that he has been deeply moved by dedicated fans to his black sitcom, once trivialized, then discovered by those in deep need of optimism and standardization of lifestyle.

Never an A-list star, Darryl has nonetheless selected his roles judiciously enough to be recalled by the producers of Boy Culture: The TV Series, about to start filming with the original star ten years later.

The first half of his book gingerly feeds us details of growing up as a middle-class kid with a growing awareness that he is a stunningly beautiful black young man. From the angst of learning his gay soul, he shares his insights and wisdom like a male Dear Abby.

Darryl has taken on the difficult responsibility to subsequent generations of gay men with worries that seem new, but are old-hat if they can find a role model to explain. Because of this, he does not really delve into the film work and world of acting in Hollywood until the second half of the book.

He omits much about Boy Culture, except to express his pride back in 2015 when the book first appeared.

Darryl Stephens was a pretty face and attractive body, always a passport in Hollywood, but the onset of middle years is a true test of character acting. Once the toast of gay beauty, he deals frankly with the difficult life of an actor in eclipse, losing youth and money too.

We want Darryl to be happy and to succeed, unlike so many critics who bashed him along the way. We have joined in the backing of the new series with his reprise of the key character in Boy Culture.

We know the world is ready to recognize Darryl Stephens.

 

The President Rings Twice, and the Patriots Answer

DATELINE:  Ring-a-Ding Trump

off off-season   Mr. Kraft to you bradys-friend

Having eschewed humorous sports reports on Boston travesties lately, we are forced into a return to the topic one more time.

For this, you can thank Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and close friend of President Donald Trump.

In April, one of the first big sports events of the Trump era was the visit of the Super Bowl champs of 2017 to the White House. This fiasco was decorated with many missing members of the team who protested the new President. One can only wonder how many of the black players might find their lives hardly mattering after the incidents of KKK and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville or Charlotte’s Web.

They might feel some blame for the violence, making their livings through one of the most concussed and violent games around.

However, we beat a dead horse when today’s news is not fake enough for the alt-right. Yes, Robert Kraft has bestowed one of his $36,000 diamond-studded Super Bowl rings on Mr. Trump.

Usually the President receives a jersey with Tom Brady’s partial number, 1, on it, if it is recovered from international thieves.

However, this year, the man who often breaks bread with Trump and flies on Air Force One often, decided to break precedent and give the President one of those prized rings.

Reportedly, Kraft wanted Trump to have something to put into his presidential library when his term is up, sooner than later, with not much to show for it so far.

Kraft also gave a ring to Tom Brady’s mother for her valiant battle against cancer, which felled Kraft’s wife several years ago. It was Trump’s condolences back then that sealed his friendship with the billionaire NFL owner.

 

 The White House is not talking about when the ring was made or bestowed. And, the Patriots have only made a sly announcement this week in the midst of the pre-season after a tumultuous off off-season.

You can read all about it in Ossurworld’s notorious book, The Patriots Most Off Off-Season Ever, perhaps the last in the Patriots series of hilarious, if not nasty, accounts of their dynastic years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Admit Ghosts Haunt Your Home

DATELINE:  Not Exactly Living Here

I don’t see dead people.  But, my home is indeed haunted, and I hear them moving about all the time.

Friends begged me not to reveal to the public that I live in a house with four ghosts (or technically three ghosts and one spirit).

They told me repeatedly that a tell-all book about paranormal will open me up to ridicule and charges of being more than just another eccentric author.

They claimed it would damage my “serious” nonfiction about Hollywood history and biographies (now will be considered another form of channeling).

Since publishing my true story about learning how the spirit world has fingered me, I hear repeatedly the chorus: “Have you had a stroke?”  or “Are you off your meds?”

Some accuse me of demeaning the victims of the Titanic for suggesting that, just because my ghosts used to own my neighborhood (literally, the whole street), as they were rich.

Yet, I have become protective of my friendly ghosts: they include the former housekeeper of the White family for 50 years, named Addie; a 55 year-old well-to-do-businessman, likely another Titanic victim; a young man who was apparently murdered in the neighborhood some time ago; and my main contact, Richard, who went down on the Titanic when he was 21-years old, on a vacation trip after graduating from Bowdoin.

Why me?

As a retired college professor (literally true), I try to tell the reasons in the book, but it may become lost in the sensations of revealing too much. However, I will continue to resist the numerous requests from those who want to visit me to see ghosts.

No, my home will not be an open house on Halloween, and I do not try to contact Houdini by séance regularly.

William Russo is the author of Ghosts of Mill Circle, now available on Amazon in both ebook and paper format. He also wrote Tales of a Titanic Family, Audie Murphy in Vietnam, and numerous other nonfiction biographies.

Free e-books

DATELINE:  Is there really a free lunch?

Starting Wednesday on most titles.

Apparently in the world of Ossurworld.  On Amazon.com, this week for the first time you can find a few of Ossurworld’s favorite movie review books available for free. The offer lasts for a few days. Grab’em while they’re hot.

The Menu:

Is It Real? or Just Another Movie

realkindlecover

Movies to See or Not to See

kindlecovermovies.

Movies in the Stream

kindlecoverMoviesStream

Mal Tempo

Malkindlecover

When Jack the Ripper Met Ben Hur

jackcover

 

 

The Akashic Record and the Ghosts of Mill Circle!

 DATELINE:  My Friend from the Titanic

Richard with Author selfie Author with Richard

Ancient Aliens struck gold again with a recent showing of “The Akashic Record,” the tenth episode of the twelfth season.

In case you missed it, this one raised the issue of a fount of knowledge, from all beings and creatures of the universe, stored like our modern computer cloud, floating out in the shimmering quanta of the universe.

Though Akashic Record has been accessed mostly by mystics, prophets, and artists, using a portion of matter at the back of the brain, Ancient Aliens had its own focus:  strictly focused on the predictive element of the cosmic cloud library.

They saw it strictly as a means to give that crystal ball some legitimacy when you do readings of future events.

They only briefly mentioned, in passing, the ability to draw information from the cosmic library about the past. The Akashic Record may be the best way to explain the memories, ideas, and knowledge, of history being mined by artists, poets, and writers.

Some call it channeling. Others dismiss it as meditation from a swami, but a few of us believe strongly that we have often reached a memory of a past life and a past vision to write down on a page for a book.

For years we were always amazed at our ability to see what some historical person saw and put it in one of our fictional—and lately, nonfictional—books.

We have drawn on Billy the Kid, John Wilkes Booth, and even Dr. Francis Tumblety, who claimed he was the Ripper of Whitechapel.

Those books are available on Amazon.

Lately, we discovered that we have been able to reach a spirit of someone who died on the Titanic. Indeed, we only learned about this after we purchased one of the homes he once lived in. His name was Richard and he was on Titanic, as a gift from his father, for graduating from Bowdoin. He perished with his father.

For years in a college classroom where I taught, there was a little bronze plaque commemorating Richard and his father’s heroism in helping others on the Titanic.

So, it came as a shock when a psychic named Nicole told me that the spirit of Richard was following me around for decades, wanting me to write a book about his life. She saw him hanging over my shoulder. It rattled her. I never see him, though he does make noises to communicate with me in recent years.

How could I write a book about a dead person who left no record of his life?

Richard worked in strange ways, coincidentally bringing people to my attention who had personal papers, photos, and knew his descendants. The result was a book called Tales of a Titanic Family. It’s all true, and Richard directed me to find a treasure trove of info on his life.

Now, it seems my discoveries were based on the Akashic Record.  I have now written a book on my experiences with Richard at my home. It’s called Ghosts of Mill Circle, mainly because the street he lived on, where I now reside, has many spirits clinging to their old haunt.

The recent show on Ancient Aliens has explained, obliquely, why I have been able to write this true account.

So, forgive me for using this blog for something out of the ordinary, but it now seems connected to everything else in the cosmos.

WordPress, Wherefore Art Thou?

DATELINE:  Biting the Hand That Feeds Us Tofu Turkey

Tofu   tofu turkey

Almost as juicy as our Tofu Turkey Award, we were just notified by WordPress that this is our seventh anniversary.

We almost expect the locust to descend upon our readers.

Every once in a while we realize that there are awards out there for blogs, but as Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, “But Not for Me….”

Yes, indeed, bloggers are writing songs of love, but not for me.

We heard there are real WordPress awards out there, but they are as mysterious as the Men in Black for us.

Fear not, fearless readers. We will continue for another seven years writing movie reviews on weird movies, pushing our bad books, and berating Tom Brady. If we are not mistaken, seven years is about the same length of time for those with bad luck when you break a mirror.

Thank you, WordPress, for reminding us.

 

 

Brandon DeWilde: Gone 45 Years Ago

DATELINE: Memories

Audie with Brandon DeWilde

Audie Murphy with Brandon on set of Night Passage

Forty-five years is a long time, no matter how old you are.

It is especially long when you think that young actor Brandon DeWilde died on a road in Denver that many years ago. He’s buried in East Farmingdale, New York.

Brandon is likely remembered as the little boy in the movie Shane who cried, “Come back, Shane, come back!” as the mysterious gunman kept on riding his horse into the clouds.

Our personal favorite movie with Brandon was Hud, though when he stood up to father figure John Wayne, his costar for In Harm’s Way, he gave another interesting performance. Challenging the man playing your father is not an easy trick when it’s the Duke.

Julie Harris starred on Broadway in 1950 and in the movie version of Member of the Wedding, largely forgotten nowadays, with Brandon as her little friend. She once told us in an interview that their bare feet would be so dirty after a stage performance of pretending to be outdoors in the Old South. For years afterward, he would greet her by announcing his feet were clean. She remembered him fondly as her costar on stage and in film.

Who didn’t adore Brandon?

He glowed in every performance, not like so many insipid child actors.

Brandon was such a scene stealer that, when he costarred with dangerous war hero Audie Murphy in Night Passage, he was knocked on his keester by Audie, wearing a black hat and black leather vest for this bad guy role, in one scene. Yes, it was in the script.

You could put Brandon up against Warren Beatty and Paul Newman—and he matched their intensity.

DeWilde is now a trivia piece of history for many movie fans. But his demise so long ago was a shock when it happened. He rode off into the clouds, leaving us to cry out, “Come back, Brandon. Come back.”

Alas, he can only do it in his marvelous movie roles.

 

 

 

Unusual True Ghost Story Revealed

DATELINE:  New Book about Spirit from Titanic Disaster?

mystery kindle coverIn his new book Mysterious Mill Circle, almost as an addendum, Dr. William Russo has finally told part of the true story about the strange activities at the former estate of two victims of the Titanic disaster.

In the final chapter of the new book comes the revelation about a possessed doll and its strange connection to the Titanic.

For years the story has circulated privately and quietly among local residents of the sleepy New England town where two victims of the Titanic were born and raised. Only one is buried nearby when his body was recovered. The other was never found in the North Atlantic.

Is the spirit or ghost taking hold of a doll version of Edvard Munch’s “The Silent Scream”? According to the author, the inflatable doll deflates and inflates on its own. But, that is only part of the mystery.

scream up close  “Silent Scream”

Previously Dr. Russo told the story of the victims in his nonfiction biography entitled Tales of a Titanic Family, but that historical work did not explain some of the paranormal activities associated with the neighborhood where the victims formerly lived.

The book also contains several tales of grotesque and odd wildlife on Mill Circle.

Now on Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions (strictly for smart readers).

 

 

 

Th

Is It Real??? or Just Another Movie!*

realkindlecover cover pictures include real and fake!

DATELINE:  New Book of Movie Reviews

Ossurworld wants to announce that a collection of reviews and commentaries on documentaries, docudramas, and biopics, is now available on Amazon.com for discerning movie fans and smart readers.

If Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” he’d be accused today of being a fake news critic…We have mixed up the real documentaries with those based on a true story in this compendium. You likely can guess when you have a real documentary on your hands, but not always. Sometimes it’s a biopic, or a docudrama, or just speculative facts and opinion. Sometimes the film is a masterpiece, and sometimes it’s just another movie.

We are sure that Ossurworld will start giving these away with a set of dishes sometime in the future. We think these reviews are swell, sometimes even funny. We hope you will too.

*Includes a few TV reviews.