Haunted Bowdoin College: Ready for a Closeup

DATELINE: No Ghouls Here!

Bowdoin class of 1912 Class of 1912.

With deep interest and fascination, we awaited a chance to read the insider study called Haunted Bowdoin College by David R. Francis, senior techie over in the Brunswick, Maine, area.

We found a general overview of the tours often conducted (over three hours) along the various sites of the campus. Since the College goes back to the start of the 19th century and has maintained its historical integrity, we found the breakdown done by various locations.

Our main intention was to see if graduate Richard Frazar White (who died on his graduation gift—a first-class trip on the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic) might have encountered some of the spirits during his time at the College.

Alas, the book is short on example: often taking the reader off-campus to ancillary paranormal history. There are a few nuggets, such as the Hubbard Stacks, a darkly unchanged library haunt.

Richard White loved libraries: he likely spent much time at the library dedicated to illustrious grads, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The book recounts their thematic work but does not indicate they learned first-hand about supernatural at Bowdoin.

Richard White came from a haunted background. He was born and grew up in Winchendon Springs in the family manse that was a house of many gables (and at least one murdered peddler). His family renovated an old tavern along the carriage route where murder was most foul in 1826.

Richard’s great-grandfather, Zadoc Long, wrote a poem in the Longfellow mold about the family’s haunted house. So, Richard had a long background in ghostly encounters—and perhaps was not much impressed with Bowdoin’s resident spirits.

Oddly enough, many of the reported ghosts are women—at an all-male college until the late 20th century. It seems girls of the town couldn’t resist the Bowdoin men—and paid an eternal price for it.

The work is slight, but the author has peppered the tales with his research photos—and those who matriculated a century ago may be still there. Each year the classes had their photos taken on the steps of the art museum, but we didn’t find any ghostly takers—except for Richard who has returned to Winchendon Springs.

At least one former exchange student from Bowdoin, now living in Brazil, told me that he traces his own haunted life from his days in Maine and the fatal attraction spirits seem to have for the ivy-halls.

 

What’s an Orb? Five in One!

 DATELINE: Ghostly Images!

We see many weird incidents in our library, dedicated to the Titanic and its victim who was born and lived here on Mill Circle. We have even written his biography and a couple of follow-up books on the paranormal activities.

This week provided us with a lesson in orbs. Believe it or not, these two images are exactly the same spot on two successive nights.

We set up the security camera for a 2 a.m. view on two subsequent nights. We never touched the camera, moved it, cleaned it, or otherwise altered the image sent to us. What you see is what came through. A friend with skepticism noted that there were atmospheric differences: we cannot vouch for the barometric pressure and how it altered the camera image. We think it unlikely. Some orbs are like shooting stars or Fourth of July fireworks. We did not see those this time.

So, what have we got here?

The first image is completely hazy. And, strange lights give off halo effects. One elongated vertical light moved from one side of the closet door to the other. Two orbs, one quite misshapen and another more perfect and higher toward the ceiling, dominate the traditional orb style.

Some kind of ray or laser (perhaps two) seem to emit from alongside the camera, where a portrait also hangs and cannot be seen. These lights cast a spotlight on the opposite wall.

The most dominating feature of this image is the cloud that takes up the entire window seat and a chair near the chessboard, which is about center in the image. One paranormal expert told us that it was a ghost trying to materialize.

A sharp white light is reflected in a glass over a painting on the opposite wall from the camera. It does not change in either photo.

The photo also features some curvatures on either side of the room, which seem to be distortions of the lens. However, there is no such distortion or shape in the next night’s crystal clarity.

We find the second night photo all the more amazing for its focus, unimpeded, and its lack of cloudy mist or residue around the entire room.

What happened? If the spirits showed up to hold a gathering of Titanic ghosts, or throw a party in the hereafter, they did so with upright silence and good behavior. Nothing was amiss next morning.

What you see in the second image, chessboard, bookcases, bric-a-brac, all remained in place. Sometimes there is a spill, or knock-over, but generally the spirits are well-behaved.

We count five different styles of orb in one picture. Over the course of a video, the cloud seemed to be dissipating, but unlike smaller rocket orbs, the large ones simply hung in mid-air.

We always are willing to defer to experts who may tell us these are angels, archangels, and beings from another dimension. We are also willing to hear the argument that it is an anomaly of no importance.

Whatever, we know that activity continues in the library—and it is a safe haven for spirits who wish to congregate together for a time.

Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle

DATELINE:   Paranormal Book on Titanic!

new kindle mystery cover Richard White (picture from college yearbook).

When you live in a haunted house and create an enchanted library, you may end up with some paranormal mysteries to explain.

That is the premise of William Russo’s latest book about the spirit of a Titanic victim who shows his host both devotion and protection.

You may question why a college student who died on the Titanic would follow a retired college professor, but the overriding sense of being haunted is not demonic according to a new book about Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle.

Psychics hint that there may be a reincarnation involved, or merely crossed wires of time and space. Whatever the cause, the effect is exhilarating:  messages and orbs fly all over the library. Russo’s path to his spirit guest crossed the lines of attending the same high school, but fifty years apart, and being members of the school chess team.

Whether you can accept DVDs thrown off shelves and other bizarre coincidences as regular daily activity, there is something definitely happening beyond normal. 

Dr. William Russo often contends that where he lives, the normal is paranormal. You may become convinced along with him.

A long-time skeptic of occult and paranormal, Russo cannot fight the barrage of evidence in his own home’s library that he has now turned over to a victim of the Titanic.

Richard Frazar White has taken up residence here and happily accepts his library as a gift. When he was a young man in 1912, he was a budding intellectual who spent time at his Aunt Julia’s library at Waikiki (the largest private library on the Hawaiian Islands in 1900). He is photographed, at the end of his life, two days before Titanic sinks, in the First-Class Reading Room of the grand ship.

And now, he has taken possession of a memorial library dedicated to him. Included in the volume are the weird anecdotes about Richard White’s ties to the art world, how Russo found Richard’s 1912 Bowdoin Bugle Yearbook, and how the orbs and noises of the library respond to his every request.

Other haunted people contact him with their own tales of connections to Richard, including a young lawyer from Brazil who was an exchange student at Bowdoin.

You may not believe it, but you cannot turn away from this page-turner.

Now available in soft-cover and e-book format on Amazon. Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle is the final volume of the Mill Circle series, and the third volume of the continuing tales of the Titanic by the author!

William Russo’s other works include: Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-Mate from Titanic.    Dr. Russo will teach a course on Titanic: a Local History at the CALL Program at Keene State College in the Fall term. He also will give a guest lecture at Monty Tech Continuing Education program in Fitchburg, MA, in October.

Endeavour Returns for a Sixth Season

DATELINE:  Wonderland of 60s Crime

'stache Shaun in Sixties Mode!

“Pylon” is the title for a dandy reboot of the great youngish detective Endeavour, transferred out of his element to the world of uniformed cop. PBS has conscripted to show a miniseries of murder again this summer. They are the best of British crime imported to give us a throwback to the Swinging Sixties.

With Morse demoted from Oxford to red brick schoolhouse, you know a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s a misuse of genius to have Shakespeare write advertising jingles, but that’s what has happened to the operatic fantatic played by Shaun Evans, now in mustache mode.

He’s not alone: all his kindred spirits are also out of sorts. Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) has been reduced to a secondary role under a twit. No one has been cast in a proper role in the new season, set in summer of 1969.

What have we as issues? Nothing short of a smorgasbord of current trendy crimes:  pornography, child abuse, murder (as always), genetic criminal traits, wrongful death penalty, falsified police evidence, heroin addiction, police brutality, and on and on.

Into this mix, Morse is overstepping his bounds as a cop on the beat in a small backwater, using his skills to uncover clues that range from Lewis Carroll to Black Beauty. Clever smarty-pants Morse does put lesser police detectives to shame—and they pull rank often.

A uniform isn’t paid to think, and the ones paid to think are thoughtless imbeciles.

Oh, the equestrian angle is a throwaway of red herrings. We are glad to find Endeavour back in force on the force.

 

 

 

Lincoln Murder Conspiracy & Civil War Gold

DATELINE: More than Expected?

Nutcake Stanton Edwin Nutcake Stanton.

You could say that Alex Lagina, son of producer Marty Lagina, is picking his moments to stay clear of the series—and when to jump in to take over.

We still haven’t figured out what the Curse of Civil War Gold may be:  perhaps the show should have been configured as the Conspiracy of Civil War Gold.

In more idiocy, Kevin Dykstra seems determined to go out onto Lake Michigan when heavy waves could capsize his boat and bring physical harm to members of his search team.

You may have noticed that Alex Lagina stayed clear of this aspect of the search. He did come in toward the end, when again the Masons were made to be culprits in the Hackley scheme to steal the Confederate treasury.

Hackley now has been tied to the freemasons, and his propensity to build tunnels between his various building projects looks suspicious. Now there is an attempt to show Charles Hackley wanted to make Michigan a rival to New York as a financial capital with capitol.

As the richest man in Muskegon, Michigan, Hackley built hospitals and schools with his money (wherever it came from) and that philanthropy continues to be tainted with each show in the series.

After this night, Hackley is tied in to Edwin ‘Nutcake’ Stanton, the notorious Secretary of War under Lincoln whose mad techniques led him to suicide and/or murder. On top of this, he’s accused of being a freemason, worse than anything else.  It’s Alex Lagina who brings in another “author” and investigative journalist to liven up the stolen gold tale with assassination plots.

If this seems to be turning from a molehill of gold into a conspiracy of historical proportions, you may wonder how far afield can the History Channel take us.

Stay tuned because the plot just thickened.

 

 

 

 

American Experience Fails H.G. & Orson Too

 DATELINE: War of the Worlds

orson  Orson, not H.G.

We can usually count on American Experience documentaries to give us intelligent and insightful looks at history.

Nobody is perfect, and an attempt to look at the 1938 radio broadcast that made young hotshot Orson Welles a household name is disappointing. War of the Worlds probably owed more to the idiocy of audiences and their unsophisticated and non-critical thinking skills.

In some ways, not much has changed when it comes to the public and its media habits. However, radio as the first big democratic source of info learned that it’s not nice to fool people, even on Halloween.

Half-way through the broadcast, executives wanted to stop Welles, but Orson had a head a steam up—and he ignored his producer John Houseman and his writer Howard Koch. He did it his way: and it won him a contract in Hollywood. Houseman thought it was a terrible idea and that Welles never read Wells.

In his own rash dash style, Welles came up with a mimic newsreel approach to the topic, eschewing the real H.G. Wells for his own personality. After all, this was the man who put on Macbeth in Harlem with an all-black cast and set it in 19th century Haiti. He dared convention.

Welles provided a contrite and unbelievable apology next morning. It must rank as the worst performance he ever gave. He hardly could hide his smirk.

As for the documentary of the event, the film uses bad actors, emoting and faking, pretending to be people in 1938 (wearing period clothes in black and white film) who talk unconvincingly about their experience listening to the program. These imbecilic comments were based on real letters.

The technique fails miserably and demeans the entire hour-long episode of American Experience. Five weeks after the broadcast of 1938, the FCC fully exonerated Orson for his folly.

 

Stead Fast in the Titanic Library!

DATELINE:  Bookworms?

W.T. Stead & booksW.T. Stead, Spiritualist

Over 100 years ago, W.T. Stead was a big name in spiritualism.

He was one of the foremost proponents of life after death, and he used his pulpit of investigative journalism to publish many books and articles about the paranormal world. He was a man of steely gaze and intense demeanor.

Some historians credit him with being one of the founders of tabloid writing, in order to dismiss him as one of the age’s séance masters. Like Conan Doyle, he was an authority with the power of public support—and public ridicule.

So, what happened?

He booked passage on a ship across the Atlantic from his British home to lecture in New York about the occult topic of ghosts and spirits. Alas, the voyage was not a happy one: his accommodation was cabin C-89 aboard RMS Titanic.

Among the reports after the tragedy, his last night’s dinner table companions insisted that Stead told them how a medium friend had warned him that there was a chance of trouble on this trans-Atlantic trip.

Later, the witnesses to the comments were disparaged as exaggerating the story, though one wonders why anyone who survived the Titanic disaster would feel compelled to exaggerate their trauma or misremember a single detail of their vivid night to remember.

Among the survivor accounts, there was the stunning image: people saw W.T. Stead calmly sitting in the First-Class Reading Room of Titanic, smoking a pipe and perusing a book as it sank into the cold briny deep.

The image of the old man facing another world with singular and peaceful demeanor is striking amid chaos and panic of others unprepared to meet their destiny.

Like young Richard White, the elder writer loved the ambiance of a library—and chose to spend his last moments in such a haven. It is likely that Richard and Stead crossed paths, if not exchanged pleasantries at some point. They were both denizens of the Titanic library.

Poetic Richard may have been the only young man among the first-class passengers who might agree with Stead that the library provided a special comfort.

Years later, the daughter of Stead—herself a spiritualist—contacted a medium to conduct a session of automatic writing (Ouija board stuff) in which they contacted W.T. on the other side to give the particulars of the final moments of Titanic’s destruction.

He also provided a glimpse into the Blue Island, a dimension he called “beyond the veil”: a double metaphor for the Great Beyond, another part of the universe.

The saffron yellow sofa in the Library of the Titanic washed up on the shores of Nova Scotia several days after the sinking of the ship. Apparently, someone thought it might make a good life-raft.

Stead’s body was never recovered, like so many hundreds of his shipmates and fellow passengers who booked a date with destiny on Titanic.

Library of Dreams!

DATELINE:  Magic on the Bookshelves?

end table of Titanic   Brenda Duval’s Titanic End Table

We all know the famous baseball story by W.P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams, in which a man is inspired by a spirit of Shoeless Joe Jackson to build a baseball field in his cornfield.

As a result, he finds himself at the epicenter of spirit life.

We never presumed to be the builder of a “Library of Dreams,” yet it appears to be our role late in life. It was easy to change part of the house, the north wing, to a library to honor all the people who lived in the Spring Village area since 1800, but in particular we had a push by the main spirit who has reached out to us:  one of the passengers of the Titanic who met his end at an all-too young age of 21 years.

For decades, without knowing why, compelled by unknown forces, we have collected many items somehow associated with the infamous tragedy at sea that killed 1500 people: RMS Titanic.

Our part has been minor, pointing out only one more benighted victim of the arrogance of luxury and money in 1912. He is our spiritual chess-mate from Titanic.

Richard himself was privileged by birth, but also never had a chance to realize his potential as a poet and philanthropist.

Richard too loved libraries. The final library in his life was the First Class Reading Room on the Titanic. There is even a photo of him, back to camera, reading while his father was on deck, also photographed, looking for his son.

Within two days, they would drown.

Richard’s other favorite library belonged to his aunt, Julia White Castle, who married the Hawaiian pineapple king, James Castle. They had the largest library in Hawaii in 1900 in their Waikiki Diamond Head mansion.

Richard lived there for a year. While his brother went out to enjoy the climate and people, Richard enjoyed the hundred magazine subscriptions that arrived regularly .

Almost in irony, after Richard died, his brother Percy wrote over 25 books: they too adorn our library shelf.

Local artist Brenda Duval, painted a picture of Titanic at full steam atop an end table. It is a labor of love, as she has all four funnel stacks billowing dark smoke. Only three were functional: the fourth was for show. It was the one that fell off the ship after the iceberg hit. It smashed into the frigid water atop dozens who had jumped—and were struck by a lethal force before hypothermia killed them. Richard likely was one of these unfortunates.

All of this is part of our library of dreams, giving the spirits of Mill Circle their safe haven. Based on photos of the original First Class Reading Room, we proudly note that we have more books! We will maintain it as long as our own spirit holds out.

 

Seeing Cat Eyes in Darkness!

DATELINE: What’s New, Pussycat?

cat eyes-1

A short time ago we took a security camera into the library of our haunted house and set it up to learn what goes bump in the night. We never go into the library after dusk.

So, when the security camera app rang on our cell phone at 5am, telling us there was movement and heat activation, we gulped hard and opened up the image. No burglars were stomping around.

We saw shooting fireflies. In ghost-hunter business parlance, these are orbs, the electrical impulses and energy of spirits going hither and yon.

Two orbs shot up from the floor on either side of the room. Our attention was distracted. It took a trained ghost hunter, Eric Metzler to see more orbs and a couple of flashes.

We asked the attending spirits, Richard and Addie, to show an orb, they often obliged, though I was distracted and did not see them.

Richard is our mentor spirit from Titanic, and Addie Horton was head housekeeper of the family mansion. She lived next door most of her life but seems to have taken up residence in our study off the library in the after-life.

The only spirit in the house that has appeared to me is Richard’s cat. And, this large tom-cat black-shadow walked out of a wall next to a bookcase and blithely pranced into the kitchen. I ran after, but it evaporated.

I know it is Richard’s cat because one of the light-worker psychics who visited my home sensed a ghostly cat. Three psychics were in agreement that he belonged to Richard and served as his proxy, reporting back to my guardian spirit when he was apparently elsewhere.

They did not know his name, only that it was odd and began with a “G.” That made sense because Richard and his elder brother Percy made up a language—and the cat name was likely part of it.

When my friend Jose watched the video I sent, he called to my attention two bright almond eyes in the dark. He said they flashed or blinked on and off instantly gone.

I thought it might be a reflection off the bookcase.

I went to the library in daylight to see the approximate height of two shelves—the same size as the cat I had seen several years earlier. What is even more peculiar is that pro ghost hunter Eric Metzler used filters to try to bring the image out of the dark.

He found it alien-like. When I checked what that bulbous nose could be in the animal face, I saw that it was on the book binding—a round red circle that just fell under the cat eyes.

The book was written by a friend, Susan Kelly, on the Boston Strangler. It was a small photo of Albert de Salvo in a red circle. How amusing that it seemed to be the cat’s nose.

Not that I needed a reason to avoid the library at night, but now here it was.

 

 

 

Lost at Sea: USS Partridge

DATELINE: Death on the Diamond!

USS PartridgeUSS Partridge.

My life seems to be surrounded by sea disasters.

Each person must reach a point in life where they have to take stock:  it may be time for me to sell some of the most cherished items that I have held in my safeguard for years.

Though I may hope my home will be a modern pyramid, taken care of by survivors, kept in pristine condition as I have set it up, that is not likely.

Things will be sold, or worse, thrown away and thought to be worthless by those trying to liquidate the property quickly. Oh, there is some vanity in thinking that my home, once owned by the victims of the RMS Titanic and haunted by their associates (Richard’s cat and his housekeeper Addie), deserves to be kept like Lizzie Borden’s house, in historical decoration forever, frozen in timelessness.

It would be pretty to think so.

The reality is something else, and I have put up for auction on eBay one item that particularly strikes me as precious in a lost, sad way.

I have a rare first-edition book, not even signed by author Cortland Fitzsimmons. It is his 1934 baseball murder mystery, made into a charming little movie with Robert Young that same year.

The book is special, not because of its American subject of baseball, but because of its own survivor history.

Stamped on the inside cover in fading blue print are the words “DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, Bureau of Navigation.”  Under that is another stamp, “Library, U.S.S. Partridge.”

That ship was commissioned in 1919, but never knew what heroism would be asked of it. During World War II, the ship became a mine-sweeper, fairly dangerous duty. Indeed, it was hit by a torpedo in 1944, and was brought to an ignominious end. En route to Normandy, France, after D-Day, a German E-Boat fatally attacked the ship.

The Partridge sank in 35 minutes on July 29, 1944. Thirty-five of 90 crew members were killed, and many others were seriously injured.

We don’t know who saved the book from the ship’s library, or why. We don’t know how many sailors on that boat read the book for pleasure and escape during their dangerous duties of the War. We cannot say that the spirits of heroic men are attached to this item. We know only that for a time, it fell under my protection.

Now, I must find another home for it and another who will care as much as did I. It does leave me with an empty feeling, which seems to be a bittersweet aspect of growing old.

Clinging to the Titanic!

 DATELINE: More Paranormal Events!

With the 107th anniversary of the horrid sinking of the great ship Titanic, we have found our house more active in terms of spirit noise and incidents.

For those who have followed these adventures in books like Tales of a Titanic Family and Chess-Mate from Titanic, as well as Ghosts of Mill Circle, you know that Winchendon Springs is an unusual hot spot when it comes to the famous luxury liner.

Two residents were born and lived here, owned the houses around the mineral spring that once flowed here. Percival and Richard White, father and son, were booked on the Titanic in first-class D deck. Both perished.

Only 21-year old son Richard’s body was found and his mother buried him nearby.

Without knowing at first Richard’s connection to this house, we bought it in 2013. And, immediately it became apparent we were not alone. Many psychics visited the house and reported that Richard had followed me here. He may have led me here and influenced my purchase.

He has told psychics he feels safe here in this house as my guest.

My own obsession with Titanic, inadvertent at first, has grown upon learning Richard White is here, as my guest.

The Silent Scream may be a vehicle for his expression to me. Every day the little deflated blow-up doll shrivels and re-inflates on its own. Placed next to a model of Titanic under Richard’s portrait, it falls to the floor every night.

This past weekend was different.

The video camera alarm sent me a signal that there was movement in the library where these artifacts are kept. Upon going in there in the morning, the little doll was not on the floor, as the photographs show.

He was dangling precariously from the bow of the Titanic. It was said by witnesses that Richard was among those who jumped off the ship.

This particular sign has never before occurred. It is startling to see.

When I taped the situation for showing others, I heard nothing. However, when I played it back, there was a remote sound like the ringing of a cell phone in the distance. It is inexplicable.

The Silent Scream by Edvard Munch was painted during Richard’s lifetime and somewhat famous as an expressionistic cry unheard. A neighbor took a photo of the main house in the 1940s and in the window was the odd shape of the silent Screamer.

The doll I bought in 1990 for a college writing class for inspiration has stayed in my office at the college for years, and lately in my home. Since moving here, it regularly deflates and blows up by itself.

Once, I picked the deflated item off the floor when it had fallen—and it began to inflate in my hands: one of the creepiest manifestations in a house full of them over the past five years.

That is: until this latest event.

Not So Happy Prince

DATELINE: Last Days of Oscar Wilde

Bosie & Oscar Morgan & Everett as Bosie & Oscar.

A movie about the last years of Oscar Wilde will hardly be a witty or charming piece of fluff. It is the stuff of tragedy, and director and star Rupert Everett does a masterful job presenting the sad, horrific last days of the most glorious wit of the 19th century.

The Happy Prince, of the film’s title, is a children’s tale that Wilde recounts several times for his own boys and for waifs he encounters in Paris.

Wilde is brutalized by publicity and a public that turns on him, bashing him as he descends into poverty and pathos.

Wilde’s sudden decline after two years at hard labor for his crime of love without a name is appalling to behold. At first, he is a beaten man of 45, but events turn him into a bloated, aging, suffering man with some kind of encephalitis. Loyal friends try to collect donations to keep him going, and he seems to promise to write again: but has lost his muse and impetus.

If there is a monster here, it is always Bosie, Alfred Lord Douglas, so cruel and so beautiful who abandons Oscar to squalor after a last fling in Capri. In a most unsympathetic role, Colin Morgan seems apt as the capricious flirt. Emily Watson is the beleaguered Constance, Wilde’s wife, who shuts him off ultimately and unwillingly without a farthing.

Edwin Thomas, as Robbie Ross, and Colin Firth, as Reggie Turner, are loyal to the end, as Wilde goes out on his terms of throwing caution and talent to the wind.

Tragic and unhappy though this biopic is, Everett is deft in his portrayal and his direction, making this a tour-de-force of conviction as well as acting. As a cautionary tale, the lessons are hard to face, but brilliantly conceived and played out.

 

 

ABC Murders Agatha Christie

 DATELINE:  New Version of Classic Tale

old Poirot

Amazon Studio has produced a 2019 remake of the ABC Murders by the foremost crime novelist. Alas, this version of the classic story is libel against the author and defamation against Hercule Poirot.

Go back to watch last century’s episode with David Suchet.

This time we have John Malkovich with shaved head and imperial beard. This is not as offensive as the handlebar mustache of Kenneth Branagh recently in Murder on the Orient Express. It is, however, the victim of Just for Men:  yeah, Hercule colors it, sometimes.

This mystery is in three parts that grow increasingly distant from the Christie canon. You may well ask who is meant to be audience for such a tale:  it offends the millions of diehard fans who know what to expect, and it misleads new younger fans from what Christie is all about.

There is no humor, no clever twists, no plot maneuvers. here. By the third episode, you may well drift away. Worse yet, this is an aging Poirot in 1933 who has no Inspector Japp, no Miss Lemon, and no Captain Hastings, to help him.

Indeed, he must deal with a new Scotland Yard detective who is unsympathetic and hostile. Disrespect of a senior who was once glorified for his achievements may be an interesting idea, but not here.

The cast features Eamon Farren who has impressed us in previous roles as a most peculiar bad guy. Here, he is either suffering a brain tumor, or has played NFL football. It’s the 21st century—and you know what excuses murder nowadays.

We had no idea that there was so much kinky-dinky stuff in Agatha Christie, and neither did she.

Also aboard is Rupert Grint, though he has aged worse than Malkovich’s Poirot.

This Poirot is not fastidious, prissy, or clever. One character notes that he walks like he has sore feet, though we never see that foible.

What a disappointment, or do we mean travesty of the original story?

Million Pound Note, or Man with a Million

DATELINE:  My Fair Laddie?

wilfred & greg

Col. Pickering Meets Atticus Finch.

If you are looking for John Beresford Tipton to be handing out checks for a million smackeroos, this forgotten movie is way beyond your expectation. It’s actually a Mark Twain story written in 1893, one of his last ‘Americans abroad’ tales.

Here the American need not do much to blow away the fawning British aristocracy, in love with American money.

This gem came after Roman Holiday, but before Moby Dick, when Gregory Peck stayed in England to do justice to this low-budget marvel.

Two aristocratic British brothers make a bet that they can pull a Pygmalion and Importance of Being Earnest tale using a vagabond American sailor as their Liza Doolittle.

Enter Peck to do business with, whoa, is that Wilfred Hyde-White doing an audition for Colonel Pickering? You better believe the bettor. It’s like killing two mockingbirds with one million pounds.

We only wish the other brother had been Rex Harrison. Then, we would have had a film premonition of “my fair laddie.”  As it is, we have the formula that George Bernard Shaw would soon adapt to his famous play. He never found the time and the Twain to meet personally. So, he took a notion.

Yet, this makes My Fair Lady a delicious ripoff, especially since Audrey Hepburn had just made a classic movie with Peck before he shot this one.

Twain outdid Oscar Wilde here, as the poor American schmuck must not spend his million-pound note for one month to win the bet. Thank heavens for the fake media that goes on a toot to help Peck.

Because American audiences in the early 1950s wouldn’t know a pound note from a B-flat, this movie had a different American title: Man with a Million, but a million pounds was likely about five million dollars in 1893.

This film is charming, and in Technicolor, and stars Gregory Peck. What more could you ask?

 

 

 

 

Colonel Effingham & Trump Style

DATELINE:  General Nuisance?

patterson Grand Dame Eliz. Patterson!

A long-forgotten movie from 1945 with Charles Coburn is called Colonel Effingham’s Raid. It concerns a retired blowhard army officer who returns to his Georgia boyhood town to learn they are taking down the Confederate monument in the town square.

It seems ripped from today’s headlines, but was a pop novel by Berry Fleming, another forgotten literary dim bulb of ages ago. It is supposed to be whimsical by standards of a century ago. Appalling would be a better word.

The notion that people would fight to keep up a symbol of racism in the Old South is played as a comedy! Indeed, black kids sit around and listen to the old white mayor praise the slave-owning South. Effingham hires black servants and treats them like basic training punching bags. Yikes.

One progressive woman (Joan Bennett) blames the corrupt mayor and his home-grown political party for hiring his “poor white” relations in town patronage jobs.

Effingham is a colonel in the general sense of Trump military leaders. Pompous and patriotic in an old-fashioned way, he will lead a pre-World War II Georgia town to rise in revolt to protect the Confederacy. How quaint, but it made America great back then.

The film is notable for its costars Cora Witherspoon and Elizabeth Patterson, two old biddy character actresses, as grand dames of the South. It also features the fake news media, up to its tricks for Trumpite Effingham.

If you want to see what made America 75 years ago, this hoary movie may be a rattling of your teacups. Ef-ing-ham is a satire, unlike his real-life counterpart in the White House, but both are ridiculous for sure.