Errol Flynn & First Bounty Movie

DATELINE: Mr. Christian Goes to Pitcairn

 Errol in 1932

Though most film adventure fans know the story of The Mutiny on the Bounty as a great sea saga starring Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, or Mel Gibson, the first movie version of the historic event came out of New Zealand in 1933. The short film brought Errol Flynn, living legend, to the attention of Hollywood.

The rest as they say is history.

In the Wake of the Bounty is an intriguing docudrama and investigative documentary combined. The first half hour details the offenses of “Lt. Bligh” and the low-minded first officer played by Flynn.

The film hardly makes Flynn heroic or dashing like Captain Blood. That would come later. Here, the movie takes the position that the mutineers were part and parcel of a ragtag drunken group which they call “dark pagans and white fools.”

Flynn’s role, only a few intriguing scenes, shows a man overwhelmed by guilt—taking his wanton crew and their women to some godforsaken island where they will never be discovered.

A silly context of story-telling reveals the first half: the documentary kicks in during 1932 when the director and his crew go looking for the descendants of the actual Bounty and where the wreck may be located.

That part of the movie is by far the most interesting for history buffs.

If you want to see the first motion pictures ever taken of Pitcairn Island, here they are: even in black and white, the rocky island is beautiful, yet intimidating. Christian chose it well as an impossible landing site.

The mutineers died by their own hands, in feuds and rivalries, and Fletcher Christian was killed by the last survivor of the original ship. Yet, we will see the living great grandson of Christian at work, living in the communal society.

The filmmakers fret about in-breeding of the 50 odd families that lived there in 1932. Bounty Bay was visited rarely by ships that brought supplies distributed equally among the residents who know they must band together against adversity.

This is a strange, fascinating documentary and docudrama, notable for more than the discovery of Errol Flynn: it even features underwater photos of the wreckage of Bounty.

 

 

In Search of… Nazi Loot

 DATELINE: Nazi Mysteries

 Remote Nazi Hunter?

Whether the History Channel take sus to the Philippines to look for lost gold of World War II, or if Bob Barr is chasing the legend of Adolph Hitler, or whether we are back in Germany to uncover the stolen cash and jewels of Nazis, we are hooked.

Now, the high-powered antennae of this top-drawer series is going to give us the scoop. Only about half the Nazi gold and treasures was ever recovered after the war. Some thought minor pilfering by American soldiers took off shavings, but the vast amount has simply been taken in the style of an inside job.

There is no rehash here in the world of rehash mysteries on TV. We give credit again to this marvelous series for their original research and new insights into old problems.

While Quinto himself does not go diving or climbing into tunnels, there are a battery of experts in Europe to oversee the search for sunken supersonic U-boats, a stolen room (not its contents, but the room itself), and the ubiquitous piles of gold bullion.

Showing the elaborate Nazi tunnel system is tantamount to finding the Knights Templar technology: how on earth did they have time to build this stuff while fighting a war? Slave labor jumps to mind.

Quinto points out that the Nazi crimes included kidnapping the best minds to do their research, pilfering every art collection, and other untold secrets. In all, the show estimates billions in today’s estimate has never been recovered.

You begin to wonder where Gary Drayton is with his knack for finding treasures!

The show also finds a submarine that left Germany on the day before the war ended: its cargo is unknown, but laws designate the U-boat is a gravesite that cannot be explored inside. So, if it held gold, artwork or the body of Adolph Hitler, it is not for today.

Nevertheless, this remains the single-most and most consistent of History’s mystery shows.

 

 

More NFL Mayhem Considered “Inexcusable”

DATELINE: Kill or Be Killed?

 Mason Rudolf is red-nosed by Miles of NFL Violence!

In case you are still sitting on the fence about the thugs in the NFL, you have only to watch as a Cleveland Brown star player Myles Garrett rips off the helmet of his opposing quarterback and wallops him on the head with it.

Somehow, inexcusable seems a mild rebuke for assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He should have been removed from the field in handcuffs by police.

Nice guys finish last with a concussion or bleeding out of the ear.

Cleveland has been coached this year by a novice imbecile who has lost all control over his team. Earlier in the game another Brown player delivered the good on another Steeler, knocking him senseless. Well, that’s one way to win the game: knock out your opponent’s key players one by one.

Low-level QB with low IQ Baker Mayfield, in a self-serving condemnation of sorts, allegedly called his teammate’s behavior “inexcusable,” but actually he said that hurting the team  is inexcusable. Trying to kill your opponent is considered normal.

Mayfield may also start to worry that the crosshairs now are on his back: if you start to shoot the dogs, you go for the alpha dog first.

Coach Kitchens of the Browns has been cited repeatedly all season for his inept discipline of the team. If you want an example of a team out of control, this is it. We suspect you would never see a Belichick team play this way.

We can assume that Myles and Miles to go before the season ends. He is expected to be suspended for the remaining half-dozen games In all likelihood, he will be released by the Browns—but will also be picked up by another NFL team before you can say Colin Kaepernick.

Francis Ford Coppola in Conversational Mode

DATELINE: Eavesdroppers

  Pouty Harrison Takes on Hackman

In 1974 between his Godfather epics, Coppola tackled the high-tech tale of a wire-tapper who is tapped out. He wrote and directed this intriguing suspense drama. You know the Coppola tag will build this to a daunting climax.

The Conversation seems a throwaway but may be a perfect metaphor for the upcoming technological invasion of privacy that the 21stcentury and Internet will dump on us.

Gene Hackman is a suffering paranoid who seems to enjoy eavesdropping less and less each day. When he discovers that his work may be even dirtier than usual with murder in mind, he seems to be struck with a conscience.

When you subtract all the outmoded surveillance equipment from the movie, you have something so quaint as to be primitive by today’s digital standards. You may rightfully worry that things are a lot worse nowadays.

You may laugh at the spooling tapes and wonder how they could do any job effectively.

As a film, the story is microscopic as befits the nosy nature of small-time detective work. Yet, nothing transcends the basic fright of murder under your nose.

The Coppola cast is more than right: he has collected some of his favorite people and found others right before they made it big on TV/and movies. You will see a baby-faced Harrison Ford, a young girlish Teri Garr, a pretty victim in Cindi Williams without Laverne. Frederic Forrest is a callow-looking adulterer. Slippery John Cazale is always a Coppola staple and acts as a supporting, underappreciated wiretapper here too.

One of Coppola’s favorite actors makes a cameo as the corporate villain.

They are all secondary to the mid-life crisis that cannot be better epitomized than Gene Hackman at the pinnacle of his Everyman person.

The business means that you cannot trust anyone, professionally or personally. And, there is good reason to be suspicious when large amounts of money is paid for information.

 

 

 

NFL Lets Black Cat Suffer Indignity

NFL Lets Black Cat Suffer Indignity

Black cats have a long tradition of being associated with bad luck—and worse, curses from supernatural purveyors of magic.

So, when a black cat mysteriously started darting across the NFL game field in New Jersey when the Cowboys played the Giants, it became a focal point of attention. The game was secondary—and stopped.

Security guards, state police, and stadium staff would be hard-pressed to catch a cat, especially a black one just a few days after the Day of the Dead in Mexico.

You may well think this was an emissary from across the border to lay a comment on Trump’s immigration policy. Commentators at the game thought it was meant to put ill-fortune on the steps of the Cowboys.

The bewildered feline did not simply arrive like a UFO on the playing field. In one of the cruelest jokes of animal abuse, someone let the animal loose during the game.

This cat clearly had been smuggled into the game to create a moment of chaos on national television.

The unfortunate animal stopped running in one direction—and went in the other, looking for an escape while tens of thousands of fans made deafening noise.

You had a sense of why the public conducted the Salem Witch Trials in this microcosm of public fervor. You had a sense as to why sadistic practices involving black cats is commonplace even today.

The cat finally ran to a runway, as no one dared to pick him up or cart him off the field.

This was all thought to be in good fun, but we were in our satirical mode, less than charmed by the action and reaction.

No one has been charged with a crime, and no one may ever be held accountable. Someone’s pet cat was stolen, brought to a venue unfamiliar and released. It is another example of a mentality that is not funny and not kind.

Missouri Breakage! Classic Brando/Nicholson

DATELINE: Them’s the Breaks, Pardner

 

Mother Hubbard aside? Smile when you say that! 

Return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear when Marlon Brando teamed up with and up against Jack Nicholson to make a Western. It’s called deceptively The Missouri Breaks.

It was 1976, and both Godfather and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were history.

What’s left is the new frontier of two highly-charged actors going head-to-head.  However, like most of these superstar confrontations, the actual meetings are limited to some off-beat actors’ studio hambone. Brando actually has a small role and does not appear during the first half-hour.

Nicholson plays a horse thief whose gang falls under the observation of a “regulator.” It’s Brando in a dress and looking less zaftig than usual.

We may see parallels to The Left-Handed Gun in that adolescent world of cowboys because Arthur Penn is on board to direct the strange antics.

If there is a surprise, it is that Brando looks much younger than you’d expect, and Nicholson looks somewhat older.

You should expect the usual Brando laundry list: he has an inexplicable Irish brogue and other quirks that characters disdain (lilac cologne? walking under ladders?).  It is doubtful they could have switched roles like Burton and O’Toole in Becket. When Brando inexplicably wears a Mother Hubbard dress, you figure Nicholson surrendered the prize.

There is some wry humor interspersed and some outlandish details to take the Western into the Far Country. In case you are wondering, the Breaks in the river Missouri can be found in Montana.

We cannot imagine that Brando and Nicholson rehearsed any of this stuff, probably trying to shock the other’s performance. Already Brando is self-limiting, but there is no later laziness in his performance. He is up against the high-stakes gunslinging Jack Nicholson. And, perhaps, he saw this as High Noonfor the age.

Since this movie cannot be enjoyed on any conventional Western level, you take it as a psychedelic trip down memory lane. Don’t even think about the symbolism of Jack pulling a gun on Brando as he sits in his bubble bath.

With so many desperadoes (Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid), you can count the deserving bad ends for western villains. It’s a romp.

Wildest Bill Hickok

DATELINE:  Madison, Olyphant, and Bridges

Somewhere between the TV series Deadwood version of Wild Bill Hickok (limned by Keith Carradine) and the TV series Wild Bill(limned by Guy Madison), you have the version from Walter Hill and played by Jeff Bridges as the wildest Hickok of all.

As a Western on the tale end of movie westerns, this one is a classic mostly undiscovered. Wild Bill has a wonderful cameo cast and is filled with comedic violence.

In this version, Keith Carradine is Buffalo Bill. Ten years later he would join Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series for a few episodes as Wild Bill.

Here, the rootin’ tootin’ Calamity Jane is Ellen Barkin, and one of Bill’s Brit friends is a biographer played by John Hurt.

The bad guys lining up to be dispatched in colorful fashion include such as Bruce Dern and David Arquette.

Wild Bill traipsed through the litany of Western venues from Abilene to Deadwood, making appearances as a ruthlessly violent marshal who’d shoot you in an instant if the matter called for breaking lawbreakers.

James Butler Hickok found himself trapped in celebrity and became Wild Bill as a profession, requiring certain behaviors and attitudes.

The film, utterly timeless depiction of a Western legend, provides us with a conspiracy theory behind the tale. It would seem that the sniveling coward Jack McCall was, perhaps, hinted at an illegitimate son of Hickok.

You may find that the Olyphant-McShane profanity laced TV series owes much to this film—and it’s done with a modicum of the bad language of bad guys.

Trump’s Latest Antic

DATELINE: Pond Scum Unites!

 Who are these people?

Only 7 black students were allowed to attend a speech given by President T.rump at their college. Only the most out-of-touch semi-Republicans were allowed to attend. The rest were told to stay in their dorms, like good nephews of Uncle Tom.

You see, according to President Trump, those Republicans who support impeachment are “human scum.” Well, we have now learned where our place is in the food chain. We aren’t sure if we are at the top of the pond scum or at the bottom.

In any respect, two-hundred hand-picked toadies greeted the presidential nitwit’s big speech to the black community by the biggest fraud since Rudi Giuliani decided to steal assets out of the Ukraine.

You may find it ironic, or perhaps merely poetical justice, that Rep. Elijah Cummings was laid to rest at the Capitol, in repose in state under the rotunda, while several former presidents paid respect.

From the White House where the biggest idiot in history now resides, there came only deafening silence. He hated Cummings and likely celebrated his passing. You may well wonder what kind of human scum now floats on the puddles of the White House.

As the crown prince of emoluments now sees it, the Constitution he swore to uphold is “phony.” He arranges his storm trooping congressional toadies to raid hearings he does not like, violating protocol and good manners.

When baseball umpires plan to buy automatic weapons to shoot Americans who support impeachment, you know that Trump will resort to civil war to keep his job. It was once known as sedition, and Aaron Burr was the chief proponent.

History has dubbed a new Burr under our American saddle: his name is T.rump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenth Victim: Futuristic and Dated

DATELINE: Murder in the 21st Century

 Andress in Undress?

The expiration date on using The Tenth Victim probably ended in the 20thcentury.

A social satire about murder in the future, this Italian film has all the earmarks of Fellini and Antonioni. It is excessive, flamboyant, and beautifully filmed. Its main conceit was that in the 21stcentury America, violence would be rampant and institutionalized as a game.

You would have hunters and the hunted. Alas, nothing racial or insulting to minorities occurs. In fact, there is not a minority to be seen in a colorful landscape meant to be the United States.

The male victim is a highly successful hunter with a dozen kills to his credit, but now the computer system has turned the tables and sent a stunningly beautiful woman out to get him. He does not know her identity, and that is part of the game. Everyone dresses in eye-popping fashion, and the future is squeaky clean, streets bright and cheery.

The cast is exemplary for the time: Marcello Mastroianni bleaches his hair blond (it was big that year as Terence Stamp did it too), and he is pursued by the American killer Ursula Andress. Hunh? You mean it’s not Anita Ekberg? Or Sophia Loren?

The sets are spectacular, and the music is jazz out of the classic Fifties mode, what you’d expect in a Euro-entertainment of the period.

As for the plot, it is neither violent enough, bloody enough, or shocking enough to make it controversial. It is played for light-hearted satire, and there is not a drop of blood to be seen.

Other touches indicate that comic books are great literature in America in the 21stcentury, collected like first-edition Francis Bacon.

In 1965, this flashy film grabbed them at the art house. Today it is more akin to a flash in the pan, though we are reluctant to pan something that is original, singular, and cute.

Diana: New Evidence

DATELINE: Who Wanted to Off the People’s Princess?

When news of Lady Di’s death was delivered to our door with the morning newspaper, we told the paperboy, remember the day for a history lesson.

It seems over twenty-years later, the truth may still not be out, nor is murder out of the question. Once again, we hear Diana worry that her bodyguard had been done in to keep him quiet and ruminating that she would be next.

We also hear those who knew her stating that she was not prone to hyperbole.

A short documentary called Diana: the New Evidencedelivers the goods and the bad news. She was a beautiful woman, inclined to public display—even if it infuriated Buckingham Palace where she felt ill-treated.

Her stay at the Ritz in Paris in a suite once used by Winston Churchill and Herman Goering (not together) was typical of her derring-do. What she could not suspect was that her driver Henri Paul was a spy for MI-6, paid informant. He was also slipped some nerve gas to explode in his pocket hours before the car crash.

Whether Paul was really drunk has been covered up—and independent investigators either arrested or simply stone-walled. In video Paul does not appear drunk—and a photographer, also under pay of secret service agencies, bragged he was there and took pictures. He later was a suicide, though some speculated it was murder. It too was covered over.

Who on earth wanted her gone? Members of the royal family? the British military guards? MI-6? The list of suspects rivals any modern political assassination bureau.

Over twenty-years later, there are still official groups avoiding the truth.

Pasolini Undone

DATELINE:  Last Days of Sodom? 

Dafoe as Paso

Willem Dafoe tackles the infamous Italian director of the 1960s. Next to Fellini and Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini is the darling of avant-garde cinema. His highly-charged political movies seemed to blame scandal and scandalizing on media and right-wingers. 

The movie is Pasolini,about a man who was the ultimate socialist on film. His movies from 120 Days of Sodom to Teorema were puzzling allegories that combined sordid sex and overblown intelligentsia. He wanted to offend audiences with pictures likeThe Gospel According to Matthew and succeeded wildly.

So it is with Abel Ferrara’s version of the film-maker’s life. With multiple languages, and layers of story-telling, this is Cinema with a capital C.

Dafoe seems to be nearly as outrageous as Pasolini as he was as Nosferatu.

The film is blatant in its crossovers, using a fictional version of Pasolini in a “novel” he visualizes with his actual life. This technique spares your major star from doing embarrassing sex scenes.

Dead at a premature age, it seems even Dafoe might be a bit long in the tooth for the role, but Terence Stamp, another good choice who worked with Pasolini, was definitely too far along.

The film tries to extract the genius of a director out of the chaos of politics, anarchy, and religion, that made up post-war Italy. It remains chaos theory.

Pasolini was the victim of senseless gay bashing murder in Rome in 1975, though the movie is far less graphic than the real killing.

Gothic Lunacy: Lord Byron’s Party

DATELINE: A Dark & Stormy Movie

 

Polidori, Shelley, and Byron, aka Spall, Sands, and Byrne

 

If you want to learn about the dark and stormy night in 1816 that resulted in the creation of Frankenstein and Dracula by Lord Byron’s pals, you might look elsewhere.

Ken Russell’s hothouse and nuthouse movie about Percy and Mary Shelley and Lord Byron is pure Gothicnonsense. As was the style of Russell back in 1987, you had a psychedelic version of biography and history. It is not satisfactory.

The cast is somewhat exemplary:  Gabriel Byrne as lame Byron, Julian Sands as pretty Shelley, Timothy Spall as off-putting Dr. Polidori, and Natasha Richardson as demure Mary! Wow, you almost expect the acting alone will carry the film.

However, the director hijacks every moment and even has cast members chewing on rats. We thought the film turned into that rat-festival moviel, Willard.And, inexplicable pythons wrap around suits of armor. Yep, it’s Ken Russell.

Instead of a dark and stormy night where these highly creative people choose to write great books, we have a literal ghost story. The demons are really around every corner. You almost feel sorry for the servants who basically take a powder during the latter part of the movie to avoid these koo-koo birds.

The summer without sun inspired the writing of Frankenstein and Dracula. Byron took credit for Polidori’s work, and Byron couldn’t write prose. The stepsister of Mary is around for crazy moments in which the sexual peccadilloes of the characters is tested.

We have more than your usual homoerotic connections between the men, including some fairly passionate kisses, but Julian Sands was never prettier. Gabriel Byrne seems to have bigger breasts than the women stars. Timothy Spall is actually slim.

The film becomes increasingly erratic and difficult to watch, as befits what did in the style of Ken Russell ultimately. We had hoped to see something truly fascinating, but not quite on the level of a train wreck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Oak Island Fake Documentary

 DATELINE: Kidding the Kidder?

The second attempt to whet the appetite of the fans for the seventh season of Curse of Oak Island proves to be a phony countdown. Here are the 25 most likely theories about the what explains the mystery on the island.

This list of “top” items has no particular logic to it.

How does it differ from the top 25 moments on the series? Well, it all covers the same ground, atop and underneath.

This gives the series host a bunch of short bridge moments between three or four-minute segments. These rehash topics are not in any sense of urgency or chronology, as presented by Matty Blank, er, Blake.

In fact, the oldest theories about what happened on the Nova Scotia island may be the earliest and oldest items: like this is the treasure of a couple of dubious pirates: Captain Kidd or Sir Francis Drake. As we recall from our 33rddegree Mason great-uncle who went up there every summer from the 1920s to the 1960s, this was the common belief of residents.

To lesser extent, there was a belief that Marie Antoinette’s jewels may be there, or Shakespearean folios hidden by Sir Francis Bacon.

Recently the show has bought forth a bunch of neo-experts, including Travis Taylor (he brought the star map theory), or people who believe that the Aztecs reached up to Oak Island where Spanish conquistadors put the Mexican treasure,

Don’t expect answers: after all, they want you to tune into their best kept secret shows that begin in a few weeks. You will be teased with Columbus and Washington as potential treasure plotters.

Hang in there, fans, (or as Matty Blake calls you–“Acorns”) but these alleged hook shows are really counter-suspense and point-killers.

 

 

Air Force One is One Fat Half-Wit

DATELINE: Ford Trumps Lincoln

 Prez Ford Shoots from Hip

Can it be that Trump thinks he is Harrison Ford in the hilarious presidential/terrorist movie called Air Force One?

Delusion takes many forms: for a fat old man to see himself as an idealized President Harrison Ford may not be a stretch for Mr. Trump. Here’s a president who goes off script in public speeches, much to the shock of his aides.

Ford’s president is no Gerald and no Lincoln. He orders outrageous tactical attacks on the Ukraine in conjunction with the Russian president! In 1997’s now sentient movie about the future of the American presidency should give everyone a nightmare.

Gary Oldman shows up with a suspicious crew in Moscow who plan to board Air Force One and do mayhem. Back at the White House, Vice President Glenn Close and Secretary of Defense Dean Stockwell are at loggerheads. The U.S. government is run by buffoons. Most of the movie takes place in mid-air: They are on a jet flying around, but there is not even the hum of an engine in this aircraft.

Within a matter of moments, the terror team has fairly much wiped out the highly trained and highly touted Secret Service aboard the aircraft. Hmmm. This is not a high recommendation for American protection service. We suppose most people tell themselves that it’s only a movie meant to give Harrison Ford some heroic moments.

Since this film takes place in the years right before 9-11, there is something creepy about a stolen plane filled with hostages about to fly into some kind of explosive crash.

Of course, the POTUS here is a Medal of Honor winner who was a hero in Vietnam: no, it’s not John McCain, but it isn’t exactly Trump. However, the President is surrounded by a bunch of cowering bureaucrats or power-grabbing traitors.

In one ridiculous moment, the President must cross fuel line wires to dump fuel: we figure this is realistic because Trump crosses wires daily. As a stable genius, we presume Trump can also fly Air Force One.

It is a cynical view of entertainment.

 

 

Removing Another Satiric Barb

DATELINE: Un-wigged!

 Scalp Problem?

We see that a TV graphic headline has been called “racist,” and we thought how terrible. Then, we saw what the offensive words were: They alluded to the Atlanta/Boston/Milwaukee Braves and the situation of losing a playoff berth. Now, we have for some time thought that naming teams after Native Americans—or, as racists call them, Indians, whether they are from Washington, D.C., Cleveland, or Boston (where the Braves originated) is dicey.

We were never sure what Indians they referred to in Boston. It could be that Braves are simply people with courage, though young Native American warriors were called Braves. It was sort of like ‘grunts” or “GIs” in another framework.

So, Indian and Redskin are harder to justify. If this seems like a hairy tale, you will be forewarned to avoid head-hunters.

Back to the point of the racist claim: it struck us as a play on humor and defeat. It is known that some brutal Indian raids resulted in “scalping” of victims. This was not necessarily an action limited to Native Americans but was a kind of trophy hunting.

To say the Braves were “scalped” seems rather oxymoronic. Who did the scalping? People who sell tickets to games outside a venue?

We seem to have entered a world in which words have either lost their meaning or have become metaphoric bonfires of the vanities.

If this full lobotomy assault continues on satiric wordsmiths, we shall soon be de-fanged, de-clawed, and shorn of our satirizing locks. In a crew cut mode, we may not again use Scalpicine on our collective itchy head. Sign language could also be offensive to Native Americans, to which we raise a well-placed finger in response.