Stagecoach to Lordsburg, Re-Take Three or So

DATELINE: Where’s Bing?

merritt  Merritt Shortly Before his Untimely Death.

 You may think you already saw a great, classic western with John Wayne as Ringo and directed by his mentor and most brilliant collaborator, John Ford.

Actually, you haven’t if you tune into the color, 1986 version that manages to remake the film. Unlike most revisions of the better original, this film is truly a curio, interesting on its own level.

If the first great Western had not been made with Duke Wayne, and you never heard of it, this little film might actually have been an amusing vanity project by well-known performers.

Actually, Stagecoach of 1986 is a television movie and could be better called a Country-Western. Yes, pardner, the stars apparently felt the story held its own without Wayne and Ford. So, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson, take on the key roles. No, they do not sing. Nelson did the title tune over the credits, but we guess they might have hummed a few notes between takes. That might have been more interesting.

Since singers were the motif, they also brought in Anthony Newley—and Bing Crosby’s daughter, Mary.

The cast is not bad—and you can throw in John Schneider with a perfectly coiffured beard. Anthony Franciosa plays a corrupt banker, and Elizabeth Ashley sounding like a ghetto girl, and even the under-rated Merrit Buttrick as a cavalry officer.

The story has something to do with a stagecoach making a desperate and dangerous trip with Geronimo on the warpath.

Kristofferson takes on the thankless role played by John Wayne as the Ringo Kid. Cash is some kind of marshall, and Willie Nelson is Doc Holliday.

These guys are pros—and their fans will hoot and love every scene, but we kept thinking: wait a second, wasn’t there another remake—with Bing Crosby??? It also starred Ann-Margaret, Mike Connors, Red Buttons, Van Heflin, Robert Cummings, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens.

We don’t think Bing was the Duke, but we had to go to IMDb as our memory banks are corrupt lately. And, yes, there was such a film in 1966—made with old TV stars in the key roles! It is not generally available, but we will search hither and yon to find it.

 

We Got Bingo & Lost Gold Too

DATELINE:   Eureka?

bingo

 Bingo Minerva.

The lost treasure among the many treasure hunters from the new History Channel series Lost Gold of World War II is their at-home in the U.S. researcher and Man Friday.

His name is Bingo Minerva, and he has the most interesting and least stressful job of the pack. He interviews old gold hunters and experts in myriad evidence, then skypes his response back to the Luzon Island boys.

The elderly gold diggers on Luzon Island seem to be sweating more than usual in this episode. We worry for the health of old-man Peter Struzzieri.  The only smart one is the expert in reading Japanese markers: he seems to remain back at home base in the air conditioned bungalow, aka shack, of the treasure hunters.

As per usual, they take the wrong road constantly: deciding to dig next to a waterfall—and then becoming amazed that water leaks into their air vent pit.

The other brainiacs have decided to dig down into the area where drill bits have been worn to a nub. The volcanic rock is, of course, impenetrable.

The upshot is a waste of time and a waste of one episode: the sole interesting point was made by Bingo who interviewed an aging attorney who represented a man who sued Ferdinand Marcos for stealing millions of dollars in hidden loot.

There is a hint of danger in that the CIA is also after the Japanese treasures hidden in some remote mountain tunnel.

As the series will go on hiatus after the next episode, we suspect we are about to be left hanging for a year.

 

Hitch Your Wagon to a Gold Star

DATELINE: Curses Again & Again!

Hackley manse  Suspicious Hackley House!

Curse of Civil War Gold has become an off-shoot of Curse of Oak Island. It’s not even a spin-off, just a continuation like the other show History has developed, Digging Deeper on Oak Island. The formula of two middle-aged brothers on a quest is a gold mine.

If you have a hit show, you might as well milk it to high heaven. Kevin Dykstra may know this more than any of us. Whatever hostility he might have harbored to having his gold hunt show hijacked by Marty Lagina, has given way to obsequious sucking up.

This second episode had Dykstra asking people in his crew to step aside to let Alex Lagina look at the sonar findings under Lake Michigan. Yup, the bread is now buttered up.

We cannot fault Alex who is who he is: the youngest one on the series, and clearly the star with drawing power. So far, Gary Drayton has not made his appearance to bolster the Civil War Gold series.

A couple of thrusts dominated the second episode: there was the return to the lake, looking for a sunken box car that reportedly was witnessed by a nameless death bed lighthouse keeper. Okay.

The other angle was the continued character assassination of Charles Hackley, a banker and noted Victorian citizen of Michigan who is accused of evil and greedy wrong-doing.

This time the gang wants to prove he had a tunnel from his house to the bank to the railroad station. As they conclude, it was for the worst possible motive.

Who knows?  These guys act as though they do.

The show’s high-point for us was when Alex insisted he must return to Oak Island because they are short-handed in Nova Scotia. This is after we witnessed 500 workers and heavy machine operators all season. Daddy Marty’s payroll is bursting at the seams.

The producer decision to abandon the first season approach for a sequel to Oak Island is not to be disparaged. It seems to be working out.

TWA & Flight 800’s Terrible End!

DATELINE:  Pre-9-11 Terror in the Skies!

800

After twenty years of endless scandals, plane crashes, government coverups, terrorist attacks, and boundless conspiracies, it may be hard to recall the events of the summer of 1996. A documentary directed by Kristina Borjesson for Epix may infuriate you.

Like a hideous and fantastic episode of Twilight Zone or X-Files, the truth is out there—but the US government won’t tell you.

Off Long Island, a plane crashed, killing many people on their way to Europe. It was long before real security at airports, but this weird event contended that a missile shot down the airliner.

A few aging NTSB investigators have not forgotten how they were shunted aside and dismissed from finding out the truth—or speaking in public about this. The FBI even threatened witnesses about their applications for citizenship!  Shades of Homeland Security!

Back then the notion was simply preposterous, or in the realm of UFO coincidences. Witnesses were treated like alien abductees.

When your FBI and CIA conspired to undercut over 200 credible witnesses who saw some kind of streaking flare hit the airplane, you know you are no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.

What’s crystal clear from this documentary is that some high-level people had a strong interest in making sure this event was dismissed as mechanical failure and relegated to yesterday’s dead news.

Instead, the events of the 21st century are now annotating the 20th.

Something stinketh.

Our conspiratorial Internet enthusiasts may have found the best example of a real coverup that the United States has orchestrated in history.

Oh, perhaps UFOs and the Kennedy Assassination are also on the short list. The notion that terrorists acted 5 years before 9-11 is mind-boggling. The complicit national media acted in a disgraceful manner.

At the highest level, Bill Clinton declined to be interviewed for this film.

Clearly, what was so horrific or despicable or preventable is the first step by the government to shut down citizens and never to hear  or to tolerate an ugly word.

Horse’s Neck & Other Derby Matters

DATELINE: Horsey Set?

mr. ed Mr. Ed for President!

In the United States of America, there is only one horse who can talk—and Mr. Ed likely has plenty to add to the recent spectacle of horse flesh known as the Kentucky Derby.

This annual bettor event is used by swells for preening and promenading all for the better. Tom Brady was there with a plethora of former backup quarterbacks and some of his other sycophantic friends. It was a Trump supporters’ extravaganza.

However, Maximum Security stole the show and may be now in lock-down if not in harness in his solitary stall. He was disqualified for cheating.

We suspect the horse sense only applied to his jockey, but the action of judges to take the one-third of the Crown away from the pretender to the Derby has left big bettors throwing their hats in the ring for a fifteen-round fight.

Imagine a horse cheating in 21st century American sport known for gambling, and he did not even take a steroid.

Now the Cheater-in-Chief has taken again to Twitter to explain his view of the universe. He hasn’t much else to do except bet on losers.

In America the only talking horse is Mr. Ed.  But, when it comes to blowhards, the white horse’s ass is speaking again in 140 characters from the White House, no country estate.

You have to understand how a cheater and liar can be indignant when someone does not win after cheating or lying. If you are looking for a premonition of the 2020 presidential election, you may gulp hard at the attitude of the White House wannabe returnee.

Maximum Security lived up or down to his name, and the Country Horse is Country House, an offense to someone in the White House.

Of course, as you might expect, Mr. Trump cannot even spell “Kentuky,” a state he hopes to carry in the next election. His semi-literate tweets may once again prove that his father bribed some college to give the horse’s end a degree, but that’s a horse of a different color.

Sexual Politics from Trump Slime

 DATELINE: Move Over, Mayor Pete!

scream up close Moral Outrage Endangered?

If you are among the throngs who wonder what the hell is wrong with Senator Lindsay Graham, we may now have a theory to postulate.

This week another Trump plot was under-covered:  his rich minions who lack all forms of ethical integrity and moral accountability, came up with a plan to use a Republican college student in a Kevin Spacey kind of smear of Democrat Mayor Pete.

The student, who has some integrity, named Hunter Kelly charged the operatives in the Roger Stone manner, of recruiting him to make charges that Mayor Pete raped him. That’s how you deal with gay candidates, or anyone, by making false witness.

Never mind that it is low on the broken Ten Commandments. When you are dealing with Trump supporters, convenience outweighs all else. It is easy for them to swallow, not spit out, the poison.

The same slime-balls used a similar attempt with Robert Mueller, accusing him of being photographed kissing James Comey. It would be laughable if the tweet didn’t come from the Number One Idiot of the country.

Which leads us back to Lindsay Graham. We suspect, and it is a suspicion, that he too is being blackmailed by the super-rich Trump types: they have an affidavit by some cute little Republican college boy who claims Graham assaulted him.

It is the easiest and simplest way to control a closet-case United States senator.

We know sexual politics is alive and well lately: look at the Trump supporters like Robert Kraft, now fighting charges of consorting with prostitutes. The proof is in the video, which was made a few blocks from Trump’s golf hole White House in Florida.

So, Lindsay Graham may be the goose whose gander at Mayor Pete and Robert Mueller could render us insights into the nasty backside of Trump’s gang, which is a broad base.

 

 

 

 

Hernandez Haunted House: Updated

DATELINE: Creepy, Ooky, & Altogether Spooky

AH house Gloom & Doom?

Since first writing about the haunted manse of former Patriot and serial killer Aaron Hernandez in 2017, we have repeatedly been asked for an update on the situation.

Considered one of the more notorious houses in Massachusetts, the Hernandez residence may be up there in the neighborhood of Lizzie Borden.

It’s actually not far from Fall River where misbehaving parents were given forty whacks with an axe. It is definitely in Nathaniel Hawthorne territory.

The buyer of the Hernandez home, avoided by wiser heads, turned out to be a 23-year old investor looking to make a killing. He took it for $1million, a bargain at 33% off.

He chose to ignore the ominous signs of decay within the house, presuming that the cops knocked down doors. That is not true. Any vandalism within the house was by occupants or intruders. The house’s only curb appeal is that of an eyesore and mind-sore within an upscale neighborhood of cheaply-made and costly McMansions.

“My friends are definitely surprised and shocked,” said Arif Khan, a New England Patriots fan and owner of a haunted house. “It has a bad name to it, but it’s probably one of the most famous houses in Massachusetts.”

Khan’s inexact language may be symptomatic of his bad decisions. It is not famous, but infamous. The house does not have a bad name, but an evil foreboding to it.

“Nobody wants to buy a house with Aaron Hernandez’s name on it, but I feel a name change and a little upgrade on the property will increase its value.”  Yes, P.T. Barnum would say there’s one born every 23 years.

This whelp purchased the property “as is with no warranties.”  Yikes. He has paid the back taxes in the town in the neighborhood of $100,000. What can be more scary than losing your shirt in the process of turning this monstrosity into a fixer-upper?

There are three wrongful death suits still pending against the Hernandez estate. That would make any spirit restless. Parts of the house may need to be gutted.

As paranormal experts can attest, the more you change the physical plane of ghosts’ milieu,  they will become problematic. Khan said he does not get a “creepy vibe” from inside the house, though he had not spent the night there.

 

Stonewall Flower Trump

 DATELINE: Green Monsters Excluded

wall flower

We all know Deranged Donald’s propensity for the Great Wall of China, or any other wall that seems to meet his goal of keeping out the riff-raff.

As we recall, Emperor Hadrian built a wall in England to keep the blue hordes of savages from usurping Roman rule in Britannia.

We also remember the Berlin Wall, another example of how to prevent people from coming or going. Whether Trump will pardon ICE guards who shoot transgressors, time will tell. We know he will give pardons galore.

In the meantime, Trump shows another element of his wall demeanor by telling all members of his administration to “stonewall” the Congressional investigators, no matter who or what they want.

As you may know, stonewalling was one of the basic tenets of the Nixon years in Washington.  Now Trump wants to take it to every swampy corner of his miasma of leadership.

We think the great irony of walls is the one that is best suited to the Fortunato of Washington: we have considered Edgar Allan Poe’s little ditty, “Cask of Amontillado,” to be the best wall story in American history.

Fortunato incurred the wrath of Montresor who despised the man in the jester suit, the Fool on the Hill.

If you’ve forgotten, a transgressor named Montresor deceives a so-called friend and lures him to his great wine cellar where bricks and mortar await. It’s the ultimate wine and cheese party for a cheesy guy.

In one of the nastiest murders in American literature, the blithering fool is slowly and inexorably stoned into a crypt in the wine cellar.

It may seem ironic that the man who most admires walls should not enjoy the fate of a Poe character. At some point, Trump will be walled up in a prison cell, a fate too good for the man who is the modern Stonewall Jackson.

 

Hitler’s Concrete to Hide Lost Gold?

DATELINE: Lava Flows Over the Gold

HItler greets Yamashita Hitler Greets Yamashita, 1940.

The limited first season of this fascinating little reality treasure hunt show, Lost Gold of World War II, is moving to a climax that will make us yearn for the second season, if History Channel so agrees.

Like the Oak Island show, this one is driven by weather. Cold snow ends the season for Nova Scotia, and on Luzon Island, the monsoon season will bring this hunt to a finish for now.

So, they are racing like old race horses. Indeed, when they bring in a machine to dig down 40 feet, the old leader Struzzieri notes that the equipment is older than he—and nearly as shaky. We’re talking 70 years or more.

We wonder why they would guarantee problems with faulty equipment. Of course, the ground penetrating radar spares no expense—with an expert flown in from the States to find a void or tunnel.

Then, they hit a snag: not the old drill bit, but the old typhoon, Category 5, second worst in history.  Peter Struzzieri assures us that Grandpa is okay after the storm, though they never really go to check on their key witness.

It is a mere one-day delay.

About 40 feet down, they hit what they theorize is Nazi concrete, bunker strength. They even have old colorized newsreel footage of Hitler and Yamashita shaking hands. We cannot imagine that pure racist Fuhrer would give the inferior Japanese anything.

Indeed, when Bingo travels to Minnesota for a concrete expert, he blows up the theory by stating they hit lava, rather common in the Philippines.

Our intrepid American hunters disbelieve this, and they drill down harder than the Lagina brothers—and we are left with a draining hole leading to—you guessed it—a tunnel.

Hmmm. And only one episode left for the first season….

Truly Miss Marple: Rutherford Murders?

DATELINE:  Murder Most Foul!

Dames Margaret & Agatha

Dames Margaret Rutherford & Agatha Christie!

A little British documentary about character actress Margaret Rutherford is shocking, surprising, and ultimately saddening. If you have forgotten her dotty old ladies, she was the first movie Miss Marple.

The film has the overwhelming title: Truly Miss Marple: the Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford. The actress died in 1972 after a rapid decline in health at the height of her popularity

Agatha Christie was appalled at the folly of turning her aged detective into an eccentric comic actress, but they later enjoyed each other—to the degree that Christie dedicated The Mirror Crack’d to Rutherford.

Her acting career did not fully reach success until after age 40: she was always the costar, whether it was for John Gielgud or Edith Evans. When success came, she played old ladies who were NOT battle-axes. It was an unkind comment by interviewers. Dame Margaret was always a gentle figure of fun.

Her biggest break came with Noel Coward in Blithe Spirit, a role she almost refused because she thought it might demean spiritualists (as she was a believer).

Her indomitable English grand dames gave way in old age to the Christie character, though Margaret hated the word “Murder” in the titles of the four grand Miss Marple movies. There was a reason for her sensitivity: her father murdered her grandfather, and later, likely as a result, her mother committed suicide.

Yet, Rutherford herself was the ultimate woman of kind hearts and coronets. If there was a downside, it was her growing periods of depression. It was a losing battle, especially when dementia added to her woes.

She briefly went to Hollywood with Burton and Taylor in The VIPs and won an Oscar as a supporting actress. The Oscar disappeared after her death, stolen and on the black market, sold by a conniving housekeeper.

Miss Marple’s little murder mystery movies remain delightful, owing to Rutherford’s charismatic personality.

 

The Last of the Western Elite

DATELINE: Butch & Sundance

Rakish mistakish Seated on each end.

  Bowler League?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are inevitably the guys with raindrops falling on their heads.

When the American Experience doc series takes on their story, we feel that the light ditty that sent them over the cliff of fame is unnecessary to the real truth of tragedy.

The little film is more about the Pinkertons and modern technology of 1900 with marked bills, detailed descriptions, and Morse Code. Butch and Sundance could wear bowlers better than most, but the famous picture dogged them and doomed them.

On the tail end of the Western tale, they were actually weaned on the early dime novel adventures, becoming the last of a breed in the days after Jesse and Billy. They were dainty, dynamite train robbers of the Robber Barons, and that did them in.

Taking stage names that were part of the show, Butch Cassidy protected his family name by assuming the name of a paternalistic role model named Cassidy. Sundance took his name from the town where he spent much time.

Extrovert Cassidy and introvert Sundance were methodical and almost passionate in good manners for not shedding blood. They had a Robin Hood network of followers and supporters. Some claimed the Wild Bunch had 500 followers, all dedicated to Cassidy.

The two men were ultimately, if not homoerotically,  devoted mostly to each other, whether you throw in the beard of Etta Place or not. She left them in Argentina and they could ride off into the sunset together.

Alas, not knowing geography, language, or customs, they ended up as a murder-suicide duo, hopelessly entwined unto death. The real story doesn’t need a cute song to sum up their lives.

 

 

 

Born Again Ratzi!

DATELINE: Fake Birther!

birther

Never Trust a Birther Certificate!

Owing to the vagaries of the universe, what goes around usually ends up biting you on the big fat t-Rump.

So it is for President Trump who has now admitted that his father’s birth certificate is a big fat fake.

Well, that’s the fake news. The real news is that this birther controversy hints that Fred Trump was not an American after all.

He was born in the heartland of Der Fatherland. Yes, sir, Fred, he was a dyed-in-the-wool Teutonic member of the Austrian crypto-Nazi brigade.

It appears that Fred Trump and Adolph Hitler share some heritage. You could not put a thin piece of paper, like a birth certificate, between them. Hitler and Trump, Sr., were Austrian members of a fascist youth movement.

Three times lately, Mr. Trump, the lesser, has stated that he is proud of his crypto-Nazi Austrian father who was not born in the Bronx after all.

It seems the birth certificate showed by Fred all those years was manufactured by the same people who gave you Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Only a few years separated Die Fuhrer and Fred. As far as we can tell, the Austrian foothills were the place that Fred Trump learned all he taught his son about how to goose-step.

We expect that Donald Trump will soon be giving his father’s favorite Fatherland salute.

Now we know that the dog whistle you don’t hear is a call to all neo-Nazi and crypto-Nazis. Trump is proud of his white supremacist background.

Who would have guessed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enquiring Minds: Pre-Pecker-Pabulum

DATELINE: Checkbook Journalism to Kill-Fees

Dead King Biggest Issue Tease of Enquirer!

The Untold Story of the National Enquirer was not killed by a Pecker kill-fee, but by anthrax. This movie is a breath-taking trip down tabloid history.

You have to admire a documentary by Ric Burns that starts off with Herman Mankiewicz’s stunning film score for Citizen Kane, and then matches with a camera slowly moving up over a chain-link fence like the opening shot of Orson Welles’ classic.

The story of the National Enquirer and its original founder, Generoso Papa (an Italian immigrant who changed his name to Generoso Pope) actually laid groundwork for the Godfather Don Corleone (whom he resembled in character). Pope was pals with the Mob but claimed never to belong. He was an early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and Benito Mussolini.

However, this film is really about his genius and ruthless and cold-blooded son, Gene Pope, Junior. Any resemblance between this Pope and the Vatican is strictly distinctive. Pope went through several wives, disowned and was disowned by his mother, and found himself the apple of his father’s eye—thereby cut out of the will by his brothers.

The man who made the National Enquirer a scandal sheet of influence predates the present kingpin and Trump ally, David Pecker, who has killed stories to help his president. A young Trump is seen in a clip, disparaging the National Enquirer.

The original owner, Pope, would never have condoned such a mad idea.

His son, Gene Junior, went to MIT and finished in two years. What? College entrance hanky-panky back in the 1940s? It seems so.

Gene borrowed money from his mobster godfather in real life, Frank Costello, and bought the New York Inquirer, like Citizen Kane. A marketing genius, he soon tried the “gore” story approach and made it work. You had horror that made the Enquirer’s bad rep and took years of new marketing to alter.

Gene transformed his newspaper two or three times but found the notion of supermarkets to coincide with his “gossip” approach. The inquiring minds of America were hooked in the check-out line.

Pope moved to Florida and made it tabloid heaven. He created checkbook journalism and used ruthless and inventive methods to spy on celebrities. His pinnacle was the notorious Elvis in his casket photo.

A three-pack cigarette addict and workaholic Type A personality, he didn’t last long. A massive heart attack seemed to stymie the Enquirer, but it took terrorism in 2001 with anthrax to destroy everything, including archives.

The film ends with the bouncy music of Brasil, which is fitting. This is a complete documentary, completely satisfying in every way.

Oak Island Swings for Strike Three

DATELINE: Gold Strike Struck!

IMG_4522  Lock’em up?

The Curse of Oak Island may be a union of boring contractors. Marty enters the abandoned search area and hears only crickets (so he says). No one has a clue that trouble was brewing among the dozens of hired workers on the heavy equipment.

How obtuse can these guys be? Don’t ask or you may wonder what else they aren’t seeing. Like the forest from the trees.

As winter seems about to overwhelm autumn, the longest season of the series about gold hunters in the Nova Scotia island has reached a point of The Road Not Taken. We are ready to jump on the sleigh and head for the nearest Yule log.

Rick Lagina in this 19th seasonal episode of season six has not had a eureka moment, nor an a-ha one either.

The gold strike turns out to be a labor union problem. The workers don’t show up—and the manager sheepishly tells the Laginas that this, at minimum, will be a three-week strike. It effectively ends putting your money in the Money Pit. Wait till next year.

You mean those friendly workers never once mentioned to the Laginas that there was trouble brewing?  Well, that wasn’t too nice, though Robert Clotworthy hastens to narrate that the low-ball pay had nothing to do with Marty’s business practices.

It almost appears Alex Lagina is on strike too. He did not appear except for a short fifteen second stand at the trough. Yup, it’s cold out there.

To wrap up the next few episodes, the remaining old prospectors will strike up the band to dig at Smith’s Cove.

Once again, the only good news came from Gary Drayton and his magical metal detector. He seems to strike iron every time: he locates a lock off a treasure chest, complete with key hole. The box is long gone, but this reminder gives a little hope that something is out there.

As for the rest of Oak Island’s crew: put a lock on it.

Robin and Marian: Aged in the Woods

 DATELINE: Sherwood Denizens Return

shaw as sheriff Nottingham, not Cape Cod!

The idea looked brilliant in pitch phase: Robin Hood and Marian re-unite after 20 years and are older, but not necessarily wiser. You call it Robin and Marian and the critics will go wild. Throw in a cast to salivate over: Richard Harris and Robert Shaw stand out.

The script is by James Goldman who gave us The Lion in Winter, a rather pedestrian and witless look at Henry II and Richard the Lion-hearted. That, of course, was a sequel of sort to Becket, wherein Peter O’Toole played Henry and Richard Burton was the meddlesome priest.

The level of writing descends with each period drama. Now, you have Richard Harris as the Lion-Heart king, fresh off being King Arthur in Camelot.

We presume Anthony Hopkins and Peter O’Toole were unavailable.

Goldman does not botch the tale, but his legend is soggy-bottom stuff. Alas, the youth market of the mid-1970s wasn’t quite ready for middle-age.

The notion of a stellar cast gained traction with the actors: put Sean Connery looking to shed his James Bond image as an older bearded Robin, and Audrey Hepburn would come back as Marian after a film hiatus. Throw in with equal billing, the villain of the decade: Robert Shaw (Quint from Jaws) as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Wow. If you present off-beat director Richard Lester (3 Musketeers, etc.) as the man behind the camera, you cannot lose. It did not work out perfectly but is an adventure for sure.

If you compare this to Richard Fleischer and Kirk Douglas producing The Vikings, you have something less fun and less successful. Oh, it’s highly watchable, but not a romp. Shaw as usual runs off with the movie as the deadpan, time-worn Sheriff who knows Sherwood Forest and its foibles all too well.

Lester tries to steal the movie with his standard atmospheric shots of Medieval times, including people with physical deformity and mud-caked urchins everywhere.They stand out, but not in a good way.

Connery and Hepburn are, well, Connery and Hepburn, acting older. Throw in some choice character actors like Ian Holm as King John and Kenneth Haigh as the Sheriff’s rival, and you have top-drawer performers.

A pleasant time-killer is the least to be expected. What you actually have is a James Goldman version of a geriatric Romeo & Juliet, which does not satisfy.