Nobody’s Name Is More Well-Known

DATELINE:  Somebody is Big!

somebody Fonda Somebody!

When Terrence Hill, a pretty-boy actor from Italy, received top billing over Henry Fonda in the spaghetti Western, My Name is Nobody, you know the pasta won’t stick to the wall.

Though Sergio Leone’s name is pinned to this comedic western mess, he is not the director: but his style is shamelessly copied to the point that even scenes of Clint and Lee Van Cleef from A Few Dollars More are repeated here.

It is a western territory that has nothing to do with the West, except horse pucky and dust. It’s a social milieu that is a fun-house version of the noble Western. Indeed, much action takes place in a fun house with mirrors, a la Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai.

Stealing from the best seems to be the motto of this unfunny occasional slapstick, or burlesque, movie. It’s more Fellini than John Ford.

This Western comes several years after Fonda made a spectacular villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. Here he is Jack Beauregard, aging gunfighter wanting to retire, and Nobody is Terence Hill, an unfunny stalker who deserves to be shot for his shameless mugging. His pretty eyes notwithstanding.

We could not figure out their real relationship, but suspected it was father/illegit son. Each encounter is filled with some kind of oddball paternal bond.

R.G. Armstrong, Leo Gordon, Steve Kanaly, and Geoffrey Lewis are names you may not know, but their faces will strike you immediately for their Western roles. Here they lend their faces.

The humor is on a level of finding “Sam Peckinpah” on a tombstone in one desert cemetery. It mirrors Eastwood finding Leone’s name on a marker in one of his movies. Nothing original survives here.

However, this is ultimately Henry Fonda’s movie, a farewell and ode to the Old West, where he ends the movie with writing a letter about how it is all disappearing. He steals the movie by being Henry Fonda. Well, if this movie is the evidence, the West not only has gone with the wind, but was pushed out of the picture by bad jokes.

 

 

 

 

Dali’s Greatest Secret & Miracle of Fatima

 DATELINE: Uninspired Dali?

Humdrum Dali Humdrum Dali?

If you have never heard of the Blue Army, you are not alone though it purportedly had 80 million followers at its peak. It was an organization tied to the Vatican by a couple of 1950s personalities who wanted to make sure the vision of hell as seen by 3 children in 1917 frightened people to convert to Catholicism.

The Paul Perry documentary Dali’s Greatest Secret may be hyperbole.

The miracle at Fatima was about small Portuguese children who witnessed an orb in the sky in the form of a woman who claimed to be Our Lady, mother of Christ. She terrified the children with visions and even appeared to thousands of hysterical people during her multiple visits to Fatima.

One child survived into adulthood, sworn to silence in a religious order: Lucia (called Lucy-ah throughout this documentary) kept a third secret that the Vatican withheld for a long time. Scaring children with visions of hell is not a nice thing to do, even in a good cause.

The Blue Army decided to commission the only man capable of depicting the children’s “Vision of Hell.” Atheist Salvadore Dali was given $15,000 to pain the image to help bolster the Blue Army numbers. It was meant to frighten the hippie generation into turning to God and Catholicism, over free love and communism.

Dali tried repeatedly to do something but could not. He needed to meet Lucia, but she at first refused. After a few years, she gave him 15 minutes that seemed to revive his inspiration. He actually converted back to Catholicism to do his painting with escargot forks.

Dali returned the money he was paid to priests associated with Fatima, but never showed anyone his final image of hell. Not his official photographer and executor of his estate, not to his last long-time mistress (both interviewed and showed the image on camera). It was largely unimpressive to them.

Even the Blue Army never saw the work in progress. A few experts claim it was too personal for public consumption for the surrealist who never shied away from tooting his horn.

What are we to make of the ultimate work? Perhaps that too is personal and may hinge on your attitude to Dali’s far-out notions. Perhaps he knew in his heart that it was one of his most inferior works.

 

 

 

Irony Lost on Civil War Gold

DATELINE: Follow the Red Brick Wall!

IMG_4765

“A Void at All Costs”? That’s what the episode is titled.

Yikes, when the show names its own poison, you have to wonder how serious it is when it comes to playing around with truth and history. Of the trio of gold hunt shows on History, this one is the lamest. Irony is lost here, not gold.

In a continuing effort to malign people who are dead, History Channel gives us more of the same. Collapsed tunnels from the late 19th century connects the two houses of banker partners who lived across the road from each other. How nefarious is that?

More troubling is the connection between a man who captured Jefferson Davis, Confederate president, and the treasury of the South—to Charles Hackley, the banker who hired the Union officer’s son.

Modestly poor men suddenly open banks. It does raise an eyebrow.

As far as permits go to salvage Lake Michigan, we again have been misled. The process only leads to a federal appeal—and a more deliberate delay. Clearly the Michigan connection is a dead end for now—and the series must move to other areas, literally.

The suppositions are built on sand, or brick walls that front air pockets. Follow the red brick wall. The tease of Wilkes Booth and Jesse James being involved in the story has dried up. They cannot break through the walls because it could bring down the house, which would put them over-budget.

There’s enough dubious dullness that Alex Lagina is not on Oak Island, but back at his father’s business. He gave them any excuse to flee the Civil War hoax.

But, we are connecting dots not meant to lead anywhere. Maybe next week, Gary Drayton will show up and find a coin. Going nowhere is a theme on this show, and they are off on another tangent next week. We still don’t know what the curse is this show’s title refers to.

Julian Edelman: Bachelor of Something!

DATELINE: Bachelor in Paradise?

beastie-boy

Tom’s Beard

May is here and rose blossoms are being tossed at the most important people who are deserving this weekend for congratulations.

No, we are not talking about motherhood. We mean college graduates.

And, here in New England the biggest college commencement is occurring in Ohio at Kent State. Julian returned to the scene of his undergrad daze to complete his program.

Heretofore, Kent State’s claim to fame was a massacre of students in 1970. Now, it’s an overhyped degree recipient. No one gave Julian Edelman the third degree, only his first.

Yup, over a decade after he dropped out of his mysterious academic program in crypto-something, Julian Edelman has finished his degree requirements and will be graduating. Whether this is criminal justice, or online learning, we can only speculate about adult learners.

Wearing a robe is old hat to Julian but is time we hope he wears something underneath.

Better late than never for pomp and/or circumstance. We wondered when Jules found time to finish up a year of classes. He left after the third year to pursue a career of making big bucks behind Tom Brady’s curve balls.

Maybe Kent State gave him life experience credits.

Edelman has never liked to play second fiddle to anyone, apart from his big brother advocate, Tom. So, when Tom laughed at the quarterback skills of Jules, he became Tom’s go-to pass-receiver. Now his GPA is still half his reception quota.

Yet, Julian has always felt inferior to his taller, more handsome pal. After all, not only does Tom have a wife who is a billionairess, Tom has a bachelor’s degree in general studies. Julian is more focused.

Yes, that marketing skill is the envy of English majors everywhere. Edelman won’t reveal what his area of expertise is in terms of a bachelor of arts or science, but he is unmarried.

We suspect his plays the field generally, studying Tom Brady most of the time. Indeed, this year, he went as Tom’s beard to the Met Gala.

They also shared some fun at the “Kentuky” Derby (according to Trump spellcheck) where Tom won and Julian didn’t.

We now can give Jules the respect he is due: for managing to do online course work (well, someone did it) to achieve his parents’ dream of a well-educated lunatic for a son.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Mind Control: or HAARP Discord

DATELINE: Not Music to Our Ears!

IMG_4683 HAARP Base!

If you wonder about people in Havana being bombarded in the Embassy by mystery sound waves, or something else, you may have an answer in Mind Control: HAARP Conspiracy.

You may never want to hear about HAARP, or you think it is that real estate program to increase your mortgage. Wrong! It’s high density radio waves that can alter your brain—and it isn’t science fiction.

The disturbing Discordia comes from Mind Control: HAARP Conspiracy. A weak mind may be just as easy to disturb as a smart one.

The military has been working on it since the 1970s. They can bounce radio frequencies off the ionosphere, which can alter weather patterns on one level. Then, they realized you could target any kind of wave—certain music or radio stations, sending pulses to the audience to render them schizophrenic, frightened, or scatter people in an area.

Bio-effects are the newest weapon application, replacing bullets and bombs with a high-density shot of signals that can disrupt the brain. It is tantamount to the strobe light concept that has been used to pulsate people into madness.

If you can gear an audience to the sounds or lights, say Fox News, you can turn them into dribbling and violent automatons.

Needless to say, the CIA and NSA love this stuff.

Dr. Nick Begich, the expert who dominates the documentary, notes that United States citizens have been guinea pigs for years. But the true use is to make large armies turn coward and surrender without a fight.

We hate to harp on this, but our alphabet soup has just been poisoned by DARPA, HAARP, and now someone in the Pentagon has done something about the weather, sending tornados to Florida and other extreme climactic changes wherever they want from the base in Alaska.

 

Cybill’s Defining Role: Daisy Miller

DATELINE: Top-Notch Henry James

cybill Perfectly Cybill!

As mentor to the star, director, creative  force, and whiz kid, young Peter Bogdonavich took dry Henry James and made a fast-moving, emotionally-moving film of a famous novella, Daisy Miller.

You could not find a more perfect American girl than Cybill Shepherd as Daisy: unspoiled, direct, and completely at odds with social conventions in 19th century Europe.

Caught between women like her scatter-brained mother (Cloris Leachman) and an American social doyen Mrs. Walker (Eileen Brennan), Daisy does not stand a chance if she ignores or simply teases Frederick Winterbourne (brilliant young Barry Brown, too soon gone to a premature grave), an American who is a permanent resident of Europe.

Whether it’s going on a tourist trip to Byron’s famous castle without chaperone, or worse, going to the place of the viral Roman fever at the Colosseum, Daisy is hell-bent on living her way. Extraordinary location filming makes this a treat.

Winterbourne resists the notion that her scandalous behavior is anything bad. Yet, he cannot convince others in his social set—and crumbles in their heavy pressure.

Rich Americans policed themselves to try to avoid any ugly American image. Fast-talking Daisy, flirtatious and coy, breaks all the rules in her nouveau riche niche.

If Daisy learns there is a social convention, she is hell-bent on testing its merits. What she does not expect is that she will be shunned by the Americans living abroad. To a social butterfly, as Cybill Shepherd delineates to a T, this is far more damaging than she expects.

Perhaps this quintessential American girl could bear all if only Winterbourne remained on her side. He is sorely tested, and ultimately as the laconic Barry Brown narrates, he has lived too long in foreign places.

Alas, it is Brown, the actor, who is gone too soon, based on the promise of this extraordinary film performance.

 

 

 

Slaughter-House 5: Major Disappointment

 DATELINE: So it goes!

michael sacks    Michael Sacks as Billy Pilgrim. 

It sounds like a sequel to itself, and that’s how it goes. Billy Pilgrim of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novella is a man unstuck in time.

Slaughter-House 5 goes nowhere repeatedly and quickly.

It might have been a traditional sci-fi fantasy, but author Vonnegut achieved some kind of immortality by dealing with timeless repetitive living by a man abducted by aliens—and “forced” to randomly re-live his hideous life, from surviving plane crashes to surviving the horror of Dresden’s bombing in 1945.

Michael Sacks plays Billy Pilgrim, an all-seeing optometrist and is the epitome of what you’d want in the actor: he is timeless and can play callow youth, and middle-aged crazy. Yet, Sacks provided mostly promise unfulfilled. He never rose above this, his greatest role. He became stuck in the mud as much as anything else.

Other names in the 1972 film became more household:  Valerie Perrine, Perry King, Eugene Roche, Sorrell Booke, Ron Liebman, John Dehner, and on and on. The film is a litany of familiar faces of the age.

Music provided by Glenn Gould is Bach on harpsichord and limited to the alien scenes, which seems par for the course of the universe.

This was meant to be a great film based on a great book, but it’s not.

You might forget the movie if you don’t realize what the stakes were:  Michael Sacks borders and teeters in his lead role from wide-eyed innocent to bewildered twit. He seems perfect for abduction and living in a zoo on another planet.

Billy goes from hapless POW to hapless toy for creatures from a fourth dimension. He slips from a Lion’s Club speech to a POW camp assembly in a blink. He goes from here to there in a hop of time travel that Einstein would envy.

“So it goes” was the existential motto and motif for the book Slaughter House 5, but you will never hear it once in this film. That may tell you the failings and inadequacies of the movie. So it goes, indeed.

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….

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.

 

 

 

Kate Smith Sings Under Cover

DATELINE:  Bless Us Every One?

Kate Smith

A Philly worker is not hugging Kate Smith but putting a noose around her neck as they wait for the crane to cart her off. Major Bowles has rung the bell. It’s Amateur Night in America.

If the revisionist historians have the final say, Songbird of the South, Miss Kate Smith, the ultimate fat lady, has done sung her last note.

In the City of Brotherly Love, the Fat Lady is being draped in a black tarp prior to being carted off the big stage.

Kate Smith has been exorcized. She died in 1986, but her real death is this week.

Yellow journalists are the peril of the past. Now they have uncovered that Kate Smith sang a couple of ditties with “racist” lyrics in the 1930s. As a result, the icon who died  after a late career blossoming as the “God Bless America” queen, has gone with the wind.

She first recorded the Irving Berlin favorite tune in 1939, and it became a staple. The song and Miss Smith sang to sell war bonds to win World War II, but alas, that no longer has meaning.

She has joined Robert E. Lee, waiting by the levee for the men to take her statue out of Philadelphia, have her tune removed from Flyer games, and stop stretching to her song at Yankee Stadium. She has joined Stonewall Jackson as the antebellum loser of the year.

The Moon has indeed come over the Mountain, and the cow is jumping over it too.

Kate Smith is now an outlaw and an outlier.

God once blessed America, but that quaint notion seems to have come to an abrupt end.

 

 

God once blessed America, but it seems to have come to an abrupt end.

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.