Calamity Jane: Other End of 19th Century

DATELINE: Deadwood, or Bust!

Calamity- 2 days before death  At Wild Bill’s gravesite.

The world of manners and civilization of the East and Europe would take 50 years to head out to the Badlands and Deadwood.

With a new TV movie updating the old series with Timothy Olyphant due soon, we figured to find the true story of Calamity Jane: Legend of the West. It’s an effective French-produced film. She was one of those rare women who lived by her own values in the Victorian Age.

The augurs were not sympathetic for Martha Canary, her real name: her mother was an alcoholic and her father deserted the family along the Oregon Trail. Martha was indentured or adopted and began a life of dubious morality.

Though some might hold her up as a transgender model, she never tried to pass as a man: she was always “Jane,” in men’s clothes, hunting, fighting Indians, and carousing. Indeed, sometimes at night she traded her buckskins for petticoats and survived as a sex worker.

She spoke a good game, told great yarns, and found herself the attraction of journalists. Some back east took her name and created a Deadwood feminine cowboy named Calamity Jane.

In reality, she and Wild Bill were only able to tolerate each other, though their love/hate relationship last a few years till his death in a notorious saloon shooting.

From there it was downhill: drinking, arrests, and endless wandering. She was a common law wife on occasion but married one abusive man to be father to her daughter whom she gave to nuns to raise.

Unfit for most jobs, she regularly went into show business, meeting people, selling photos of herself and a pamphlet story of her life. She even Buffalo Bill, but they worked separately at the Pan American Exhibition of 1900.

She had grown most unhappy in the East, and she returned to Deadwood in 1903. She looked like an ancient but was only 47. Hard drinking and hard living took a toll. The West had become gentrified, not to her liking.

Two days before her death, she went up to Wild Bill Hickok’s grave where she had her photo taken. Within a week, the people of Deadwood put her in a grave next to him.

After all, they were legends—and Westerns were about to hit the big screen with the advent of movies. Calamity would ride on forever, even unto a new TV cable movie, Deadwood, this summer. 

 

 

 

 

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Dead Again, Guilty Again!

DATELINE: Jussie on Steroids.

HERNANDEZ

If you want to know what makes a ghost return to his haunts, you only have to see another case of Massachusetts justice. It will give you the heebie-jeebies.

The Commonwealth Supreme Court has re-instated a guilty of murder verdict on Aaron Hernandez, the serial killer for the New England Patriots. His first trial had been overturned unceremoniously, and he was “not guilty” in his double murder second trial.

You are never declared innocent, no matter what.

The Hernandez conviction was overturned upon his suicide because in Massachusetts, if your appeal is unfinished upon death, you are declared free at last. It need not matter how heinous you were, or how and who you killed, you are no longer a convicted killer. Your jury has wasted its time. Your victim’s family is thrown into turmoil. You are released from prison for cremation or burial.

The evil you did lives on. The good was interred in the state Supreme Court.

So, the Supreme Court feels it has restored justice by playing ping-pong and pin-ball with the guilt of Aaron Hernandez. The law was called archaic and insensitive to modern victims. Hence, Hernandez is back in the eternal prison cell of ghosts like Jacob Marley.

We presume such a finding is enough to send the dead scrambling back to their previous haunts: like the mansion in Attleboro where Hernandez lived his rococo lifestyle. It remained empty for years. No one would dare stay there overnight.

If you want to guarantee that the spirit of Hernandez remains housebound to the place where his victim often visited, you have restored the dead zone. It is likely that Odin Lloyd, the victim, may also be there.

What a cozy arrangement: killer and victim stuck together for eternity. When you play ping-pong with fatality, your fate may be hell on earth and re-living what is never dead.

William Russo is author of the notorious book, The Strange Case of Aaron Hernandez. You can buy it in the old-fashioned print style, or a version designed for you if you are a smartreader.

Allan Carr: A Spectacle to Behold

DATELINE: Carr-buncle

Carr

Can’t Stop the Hype!

It’s been 20 years since the grand poobah of film, TV, and stage producers has left the spotlight. And, boy, was Allan Carr a hog for the media.

The Fabulous Allan Carr is a misnomer. He was not the stuff of fables, nor legends and myths. He was an obese gay man with a knack for self-indulging and making fun for friends and audiences.

One supposes that such a life is enough to satisfy most people. Yet, Carr seemed a cuddly little buddha, but was more like a cactus version of Jekyll and Hyde. When the good times rolled, he was your pal.

He started out as a talent coordinator for Hugh Hefner’s late night TV show in the late 1950s, where he made the acquaintance of old and new Hollywood.

Carr produced Grease, Grease II, La Cage aux Folles, as well as stinkeroos like Can’t Stop the Music. He could do good stuff with all the bravura of Carmen Miranda and Chiquita.

He was a nightmare when failure knocked on his door, and his all-boy parties in Beverly Hills gave way to funeral processions when the AIDS crisis started taking all the twinks. A generation was decimated, and the Village People went into eclipse.

Carr was mostly voyeur, and he escaped infection from HIV. He lived life on his terms, caftans and moo-moo blouses to hide a multitude of rolls.

Born out of Middle America, he became a cocaine-motivated doyen of Hollywood and Broadway. He should have been nicer to the people going up the ladder because they remembered him when he started down the ladder.

His last years were sad, beleaguered with kidney problems and bone cancer. Every party became a line on his face, and in the end he was about as reclusive as an extrovert might never consider.

 

 

Trump’s Handiwork in Palm Beach

DATELINE: Massage is the Medium

Yang & Trump Party Another Happy Ending!

A funny thing happened on the way to the Trump Super Bowl party. Another funny thing happened at the Palm Beach massage parlor. We don’t mean funny in a humorous sense. It is distinctly odd.

Now it seems that Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, could not attend the Trump Super Bowl party because he actually was at the game, as part of putting the sixth championship below his belt.

Cindy Yang attended Trump’s shindig where she showed him a good time. Yank, oops, Yang founded the massage parlor game in Palm Beach, a kidney stone’s throw from Mar-a-Lago.

Joining Mr. Trump at his party was the one-time creator of the self-same parlor where Mr. Kraft was handed his arrested development warrant. You guessed it! Cindy Yank has the pull for an invitation.

You have got to hand it to Trump and Kraft. They know how to grab headlines. When you have billions, you can do fairly much whatever you want. The problem is that these handsome seniors have enemies. Yes, there are patrons of the law who blanch at women doing sex work for money.

We eagerly await the visit of Kraft to the White House where he will hand-off a MAGA jersey to President like it’s a Handi-wipe who will hand-out fast-food with and without pickles.

Trump likely feels this massage perk is owed to the super-rich who are now political kingpins, making immigration policy that allows Chinese women to be held prisoner, not in a fortune cookie factory where they might send out a message, but in a massage parlor where the medium is the massage.

The party-goer who owned the massage parlor is a big donor to Trump. She gives freely and often. The little lady deserves a big hand, but we aren’t sure if Trump or Kraft can afford to pick up the tab.

Septuagenarians are worse off than sexagenarians.

If you think there is something funny going on here in Palm Beach, we think the police agree and have a hands-on policy when it comes to a handshake and a smile.

If you think Congressional committees will put their paws on this one, you will have another Jussie Smollett moment on your hands.

Sex and politics are never strange bedfellows. Just let the Stormy days pass—you will have a big hand for the little lady.

Funny like a toothache.

 

 

Brideshead Remade & Revisited

DATELINE: Movies Over TV

Brideshead 2008

Sebastian and Charles in Happier Days.

Back in the early 1980s, one of the grandest early miniseries was that of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It made stars out of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as the stylish Oxford boys of the 1920s.

It’s been re-made, of course, now a regular size movie, not a 14-hour epic. It is digestible, though the character of Charles is not palatable.

This time Ben Whishaw is the foppish noble Sebastian of Brideshead, and his friend is Charles (Matthew Goode) who has affairs with both brother and sister along his calculating life.

An abridged version still manages to capture all the salient details and key scenes, especially in the idyllic and romantic early days with Sebastian. Young Lord Flyte tries to keep Charles from his family, whom he knows will devastate their relationship. He never counted on the fact that Charles brought his own wrecking ball.

Whishaw seemed to have cornered the market on slightly epicene young men for a time, and Matthew Goode has made a career of elevating every movie and series he joins. He even showed up at Downton Abbey.

Emma Thompson is along as the devout Catholic mother of Sebastian, but it is Julia (played by Hayley Atwell) who is a lynchpin of the lynch mob. Nearly every character blames Charles for being a rapacious game player, though he is at a loss to understand the attacks.

The breaking point is Michael Gambon’s effective work as the family patriarch when Charles tries to prevent a priest from giving last rites to the man.

Part of the drama is the lead-up to his denial of self-knowledge that causes him to lose everything of meaning. Sebastian’s friend Antony scathingly notes he thought at first that Charles was a lamb, but later saw he was the true predator.

It may be news for the oblivious in the audience too.

The condensed movie of the longer miniseries is still effective and powerful. Fans of the 1980s version will recognize that one constant came back to replay its role.

Castle Howard once again stands in for Brideshead, and it is still undiminished in its majesty.

 

 

Really Antony & Cleo

DATELINE: Streaming & Steamy History

Octavian Richard Dempsey

Richard Dempsey as Octavian!

A real surprise is a British documentary a few years ago, now on Amazon Prime for free, called The Real Antony and Cleopatra.

Imagine a British doc that never mentions the Shakespearean plays, nor quotes from them. Instead, we have a series of experts and scholars sitting on a stuffed Roman chaise lounge, somewhat uncomfortably. No, they do not recline as they drop morsels and bombs about the famous duo.

Did we say duo? It’s almost like the casting crisis of the 1963 Joe Mankiewicz movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Rex Harrison felt slighted and left out, and he sued the studio to add his image to the suitors around the bed of Cleopatra.

The Egyptian queen was fond of murdering her younger brothers, and she was really Greek, descendant of Ptolemy. As an attractive 20-year old, she seduced the 50-year old Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony.

Cleopatra was all you might expect. She was a showgirl who knew how to stage publicity stunts better than Jussie Smollett. And, she was “attractive,” meaning she made the most of her plain looks. She was fluent with tongues (speaking six) and apparently used the tongue talent too in the boudoir.

Romans were aghast at Cleopatra’s morals, which may tell you something, considering the loose attitudes of the Romans.

As if to prove her sexuality, she had one child by Caesar and two more by Antony. He had a mixed manhood, being thought of as nearly exclusively homosexual, unless political marriage was involved. This film also lets you know he was well-endowed both on and off the battlements.

The real surprise here is the delightful re-enactors. Marina Morgan flashes eyeshadow as well as Miss Taylor, but the real delight here is young Octavian. He reportedly slept with Julius too in order to be adopted as a nephew.  As a 19-year old rival to Antony, Richard Dempsey is the golden-haired boy.

Octavian outmaneuvers Cleopatra militarily, but her symbolic death by snake bite left Augustus Octavian the one with the punctured ego.

This is an off-beat historical documentary that will tantalize all the fake news you learned from Hollywood Cleopatras.

 

 

 

 

 

Oak Island Die Hard and Dye Harder

DATELINE: Approach/Avoidance

95-years Amazing Dan Blankenship!

We are at episode 15 of the sixth season with the Curse of Oak Island, and we are still going strong. Each season is longer, and our patience is growing thinner.

Shake, rattle, and rolling, the Money Pit sink hole will be stabilized, presumably, and filled in to be able to continue boring down.

However, this week’s big info is that lidar off Oak Island may have discovered some entrances or openings under the ocean. The gang, including Alex Lagina and mysteriously returned Peter Fornetti, join Marty to hear the findings. That thread was quickly dropped to begin another dye job.

Several years ago, the brainstorm was to use green dye to see if there were drains leading to the treasure vault. Green did not mix well with water, making it impossible to see.

This time the hunters will use red dye (not sure if it’s #2, or the blend often used in Rick Lagina’s hair).

Incompetence was again blamed on the island curse when hoses tangled as water was sent into bore holes with the red dye.

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, 95-year old Dan Blankenship drove up in his golf cart to take a look at the activity. When he tried this stuff, he did it on a shoestring (figuratively). Now there are drones that has to amaze him as fly-over inspections monitor the island for red dye.

However, it is old Gary Drayton who spots a rusty color water appearing out of nowhere. Marty Lagina wants to be the kibosh, but chemical testing of the colored water indicates the dye has seeped to Smith’s Cove, proving there is a drain system to booby trap the treasure vault.

Small victories set up the final few weeks of season six.

 

Madonna & W./E. Against Us!

DATELINE: Material Girl Directs!

Andrea Riseborough Andrea Riseborough as Duchess of Windsor!

If you are looking for Madonna in her 2011 movie W./E., you won’t see her. She was behind the camera, directing it.

The film is everything you might expect—and is also totally unexpected. It may seem like Downton Abbey in Material Girl terms, but it is really a solid case of Woody Allen’s Play It Again Sam meeting Henry James and The Aspern Papers.

Two women named Wallis, 70 years apart, have what appears to be a paranormal encounter.  They are unsympathetic protagonists, but what the world hates, Madonna loves.

Back in 2011, the movie was widely castigated by critics as an overreach and under-achievement. Those tuning in to see the iconic woman will see only her stand-ins: the two Wallys.

Now with a few years passed, we can see W./E. as something far more interesting and poorly judged by audiences and the anti-Madonna contingent. The film is beautifully constructed and under-appreciated.

A modern 1998 woman is obsessed with Wallis Simpson and her husband, the one-time King of England.

Here the legendary singer stretched her wings to make a film about a woman researching the legendary love affair of the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Wallis advises her modern counterpart, as both women are rapacious and obsessive.

Madonna seems intent on showing the Duchess of Windsor sacrificed far more than her husband.

In Madonna’s hands, this tale becomes a curious parallel to the Henry James story called The Aspern Papers. The conceit is that Wallis Simpson has left some letters that explain the affair in more comprehensive terms of the 21st century. It seems the King may not have given up the throne for the woman he loved exactly as advertised. He made his wife a glamorous prisoner.

Madonna’s modern woman is flawed greatly, intense and refusing to be denied: much like the Duchess of Windsor and the Madonna of music.

Intriguing Abbie Cornish is the modern Wally, and Andrea Riseborough is the brilliant version of the Duchess Wally. This is a fascinating film on many levels. You need to re-discover it.

Project Blue Book Plays Games

 DATELINE:  Bye-bye Birdie

Dead Birds  It’s raining dead birds!

Episode called “War Games” reportedly occurred during the Korean War when United States soldiers in a training mission claimed to be attacked by UFO lights. They suffered trauma, both physical and mental.

This is the premise of episode eight of the miniseries Project Blue Book. Where this is headed remains as mysterious as the weekly lights in the sky.

Of course, our intrepid and at-odds duo of oddball detective investigators are called in by their general bosses to solve the mystery. Captain Quinn and Professor Hynek continue to bicker over everything.

Neal McDonough as the house villain is given a bit more to do this time around, demanding that his investigators come up with answers and how to kill these threats to America. The men behind Project Blue Book cover ups even discuss the nuclear option.

One deranged soldier eschews protocol with the general officers, but he is cracking up and heating up. He seems to blow out the light bulbs above and heat the cup of coffee he holds. Yup, those aliens seem to be here.

Mike Malarkey has taken to barking orders at his professorial nemesis Aiden Gillen, who continues to ignore him. Their routine seems to have a begrudging respect, but who can really say?

The Hitchcock Birds seem to dominate this episode when the two men encounter flocks of starlings that do somersaults in midair where the platoon was attacked. Then, abruptly, in a “rain” of terror, dead birds pelt the two researchers.

We immediately thought of the CIA experiments with LSD on unsuspecting soldiers during the 1950s. Though this is never mentioned, it fits the final conclusion of our intrepid heroes.

Listening to Marlon Brando

DATELINE:  Method Man

Marlon Brando Fires Point Blank.

With its odd title, you may have trouble discerning what exactly is being told to whom.  Yet, Listen to Me Marlon is an affecting and striking documentary Showtime documentary about the legendary star of The Godfather, Streetcar Named Desire, and Reflections in a Golden Eye.

We wrote extensively about Brandon in Troubles in a Golden Eye, our movie biography, done with Hollywood master, Jan Merlin.

Intensely private and hostile to the press in the second half of his life, Brando made dozens and dozens of audio tapes of his philosophy, problems, and feelings. He clearly wanted to be remembered.

At the last he even had a digital map of his talking head so that it could be used sometime in futuristic movies.

In the meantime, we find many unusual photos and recreations of his unpleasant childhood in Omaha that he idealized. Though you see photos of associates and workmates, there is no gossip talk of colleagues. He speaks most admirably of Stella Adler, his acting teacher.

He does discuss his tortured children:  one committed suicide after her half-brother murdered her boyfriend. Christian died of pneumonia a few years after his father died.

He is thoughtful and sensitive, clearly appalled more and more by the money, profits, and legalities of movie-making. He worked three months a year for enormous salaries—and grew increasingly difficult to work with (ask Francis Ford Coppola).

A mutual friend of ours once told that Marlon was not like his public image: he was much, much softer. And that clearly comes across in his tapes.

Brando even rehearses how to die, which is chilling. He calls life the real improvisation and acting merely a deception of truth.

If you are a fan of Brando, or ever wondered about him, there may never be a more accurate depiction of his life—if only through his own distorted vision of self.

Jan Merlin & William Russo wrote Troubles in a Golden Eye, nonfiction about making the John Huston movie version of Carson McCullers’ novella Reflections in a Golden Eye. Brando and Elizabeth Taylor starred.

 

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.

 

 

Project Blue Book: Stick a Fork in It !

DATELINE:  Fork in the Series?

Fork in the series

Malarky & Weapon of Choice: his Fork.

Project Blue Book dealt with one of those deliberate hoaxes of the 1950s that Hynek exposed to the glee of his government sponsors.

“Scoutmaster” allegedly shot an alien while out on a camping trip with his Boy Scout contingent. Like all these tales, it is based on some kind of factual story.

This episode was intriguing because the series split up their tandem investigators. The generals pulled Captain Quinn (Mike Malarkey) out for some nasty bit of rogue operation.

Hynek was left to play Sherlock Holmes without his impediment Watson. And, beyond a doubt, Hynek (in the form of Aiden Gillen) showed he could carry the show with his professorial pedantry.

On this episode Hynek came up with the ridiculous explanation of swamp gas to explain strange lights in the sky. Not even the townspeople buy it in 1952.

As part of the investigation about the strange shaped cranium discovered at the site of the UFO encounter, he had to consult a tribal expert. He visited a Native American shaman (Graham Greene, who else?) for some answers to his UFO mystery.

On the other hand, the series seemed to show Quinn off to the most negative of all his bad qualities. Perhaps he will be written out or turned into some kind of righteous victim. His sado-masochism did not play out as heroic or tough-guy. We hope sincerely that he is abducted by aliens and used for sexual experiments.

The character is vicious and a thug in an Air Force uniform. He literally sticks a fork into someone. With only a few episodes left in the initial season, we are not quite sure what to make of his development.

In some ways, the series Project Blue Book is becoming rather unpleasant.

 

 

John Wayne Revisited, 50 Years Off the Saddle!

DATELINE:  Too Late for Words!

Duke, Duck!Duck, Dodge, and Hide, Duke!

Fifty years after John Wayne gave an interview to Playboy, it has been re-discovered and has become an interesting, revisionist historical document that berates black people, Native Americans, and gays.

Wayne was home on the range but would be shocked by today’s brave new world. He would have punched Trump in the nose for suggesting America is no longer great.

Actors have never been known for their giant brains. You have only to look at stories about Jussie Smollett to learn that hard lesson.

So, it is not surprising that an interview given by Duke Wayne in 1971 is rife with frightful prejudice against black people and Native Americans. You should add women to the list.

Wayne played an array of Union soldiers and military heroes often in defense of America, popular ideas in his movies. He was in real life only one step to the left of J. Edgar Hoover and not much removed from a political Know-Nothing.

If you put his statue in front of a Confederate stronghold, the rebels would have ripped it down.

John Wayne refused to work with “liberal” Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood on a movie.

Well, the shocks mount up like Wayne on a charging steed with the reins in his teeth and six-shooters firing at will.

Young anti-Vietnam war Americans of the “hippie era” hated John Wayne for his backward view of politics. He was right up there with Bob Hope as a supporter of war in its many forms.

Now that generation of youth, regarded as wayward and drug-addled, is older than Wayne when he gave his notorious interview of 1971.

Back in the 1970s, liberals laughed at Wayne and threw snowballs at him when he was in a Cambridge parade and received the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year at Harvard.

He also went on TV to guest star on Maude, Bea Arthur’s liberal bastion series. She promised a shootout with Wayne at High Noon.

Of course, Maude was a half-baked hypocrite and she melted when John Wayne told her he never discussed politics with a woman. They ended up in a waltz.

The problem that faces the old Bernie Saunders liberal types who are pushing 80 (and soon to be pushing up daisies) has more to do with an old Bette Davis quote.

She said of her hated rival Joan Crawford: “They don’t change just because they’re dead.”

People should remember that Davis was only partly correct. She should have said: “You can’t change your mind once you’re dead.”

Oak Island: 6th Season Paranormal Episode!

 DATELINE: Curse of Oak Island Ghosts!

bone fragments  Bone Fragments Discovery.

Why has there not been more paranormal investigations on Curse of Oak Island? You could watch this episode in Season Six that is not part of the regular rotation of treasure seeking. In it, Matty Blake, the cheerleader and annotator for the Lagina brothers, takes charge.

In the final few moments of the show, the Laginas listen to electronic voice recordings made at locations—and they resoundingly dismiss it. Yet, they were the ones who found bone fragments from two different 18th century men buried 170 feet below the surface. Talk about haunting.

There is no onerous voice of Robert Clotworthy on this show, but the over-exuberant Blake is in charge. He talks to the two Blankenships about their ghostly encounters. Son Dave Blankenship relates having seen a black mass at different times on the island. It floats around ominously, and others have also recounted it.

Many reports center on a large hound with red eyes that seemingly roams the island at night. It is right out of some Conan Doyle story.

One of the intriguing details focused on an early researcher, Nolan, who never spent a night on the island, leaving at dusk.

A paranormal expert from New York, Brian Cano, visits the swamp area and various bore holes where they do record noises, including an echo from deep within one drill spot. What was it?

Mysterious lights and other phenomenon might be better suited for other TV reality shows like Ghost Hunters, or UFO Files. There are many reports of mysterious lights and people who disappear, like alien abductions.

If there is a curse, rejected outright by the Laginas (who nonetheless use the notion to sell their show), it strongly indicates paranormal or UFO activity.

We admit our prejudice on this level, since having moved into a haunted house, we have experienced too much to reject what we once laughed at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Unwrapped!

DATELINE: Rami as Ghost of Mercury!

Rami.jpeg Rami as Freddie.

Is it a musical tragedy, or a concert biopic?  You might say it is a hard rhapsody to the kisser. And, it is director Bryan Singer’s best picture since Apt Pupil.

We were expecting the tale of squandered talent, losing to a hailstorm of hedonism. Instead, we were given the gift of seeing Rami Malek channel the ghost of Freddy Mercury to haunt us forever. Bohemian Rhapsody is worth every moment.

With some clever re-enactments of how the hits were designed and developed by Queen, all four members, you have interwoven built-in classic reactions of the time. The panning comments on the title song by original media critics is priceless and interspersed into the music.

Nor did we expect to see such intriguing supporting actors as Alan Leech (from Downton Abbey) and Aiden Gillen (now starring as Dr. Hynek in Project Blue Book). They bring gravitas to the queenly shenanigans of Freddy.

The notion that he was gay and it was his undoing during a bad time in history strikes us as impossible to accept. You mean no one knew he was gay—not even himself? We suppose self-knowledge is always a struggle. Rock Hudson in the news may have tipped off Freddie that he was in trouble.

Mercury was titanic and hit the iceberg of rock music.

His talent emerges like instant drink—and fizzles in a wave of self-indulgence. Unlike many other rock stars and prima donnas, Freddy Mercury has the wherewithal to see the error of his ways—and tries to repent with the famous Live Aid concert.

The media is once again a vicious dog that bites artists in the throes of creativity. It is delightful to see how some tunes were formed, like “Another One Bites the Dust”, or “We Will Rock You”.

The title tune comes in and out, but the finale, with all its morbid references to death, is “We are the Champions”, saved for the big finish.

Rami Malek is the show, man-tanned or not, and convinces you he is the genuine article. Add music and you have a masterpiece, but Freddy Mercury would not be surprised at all that his life and music survive and flourish.