Deadly Companions Before Parent Trap

DATELINE: Steve Cochran Died 55 Years Ago!

Steve Cochran with Brian Keith.

Before Walt Disney cast them as estranged parents of Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap,  Sam Peckinpah wanted them as the estranged couple in The Deadly Companions.

Even in 1961, it was rare for a woman to be the top-billed star in a Western. It happened rarely, usually with Barbara Stanwyck or Joan Crawford.

This time Maureen O’Hara, the best leading lady for a half-dozen big stars like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, took on the role of hard and angry dance hall girl.

In the Deadly Companions, Brian Keith shoots O’Hara’s son by accident, killing him. When she wants to take the coffin to bury him in a dangerous town across Apache Territory, no one will help her –except Brian Keith. They are not boon companions.

Joining them somewhat unwillingly are Chill Wills and Steve Cochran as a couple of ex-Rebel bank robbers.

The reasons for the assorted bunch to stick together is hardly altruistic—or particularly believable. It does make for a singular Western in sea of oaters ending the decade. It predates the Clint-Leone spaghetti versions by a few years—and is the first film directed by Peckinpah who would turn to violence as a motif to keep up with the meatball brigade in the next ten years.

You have a chance to see that Keith was a solid leading man, not a TV star, and that Steve Cochran was cast perfectly as a  scoundrel. He was gone too soon after this film, and Chill Wills phones in his usual seedy kook bird version of his usually likable uncle.

We are reviewing the film on the 55thanniversary of Cochran’s death in 1965. He still looked youthful here and was always a classic bad guy. His death was peculiar in the movie and in real life too, as he was on a yacht floating for ten days because no one aboard could sail it to a port.

Gone, Forgotten, and Dismissed: Obit for a Colleague

DATELINE: Corona of Career

It’s minor and troubling to almost no one, except perhaps me.

A colleague of many years passed away not quite ten years after retiring. She was on the faculty of our small college for thirty years, same time and same length as I.

As Robert Frost once said, happiness reaches in height what it lacks in length. We were the disgruntled, unhappy “employees” of the College, even denied being called “faculty” by administration in our living and breathing careers.

The rank of professor meant nothing much, a professor emeritus was denied to us.

How much worse can it be when we die off?

The announcement of her death form the Human Resources Center came from a director who never knew her. It was a pithy two sentences saying she had “worked” at the college in Nursing Department for many years. Because of the pandemic, there would be no services. There was no additional information.

And apparently no other remembrances or comments. This was her final moment on the college register. No eulogy, no thanks, no appreciation, no nothing.

It shall be the same for me. In a tight-knit department like Nursing, she was anathema: disliked by her colleagues for being a stickler for the regulations, and not participating in the social life of fake camaraderie among those with whom you share no politics. So it was for me.

There once existed a half-dozen of us from differing departments who sat together, a huddled small group, at all faculty meetings. We recognized each other as pariahs of the school. If we didn’t sit together, no one would sit with us.

In the past decade we retired to no particular fanfare. Now we are dying to no particular notice.

I visited her at her office now and then, gave her copies of my books that were published, and she was appreciative. Two other faculty of that ilk have also died in recent years. We were a grim little group of despised faculty members: not by students, but by our fellow faculty.

If no department head colleague will do cheerleading of your credentials, hard work, accomplishments at the college at death, then there is nothing more to be said.

You are relegated to non-person, name stricken from the record, students never to breathe your name unless in curse for a low grade.

Thus, the end came for another kind associate. It made me hope the college will be one of those they say may close its doors in a few years: let all of them on faculty for those decades  share the same fate.

This memorial eulogy is anonymous for an unnamed, unknown faculty member from a breed of small liberal arts colleges that are fading away one by one.

 

 

Strange Deaths of Kim Jong Un & Adolph Hitler

 DATELINE: Duplicate Despots

We can hardly await the movie version of the epic comedy called the Strange Death of Kim Jong Un, the erstwhile fat slob North Korean dictator. The argument has been made that he is the only fat guy in North Korea—and no doubles are local.

It now appears that a body double may be used by some trying to keep his death a secret while they shore up their control of the government. Despots will be funny.

It seems Kim’s double has chipped teeth and overlong earlobes. And, the North Korean intelligence has not figured out that photoshopping can help them.

It is all reminiscent of the weird 1943 movie with Ludwig Donath called The Strange Death of Adolph Hitler. It was an amazing film in the middle of the war that contended that Hitler used doubles in dangerous situations of possible assassination. The story told the case of an impersonator who was drafted to do the dirty jobs Hitler could avoid.

Eventually he begins to think he is Hitler. There are a few hilarious meetings of the two, and the ending predates the war’s ending by two years and a strange assassination.

We suppose that all those overindulged meals caused a cardiac stent operation, performed and perhaps botched, requiring the double to do double-duty to buy time for the replacement squad.

We expect President Trump to use a body double eventually too. It is far easier when the main subject is a comedic hyperbole like Hitler, Kim, or Trump. It’s so easy to mimic these cartoonish autocrats. You can see it on SNL each week.

In the meantime, we recommend The Strange Death of Adolph Hitler as your primer for future developments.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Nichols: Becoming & Unbecoming

 DATELINE: Insider Biography

 Burtons with Nichols.

Filmed shortly before his death several years ago, director and comedian Mike Nichols reviewed his life and career before an audience and in a more private interview. HBO put together this short film about Nichols called Becoming Mike Nichols.

The result is an illuminating exposition about a self-made director.

In the early 1960s in the heyday of the monologue comic standups like Mort Sahl and Bob Newhart, you had Nichols and May among the cleverest of all. Their run ended when, Nichols admits, he became too obstreperous director for May.

It opened up a chance to direct in theater, not merely his partner. He started with Neil Simon, Walter Matthau, Robert Redford, and Odd Couple on stage. Not exactly chopped liver.

He knew many Broadway stars from his years in New York, and met Richard Burton when they were in next door theaters. Burton later invited him to Rome to visit where he met Elizabeth Taylor while filming Cleopatra—and he was instrumental in having both appear in his first film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Three days before filming, he had friend Tony Perkins give him a crash course of pointers on use of camera in movies. In fact, he learned on the job. His work began a string of brilliant movies: The Graduate, Carnal Knowledge, Catch-22, and other literate films like The Birdcage.

The documentary focuses on his first two movies in depth, giving marvelous insights into Taylor, Burton, Dustin Hoffman, Buck Henry, and Simon and Garfunkel. The anecdotes leave the audience begging for more. A few pearls drop about Jack Warner, Billy Wilder, Anthony Perkins, but there is not time or attention to those.

There is nothing really about his Emmy winners or Tony winners. You may want to know about The Birdcage or Angels in America,  or his work on Gilda Radner or Whoopi Goldberg, but you will need to look elsewhere for that.

 

 

Eero Saarinen: More than a Crossword Name

 DATELINE:  Gateway to Modern Architecture

   Eero-port Terminal.

 American Masters did a one-hour biography of the notable architect whose name dominates New York Timescrossword puzzles. Of course, he is one of the most modern of all kinds of American architects (by way of Finland as a boy).

Saarinen is best known as the man who designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch, iconic like the Pyramid of Giza. He wanted something to last 1000 years—and his arch may well reach that grandeur.

This documentary is mostly narrated by his son Eric who is a noted film cinematographer—not following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. He was alienated from his pater, but this film (he confesses) has changed him by seeing what marvels his father created: from a John Deere office building to Kresge Auditorium at MIT, or even a hockey rink at Yale.

His aides told him all hockey rinks were barns, so he designed one at Yale that is staggering in its Norse winter sports notions.

His father was hard to eclipse. Eero grew up with his father’s friends Gustav Mahler and Sibelius hanging around the house. He was bounced on Frank Lloyd Wright’s knee. Heavens, he was destined to create great buildings.

He made only one house—a glass marvel with stunning modern light. He is airier and brighter than Wright.

Yet, we must admit that these creative geniuses are not particularly good at being a family man. Eero was not an exception, but his second wife got him on the cover of Time—and the rest is history.

Shatner’s UnXplained recently claimed his great Arch is meant as a weather control system to deflect thunder and lightning. No such grandiose claims are made here—only breathtaking buildings and grounds, not to mention furniture.

He worked 60 years ago, but looks more modern than anything done today. This film also collects the withering criticism he took over his designs—by those who felt he pandered to 1950s American commerce. How wrong can they be?

We once heard an architectural critique as “nobody wants to live in someone else’s head.” Alas, most heads are devoid of creativity, individuality, or good taste. Thank heavens for Saarinen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Oak Island Season Baiting the Hook

 DATELINE: Y’all Come Back!

  Late Bobby Restall.

For Oak Island, winding up in its seventh season, we know the annual state we reach at this point:  it used to be called the “cliff-hanger,” but on Curse of Oak Island, it is baiting the hook for the next year.

They know how to grab us and make us come back again. You can start to count the little developments that are meant to give us hope.

Is the empty-hand something we can identify again? You cannot take much comfort from finding more bits of bookbinding leather. Whatever documents that were there, are now clearly shredded to nothing. How cynical we have become, left by years of dashed hopes.

We are now relying on the sonorous tones of Robert Clotworthy to keep our hopes high. A new geophysicist Jeremy Church has arrived with news. He has found a 13×13 foot shaft or teardrop in the Money Pit, deeper than expected.

A botanist comes to the swamp and finds that a tree stump there, Dr. Roger Evans takes samples but says it is cork oak, that is indigenous to Portugal, not Nova Scotia. Knights Templar versions from Portugal were likely in Canada.

Alex Lagina brings the two surviving Restall family members to the Island. Rick Restall recalls his older brother Bobby who lost his life at 18 in a shaft. It is poignant and perhaps the most evocative of the treasure hunt moments.

You can always count on Gary Drayton to make the biggest find and the greatest grab to our interest: another ancient pickaxe. They find enormous wooden dowels, highly powerful connective lumber which may have Roman numerals carved into them.

We learn again that Rick and Marty Lagina are always late to the show. They seem to drive up after everyone else is already there and working.

Yup, we are hooked for another year.

Cold Pursuit: Liam Neeson as Charles Bronson

DATELINE: Another Cold Dish?

You almost feel as if they genre of revenge flicks is reincarnated with a higher-level actor: Yes, that is Liam Neeson playing Charles Bronson in the cold-blooded killing movie called Cold Pursuit.

Actually, it is a hot-blooded crime spree: Neeson is Citizen of the Year in snowy Colorado where he plows the roads for skiing enthusiasts. When his son is murdered by drug dealers, he goes into Bronson mode.

Supporting cast includes Laura Dern as a thankless wife who leaves him, and Tom Bateman in a young Joachin Phoenix mode as the head mobster.

While he is being honored, his son does not attend the ceremony—and his later burial is in frozen tundra during a blizzard, highly unlikely scenarios.

In any case, Neeson as Coxman starts to hunt down the drug ring from the lowest rung, up to the top. His inventive and sadistic means of death may be pure vigilante that Bronson would approve of doing if he were still around. Who said the revenge genre was dead?

Liam Neeson has been pursuing these action films now for a few years, having given up on serious roles apparently. There are numerous jokes by victims that he is an “old man” out of breath from his endeavors. All the victims of revenge are sent cascading in a wire mesh over waterfall, hundreds of feet to a lost grave.

The mob thinks their native American partners are double-crossers, leaving Neeson more freedom to dispatch them singly. Ultimately there is a big shoot-out between gangs, leaving Neeson with little to do. The subplot of the gangster’s young son is left in limbo, and the entire film is punctuated with RIP notices for every character who dies in the picture. We did not count.

We had not seen the parallel previously—as Death Wish was remade a few years ago with Bruce Willis as an inspired vigilante. It’s hard to determine if Neeson wants to re-make most of the notorious Bronson oeuvre.

 

 

 

Coronavirus or COVID-19: Return of Black Death?

DATELINE: Past is Prologue

 Resurrected London Victims!

To try to gain a perspective on the historical viral earthquakes in society, we went back to a 2014 British documentary called Return of the Black Death.

It gave us a non-comforting and chilling perspective on what is happening today. The archaeologists and virologists involved in this little one-hour film made it clear that the Black Death was no fluke: we can have another plague at any time. Viral decimation is more than ever a possibility, owing to our worldly incompetence.

And, in case you were unaware, the exact DNA of the original plague of 1349 is doing quite well in Africa right now. It’s in the rats and their fleas.

When excavating in London for a new subway five years ago, they encountered an old cemetery from the days of the Black Death. It was uncovered and a dozen or more bodies were disinterred to give some answers about what happened. Believe it or not, they really don’t know because records and medical info was not exactly scientific in those days.

The news is that 60% of Londoners died within 9 months. The Black Death came swiftly from Europe in November and stayed until summer. Since people were already ravaged from bad famines and poor nutrition, they were sitting ducks for the plague.

Burials were key: through funerary rites and procedures, the survivors took comfort. Bodies were laid out, stacked like lasagna (their metaphor in the doc), but the care for the dead buoyed spirits of the living.

These viral horrors can do devastation for the unprepared: but isolation helped in 1349—and it may today, but this could be far worse, owing to jet travel, viral passengers on everything and everyone. It could end up being an annual horror story.

Will 60% of us die? With inept leaders and shoddy politics at the cutting edge, we may be looking at a Black Plague that is more genocidal than anything Hitler devised.

Crosby in Search of a Crosby

 DATELINE:Haunted by Uncle Bing

The nephew and godson of Bing Crosby has been documenting his uncle Bingle for decades. Now, he has produced, directed, and written up, all his film records as he tries to uncover the truth behind the legendary crooner.

The film is not merely vanity; it serves a genuine purpose in dissecting a legend. Chris Crosby was close to greatness, and he documents it well.

And Bing has had his share of Mommie Dearest moments. His eldest son Gary wrote a scathing book about his father’s cruelty and bad parenting. A few think he added the worst to sell the book to publishers. Yet Bing was at heart a Daddie Dearest, and nasty too.

Chris Crosby is fairly even-handed, trying to learn how bad his uncle truly was. What he finds from his father Bob Crosby, and Bing’s friends like Bob Hope, Anthony Quinn, Mel Torme, Stewart Granger, Donald O’Connor, Terry Moore, Rhonda Fleming, and many others, is that he was exactly what you saw: an easy-going, charming person with a hard veneer. He was always friendly, but you never broke below the surface.

Like many celebs, he was smart with money, shrewd with people, and kept his foibles well-hidden. Oh, you will hear the stories of his womanizing, his drinking, and his sadistic treatment of his sons (two of whom committed suicide after his death).

You will hear he cut you if you did not adhere to his strict Catholic views. If you were divorced, you may have lost him forever. He went to church every Sunday, and he was secretly charitable to a fault.

Many show biz friends knew the image, and never wanted much more. He never gave more because it was generous in a cut-throat business. He meant it when he sang “White Christmas.”

He died on a golf course in Madrid, whistling and singing, one day after visiting a long-time friend after 20 years. It was spooky.

Chris shows the drickle down talent, watering by generation. He seems to be haunted, if not possessed, by Bing. His sister was less fortunate. When she chose to live with a man they disapproved of, she was kidnapped and given electro-shock treatments.

But, if you were a fan, or a friendly associate, that stuff never intruded on what you saw and knew. Bing was complicated, as they say nowadays.

Tom in a Tunnel, Sees the Light

DATELINE: Where is he?

 Lost in Art?

Whenever we have a chance to opine about metaphor, count us in.

Tom Brady posted a tunnel of himself, in civilian clothes, in a black and silver tunnel in an unknown park runway.

His wife is a model, but Brady is not.

He is house-hunting and taking his son around to check out schools in Nashville, Tennessee, today. That is hardly where he will retire. That is hardly where his wife wants to be, and his son loves hockey. We know that Tom talked to coaches in New England about hockey, of which he was ignorant, but doing a crash course to keep up with his son.

There is not much hockey in Vegas.

Retirement communities in Nashville and Vegas are popular, but Brady wants to play a few more seasons.

Ah, metaphor! No metaphor is perfect. But they are powerful tools to understand the world.

No one has mentioned Kobe and Tom. Has the death of a superstar ball player had an impact on his thinking? Yes, but not to the point of leaving the game apparently. He simply will go to a team where he can spend more time with his family—not training callow youth in how to play.

It is not the tunnel of death, nor the tunnel of love, where you are surrounded by those you know—especially at the end where you are at heaven’s gate. No, there is no welcome committee here, no wagon of goodies for his delectation.

Tom is a man who owes no one and will consult no one. This is his life alone.

Madman & Rebel: Dennis Hopper

DATELINE: Don’t Forget Drunkard!

 He’s Not in this Doc!

Dennis, Our Favorite Menace!

A semi-interesting documentary on James Dean contemporary, Dennis Hopper, whose career went through many incarnations, is allegedly told by his “co-conspirators”! The film on his life is called Along for the Ride. With friends like the intense Hopper selected, he was in for a long run toward Doom.

Hopper underwent many transformations in his life—and it mirrored his career, or vice versa. He started out as an All-American wholesome-looking boy, became a slimy and bushy-bearded druggie and drunkard, and ultimately became a haggard and highly respected character actor. He survived, which is the truly amazing fact.

Like most under-educated people in Hollywood, Hopper was sensitive to his intelligence and self-education. The film ignores his youth and early years—and picks up with his personal assistant in 1970 who owns most of his correspondence and memorabilia. He is the power behind this portrait, which really puts emphasis on his directorial ability in The Last Movie, a big flop. Having made a fortune with Easy Rider,his counter-culture friends and attitudes were given free-reign in the 1970s Hollywood-in-transition.

Hopper was never helped when friends like Satya keep telling him he’s a genius. Inevitably, his Last Moviebecame Waterloo in Peru. Hopper was a colorful show-biz personality, but he was notOrson Welles. The low-lifes and sycophants around him convinced him otherwise.

You won’t have to see The Last Movie to know from this picture that it is an unmitigated disaster. When working on Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando refused to do any scenes with him. He had told the most powerful Hollywood moguls to go “f” themselves. He was on Ruination Row in a self-constructed prison.

There is a passing nod to his mentor and progenitor, James Dean, but really he was on his own trip far from his rebel youth movies.

Blue Velvet resurrected him. He always felt he was personally difficult, but not professionally so. In the end he made so many movies that any idea that he was blackballed cannot be believed.

Hopper’s right-hand man and behind-the-scenes acolyte does his job to the bitter end.

 

Merlin Among the Stars!

DATELINE: Jan Merlin’s Final Book!

Hand-made card drawn by Jan at Kilimanjaro during film Woman & the Hunter.

My dear friend and coauthor Jan Merlin died a few months ago. He lived a long and creative life. That does not lessen the effect of a hard loss, and I have managed to complete something that was brewing for decades.

Jan knew that I kept all his letters, copies of his emails, and took notes on many of our conversations over the course of thirty years. He steadfastly said he did not want a biography in any traditional sense. But, as the years passed, he often gave me a flood of memories about his years on Broadway, in early TV, and later in movies. I have completed a memoir in his own words.

He worked with so many famous—and he was one of them, knew their foibles and secrets. If I learned anything, it was a secret society—and they all kept their privilege sacred. Yet, he provided me with anecdotes with people from stage like Josh Logan, from movies such as Marlon Brando, from literature like Gore Vidal and Truman Capote, from TV like every Western TV star over 15 years (from Chuck Connors to Michael Landon).

So, I have compiled his memories to provide some amazing insights into the profession of acting and the business of movies. It did not take long to do—as I had been adding bits and pieces after each chat or text.

Now, I have for you a record of an era: the star of two TV series, Tom Corbett and Rough Riders,who played mostly the bad guy on TV westerns, committing every dastardly act and finding come-uppance weekly in a variety of ways.

His voice is clear and direct on every page; he never pulled punches, never played the social game, and he felt he damaged his career with projects like The List of Adrian Messengerwith Kirk Douglas, and he felt John Huston misused him. Even today, he is the man under the masks—but Douglas takes credit for the performance (even in an Oscar compilation clip!).

He gave me a title:  We Were All Six Feet Tall,which I have kept with the main focus, Merlin Among the Stars.It is now available on Kindle as an ebook and the paperback will soon be out for his fans and friends.

When I re-read his letters, there was so much I had forgotten—and never followed up. One example was his friendship with noted crypto-scientist Willy Ley who was tech advisor on his show Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

There are gems from the era—and can only be appreciated by those with a grand sense of the past.

 

 

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0831S1RVZ

 

Patriots Receive Their Come-Uppance!

DATELINE: The Empire Collapses 

 

Many Patriot haters have waited 20 years for the moment. The parallel in history may be the Fall of the Roman Empire: the barbarians are at the gate, and Belichick and Brady are fleeing the chaos.

The Mighty Patriots have struck out.
There is no joy in Mudville or Foxboro. The Pats have lost their bye week—and probably their souls.
If anyone is stunned by the Dolphins beating the Pats, you have not been paying attention. For weeks now Tom Brady has been playing like a man who will be at quarterback until he is 50—in the sandlot league.
Bill Belichick is like one of the Magnificent Ambersons: he is receiving his come-uppance.His vaunted defense looked like Swiss cheese and most of his players will leave in free agency. Even Brady is expected to go out with a bang elsewhere.
History runs in cycles, and the Patriots have been top dog for a couple of decades, but now they are heading back to the rubbish pile years of the 1970s. They may spend the next two decades as outliers in the AFC.
We expect that Josh McDaniels and Julian Edelman will jump ship. Already the Florida authorities are emboldened to file new felony charges against owner Robert Kraft for human trafficking, however preposterous that seems.
Now they will feel Miami is on a roll.
On the eve of an ice storm in New England, the New England Pats may be entering a new Ice Age. The berg has hit their flank—and the unsinkable franchise has sprung a leak.
About 20 members of the team are ready for free agency—and don’t let the door hit your rear on the way out.
Don’t cry for the Patriots, Argentina. Tom will be playing there next season.

Brady Leaves New England with No Sentiment

DATELINE:  Finger of Choice?

In case you were wondering about Tom Brady leaving his “home” of 20 years, he told us: “I’m not the nostalgic type.” Goodbye, Gillette. And rotsa ruck.

The sound you heard is Jim Morrison singing “This is the End,” from a vandalized cemetery in Paris. The cacophony of noise is the Flying Elvis fallen from Graceland.

Tom Brady is gone.

We keep wondering how Boston sports media can twist this heartless slam into something not negative. We know fans are imbeciles and won’t see the insult, but you do have to recognize that the media birds eat the crumbs left by the management of the Patriots and the NFL.  Bill Belichick has won: he will unload Brady and Krafty will let him. That kiss on the cheek is right out of the Judas Iscariot playbook.

They also have to make “friends” with those athletes who hate their guts to make it seem like it’s all a fun game. It isn’t. You hear it more nowadays: it’s a business.

And with that, Tom Brady basically told New England fans to go and shove it. He never was a Bostonian or a New Englander: this was the place he worked, and now that he may not work here any longer, he’s headed for a better place.

May he rest in peaceful retirement.

But we think he is returning to the circus of the West Coast where Hollywood is a leap-frog away—and his model wife can bask in the limelight with her billion dollars. He may finally earn enough in the next three or four years to buy the franchise of his dreams.

Tom Brady has no love for the Patriots anymore: the affair is over, and you likely can blame Belichick for making it a most unpleasant few years. Those six Super Bowl rings were never meant for New England. They are worn on his fingers—not yours.

He is leaving you only one finger. Pick-six indeed.

Lafayette: We are Still Here!

DATELINE: Not Honored in France 

It’s seems this one-hour documentary is built on the assumption that no one remembers the Marquis de Lafayette. It starts out with the premise that history books have somehow cut his name from the important people of the American Revolution.

Lafayette: the Lost Heronever was lost. He was always there, always a hero, always known. He was the youngest Major General in American history: 19 years old.

So, all those Americans who have gone to France to rescue it in times of trouble, shouting out, “Lafayette, we are here!” have simply confounded fellow citizens.

There are about 50 cities named after the French officer around the United States.

Lafayette did not lose his own head in the French Revolution mainly because he eschewed the royal trappings of France. Yet, he was royalty and one of the richest men of the country. He had open access to the King who did lose his head.

Lafayette was, most surprisingly, a rebellious teenager. We don’t mean growing up: we mean he shocked Gen. Washington when he arrived in Philadelphia because he was 19. Yes, he bought his own ship, paid for his own army, and bought his commission. But, he believed in the American dream of freedom and democracy. He taught himself English to be able to speak to Americans.

 

You have to be surprised that he danced with Marie Antoinette at a ball and was laughed at for his bad dancing. You have to be shocked that he had dinner with the King of England’s brother—who also supported the American colonists.

He was super-rich and had influence at the French court and was married at 16. So, when people call him a man, we are puzzled. When the re-enactor looks like he is 40, we are non-plussed.

Yes, we were shocked at how little we knew about this boy leader who turned out to be the son Washington never had. When he visited America on its 50thanniversary, he scooped up some dirt from Washington’s grave: he wanted to buried with some American soil in France.

The French, of course, moved his American bought statue from a place of prominence in Paris to a backwater location. He is without honor in his own home.

We must say we are seldom amused by our lack of knowledge, but this documentary amused us.