Fairies Outlandish

Another Grand Performance

 

DATELINE: Unusual Paranormal Movie

In 1997 two films appeared about the same topic: Dr. Doyle’s belief in fairies through the medium of photography.

Two notable actors took on the role of Conan Doyle. In a small, but pivotal role in the first of the films came Edward Hardwicke, the ersatz latest Dr. Watson of the popular TV series with Jeremy Brett, and this time he played the same way as he did in his role as Watson.

The second film was on the tail end of one of the biggest movie stars, Peter O’Toole, a man who had played some greats in history (Henry II (in 2 movies Becket and Lion in Winter), as well as Lawrence of Arabia.

The era in which Photographing Fairies and Fairyland: A True Story is a world in which Houdini, Peter Pan, and Sherlock Holmes all exist simultaneously as the Zeitgeists of their age.

O’Toole met a match in performance when Harvey Keitel took on the role of Doyle’s friendly nemesis, Houdini. One of the interesting ironies is that this version of Conan Doyle looks more like Sherlock Holmes.

The producers of the film dropped the golden chance to play Arthur and Harry against each other with top-drawer actors.

To see O’Toole do this movie, it makes us wonder what kind of Holmes he could have given us were that role offered to him earlier in his career.

Both films actively produce fairies in flight about the countryside without any fear that they are mythic or exist only in the minds of children. A theory emerges from this film that creative people, like Conan Doyle, are receptive to the spirit and paranormal world unlike most pragmatic people.

Both films use Dr. Doyle in a small role as a believer in fairies and the occult, putting much focus on the children or younger character demographics aimed at the audience.  According to the Doyle Encyclopedia,O’Toole lost out on two chances to star as Holmes (one in Billy Wilder’s comic version, the other playing off Laurence Olivier as Watson). O’Toole’s prickly personality may have done in these chances.

As for the plot of the movie at hand set in 1917, Fairyland: A True Story concerns two little girls who take pictures of fairies out in their wooded backyard. The photos may look fake to us, but there are believers—even among the rich, powerful, and famous.

Our personal concern was for the girls treated by early 20thcentury men—and by late 20thcentury filmmakers. Charles Sturridge directs, and he has deft ability that is most known to audiences who favor PBS and Masterpiece Theatre.

Already in contact with his dead son through a medium, and having a madman father who saw fairies, Conan Doyle is on the bandwagon when the pictures come to his attention.

Fairytale is an intriguing, fascinating fantasy movie that gives Peter O’Toole a chance to provide us with one last grand late career performance.

Enola Gay Holmes Springer

 Cast of Enola.

 DATELINE:  Conan Doyle Rolling in Grave

The remnants of the Arthur Conan Doyle estate have scrapped together a lawsuit against the elements of Sherlock that are not public domain. These ten points of contention are the part and parcel of some post-feminist novels by one Nancy Springer.

We are more horrified by the endless string of ridiculous anachronisms the story seems to throw at history.

Netflix, ever the opportunist, has adapted the novels to a film on their ersatz network of third-rate shows, figuring a ripoff of Holmes fits right in.

It’s likely no mistake that the name of the airplane that dropped the atom bomb on Japan to end World War II is named “Enola.”

The lawsuit takes umbrage with the emotional turmoil when Sherlock must deal with a younger sister as well as a smarter brother. Talk about family troubles.

Throw in Sherlock’s mother as some kind of harpie, and you have the makings of a legal argument. We never had much faith in these family ties or family feud with Sherlock. We always suspected that Mrs. Hudson was his out-of-wedlock mother. She did refer to Mycroft once as a “reptile,” which surely is not motherly. Or is it?

Ignoring an upstart sister seems a fairly proper approach for Sherlock, but he had to put up with an obtuse Watson, mostly created for movie humor, but to give Holmes more emotion than Mr. Spock seems a stretch to the law offices of our solicitor.

We are now feeling emotional blackmail to tune into a Netflix series to give our usual slice and dice approach to all things un-Sherlockian.

To update Sherlock like he is one of the Ma and Pa Kettle movie series of the 1940s is enough to make us eshew the Poverty Row studios once and for all time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Jones of Rolling Stones

Lies and More Lies

DATELINE: Murder Won’t Out

 

A new documentary on the fate of one of the founders of the Rolling Stones legend has been produced, written and directed by Danny Garcia. This is surely one of the ultimate acts of a groupie of the first order. His paeon to Brian is truly sad.

Jones was another of those rock stars who died at age 27, resulting from a self-destructive lifestyle of drugs and drinking. By the end, one month after he was pushed out of the group by Mick Jagger, he was dead.

Jones was actually the one who put an ad out in 1962 to form a jazz band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richard came to see him and were blown away by his musical talent and brilliant mind. He was the original leader of the group, but his sensitivity led to a hasty downfall.

Keith wanted to sing an occasional song, but there was no way to supplant Mick Jagger. By the time of “Satisfaction,” Brian was mostly dissatisfied with the direction and tone of the group.

His drinking and unreliability made him anathema to the others, and they plotted his removal because he was so unable to show steadiness in a rock field of people out of control.

Jones was thrown out of his home by parents who did not want him to give up classical music, and he was a three time father of illegitimate children by age 19. He was excessive in a world of excess.

Jones was friends with bob Dylan and John Lennon who were more sympathetic than Mick Jagger, but Scotland Yard set-ups of the rock scene were growing. Fake drug busts enhanced any drug usage, and Jones was victim. He was shocked at the hostility and fell apart, even according to his father Lewis.

Was Jones murdered? Evidence suggests that police were not forthcoming about the possibility. Jones had only the equivalent of three pints of beer in his system—and prescribed drugs. He was involved in a fight with a thug contractor who was repairing his Sussex home—and to whom Jones owed him much money.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richard refused to participate in the biography made 50 years after Brian’s death.

A fictionalized movie called Stoned seemed to follow this theory.

 

 

Lady Frankenstein

 Baron Cotten, we presume.

DATELINE: Great Actor Misused

The 1971 schlock version is one of those international efforts done on a shoestring budget, re-imagining rather poorly the better done Hollywood stuff of several decades earlier. This title was redone a few years ago, but the original starred Rosalba Neri, who never made it to Hollywood, and never made it much beyond bad movies in the title role.

The real draw of this film done on cheap film stock that has not held up is one of the foremost gentleman stars of Old Hollywood:  Joseph Cotten. Without his presence, we’d probably have shut this off well before his exit from the picture at around 40 minutes, not quite half the movie.

Cotten must have needed a paycheck, but he must have known his name would guarantee this drive-in drivel would be seen in the U.S..  No matter for him, his best roles were behind.

He never won an Oscar, despite working with Hitchcock as the Merry Widow Killer in 1942, or as a costar to Orson Welles many times, including Ciitizen Kane and The Third Man.  He even did a turn opposite Marilyn Monroe in Niagara. Here, the great star slums in his work with Mel Welles, not Orson, as director. Instead of respected classics, Mel Welles was known for low budgets like Little Shop of Horrors (again, the original).

There are no real names here, except Mickey Hargitay as the captain or constable of police. And, unlike the old Universal classics in which the aristocrats had British accents of the first order, here you have a mishmash of American and international accents that make the setting hard to fathom.

One villain, the Resurrection Man, is named Lynch, which is hardly Eastern European like the original Frankensteins. Here too, Cotten is both Baron Frankenstein and Doctor, though he seems to prefer Dr. His daughter is an early Suffragette of sorts, having done med school and is also a surgeon who will take over Dear Old Dad’s lab.

The Monster is disfigured by accident by lightning during the revival process, but his brain—as usual—was defective from the get-go. Oh, well. Better luck next time.

Die, Monster, Die!

Karloff in wheelchair, Adams in trenchcoat.
 

 DATELINE: Lovecraft’s Color of Space 

This little nugget was an H.P. Lovecraft short story from the 1920s that was set in Arkham, Massachusetts, and had a Boston hero. When American International took hold, they moved Arkham to England, made the story contemporary, and made a nicely filmed mystery horror.

It is not what you might expect from the Beach Blanket Bingo producers at A_I.  They had Boris Karloff in 1965, still a powerful presence playing another mad scientist living in seclusion on an estate only remotely protected. No need: the townsfolk won’t go near it.

The second star is Nick Adams, unusual here as a bland leading man. It was a role dozens of actors of the era could have sleep-walked for a paycheck. He is all the more puzzling as a college friend of a bland Karloff daughter (Suzan Farmer) who is so effervescent that it defies sugar-sweeteners. She is also the epitome of obtuse.

You keep thinking Nick Adams must be up to something—and that actually helps the film and gives Karloff a young hambone who wants to equal the Master. You can’t do much better than pitting Frankenstein’s Monster against Johnny Yuma.

It was meant to be a drive-in special double-bill, which is grossly unfair to its reasonable quality.

The title seems an attempt to draw on Karloff’s Frankenstein days, but the actual story is about a meteorite and was called “The Color of Space,” making it more sci-fi than horror.

Art director of many 1960s cheap horror films, Colin Southcott set designed the English manor house of Karloff was clearly an early advocate of LSD, as the house is overwrought and overdone.  And, the film really is devoid of music, making it even more creepy literally as characters clatter on the floor tiles. Hitchcock did something similar with The Birdsa year earlier.

The green phosphorous stone from outer space is kept, obviously, in the greenhouse—and it creates “a zoo from hell,” according to Nick Adams whose college science knowledge convinces him there is radiation all around the manor house—and it is dangerous and could mutate people. This is forty years before Chernobyl.

What an unusual low-budget gem.

Borat’s Subsequent Moviejob

 No Monkey on Back?

 DATELINE: Borat’s Bell Ringing

Sacha Baron Cohen has been called “a creep” by the POTUS because of his merciless political satire on the entire McDonald Trump administration. Oi Vey, to say the least.

In a turn of the screw, Cohen’s Borat refers to the fast-food President as McDonalds Trump. There is one zinger after another in this horrifying movie. Borat requires a sense of humor of the 21stcentury: Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward fans need not apply.

Borat comes, as his followers know, from a backward nation under Putin’s thumb. There is an Arab streak in him inexplicably. Since his first movie fifteen years ago, he has been a political prisoner in his homeland, released only with another dangerous US mission. He is to deliver a pornographic monkey to Mikhael Pence, as a peace/piece offering.

When this fails, Borat plans to give Pence, Trump, or any of the Epstein followers his young teenage daughter. Yikes.

No one is spared the spot-on nasty barbs. If you like your political cruelty nothing short of Chaplin’s Great Dictator, you may have some kind of reincarnation in Barron Cohen (who shares a name with Trump’s son, about all they have in common).

The world will long note the zingers that never miss.

If you suffer from a syndrome known as “bad taste,” this is your movie. Borat lampoons all American life ruthlessly, and goes through a list of men to offer his daughter (all McDonald Trump aides are in jail or under arrest). This leaves him with Rudi Giuliani—and that leaves us with the biggest political shocker of many years of political humor.

We cannot think of a more worthy political target.

What exactly is faked in this movie?  You likely have to watch it for yourself to make a hard decision on the corrupt nature of Trump’s associates.

This is a whack job movie, and defies good taste, political boundaries, and critical assessment.

On the Trail….Bigfoot (Again)

Bullets Bounce Off his Chest

DATELINE: Historical Track 

After a plethora of Bigfoot films, perhaps rivaling the numerous sightings, one grabbed our attention for its historical look at the topic. Well, that is novel and unusual in the spate of witness accounts.

On the Trail of…Bigfoot.

This little documentary wants to take us back to the roots in pioneer America, and it does contain many morsels hitherto not reported widely. And, you must couple that with breathtaking scenes of miles of forestland around the country.

One of the first stops is Ohio, hardly a place you’d think Bigfoot would be seen: yet there are some fairly wooded areas and some fairly surprising tales.

Back in the first-half of the 19thcentury the newspapers knew a good thing to sell the slow news day:  but they did not call this creature Bigfoot. That was years away.  He was known as The Wild Man, or the Mountain Devil. He was a creature shockingly naked and hairy. Of course, some of the more prudish newspapers had him putting on some clothes. We rather think this a convention to keep readers from too much shock.

The monster had been reported in late 19thcentury after discovery of the gorilla in Africa. Groups of thse mountain devils attacked prospectors regularly. The big galoot was impervious to bullets.

Produced by Seth Breedlove, this film is intelligent and careful, tries to be objective, and manages to be original in the process.

The Pacific Northwest started the “Bigfoot” verbiage when lumberjacks found bare footprints around their logging equipment and publicized it. It took till the 1970s before the phenomenon moved eastward again, with the Minerva Monster of Ohio.

However, the Abominable Snowman (from the 1920s) took hold in American movies and that sparked an Americanized form. The major characteristics developed quickly, though eastern versions were more aggressive and hostile.

By the 1990s, you had a merging of Bigfoot and UFOs—and the evolution of a legend reached a new apex. This fascinating documentary is worth your time, from 2018.

 

New Book from Ossurworld

DATELINE: Comedy Tonight! 

When you do movie review blogs for ten years, you soon have quite a backlog of films. Some remain popular year after year. We have never been able to predict which reviews will be favorites of the reading public. 

However, many blogs are read several times during the first week they appear—and thence go into one of those black holes in the center of the galaxy.

We –my tapeworm and I—have decided to gather together some of the lesser read blog reviews under a general heading. We figure out of a pile of thousands, we can find about 100 that are interesting.

So, we began compiling movies according to genre (like suspense, Sherlock Holmes, UFOs,  and the like). 

We were surprised there were a good many comedies. We generally don’t watch those films, or don’t review them. You may not realie that I only print out the films that are largely interesting, well-done, unusual, or seem metaphoric of the era.

When we gathered together Comedy Tonight, it had some of our favorites, and some we had forgotten.  Actually our book on Westerns is selling briskly.  All the reviews are based on some college courses taught years ago in another life as a professor of film studies.

Among the marvelous comedy movies, we found Elaine May’s A New Leaf with Walter Matthau as a fortune hunter going after a millionaire botanist. We recalled The Loved One that featured Liberace and Rod Steiger as funeral directors in a California mortuary. We had forgotten about Follow That Camel  with Phil Silvers playing his alter ego, Sgt. Bilko out in the desert as a foreign legionnaire—or marvelous Peter O’Toole playing a version of Errol Flynn in My Favorite Year.

Oh, yeah, there are a few stinkeroos that we advise you to avoid.

Our reviews always seemed to be in some kind of humor rivalry with the actual film under review. Yet, we think if you want a collection of recommendations, this little volume might do the trick. It’s available, of course, in both e-book and print versions on Amazon.

We prefer the one for smart-readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost in a Sherlock Holmes Movie!

Terry Kiburn & Frankie Thomas, Rivals

 DATELINE: From Sherlock to Nancy Drew 

Sometimes I forget how old I am.  One of my late friends actually auditioned for a role in the first Basil Rathbone movie of Sherlock Holmes.

Passed over to play the page boy Billy in Mrs. Hudson’s employ for the Rathbone version of Adventures of Sherlock,child star Frankie Thomas was busy with other projects in 1939, but as a standard freelance actor now in his mid-teens, he could have easily played the role of Billy.

Having cut his teeth playing Bonita Granville’s sleuthing boyfriend in the Nancy Drew series, he was ripe for a role in his favorite reading material, the Holmes stories. 

Frankie’s family were Broadway theater professionals, part of a clique that dominated social strata in Hollywood of the era. Through his father and mother, youthful Frankie met Basil Rathbone, the emerging Holmes of the film world. The coveted role of Billy went to Terry Kilburn, a native British boy who had picked up the mantle of Freddie Bartholomew.

Nevertheless, Frankie loved the Holmes stories and read all avidly. He later, as an adult, when out of Hollywood’s limelight, wrote a series of novels that featured Holmes and Watson in new adventures.

Frankie’s Holmes titles, over a dozen, are still in print. He disliked the Bruce portrayal of Watson intensely and would alter that in his own books, but always favored the actor he saw frequently on the studio lot, Basil Rathbone.

 Frankie also had a key role in a series of Nancy Drew mysteries made in the late 1930s. As a teenage boy, he was cast as the boyfriend of Nancy. In fact, he played Watson to Bonita Granville’s female Sherlock.

Recently I put together a book called Sherlock in Movies: Personal Views & Reviews, in which I tried to do honor to Frankie.

Booksellers and Book Buyers

DATELINE: Dying Art of Dying Breed

Readers Anonymous?

The vast opinion nowadays is that book collecting is a form of dust collecting. And, this little doc tells us something about the sellers and the buyers. Author Fran Leibowitz provides some cogent and hilarious commentary in The Booksellers.

Taking a look behind the scenes of New York’s lively bookseller market may be less than pleasant, however interesting. This little documentary gives us some monitoring of a business that was stable for 150 years—until the PC and Internet changed everything.

The Booksellerstakes a pulse of intellectual America. It needs more oxygen than Trump.

As someone who has a library with a couple of thousand books, I know that I am a dinosaur. Most friends have no books in their homes, and don’t VHS tapes either because they don’t own a player.

Book owners are often academic types who have piles of books from years of teaching college. In fact, many booksellers were former academics who left teaching because they’d rather read than deal with people.

So the vast number of bookdealers in this film own cats, live in dusty apartments with books from floor to ceiling. They complain that the Internet has taken joy from collecting: they used to look for a book for 20 years that no one will buy, and they put on a shelf for the rest of their lives.

Personal book collecting is a dying art, or dying obsession. Most books that are collectible (like Ian Fleming 1steditions go for $100,000).  So, collectors are now looking at autographs and manuscripts, movie scripts and other paper documents. 

The film dabbles in a dozen New York sellers, like the Argosy Bookstore and the three sisters who run it.

Sellers still hold fairs, and interesting people show up. However there are now only 20% of the number of bookstores in New York than years ago (now about 75). Big chain stores are also dying because of Internet sales. And, a small group of obsessed types are opening tiny specialty bookstores here and there.

The film focuses finally on women (the true readers of the era) as taking over whatever is left of the business and collecting.

The art is not dead: but most of the collectors will be soon.

Lost Lincoln Deathbed Photo

Partial Image.

Discovery Channel offered one of the most intriguing documentaries of the past few years: someone has located or revealed a photo of Abe Lincoln taken shortly after he died on the bed at the house across from Ford’s Theatre.

The photo is so creepy and weird looking that you may be unconvinced until the lead researcher, Dr. Whitny Braun brings in her big guns:  a battery of PhDs and MDs to take us through the investigation.

Yes, she can trace it to the family of Lincoln’s mother in Illinois. It was given to them by a man who had charge of Lincoln’s body for several hours. He apparently allowed the Ulke brothers, professional photographers, to secretly enter the room and take the picture, which is an ambrotype glass plate in a little frame.

They knew Lincoln and lived in the building. It was against the War Secretary’s orders to take photos of Lincoln in death, though many people did this in the 19thcentury.

The brothers had another picture of the bloody bed, empty, that was hidden until the 1960s. This new one is now locked in a bank vault as a legal fight continues over who owns it.

It could be worth millions, as it is the 130thphoto of Lincoln.

The medical explanations for his looks are stunning, as his hands are clenched. It was not a peaceful death as the legend reports. The man suffered with a lead bullet in his brain stem for eight hours. Today they could have saved him, but back then he was doomed.

If you have a sense of the ghoulish and grisly, you will be utterly fascinated by this investigation. The picture is coyly hidden for almost an hour of the documentary—and to see it is shocking.

This is history in a morbid vein. Your choice. We will only show part of the photo out of respect.

Essential Movie Critic: Pauline Kael

DATELINE: Role Over Model

A documentary on the life of movie critic Pauline Kael would seem to be counter-productive. The late genius of insight into movies was hardly the stuff of action melodrama, but this film takes on her life—unwed motherhood, marriages of convenience, a history of working in low-level jobs trying to find herself.

What She Said is about the art of Kael. It is more about words than images. For that reason it is a topic doomed to be wordy and not visual, yet there are plenty of home movies and photos of Kael. That notion might not please her. Her ideas were the key.

When she first sells a movie review in the early 1950s to the New Yorker, it was a scathing attack on Charlie Chaplin’s bloated egotistic movie, Limelight. It won her an audience and a career.

Her insights into movies, which she loved as a medium, contain brilliant insights that some movie makers in this film tell us were influential to their productions. We don’t believe it. They may have read Kael, but it was to see how she shot down their rivals.

We would have preferred a film in which someone simply read some of her most scathing comments about well-known films over her life. She collected about 14 books of her critiques. And, they are delightful to read.

Sometimes she is utterly wrong about a film and its importance, but she always gives an interesting perspective on what the cultural or artistic value really may be. Her views are meant for the wider, lasting meaning of life in the film world.

We admire Kael and used to read her work when it came out. It frequently put good movies into a framework, and bad movies into a trash can.

She might have been the first to tell you this documentary is unnecessary and superfluous. Just read her books.

Jack the Tailor of Beverly Hills

 DATELINE: You Are What You Call Yourself!

 Clothes Make the Man!

Upon first coming across a one-hour documentary on a fashion store in Beverly Hills, we thought it was one of those vanity documentaries, produced by its subject. Jack Taylor was a 90-year old high fashion artist from old Hollywood days.

The film is a tad old, with Taylor gone in 2016 and his main supporter, Mike Douglas, a decade before that. Yet, we are always eager to catch up on our past misgivings.

Jack Taylor hardly needs publicity, and business is dying out as his A-list celebrity patrons pass away. He would soon follow and take an era with him. He was the man who tailored all those magnificent suits worn by Cary Grant from the 1930s till his death. Grant would order a dozen suits at time.

We wondered if there were any celebs who’d go on camera for a commercial appearance—and there were plenty of men: Mike Douglas, Hal Linden, swore by Jack Taylor. Monty Hall wore a different outfit every show on Let’s Make a Deal, all created by Taylor.

He made clothes for Elvis, Sinatra, Charles Bronson, and so many men. He was not easy either. He would tell them not to eat or put on weight. His suits were meant to show them off at their best shape. His most obstreperous client was Jackie Gleason who needed 3 sizes, because of his weight changes over weeks and months.

Taylor would tell them to eat only half the plate at the restaurant. He did not do alterations, or sew the suits. He has a 60-year tailor for that: he has worked for Taylor for sixty years. He’s in his 80s. But both lament there are no tailors any longer.

We are looking at the extinction of men’s fashion. There was no endangered species list: men’s suits and ties were dinosaurs when the political landscape changed its pants.

Clothes for men nowadays are off the rack at best, and China imports at worst. Jack Taylor knows his world of well-dressed men is fading away. He thinks the 1940s were the last gasp, but the war killed it at that point. And, the 1970s turned into a fashion death knell for men’s clothing with jeans and t-shirts as the extent of wardrobe.

We never expected to be fascinated at expensive clothes, being a recluse who never makes public appearances. However, celebrities still know a good suit is essential, but they are going to have a hard time finding anyone to replace jack Taylor.

Hey, Jude! Sherlock Holmes 1991!

DATELINE: Teenage Jude Law

When picking a random episode to view (and rev-view many years after first seeing it), we settled on Jeremy Brett’s definitive performance in Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. The episode is titled Shoshcombe Old Place.

Back then there was an attempt to film every short story faithfully. It was something they fell short of accomplishing when Brett died with about six stories left to produce.

The 1991 episode is about a stable of racehorses on an estate. Almost immediately in the opening, we were struck by a young actor, likely about 18, very pretty indeed. He wanted to be a jockey and approached the crusty middle-aged bachelor whose sister owned the estate. The horse master was cool to the young man who looked at him with more than yearning for a job.

Later, one of the caretakers went to Holmes and Watson with a distressing story of something not quite right at Shoshcombe. The sister was very ill, and strange events troubled the caretaker. Holmes chose to dig into it.

With a staccato delivery of lines that is nothing short of breathtaking and hambone, Brett manages to steal every scene he is in as he figures out the mystery.

Jude Law sealed his fame 20 years later as Dr. Watson in a series of bad movies, but here he is most amusingly in drag most of the show—and even shows some homoerotic interest in his boss. Interesting to say the least.

Our ends never know our beginnings. How fortuitous to have picked this marvelous episode for a peek.

Oldie Noir: Killers

DATELINE: Hemingway Classic

Burt Lancaster Awaits the Grim Reapers.

 

A late 1940s film noir version of “The Killers” made author Ernest Hemingway wince. He was hypercritical of the Hollywood versions of his novels and stories.

Yet, the star vehicle for Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster used the first twenty-minutes to tell the short story. The rest is Hollywood explanations that have nothing to do with Hemingway except to build off his message.

The original dark opening seems to tell an inexplicable tale of a gas station attendant who is hunted down by two hired gunmen. Instead of running when he is warned, he simply waits for the inevitable killing.

When asked why he won’t flee, he gives the ultimate Hemingway man’s answer. There comes a time when you stop running because it doesn’t matter in the end.

The moody and eerie tale is brilliantly directed by Robert Siodmak and were it a short subject could have been a masterpiece after the killers climb the boarding house stairs and let their bullets fly.

Young Burt Lancaster is suitably tough and handsome, as you’d want you hero, but he is antiheroic in not fighting. The rest of the movie is a pathetic attempt to flashback to his roots and how he upset the mobsters.

Quiet nighttime moments in an old-fashioned diner and the ominous sense the Swede’s friends have about the mystery visitors is all part of the philosophical insight of the author.

Many questions about the Swede are raised and there are no answers. It was always the style of Hemingway to omit key information: you fill in the blanks. Sometimes if you have enough questions, they provide an answer. The central mystery of the Swede is explained in banal terms during the remainder of the movie.

Heminway gives you suspense in the anticipation of answers, but you will be thwarted and left to your own devices to figure out the moral of the story.