Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Hunting Game

 DATELINE: Richard Connell Classic

 Fay Wray Sees Something!

If you are looking for the prequel to 1933’s King Kong,you will have found it with this first major adaption of Richard Connell’s famous (or infamous) story called The Most Dangerous Game.

Right from the opening credits, you will recognize the style and tone of the classic big monkey movie. That’s for a number of reasons: foremost, the producers of the Kong and Son thereof films honed their approach to the topic with this classic.

You have the basic premise of a sea captain taking his ship and passengers out into remote and uncharted waters where lurks an island with mystery. It almost seems like the same prologue to each film.  Officers are concerned with strange locales not on maps.

Instead of Bruce Bennett (or is that Cabot), you have interchangeable leading man Joel MacRae as the resilient young adventurer. When he is washed up on the shores of a strange island, he meets none other than Kong’s leading lady, Fay Wray, who is also stranded there with her brother, played by—you guessed it—the man who gave us the Eighth Wonder of the World—Robert G. Armstrong (not Carl Denham this time, but a ne’er-do-well with the same personality).

They are the guests not of a giant gorilla but of the King of the Island, General Zaroff, (played in slimeball style of the 1930s by Leslie Banks). It seems he has a strange fetish: he likes to hunt big game that is truly dangerous, like people. Back in those pre-Hitler times, he was not a Nazi, crypto-Nazi, or neo-Nazi, but some kind of twisted member of the aristocracy.

With its chase scenes through the jungle, the pounding music, and the production values of Merriam C. Cooper, you have a sense of been-there, done-that, from the next year version of King Kong.

It is a delight to feel the similarity, and you keep wondering where the dinosaurs are.

 

Madhouse/Funhouse/Nuthouse & Then Some!

DATELINE: One Last American International Horror

 

 

 Cushing & Price

 

Madhouse is a nuthouse extravaganza movie with a funhouse spirit.

Vincent Price finished up his American International contract, which featured so many classic Edgar Allan Poe tales done outrageously, that it seemed inevitable that he would go out with a blaze. Here, he plays a movie star who made a bunch of movies as “Dr. Death,” a hideous murderer. Art imitates life here.

His career went south when he was accused of cracking up and murdering his fiancée. Whether he did it or not is the crux of the horror. You may find more than a fair share of suspects trying to “gaslight” the old star.

Well, after a dozen years in a madhouse, he returns to acting to star, good grief, in a TV series based on his infamous character.

If you haven’t guessed that most of the funhouse nuthouse stuff is all tongue-in-cheek, you miss more than most of the Hammer House parody.

Joining Price is Peter Cushing as his best friend, fellow actor, and screenwriter of all those grisly murder movies.

If that is not spicy enough for you, A-I studios dug up their two other favorite stars of the 1960s—Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone—and featured them in amusing cameos. It’s no mean feat, as the two legendary stars were long-gone for about a half-dozen years by the time this film was before the cameras.

You have to love a movie that begins with everyone watching a film in a Hollywood mansion with the final credits rolling out the words, “The End” in blood red letters.

If shameless overacting isn’t your thing, then you may not appreciate the golden opportunity Price has been given: he even dresses the part, in white trench coat and matching fedora.

There is even an O.J. Simpson moment when Scotland Yard has everyone try on the murderer’s glove: if it fits, you know the rest…So, O.J.’s lawyers found the idea in this movie!

Playing Mr. Toombes, Price puts a cutrate on fellow cast members as they are all mysteriously dispatched as the new TV series takes place at British studios. It is a nicely set film with solid production values to make you forget this is what a good cast and production team can do with a low-budget.

 

 

 

 

Every Act of Life: Terrence McNally

DATELINE: Surviving Show Business

 Terry McNally & Eddie Albee back when….

In all my connections to Broadway writers, Terrence McNally never came up much.

Now James Kirkwood would talk about everyone in show biz! We gossiped about them all. Yet, there is no memory of him mentioning McNally.

Oh, they knew of each other: gay writers winning friends in great theater. Kirkwood certainly knew Edward Albee who was McNally’s first important boyfriend, but McNally may have been too openly gay for Jim Kirkwood. It’s the only conclusion to make.

Every Act of Lifeis a documentary on the life of McNally who worked with every actor imaginable since the death of Jim Kirkwood in 1989, and that may be the survival of your reputation in show business. Richard Thomas, Nathan Lane, Rita Moreno, F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, all share memories of their careers and personal ties to McNally and his funny and varied plays.

All Jim’s closest actor friends, like Sal Mineo, are long gone. One young writer once said to me: “Wow, I didn’t think any of Kirkwood’s friends were still alive.”

McNally survived, though people like Robert Drivas, his tempestuous and exotic actor boyfriend after Albee, died of AIDS in 1985 in the first wave of notable show business deaths. Drivas was a closet case, and yet it was open and flamboyant McNally who still lives nearly forty years later.

There is no accounting for survival, but you have to admire it when it shows up at your door. The film on the life of McNally is likely a tonic and a fizz for gay people who need superior role models. If you die too soon, you can’t be much of a mentor. If Jim Kirkwood were here, I might say you should never have told me to write your autobiography and play coy about your gay life. Yet, he did.

McNally, had I known him, would never have said such a thing, but those plays and characters never quite grabbed like Jim Kirkwood’s creations.

Oh, it’s too late now to do much about it, but we can celebrate the life of Terrence McNally, albeit a tad on the late side.

 

Dr. William Russo wrote Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.

The Hunt: Billions for Defense

DATELINE: Not a Cent for Distribution

hunt

The new movie entitled The Hunt, which is loosely based on the Richard Connell classic story most dangerous game has been shelved or postponed from release. It’s been shot dead by Trump and his automatic trigger finger on Twitter.

It now appears that the story about a pre-Nazi survival list is now too hot for Hollywood.  They have been a number of versions over the years including some with ice cube being hunted or Joel McRae back in the 1930s .

There was a version in the mid 50s and one in the 40s .  The tail has always been a twist on a survival list white nationalist elitist crypto Nazi who has poor people because they are clever and they are the most dangerous game to hunt .

Now President Trump has attacked the film because he doesn’t like the idea that billionaires maybe hunting down poor average Americans, or worse immigrants. He calls this racism of the liberal sword.

This man has no sense of literature, of a Connell story written first in the 1920s as a metaphor of privilege gone mad. There have been versions every generation—like Billy the Kid tales. Each story fits the moment of its production.

If we are learning any lesson, it is that you cannot maligned the reputation of good men who just happened to be billionaires who own 90% of the world.

You’re insulting Trump’s friends who are holding fundraisers in the Hamptons led by the owner of the Miami Dolphins who happens to have 7 billion or bad craft, solicitor of prostitutes in massage parlors who happens to have $4 billion.

These people would never engage in a sport that hunted down the people who buy tickets Or would they?

 

 

Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan

DATELINE: Literate & Bloody Genghis?

Genghis Khan? Gold with Genghis?

Another superior French production marks the visit of three scientists on the search for the burial spot of the Mongolian leader known for his bloodthirsty strategies of wiping out populations.

The Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan is somewhere in the hinterlands of Mongolia but has been kept hidden by a cult of devout worshippers—even until today. Not one scintilla of evidence from the tomb has ever appeared since his burial in the mid-1200s.

It is thought he was buried with immense wealth in a desolate spot where his sons and grandsons also now are entombed, notably Kublai Khan.

No one is sure of the exact spot because the funeral cortege murdered anyone who saw it along route. They did not want anyone to know the great Khan was dead: it would undercut his divinity until he was safely buried.

So, even in death, his cut-throat, brutal tactics were in place.

Yet, Khan was also known as the first Mongol to codify laws and create a written language to solidify his people. Nothing like writing laws to ban murder while you cavalierly murder your way to top!

Genghis received more than bad press outside his homeland, but he was revered as someone special within.

By use of drones and mapping without touching the ground, three scientists risk their lives to go to the secret location. They travel through bogs and across rough terrain as tourist academics, never letting anyone know their real purpose.

Yet, when they return a year later, it is clear that the cult of worship has known of their appearance: the burial mountain has fresh totems in stone around the area. It makes for hair-raising research.

Rough editing seems to come out where commercial interruptions might happen, and there is one English-speaking American expert in Chicago offering his sage wisdom.

This is an intriguing hour of history.

Ghosts of West: End of Bonanza Trail

DATELINE: Dead Memories of the Old West

ghost towns See no ghosts?

An utterly intriguing documentary on ghosts out west turns out to be utterly poetic and features no stories about ghosts. Be forewarned, and be prepared for a beautifully made film about the mystique of the Old West.

The dead memories are, in fact, the ghosts alluded to by director E.S. Knightchilde. Can that be a real name? Written and produced, the mysterious KNightchilde is nearly as ghostly as the missing ghosts.

If you also have an idea that this film will be about the lost Cartwrights, Ben and Hoss and Little Joe, it’s about another bonanza, though it is not far from Virginia City in Nevada to Colorado and Montana.

The film avoids color completely, blending its old photos and newer landscapes into one timeless black and white and silver image. When you add the poetic words of Theodore Roosevelt as part of the narrative, you have an idea that this is not going to be your traditional western tale.

Photos are rare and unusual, nicely packaged around the mining towns that quickly were abandoned. These are the ghost towns of the film: most of the little villages boomed for five or ten years and were deserted overnight. They were never intended to be long-term municipal places.

The single men who caroused, worked, and died there, hoped to strike it rich and escape that world. It was a place where, we are told, lynchings were commonplace, murders were standard, and all these dead people surely left ghostly haunting. We do not hear about that. It is the towns that grip the director who finds them shredded by tourists and scavengers. They are flattened for their mountain views and condo life of rich homesteaders of the 21st century.

The little towns that are dead with their dilapidated buildings grow scarce and have been saved by a few civic minded souls who have turned them into historical, living museums that you may wander around.

Only two interviews of older experts are shown, and they are the only bits of film in color, as to be expected with a film rich in poetry and aesthetics.

If you don’t mind beauty instead of fright, this documentary is worth staying around to watch.

Time Travelers in 1964

DATELINE: Lost & Forgotten Gem!

Foster & Hoyt Great Supporting Stars!

IB Melchior is hardly a name to be lumped in with the grand auteurs of long-ago: we think of Orson Welles, but there were others like William Cameron Menzies—and IB.

He wrote, directed, and produced, slipping into American International studios at the end, but keeping up high quality on a low-budget.

The Time Travelers is a joy to behold. Move over, Irwin Allen.

His sleeper is a take-off on The Time Machine and other sci-fi classics of the 1950s. With unusual intelligence, he put together a minor movie with a TV-generated cast of cast-offs: there’s an aging Preston Foster, off bad TV after a weak leading man life in the 1930s. He has a pointed imperial beard and wears an occasional monocle as the steady scientist behind a time travel machine.

There is Phil Carey, looking pauchy even at his peak of TV work as the assistant. You have white haired John Hoyt, taking his hair color cues from Brian Keith, as Varno, leader of a futuristic tribe of nuclear war survivors.

And there is Steve Franken, fresh off playing the Dobie Gillis nemesis, Chatsworth Osbourne, as the boyish (he was 34) foil. We never realized just how short he was.

Throw in a guest appearance from Forrest J. Ackerman, whose paranormal documentary by Paul Davids is The Life after Death Project. Here he suitably appears at the paranormal portal to the time warp.

The film features rovers on Saturn’s moon, Titan, discussions of exo-planets, and the kind of odd creatures that H.G. Wells was fond of using for troublesome survivors.

You might be surprised at how the effects work quite well in a simple manner before computer generated spectaculars. And, you do have real actors trying to keep a straight face.

It’s a wonderful little sci-fi classic that we dismissed back when—and suddenly have re-considered in old age as something a bit more special. If you love time warps and seeing a movie speed up and recap in one minute, you are in for a treat.

 

 

 

 

 

At the Drive-In: Past is Prologue

DATELINE: Take a Bite Night!

drive in

A strange little documentary that is utterly charming details one of the last and biggest drive-in screens in the United States. At the Drive-In notes the dream of those who loved the past and the summer nights that took the family out to the movies, sitting in their car.

Three men: Jeff, Matt, and Virgil, are the organizers. It started with Jeff, a former military man who was a projectionist, a job that no longer exists in the digital age. Older and out of touch with the modern world, Jeff leased a Pennsylvania drive-in that was slowly dying. Only a few hundred are left from the hey-day of the 1950s.

He literally ran in to Matt, a young Temple film studies graduate who thought it was abandoned and dropped by to find Jeff. Calling his friend Virgil, another Temple film student, they provided a social media approach to try to save the movie palace.

Jeff insisted that it show only 35mm movies, which made it a retro-movie theatre. Besides the lack of profit, the actual film stock of 35mm is not used by modern film-makers.

Retrospective films was the only alternative to the alternative drive-in. The entrepreneurs came up with gimmick nights: zombie movies, sci-f, bite night (Jaws and Jurassic Park). All the films had to be 35mm.

There were hangers-on who also loved old films and the ambiance, Jess—the popcorn girl, and snack bar aficionado from Keene, NH, who drives over six hours every weekend to work at what he loves: a place, not a job.

These are simple and real people who a definite love for old movies—and they build up the drive-in from two or three cars to over a hundred per night by the end of the 2016 season.

If you are old enough to recall the nostalgia of the giant screen outdoors, with field before a monster white screen, you likely recall seeing Shane, Spartacus, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and dozens of other old movies in that magical moment of childhood.

At the Drive-In is a gentle marvel of movie-making about movie history. If you love movies, you read reviews and watch with religious fervor. Here is your novena of movie life.

 

 

Seconds & Second Chances with Rock!

DATELINE:  No Deal?

unbecoming Rock Unbecoming Rock!

We love Seconds, or even thirds and fourths of Rock Hudson in his best performance—ever.

We cannot say this lightly. The John Frankenheimer film of 1966 was a game changer in style and director controls. Here, you find something completely different in its stylistic attitude. Cameras may be strapped to the backs of the actors, and the entire feel is somewhat institutional hallucination.

Seconds is a tale of new beginnings, or at least the kind offered by impersonal corporations, if run by some Satan. In this case, the satanic figure is fatherly (and even grandfatherly) Will Geer, better known as Grandpa Walton. Here, he is in his early career roots as the bad guy with a smile that is malevolent. His lackey Jeff Corey is suitably irritating.

Many other familiar faces of the 1960s give this film a sense of been there—but not quite. Frances Reid later became a soap opera queen of Days of Our Lives, but here is the wife of John Randolph, a man in his 50s and unhappy.

He is about to have the chance to become a run-down Rock Hudson.

The deal, like all those offered by Faustian bargain, is never quite what you want. Here, Rock Hudson discovers a tad too late that the hedonistic life of an artist in Malibu is not all it’s cracked up to be with corporate spies (Salome Jens) and a butler/manservant that is all too obsequious.

The final moments of the film are chilling and provide Hudson with something he never had in movies: a real juicy acting gig. This is something to behold and admire, and it holds up for the baby-boomers who might have scoffed in youth, and now look askance at the aging process.

Grey Wolf, Nazis on the Run

DATELINE: More Nazi Junk

Hitler on deathbed Re-enactor of Hitler on deathbed.

If you are not a Nazi expert, you likely never heard that one of the most popular words in German is “wolf.”  Hitler used it to describe everything from his U-boats to his various lairs and homes.

Grey Wolf is not a western; it’s a Nazi on the Pampas kind of tale.

Now it seems we have old ascot gentleman yellow journalist, Gerrard Williams producing, directing, writing, and putting his familiar undone ascot tie everywhere.

You may recall Gerrard as part of the Hunting Hitler series—like his fellow researcher James Holland, he has branched out into other Nazi realms. Here, he presents us with his theories in a docudrama that shows Hitler living in South America at Bariloche.

He espoused this theory on the Bob Barr series, and now he has given us a big-time documentary. We don’t see Gerrard with his undone silk ascot, dangling in the wind.

His version of Adolph Hitler is old and suffers badly from plastic surgery after the war to help hide his identity. Here too he has escaped with his wife Eva, and at least one daughter (others are rumored but never seen). He is not emaciated and aged from drug addictions to cocaine and crystal meth, as other expert documentaries have revealed.

Gerrard’s escaped Hitler makes strange mistakes of character: the vegetarian is eating squab and living well in Argentina. He seems to have overcome his drug addiction and sundry health problems. Now he mostly depressed and suffering melancholy. After all, he lost a Reich. It does not mesh with the man falling apart in Berlin.

Martin Bormann is the other big name here who seems to dominate his leader—ultimately making money over politics. A bunch of “witnesses” tell their connections: from Juan Peron to teenage house maids.

Hitler is either wearing a wig or has lost weight, grown a few inches, and seems less mercurial. Whether we are meant to accept these discrepancies as bad reports or accept them as proof that Hitler fooled some of the people, we cannot tell you.

We can report that as re-enacted documentaries are concerned, this one is compelling and well-done. If this is all hogwash, we wallowed in it. Gerrard Williams unleashed is a fairly wild film director, compared to his supporting role with Bob Barr in Hunting Hitler. Here Eva leaves Hitler and lives until the 21st century and well into her 90s.

Just another in the cottage industry of Hitler and Nazi history.

 

 

History Channel Plagarizes PBS

DATELINE: Nazis on Drugs!

Graham Demonstrates Technique Expert Lindsay Graham on TV!

History Channel will leave no stone unturned in its ever-continuing quest to steal ideas from reliable sources and make them into their own yellow journalist history lessons.

We had covered Secrets of the Dead, a PBS show on Nazi use of speed (amphetamines) that was so fascinating and shocking, that it was due to receive the more sensational coverage from History Channel.

Thus, we have Nazis on Drugs!  This one even goes a step beyond to claim Hitler was zonked out on drugs during D-Day. It isn’t plagiarism when no one will claim you took their ideas.

If you notice anything special about this two-hour documentary, it is that most of the colorized footage is of Germany. Churchill is in dank black and white natural film stock.

The inside joke here is that the blitz or speed of Nazi attacks was really due to their reliance on crystal meth!

The experts are an odd lot: authors of books never heard of, or from unknown colleges. They are for the most part, English-speaking Germans. And, the American experts include Sen. Lindsay Graham, whose expertise in anything might be questioned.

The film takes on some unsavory suggestions: that Hitler believed in 1936 that black Jesse Owens could not win the Olympic medals without being on drugs. It offended his purist notions: enough to set German pharmaceuticals to create Pervitin—the crystal-meth pill that became the favorite of a nation trying to show it could stay awake for days on end.

Hitler’s tie to a quack doctor becomes a central focus: showing the dictator growing from glucose injections to stronger stuff. He preferred injections for instant emotional strength: ultimately he went on to Oxycontin and cocaine.

Of course, the experts don’t want to excuse his genocidal attitudes on drugs—but it hangs there like a bad excuse.

Ultimately, it is shown that the American general Eisenhower ordered half-a-million packets of crystal-meth for the American boys to help with courage. The Germans discovered physical collapse and madness at the end of the road of drug use, and still experimented in brutal fashion on concentration camp victims.

Battle of Britain was flown by German pilots on drugs.

The final bombing of Berlin, according to this movie, is that of knocking out the drug manufacturers who supplied Hitler. It was a war-changer.

There may well be truth here and untruth. It is totally compelling to view.

 

 

Fugitive 25 Years Later

DATELINE:  TV Classic Into Movie Classic

Taken in

A recent homage to the Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones thriller, The Fugitive, never mentioned that it was based on the David Janssen, Quinn/Martin tv series.

Janssen died before age 50 in 1990, shortly before this big-screen version.

If this high-flying, high octaine movie had been a tv show, it would likely have been a two-parter on the small screen.

The film has big written all over it. Big effects and big budget.

We were most amused to see limping Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble jumping around like a superhero with super-strength, instead of a cardiologist in middle age. His jump off a dam would kill most, or break every bone. Not for Harrison Ford, he just limps away (actually having torn ligaments).

It seems there wasn’t a water hazard the producers and director Andrew Davis couldn’t let pass. Throw Ford into it. And, then, they looked for every staircase in Chicago and make Tommy Lee Jones run up and down.

Apart from that unusual quality, the film also features only three run-ins between the stars: Jones is a US Marshall (again and again in movies) who is relentless in chasing Ford. Their first encounter is 40 minutes into the movie in which Gerard (Jones) admits he does not care whether Dr. Kimble (Ford) is innocent.

These are two arrogant, type A personalities who will let nothing stop them, and therein is a hilarious adventure thriller. Billed nowadays as a thinking man’s version of Deathwish or Taken or even any Bruce Willis adventure, this lives up to its excitement.

Why Dr. Kimble returns to familiar haunts, like his hospital, to find the one-armed killer is beyond sanity. Filmed in Chicago and its St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it is atmospheric of the Windy City.

Everyone admits Dr. Kimble is smarter than the police, but not smarter than Tommy Lee’s laconic character with his snippy attitude.

Twenty-five years have not dampened this movie. It holds up on every level. It is worth your attention, with Big Pharma still the villain.

Rogue Male: Peter O’Toole Wasted

DATELINE: More or Less Dangerous Games!

rogue assassin Roguish Assassin?

In 1976 Peter O’toole was still looking like a major star. When he did Rogue Male, he seems to be going down the rabbit hole to disappear. It’s The Most Dangerous Game, redux and doubled-down.

The film postulates in 1939 that Neville Chamberlain was worse than a Nazi sympathizer and appeaser. As Sir Robert Hunter (no joke), he goes to assassinate Hitler, is foiled, and uses his British pluck to go after the Fuherer. This Fredric Raphael script is based on a Household novel.

The film is a string of incidents that reveal some smart, intriguing supporting characters along the way, from a German who aids escape, to O’Toole’s Jewish lawyer, his tailor, and on and on. Alas, the film does not rely on this network of adventuresome people.

They are ultimately all for naught.

The picaresque adventure of Hunter features many veddy veddy English creatures, but there are enough enemies to undercut the social amusement. He finds escape to England after torture simply means he trades in one set of vicious Nazis for the collaborators (Jon Standing) in Chamberlain’s government.

We know Winston Churchill is around the corner to save the day. And O’Toole is too busy embarrassing his uncle (Alastair Sim) who is a high-ranking cabinet member. Most film fans recall Sim as the best Ebenezer Scrooge on film 25 years earlier.

The film features one of the final performances of Sim as O’Toole’s breezy Earl of an uncle. He is all too infrequently seen. He is delightful with his nephew whom he calls “Bobbity.”

Les Miserable approach to having O’Toole parallel hunted by a clever government agent is heavy-handed. The agent reads a book by the would=be assassin on hunting and uses its contents to track him down.

Worse yet, O’Toole is literally trapped in an underground rabbit hole for the finale, but we are left puzzled as to motivations and logic between these dark characters.

 

 

Appalling Holmes & Watson

 DATELINE: Elementary, School That is.

elementary school.jpeg 

We were warned, and now you are warned.

The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly remake of a comic Conan Doyle couple is not exactly a blue-plate special. It is going for .99 cents on Amazon streaming video. You know that price is rock bottom for rock bottom quality. This is a step down for the Step Brothers.

The film is horrific in terms of anachronisms. There are references to killer bees, protein shakes, and headlines that smell of National Enquirer in the 1950s.

Worse yet are the fake British accents on our traditional heroes, showing that they cherish good acting as much as a paycheck. The actors playing them as children speak with American accents (as do all the kids in London).

Mrs. Hudson is a trollop—and not from the British pages of classic literature.

We almost expected Judi Dench was likely offered the role as Queen Victoria—and that would have set us off on a tangent. Instead, we have Ralph Fiennes acting in a separate movie as Moriarty.

He has no flair for comedy.

Perhaps the most surprising couple in the film are the Road Trip movie stars: Rob Brydon as Lestrade and Steve Coogan as the one-armed tattooist.

We almost wish they had played Holmes and Watson. Of course, this may be the only version in which Lestrade is smarter than Holmes.

The movie moribundly moves from one witless encounter and set-up to another. Killer bees are inexplicably in a glass case at 221b Baker Street, allowing for a madcap moment without suspense.

Another stupid setup is Holmes surprise birthday party thrown by the Queen.  Who wrote this drivel? Mindless is the Zeitgeist of the age: and if this is you, you will be in your element.

Yes, it’s elementary.  Elementary school.