Trump Phones Belichick This Week!

DATELINE: Inquiries about Tom Brady

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President Trump is a busy man, according to his newest lawyer and occasional dragster, Rudi Guiliani.

Trump does not have time to consider Stormy Daniels and how his lawyer paid $130,000 for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, Trump made a long duration phone call to Bill Belichick of the Patriots this week on matters of national security.

There is no evidence that Belichick asked Mr. Trump to work as a scout for possible hotel sites for road trips. The Patriots are not scheduled to play in Moscow during the upcoming season, but a trip to North Korea has not been ruled out.

Since the NFL draft is done, Belichick has time on his hands. So, the two high-powered patriots could ruminate about the situation of Tom Brady, according to reports of those in the room as Belichick’s smartphone proved especially stupid.

It is not known whether Trump’s phone was secure. Belichick’s private lines are under tight security.

Trump asked the Patriots coach about the status of Tom Brady, and likely the seventh-round draft pick who is deemed talented enough to replace Brady. Pundits deduce that Mr. Brady has not taken any calls from Mr. Trump lately, but was in Qatar on business last week.

We suspect that Trump is also incensed that Patriot owner Robert Kraft, a frequent flyer on Air Force One, as guest to the President, has reported criticized Trump about his stance on kneeling players. Kraft believes the three-point stance does not qualify as taking a knee.

At the least, Trump was not satisfied with the answers from the Patriots—and reportedly held Belichick on the phone for close to an hour. Belichick admitted next to nothing in regard to this phone call, but we are assured that there is no collusion between Belichick and Trump.

Belichick has signed an NDA and may not reveal his intimate chitchat with President Trump. Belichick will likely tell news media that he is “on to 2018” and not dwelling on players who are meeting with Russians unless it has a bearing on why Malcolm Butler was benched during the Super Bowl.

 

 

 

 

Reel History: 1960’s Damned Village

DATELINE:  Creepy Kids

 Stephens & Sanders

Martin Stephens & George Sanders

We know they could not call it by the John Wyndam title of the original novel, The Midwich Cuckoos.

The marvelous little low-budget sci-fi thriller, Village of the Damned, was only 70 minutes of brilliant detail.

Only George Sanders would be not intimidated by holding his own with a bunch of British child actors who occasionally use the special effect of glowing eyes.

After the movie’s opening 15 minutes, you are utterly hooked. It’s so brilliant that what follows doesn’t matter.

With no budget, this George Sanders movie had the most chilling opening of any film of its time. Camerawork is so effective by the director Wolf Rilla.

You see charming little British village in which everyone collapses in place, into a faint for several hours. Camera pans slowly over the entire village. Chilling.

Without the benefit of science’s discovery of DNA and genetic engineering, the story proposes that during the time in which the village is knocked out, all women of child-bearing age become pregnant. It leaves for puzzled and befuddled attitudes among many.

The script uses only several incidents to indicate how dangerous these alien children are: of course, since the children are adult-like Brits, they are creepy anyhow. Add in their mental powers and you have horror. Oh, kids grow up so fast in movies.

The children admire Sanders who is professorial and so unemotional like them. He even becomes their tutor.

In the Soviet Union, a similar community is bombed with an atomic weapon. There are nests of alien children planted around the world, we learn.

George Sanders must resort to his cold-blooded manner to save the day by using his own mind tricks.

Marvelous little gem.

 

 

Brave New Westworld 2

DATELINE: Westworld Returns to TV

brave, new westworld? Re-programming Required on all Models!

Now for something completely borrowed.  It appears, as the second season of Westworld dawns, producer and creator Jonathan Nolan is returning to the roots of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the Westworld.

The robot revolt has resulted in more guest deaths than we could have suspected if they had assembled the entire cast from season one. Dead bodies, mostly rotting, are clearly human.  The recovery team traipsing around the park finds Robert Ford, shot by the show’s cowgirl, Dolores Delos (Evan Rachel Wood), with a gaping hole in his head. That likely ends the theory that dirty coward Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was a robot.

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), a closet robot, now must hide his identity lest the humans simply shoot him in a fashion reminiscent of concentration camp purges by the human controllers. He needs an oil job before he terminates.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) has saved Westworld’s script writer who is a human most unpleasant as she seeks a fictional child to whom she has some maternal robot feelings (told these are not genuine has no effect). She also locates her hot, lanky boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro).

The Man in Black, a major stockholder in Westworld, and last season’s young man (Jimmi Simpson) in a parallel storyline, returns as mean as ever. Ed Harris even removes the Robert Ford boyhood model to show his true spirit.

No one comes across here as remotely controlled for sympathy.

Between the bloodbath scenes of innocent humans being shot by sociopath monster robots, we are somehow meant to feel human compassion for a slave revolt.

Shades of Spartacus.

We have met the human Roman Nazis—and according to Jonathan Nolan’s cryptic script, they are us. Whereas Nolan’s Person of Interest production people populate the cast and crew, we are left without that show’s sense of dry wit.

Last season’s smartest show on TV has become dumb-witted.

Confusion and horror are not the best honey to attract the busy bees of cable sci-fi fans who have come to expect intrigue and humor. It’s a disappointing start to the second season.

 

 

Yellow Brick Road Leads Out of Foxboro

 DATELINE: Patriots in Munchkinland

bosch Gillette Stadium?

Something has happened to the New England Patriots in the past month. You may not be in Kansas, but it sure doesn’t look like New England.

Less than kind Patriot-haters might say the rats are leaving the sinking ship.  Whatever your thoughts, the good ship SS Belichick is listing badly after hitting an iceberg in the Super Bowl.

Key players have opted to leave in free agency—and teammates remaining are wishing them good luck and happy voyage, almost as if they are envious.

Foremost among the congratulations on social media are coming from Tom Brady and Gronk.

Gronk still has not dispelled rumors he is going Hollywood on New England, and Tom Brady dropped a hint that he is a man of his convictions in his TV autobiography series—and he appears to have switched convictions in mid-stream.

Life begins at 40—but not in Foxboro.

These key Patriots (Nate Solder, Amendola, Butler, Lewis, and who knows who else) have talked among teammates. If you don’t realize that, you don’t know what’s happening.

It’s like a bad Bob Dylan song: the mattress is now balancing precariously on Bill Belichick’s head. Someone is ready to drop a house on Wicked Witchy Belichick. His former coaches and underlings are picking up the pieces Belichick has shed. And they are happy to have them.

During the season, opposing players attacked the Foxboro as being as unpleasant under the control of Ebenezer Scrooge Belichick before any ghosts haunted him. It was worse than Hieronymus Bosch’s depiction of Hell.

We see the end as coming in a whimper, not a bang. Brady and Gronk are packing their bags, and everyone else is cashing in their chips.

Oh, my. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my. The gold brick road is leading to ruination for the Kraft family of marshmallows.

Last Great Elizabeth Taylor Movie?

DATELINE:  Grand Taylor Horror!

 night watch Liz @ Her Best

By the time Elizabeth Taylor reached the end of her prime, she ditched Richard Burton. Her first theatrical movie without him, after 11 extraordinary teammate movies, including the notorious TV film Divorce His, Hers, was something called Night Watch from 1973.

Now streaming for the first time ever.

This is vintage Taylor:  extraordinary wardrobe, great hair, jewels to die for, and a svelte damsel Liz in distress.

Night Watch is a paranoid’s nightmare.

As the rich and disdainful Ellen with a swish of silver in her hair, she does jigsaw puzzles and entertains her girlhood friend (Billie Whitelaw) in indolent luxury. Her palacial home, unfortunately, is next to some abandoned, ramshackle mansion that seems haunted.

As she does a jigsaw of Bosch’s painting of Hell, she thinks she has seen a murder in a thunderstorm across the garden. Alas, police think she is bonkers, and her husband (Laurence Harvey) isn’t more helpful, trying to find an old psychiatrist to commit her.

Before you can say Gaslight, the old classic about a mad wife, you may have Hitchcock’s Suspicion on your hands. Perhaps too the director and writer saw Barbara Stanwyk’s chestnut called Night Walker.

It’s all in the horror/mystery family, though this one is definitely high-end in its hoots & laughs quotient.

All while she suffers, Taylor’s insanity is a joy to behold. The suspects line up from every direction: former dead husband, his lover, a smarmy neighbor, a hostile housekeeper, and even cavalier police.

Who wants to drive her crazy? Or is she actually seeing dead people?

As the drama grows more overwrought, the pay-off is way beyond anything Taylor fans could ever desire. We loved every cliché moment. The ending was considered a surprise shock by most fans. Marvelous.

 

 

The Haunting of Patriot Place

DATELINE: Your Worst Nightmare

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The ghost of Malcolm Butler now walks the halls of Patriot Place. Forget the Overlook Hotel and its shining denizens. Foxboro will be a worthy subject for Stephen King.

Like unfriendly spirits, this Patriot specter may hang around for decades, frightening children and bringing back the horrors of Super Bowl LII.

Bad karma often is behind the haunting appearances of ghosts.  We recall in Boston that the ghost of Babe Ruth put a curse on the Red Sox for 80 years. We now wonder if the ghost of Malcolm Butler might do the same for the Patriots.

If you wonder why the Patriots never win another Super Bowl in the 21st century, you will be wise to remember that the Butler did it.

Like some benighted head of the Inquisition, Bill Belichick made his decisions to burn the defense at the stake during the Super Bowl. Heretics be damned, and leading the charge was the ingrate (in Swami Belichick’s eyes), the man who tried to jump ship before the season began: Malcolm Butler.

It was an unforgivable sin—and now Malcolm Butler has paid for it with his reputation. Oh, someone will give him a big payday—and perhaps he will fade into oblivion in some other football venue.

However, in Foxboro, his curse will be laid upon Tom Brady worse than broken mirrors and contempt for sports superstition.

The howls in the night and the bumps and bangs you hear are the restless spirits of players done dirt by Bill Belichick.

Though he may go into retirement, he will leave a haunted Patriot Place for Josh McDaniels, forcing him to call in ghostbusters and hold séances for the betterment of the Kraft legacy.

Move over, Shirley Jackson, Gillette Stadium is the new house on Haunted Hill.

Buried: Templars &/or Holy Grail

DATELINE: Friday, Oct. 13, 1307, D-Day

buried 

What? Another search-for-treasure reality show from History Channel?

Yes, indeed, but this one Buried: Knights Templar and the Holy Grail uses the formula of former military adventurers on a hunt for secrets to better effect than most.

If the show sounds like bad Monty Python, don’t be fooled. It’s far more fact-based than History’s series Knightfall, another show that’s no slouch at entertainment.

This miniseries of four hours promises a look at the Knights Templar and their technological prowess.

Since they figure big on shows like Curse of Oak Island, a condensed historical look at them is valuable. They purportedly had the relics known as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, among other historical treasures. How they may have hidden them and where is the subject of many conspiracy/reality shows in recent years.

So, it is refreshing to have an examination of who they were, where they went, and how they ended up in big trouble.

The approach for this series is that the Knights Templar were like special forces and a government army belonging to no government.

We have heard the stories that they were almost wiped out and turned into other secret groups like the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, or the Illuminati. It may be possible, as they had great technical skill and tons of money back in Medieval times. Their tunnels, fortifications, and routes of subterfuge, are traced with LiDar and other technological marvels for the first time.

Even hardened archeologists are grateful for the expensive and free help the show provides by looking below the surface with ground penetrating radar tools.

The Templar Knights were monk warriors and great adventurers. They were also slightly crackpot in their obsession to protect the great relics of Christianity. They were destroyed for being heretics and falling off the Christian way by the Pope and a couple of French kings who had them all executed to gain control of the gold cache and miraculous relics.

The Templar leaders took their secrets to the grave when the end came on Friday the 13th. Or maybe they headed over to Oak Island. The series leaves open a chance to go in that direction– if ratings make for another season .

 

Tom Brady’s Five Finger Exercise

DATELINE:  New England Patriot Horror Movie

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Let the hand-wringing begin.

No one can shake Tom Brady’s hand this week. If it ain’t broke, can he play with all fingers?

When the Patriots called for all hands on deck during practice on Wednesday, the hand of Tom Brady was among the missing. Usually he keeps his pitching mitt in his cozy hand warmer, but this week it has been a specimen under observation by the greatest medical minds the Kraft family can find.

The handicraft of Tom Brady may be in jeopardy.

Like the hands of a stranger, Brady’s hand is like an alien creature being tested for performance enhancing capabilities. We want to hold his hand like a Beatle, but his circulation could be at risk.

Glad-handers among the media have dismissed the notion that the Patriots needed a Handiwipe to keep the Pats from falling into Trump’s s**thole.

Reports circulate that Handsome Tom Brady has been unable to give hand signals when he drives his Astin-Martin, and his hand gestures have been limited to the usual Trump vocabulary.

After a freak accident, the freakish Brady’s hand no longer can grip a football. It may be time for a hand-me-down to the next quarterback on the roster. Yikes.

We can count the chances for Patriot victory on Sunday on one hand if Tom Brady is not handy.

If Tom can’t get a handle on the ball Sunday, TV ratings will be handed off like a fat woman pouring coffee on her  bosom as in the commercial for DirecTV.

The Patriots will lose hands down if Tom Brady must handoff to Brian Hoyer.

Don’t ask the Patriots for a show of hands.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may prove to be more than a handful.

We are unsure of the Patriots will be able to get a hand on another victory this season if the ball slips out of Brady’s hand.

Trump Is a Racist

DATELINE:  Crazy Comes in Second

Hynkel's Dance Partner Trump Celebrates World Diversity

In case somehow you missed the news, Donald Trump is a racist.

When you quack like a duck, you must be Daffy Duck.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, all you, racists.

According to a tirade given at a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Thursday, January 11, Trump railed against countries in Africa and Haiti, as being in a “s**thole,” but he didn’t use the euphemism when he said they are in the crapper. In all likelihood, he puts the residents in the same crap or crapper.

Don’t ask Trump for a bill of love or kindness. He is from the Lady Macbeth school of milky humanitarianism.

We expect some kind of denial from the White House, as per usual. However, it is beginning to look like a white Christmas and a white America. That slogan really should read: “Make America White Again.”

We are frankly horrified.

Trump wishes there were more Norwegians coming to America, rather than Haitians.  We will take those poor huddled masses, as long as they’re white. That should play well in Alabama. We’re not sure about the rest of the world.

You might say Trump is just playing the new Hitler on TV, but that would be giving him some.

Rounding up illegal immigrants with his Nazi police force called ICE, Trump is not quite setting up his concentration camps yet for a Final Solution. He’s probably waiting till the second term to do that.

In the meantime, we sit and wait like those huddled masses in Germany in the 1930s as they carted away their neighbors to unknown countries from where no traveler returned.

Your turn may be next.

Fincher’s Movie Zodiac in Contrast to History TV

DATELINE:  Docudrama Versus Reality TV

 Fincher style Gyllenhaal & Downey Play Detectives

The new series on History inspired us to go back to 2007 and see what David Fincher did in his big budget, all-star movie called Zodiac.

Suffice it to say, there is some overlap: and the series claims to have discovered an earlier killing by Zodiac at UCLA that was shown ten years earlier in the Fincher film version.

Of course, Fincher uses poetic license to personalize victims and their final conversations; we have no idea what was really said, but his version is fairly likely.

The movie uses big stars in rotating coverage: the newspaper cynical reporter is Robert Downey, Jr., who calls Zodiac a latent homosexual—and then fears for his life that he will be a target.

Mark Ruffalo is the San Francisco detective in full 1960s fashion mode, and quite amusing. Brian Cox steals every scene playing flamboyant attorney Melvin Belli.

The most important character is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Chronicle cartoonist who is an amateur sleuth and is equal to the trivia that Zodiac was fond of using. He notes that Richard Connell story, “Most Dangerous Game” that Zodiac admires—but the movie never did its homework. The story was a short story, not a book.

You may well wonder at the enormous stupidity of everyone at the newspaper, passing around evidence and ruining fingerprints, etc., with nary a thought. And you may wonder why a cartoonist is at the high-level meetings. Described as a “retard” and “Boy Scout,” throughout the film, Gyllenhaal looks like he is auditioning for his next role as a gay cowboy.

If you haven’t had your fill of demented serial killers (called mass murderer in the movie), then you might want to annotate the TV series with a first-rate movie.

Heads Up, Tails Down: Pats & Celts

DATELINE:  Twilight Zone Meets Jaws

With an ice storm on the horizon in Boston, the two championship franchises, the Celtics and the Patriots, were also out of town and out of luck. Every great team has its up and downs.

After our ill-timed braggadocio, life gave us a cold slap in the face with ice pellets. Alas, it was too cold to make lemonade out of the fiasco that befell the Patriots and Celtics on Monday night.

We could not imagine these were the same teams that had been so impressive game after game. What on earth happened to the bright lights?

Miami and Chicago laid the expected victors a harsh dose of reality. No one is perfect, not even Bill Belichick or Brad Stevens.

If ever there was a night for Tom Brady to yell at Josh McDaniels this was it. If ever there was a night for Jaylen Brown to keep wearing his goggles, this was it.

Alas, Brown discarded his glasses and Tom Brady made nice with Josh.

When Jayson Tatum is unable to hit three-pointers and Tom Brady throws an interception and only has a handful of passing yards in the first half, you have crossed through the looking glass. In this case, it’s the mirror Tom Brady broke.

The Chicago Bulls are the worst team in the NBA, and the Miami Dolphins are the toughest opponents the Pats ever face in Miami. Brady has his worst record in 18 years against the Dolphins.

We have to admit the Patriots were without Gronk, who was suspended, and the Celts were without Kyrie Irving who needed some rest.

No matter where Boston fans turned, they were on the edge of the Outer Limits.

Both teams, known for their defensive finesse, showed it wasn’t their night. It was reminiscent of On the Waterfront, when Brando’s boxer complained his brother told him to lose, “It wasn’t my night!”

At half-time we were ready to become fair weather fans for our two teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Night Football, Basketball, and Ancient Aliens

From Sunset Boulevard to New England

DATELINE: Gloria Swanson’s Late Career as Artist

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This year’s holiday treat was to discover a 1974 painting done by legendary screen actress Gloria Swanson, hanging in the parlor not far from our Thanksgiving dinner table.

If you recall, Miss Swanson made one of the all-time comebacks in movies when she starred in 1950 with William Holden in Billy Wilder’s classic tale of Gothic Hollywood, called Sunset Boulevard.

Her final scene remains chilling and pathetic, as she descends the grand staircase of her old Hollywood Hills home in final madness and tells the director, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

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Who knew that nearly 25 years later, Norma Desmond was painting acrylic oil scenes as a hobby?

We encountered her 1974 rendition of an old, faded gray barn on this holiday 43 years after she painted it, hanging proudly in the home of an art collector and movie fan where we enjoyed an invitation to dinner.

How intriguing that the creative juices of Swanson, a macrobiotic diet advocate, emerged from this sad landscape. It is a giant picture, three feet in height and four feet across. The colors are muted, like a silent movie depiction.

Dilapidated in the snow, fallen in disrepair and probable despair, the old barn stands proudly alone. Its carriage door is ajar, broken open, letting whatever creature wanders by to enter its cold and empty interior.

It seemed to us to be a place along the “Road Not Taken,” that lovely poem by Robert Frost who lived a few miles away in New Hampshire. Miss Swanson presents us with a scene that comes right of out Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (which was also set a few miles away, in fictional Grover’s Corners).

Miss Swanson’s picture, painted while she lived in New York, a dozen years before she passed away, now has a special place in the home of a long-time fan. We think she would be happy to hear how much this work from the last days of her life, largely unknown, is appreciated.

We felt privileged to stand before it to reflect on life and the passage of time.

Trump’s Blatant Racism

DATELINE: Inexcusable Lapses of Judgment

Michigan J. Frog

If you need more than one example to prove that Trump is a fetid racist (on top of a dozen past examples), we have compiled a list of the latest evidence that Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States.

He is a blatant and unremitting in his bile. Perhaps he is not a white supremacist, as that entails belonging to a set of social pairings that he has avoided.  However, he has shown a disdain for anyone who happens to be a person of color. We will ignore all his obsessive, continuous, illogical attacks on Barack Obama.

Case in point number one: this week he managed to show his lack of humanity (perhaps another disqualifying characteristic) by suggesting he should have let three college basketball players rot in a Chinese jail for ten years because no one wants to kiss the ring of the reigning monarch.

On top of that, he took on the notorious imbecile LaVar Ball in a battle of twitter -tweetie bird brains. Suffice it to say, there is no honor in bashing LaVar Ball. It’s like kicking a dog with three legs. If Trump wanted to illustrate that he is a vile human being, comments such as this do it.

Oh, please, to those who cry it’s only Twitter. It creates a social condition among the uneducated and dumb supporters of racist notions

Next, Trump is calling for the complete suspension of Dallas Cowboy player Marshawn Lynch. Here is another least popular figure in sports who happens to be black. Lynch sat in Mexico City during the American national anthem, but stood for the Mexican anthem. He hardly seemed to be protesting much of anything. Another imbecile to equal Trump’s IQ on patriotism.

And, finally, there is Steph Curry, a basketball champion who was disinvited from the White House for not supporting Trump. Some have defended Trump by saying that the President did not even realize Curry is “high yellow” (a light-skinned black person).

The only high yellow Trump approves is in in his hair and the streak running down his back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return of Martellus?

 DATELINE:  Patriot Resurrection Possible

memories

Martellus Bennett, the tight end who danced with the cheerleaders at the Super Bowl last season, and bailed out of the Patriots for Green Bay, is now available.

Is Bill Belichick interested?  It may well be, based on Bill’s past history; he loves to resurrect the dead.

Martellus (Don’t Call Me Marty) Bennett has been a flop out there in Frost Bite Falls, and with no great QB (Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone) to sustain his antics, he may be ready for Tommy Time.

Poor Martellus has been bereft and without any TDs—or friends.  He played seven lackluster games with the Cheese Packers. With some disagreement about his medical condition, and with a threat he will retire after eight more games, Bennett made himself available to other teams when Green Bay sent him packing.

He needs to reconnect with the Brady bunch to regain his equilibrium.

The sudden move reminds us of the strange situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers a few years back who released a certain player for the Patriots to pick up just in time for a playoff run.

Now, the dire need of another tight end could mean that Belichick is considering more reunions.

He just brought back Lazarus Brian Hoyer from the dead San Fran 49ers.

So, returning a Gronk complement from the Cheesey Green Bay team seems rather likely.

Can Danny Woodhead be far behind? Might Rob Ninkovitch come out of retirement?

Bennett, fan of sci-fi, author of a kid’s book before Julian Edelman, savant of nothing in particular, was a delight in the locker room for his teammates and a media darling.

Will Belichick take another oddball tight end to go with the masterpiece of TEs, Gronk? We hope so.

The Beguiled: Clint in Hothouse Drama

DATELINE: Back to the Original

beguiled

With a remake of The Beguiled (to be reviewed separately soon), the 1970 Thomas Cullinane (a distant relative of ours) novel directed by Sofia Coppola, no one mentions the classic Don Siegel version. It was an unusual role for Clint, under his mentor director Siegel. It was a strange movie under any conditions.

A Civil War Yankee is given refuge at an odd girls’ school in the South where the genteel women are as gothic and grotesque as you’d find in a Bronte novel. Led by Geraldine Page as the head mistress and Elizabeth Hartman as her right-hand man, as it were, you have more sexual tension than suspense. Page’s character may be more than a victim of incest and more than a friend to other women.

In an age of heightened mistreatment of women in Hollywood, this film starts with Eastwood’s character telling a 12-year old girl she is old enough to kiss, and he promptly lays one smooch on her.

The women who give him sanctuary are hardly saints. Their menagerie of captured creatures includes a broken winged crow and a turtle, kept in restraints, like Clint’s Union corporal.

Siegel taught Clint something about character-driven movies, which have become better accepted than Siegel’s efforts over 40 years ago.

Now a new version ignores his ground-breaking efforts, though Stephen King was likely inspired by the plot.

When you cross Charlotte Bronte, Tennessee Williams, and Stephen King, you surely have something bizarre.

Nearly 50 years later, The Beguiled qualifies as an exhibit in the hothouse collection.