TWA & Flight 800’s Terrible End!

DATELINE:  Pre-9-11 Terror in the Skies!

800

After twenty years of endless scandals, plane crashes, government coverups, terrorist attacks, and boundless conspiracies, it may be hard to recall the events of the summer of 1996. A documentary directed by Kristina Borjesson for Epix may infuriate you.

Like a hideous and fantastic episode of Twilight Zone or X-Files, the truth is out there—but the US government won’t tell you.

Off Long Island, a plane crashed, killing many people on their way to Europe. It was long before real security at airports, but this weird event contended that a missile shot down the airliner.

A few aging NTSB investigators have not forgotten how they were shunted aside and dismissed from finding out the truth—or speaking in public about this. The FBI even threatened witnesses about their applications for citizenship!  Shades of Homeland Security!

Back then the notion was simply preposterous, or in the realm of UFO coincidences. Witnesses were treated like alien abductees.

When your FBI and CIA conspired to undercut over 200 credible witnesses who saw some kind of streaking flare hit the airplane, you know you are no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.

What’s crystal clear from this documentary is that some high-level people had a strong interest in making sure this event was dismissed as mechanical failure and relegated to yesterday’s dead news.

Instead, the events of the 21st century are now annotating the 20th.

Something stinketh.

Our conspiratorial Internet enthusiasts may have found the best example of a real coverup that the United States has orchestrated in history.

Oh, perhaps UFOs and the Kennedy Assassination are also on the short list. The notion that terrorists acted 5 years before 9-11 is mind-boggling. The complicit national media acted in a disgraceful manner.

At the highest level, Bill Clinton declined to be interviewed for this film.

Clearly, what was so horrific or despicable or preventable is the first step by the government to shut down citizens and never to hear  or to tolerate an ugly word.

Hernandez Haunted House: Updated

DATELINE: Creepy, Ooky, & Altogether Spooky

AH house Gloom & Doom?

Since first writing about the haunted manse of former Patriot and serial killer Aaron Hernandez in 2017, we have repeatedly been asked for an update on the situation.

Considered one of the more notorious houses in Massachusetts, the Hernandez residence may be up there in the neighborhood of Lizzie Borden.

It’s actually not far from Fall River where misbehaving parents were given forty whacks with an axe. It is definitely in Nathaniel Hawthorne territory.

The buyer of the Hernandez home, avoided by wiser heads, turned out to be a 23-year old investor looking to make a killing. He took it for $1million, a bargain at 33% off.

He chose to ignore the ominous signs of decay within the house, presuming that the cops knocked down doors. That is not true. Any vandalism within the house was by occupants or intruders. The house’s only curb appeal is that of an eyesore and mind-sore within an upscale neighborhood of cheaply-made and costly McMansions.

“My friends are definitely surprised and shocked,” said Arif Khan, a New England Patriots fan and owner of a haunted house. “It has a bad name to it, but it’s probably one of the most famous houses in Massachusetts.”

Khan’s inexact language may be symptomatic of his bad decisions. It is not famous, but infamous. The house does not have a bad name, but an evil foreboding to it.

“Nobody wants to buy a house with Aaron Hernandez’s name on it, but I feel a name change and a little upgrade on the property will increase its value.”  Yes, P.T. Barnum would say there’s one born every 23 years.

This whelp purchased the property “as is with no warranties.”  Yikes. He has paid the back taxes in the town in the neighborhood of $100,000. What can be more scary than losing your shirt in the process of turning this monstrosity into a fixer-upper?

There are three wrongful death suits still pending against the Hernandez estate. That would make any spirit restless. Parts of the house may need to be gutted.

As paranormal experts can attest, the more you change the physical plane of ghosts’ milieu,  they will become problematic. Khan said he does not get a “creepy vibe” from inside the house, though he had not spent the night there.

 

Idiot’s Delight (Again)

DATELINE: Learning Curve Bends Light Waves!

Laird Cregar

The Internet seems to teach us the impossible is not improbable, Sherlock Holmes notwithstanding.

We just read that Prince’s memoirs will be published posthumously. You mean he is not a vampire?

Another article tells us that Twitter is not America. Well, we already figured that out when 33% of our followers on Twitter are from Turkey and apparently do not speak English.

A new study on the concept of BS has proven to be overblown. Rich guys tend to exaggerate their abilities. Having more money apparently still does not make up for having little confidence and less talent. We even wonder if self-designations like “rich” are suspect.

We also found a journalistic piece that states that Twitter fuels anxiety. Well, that is one explanation for the Twitter-storms of Donald Trump.

A business named “mailchimp” claims to make marketing easy. Monkey see; monkey may do, as long as you have the money to pay the monkey to dance to the organ grinder’s tune.

Some people believe that slave-owner and man who turned down Lincoln to save the Union, one Robert E. Lee, was a kindly soul and gentle man. We call them white nationalists, but General Lee is not just a motor vehicle in a hick TV series. He is down by the levee with Kate Smith, watching their statues be torn down by the new majority in America, the Minority.

After watching the History Channel TV series, Project Blue Book, the United States military has decided to junk the term UFO and call those flying saucers, “unidentified aerial phenomena,” but a rose by any other name will still be high-flying space creatures.

Low-income people are apparently more devastated by scams on the Internet than rich people. When you’ve got nothing to lose, you lose everything, according to experts.

The latest notion of pollution is microplastics, which seem to be so small that they are floating around cities and landing in lakes, though you can’t see them. It is no longer smoke that gets in your eyes.

Ten minutes on the Internet has undermined all knowledge you thought you had avoided in school.

Stonewall Flower Trump

 DATELINE: Green Monsters Excluded

wall flower

We all know Deranged Donald’s propensity for the Great Wall of China, or any other wall that seems to meet his goal of keeping out the riff-raff.

As we recall, Emperor Hadrian built a wall in England to keep the blue hordes of savages from usurping Roman rule in Britannia.

We also remember the Berlin Wall, another example of how to prevent people from coming or going. Whether Trump will pardon ICE guards who shoot transgressors, time will tell. We know he will give pardons galore.

In the meantime, Trump shows another element of his wall demeanor by telling all members of his administration to “stonewall” the Congressional investigators, no matter who or what they want.

As you may know, stonewalling was one of the basic tenets of the Nixon years in Washington.  Now Trump wants to take it to every swampy corner of his miasma of leadership.

We think the great irony of walls is the one that is best suited to the Fortunato of Washington: we have considered Edgar Allan Poe’s little ditty, “Cask of Amontillado,” to be the best wall story in American history.

Fortunato incurred the wrath of Montresor who despised the man in the jester suit, the Fool on the Hill.

If you’ve forgotten, a transgressor named Montresor deceives a so-called friend and lures him to his great wine cellar where bricks and mortar await. It’s the ultimate wine and cheese party for a cheesy guy.

In one of the nastiest murders in American literature, the blithering fool is slowly and inexorably stoned into a crypt in the wine cellar.

It may seem ironic that the man who most admires walls should not enjoy the fate of a Poe character. At some point, Trump will be walled up in a prison cell, a fate too good for the man who is the modern Stonewall Jackson.

 

Death in April at Mill Circle

 DATELINE: Mr. Ralph Arrives at Stage Depot in Sky.

 

A weekend In mid-April in Boston can be overwhelming:  the calendar will fill up quickly with Boston’s Marathon weekend, Boston’s Patriots Day when the British evacuated Beantown. There is also the anniversary of Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, and the commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Throw in Palm Sunday, and your datebook is overwhelmed.

Our burdens increased at Mill Circle on this 107th anniversary of Titanic’s meltdown, and the 154th year after Booth killed the President at Ford’s.

We noticed on the cold, rainy morning that Mr. Ralph, the giant shire horse who lives in our Great Barn, did not emerge with the other four stablemates.

The shire horse is bigger than a Clydesdale. Mr. Ralph clocked in at 2000 pounds and 32 years of age. Earlier this week, he had fallen down in the corral and took nearly half-an-hour to regain his footing. He kept resting his head back on the grass.

We know he was overworked even in retirement. Earlier that morning, he had been saddled and ridden for an hour.

Now on a day that we usually only make a short trip to Riverside Cemetery to visit Richard in his grave and his mother Edith in an unmarked area next to him, we had commotion next door.

We had never seen a super-large horse ambulance, brought in from some visiting town, vets, rescue workers, and assorted onlookers. A dozen cars and pickups clogged our small Mill Circle. It took a while for them to put straps on Mr. Ralph, put a stretcher under him, and have a truck drag his body out of the barn.

Yes, it was undignified for the glorious old beast. Yet, it was better than being stewed up for glue or gelatin. The other horses in the corral were agitated by the event.

As much of respect could be found when a gray tarp was put over his massive dead lump of mottled golden brown hide.

When we returned from our pilgrimage to Richard’s grave, they were taking each of the other four horses over to Mr. Ralph to show them their fallen comrade. The tarp was lifted, and each horse spent as much time as he wanted at the body. It was a strange ritual: one horse wanted nothing much to do with it.  A mini-horse mate spent considerable time looking and nodding.

Two others kept bending down to sniff him and raise their heads. It was a repeated action.

Later we learned that Mr. Ralph would be buried behind the Great Barn of Mill Circle, perhaps near the grave of the unknown murdered peddler of 1826 whose burial spot remains unknown. His ghost haunts the barn. Perhaps Ralph saw him during his tenure at Mill Circle.

Jamie Marks is a Ghost

DATELINE: Dead Boyfriends?

Dead Boyfriends

Carter Smith’s 2014 film is a mystery thriller, not a horror picture as Amazon streaming likes to call it. Jamie Marks is Dead may well be one of the most arresting and underplayed tales of a ghost in recent memory.

Of course, this starts off as an homage to David Lynch and Twin Peaks. Like Laura Palmer, Jamie Marks is a nearly nude corpse as the movie opens.

Though this is not the great world of Douglas firs, the setting is upstate New York, which seems fairly cold, remote, and unpleasant.

A girl, Gracie (Morgan Saylor) finds him and finds him stalking her in death. He is more interested in the varsity track star Adam (Cameron Monaghan), a cute red-head who soon starts to see dead people everywhere.

Suspicions seem to haunt the high school, as Jamie was bullied by the jocks prior to his death. And an ominous, and inexplicable dead deer carcass hangs next to Adam’s bleak home.

It doesn’t help that his mother is Liv Tyler who takes up with a drunk driver who put her in a wheelchair.

Thank heavens that Jamie (in an ethereal performance by Noah Silver) can offer Adam a considerable line of protection from the Great Beyond. We know something about spirits who are willing to offer their guardianship; our own protecting spirit is over our shoulder now, most interested in this review. He thought the movie was fairly accurate.

Alas, Jamie has a problem: he appears to be a murder victim.

Adam hopes to help his dead pal who takes up residence in Adam’s closet, which should have sparked more jokes. Without the usual cliché of special effects, Carter Smith presents a chilling picture of ghost appearances. Don’t look for pop-ups, fades, or objects moving on their own.

 

 

 

Trump’s Army of Murderers

 DATELINE: Tin Soldiers in Trump’s Hit Squad

another trump supporterAnthony Comello, Trump Voter

How many hate-filled killers support Trump?

When the latest cold-blooded alleged murderer, Anthony Comello, showed up in court, he had written Trump slogans on his hand to wave at the media.

Yes, another gun-toting killer supports Trump. Fans of the President will say he only killed a mobster. Some of Trump’s friends are serial killers, and others are mass murderers. Nice company.

He was fond of wearing MAGA hats, said one police source. Sen. Lindsay Graham will likely say he agrees with the killer.

Like his counterpart in New Zealand this week, the killer of 50 Muslims supported Trump and used the same language as Trump to justify his dastardly deed: he was rebuffing “invaders.”

How many killers have worn Trump hats? Nearly every one of these lowlifes in the past two years. They find comfort and solace in the heart and mind of Donald Trump.

We think of that Florida school shooter, Nicholas Cruz, who put a MAGA hat on the urn of his dead mother as she was sent to her crypt; she was one who hated Trump. Her murderer son had the last word to belittle and defame his own mother. Now, there’s a real Trump lover.

There was recently admitted bomber Cesar Sayoc crying out his eyes that he wanted to blow up people for Trump (not).

Whether they are shooting at you from a high rise in Las Vegas, or in a nightclub in Florida, or a mosque in Christchurch, you can count on the fact that your killer and murderer will likely count himself among those who find Donald Trump the man of the hour.

Trump supporters are urging people to buy more AR 15s in case they are banned. They are preparing to go to the White House for a shootout if impeachment dares to rear its head.

They will start shooting media stars. How many lists of famed CNN TV personalities have found their names scrawled in the demented scribbles of killers and potential mass murderers? We are now at the point of having lost count.

You can count on the fact that Trump will tweet his pathetic and uncomfortable “prayers” to your survivors. It’s like the guy who lit the twigs to burn Joan of Arc making the sign of the cross as he sent her to flames and death.

 

In the meantime, Trump continues to character assassinate the late John McCain, literally and figuratively.

Next time a MAGA hat crosses your path on the street, you better duck and seek cover. Your name is on the bullet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oak Island: 6th Season Paranormal Episode!

 DATELINE: Curse of Oak Island Ghosts!

bone fragments  Bone Fragments Discovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Dark House Mates & Inmates

DATELINE: Over-rated Classic

empty house Ate for Dinner .

Your first reaction to this chestnut of horror comedy is shock at the jaw-dropping cast.

Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, and Ernest Thesiger!  You have a round-robin of possible villains and victims. The problem is that they are given nothing significant to perform. Even Karloff uses makeup to look menacing, but his dumb waiter is left hanging.

Yeah, it was a dark and stormy night, but that ain’t enough.

James Whale gathered quite a retinue of talent and gave them an empty script in a drafty house.

Billed as an atmospheric thriller comedy, that’s about all this J.B. Priestly story is. With a marvelous cast, and Whale’s shadows and tricks, like a fun house mirror, the plot is ridiculous, throwing a bunch of ingrates caught in a bad torrential rain into a private household as if it’s a flea-bag hotel. T’aint funny.

Here they find their hosts eccentric (well, Horace Femm is Ernest Thesiger, which says it all) and his odd-ball bully sister.

Charles Laughter as Sir William shows up too with a show biz girlfriend, and he is given little to do. Melvyn Douglas is his trademark self, complete with pipe, and Boris Karloff still is given no dialogue yet again in one of his movies. He just looks menacing as Morgan, the scar-faced butler.

We wanted so much for this film to give us a thrill and become a marvel, but we found it disappointing to the ultimate degree—and in no way does it hold up to the other horror tales of the Universal series. This alleged classic is a let-down from the get-go.

 

Son of Frankenstein, Reel History

DATELINE:  Consenting Monsters?

consenting monsters Love after Death.

In the days before cable TV, let alone streaming movies, we last saw the Monster in Son of Frankenstein from 1939. So, we jumped at the chance to look at the star-studded horror classic.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes fits in well as Colin Clive’s son 25 years later, indignant that the small-town minds refer to the monster by his distinguished family name. He is bemused when Igor notes the Monster is his half-brother.

Bela Lugosi, as a Dracula clone, returns as the undead Igor. Yes, he was hanged, declared dead, and came back to life. It gives him a special aura, not to mention the hideous makeup that Jack Pierce laid on him.

Boris Karloff returned to play the Monster one last time. His wardrobe has changed enough that he now wears a sleeveless sheepskin pullover. Not to point out the obvious: he is a wolf monster in lambskin clothing.

One of the bigger surprises is Lionel Atwill as the inspector of the small town with his creaky fake arm that he postures in salute or to hold a cigarette. Our favorite scene is when he puts his darts on the forearm before throwing them. Mel Brooks, where are you? The best scenes in the picture are when master scene stealers Rathbone and Atwill lock wits.

The story has an insipid subplot featuring the good doctor’s toddler son, an American like his mother, and both are point killers.

We loved the moment when the son (Rathbone as Sherlock) deduces that Lugosi has a hypnotic effect on the monster. “Elemental, my dear Benson,” he notes.

If there is any shockeroo, it is that Igor and the Monster seem to be gayly consenting adults. Igor can’t keep his hands off the Karloff creature, and they are clearly soulmates.

 

 

Monster Magic Maker: Jack Pierce

DATELINE: Unsung Creative Force!

jack with lon jr Wolf Man Credit!

What a delicious untold story!  A Greek immigrant boy comes to Hollywood and his creative juices give us the most famous monster makeup creatures of 20th century movies. Check out Jack Pierce: Maker of Monsters.

Like all the people who came to Hollywood in its infancy, they were self-made and their artistic sense was equally applied to their own lives. Jack Pierce did it all—from stunts, to camera operator, to director, but found his niche in applying makeup to the stars.

When Lon Chaney bailed on playing Dracula, Jack was thwarted by Bela Lugosi who had his own ideas. However, it was on Frankenstein that he grew into legend, spending months researching how the creature should look. It led to a plethora of famous monsters: The Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, but he was head of Universal and worked on making beautiful women more stunning.

The Mummy makeup took 8 hours to apply and another hour to remove. If Karloff was uncomplaining, no wonder a friendship between them developed.

Pierce’s makeup effects often terrified the naïve audiences of the 1930s. He was Universal Studio’s master: responsible for all the horrors up to 1947. When they were about to gather all the monsters for a comedy, Abbot and Costello meet, Jack was fired, but his makeup style was maintained.

Later, a myth grew around Frankenstein that James Whale, director, created the face: not true. Karloff always gave credit to his friend, Pierce. You can thank the movie and book Gods and Monsters for the misinfo.

Always an actor at heart, Jack wore a lab coat in the makeup room, which certainly intimidated Elsa Lanchester, who was the Bride of the monster. She recalled it thirty years later in less than happy terms. Jack did Lon Chaney, Jr., as Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein, over the years. That too was not a good relationship.

If they needed a star to age from 30 to 80, Jack Pierce could make it happen for a generation. One of his last makeup jobs was for Mr. Ed, the talking horse, hired by his friend from Universal, Arthur Lubin.

When Jack died in 1969, almost no one from the movie world came to his funeral. Fascinating bio of a nearly forgotten figure of film history.

 

 

 

Brazil, Where the Nuts Are!

DATELINE: Beyond the Twilight Zone

acting chops Whose Acting Chops?

If you thought nutcase movies are here today, you are about 30 years off. Brazil is a movie aficionado’s fantasy and nightmare, defying convention and logic. You just passed the signpost of Ipanema.

Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame) went out of his way to make the Citizen Kane of kookoo-bird movies in 1985.

This was no small achievement as the film holds up as beyond modern and relevant. Its madness may yet to be realized in the future.

Like Blade Runner, the future is the past. There is an aura of 1940s film noir interspersed with superhero comic fantasy.

Jonathan Pryce is some bureaucrat by day and by night, in his dreams, some kind of flying circus performer out to save a damsel in distress. In the meantime, he works in mindless government agencies that are after Harry Tuttle (Robert DeNiro) in an early comedic performance as a heating engineer who is a wanted man for doing duct work without a license.

Pryce’s mother Ida Lowry is played by the youth-conscious Katherine Helmond in a face-stretching performance with Jim Broadbent, as her fey plastic surgeon, striving for tighter skin.

Included in the shenanigans are such familiar faces as Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and Ian Richardson. If they wanted to kick off the unorthodoxy of their careers, this film is definitely the forerunner.

If you want a plot, you will fall into a black hole and likely be stretched to kingdom come.

You can ride the wave of this movie from one loony tune moment to the next, not bothering to connect the dots or the scenes. It’s like being in the Trump Administration: you just sit back and experience the Cinerama of movie magic to the mambo-jumbo notes of the song “Brazil.”

Heavens, or is that Land of Goshen?

Avenging Angels Kill Whitey Bulger

DATELINE: Infamy’s Bullseye?

 Jimmy  Young Whitey Bulger

We must admit that a prison sentence in a federal penitentiary is not meant to be a fun experience. However, it is not necessarily a death sentence unless lethal injection is the sentence. If you are a celebrity prisoner, you have received a death sentence in the prison systems of the United States.

So, the powers of the Federal Bureau of Prisons decided to move an 89-year old sociopathic, legendary snitch killer of the mob to a new home where death awaited in the form of greeting committee. USP Hazelton is a dangerous deathtrap for inmates, thanks to the Trump hiring freeze and incarceration of illegal immigrants.

James “Whitey” Bulger never spent 24 hours in his new digs because they killed him instantly. There was no trick or treat offered unless it was to the Death Penalty often meted out by killers willy-nilly.

Now, we figure it does not take much to kill an 89-year old on his last legs, no matter how infamous or how well he takes care. So, this hit comes off as crude when security is the name of the high-security pen in West Virginia.

We are reminded that another local villain, Albert de Salvo, was also murdered in prison. He was the Boston Strangler, or so the conspiratorial types dispute. Then, more recently, we had Aaron Hernandez, another local product, a suicide in grisly fashion, though some thought he was done in. And, who can forget gay cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, killed in prison?

You’ll never hear the true story when fake news is the government’s stock-in-trade.

And, then there was Father Geoghan, the child molestor, who found himself strangled by a self-appointed child abuse victim judge and jury.

All this seems to indicate that prisons are not doing the job, or are taking on the role of Avenging Angel when they are merely meant to be Lucifer’s Waiting Room.

We hate to throw cold water on the killing spree offered by the federal bureau under Trump’s budget cuts, but the unkindest cut of all is to circumvent justice.

We seem to have a plethora of that going around the country nowadays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitler’s Mountain Retreat

DATELINE:  Serviette from Hitler’s Table

Hitler's napkin

We have a long-standing aversion to these Nazi documentaries because, all too often, they are masked celebrations of the low-point of human history as occurred in Germany in the 1930s & 1940s.

Hitler’s Mountain: Hidden Remnants, a film about the ostentatious residence of Hitler in the Bavarian mountains sounds like one of those Netflix series episodes, The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes: the Dark Side.

Well, we are happy to report that this film, French in origin, is fairly blunt about the evil that was done in such a place of beauty. Even Hitler’s waiters in white waistcoats were model Aryan coverboys.

Nazi overlord Martin Bormann oversaw the constant renovations: it was never finished. Ultimately the house above ground had 30 luxurious rooms with a titanic picture window, used as a backdrop by the Fuhrer. His stairway up to the house also served as a means to put diplomats in their place.

Most of the time, the house was the reserve of Eva Braun and her friends, where she took home movies of the luxury. After the war, most of her clothes and personal items were looted and put up for auction.

Though nearly everything above ground was bombed and then blown up again in the 1950s by the Bavarian government (which always sounds like Barbarian in this film), the greatest achievement was the underground bunker. It is actually a city, never quite finished. And it was never quite destroyed, now under lock and key for preservation. Even unfinished, its size rivaled a major subway system.

We also see the tablecloths and napkins that were used in the dining halls, as well as Hitler’s private silverware. This too is in a museum in France.

The Eagle’s Nest, reached by an elevator ride for 40 seconds, to the mountain top was never bombed, nor destroyed. Today it serves as an elegant restaurant in a rejuvenated area that features modern hotels and re-forestation of the area.

This extraordinary home will horrify viewers with the notion that it inspired Hitler’s most diabolical and vicious ideas. Home, sweet home, indeed.

 

Palace of Silents, Off Sunset Boulevard

DATELINE: Silence Please!

silent movie theatre

We thought Palace of Silents would be some nostalgic look at a movie house that shows only silent movies since the early 1940s. You know, slightly wacky, obsessive people with good intentions.

Little did we know we were about to enter Sunset Boulevard where Los Angelinos are all Norma Desmond.

You have to love a movie that offers you a surprise or two.

Around the start of World War II, a conscientious objector named Hampton and his wife built their own tiny theatre with a small apartment above. Here they planned to show his grand collection of silent movies to an ever-decreasing and disinterested public.

Not exactly a popular activity, he was a pioneer in film restoration, finding the best prints and splicing them together in his home lab. If a half-dozen people came by, it was enough for forty years.

A friend named Lawrence Austin horned in on the widow, pulling a snow job on her and taking over the property. Lawrence Austin was a Hollywood fraud, telling lies and embezzling to beat the band. However, he refurbished the theatre and continued its mission. Silent Movie Theatre continued, perhaps even flourished with riding the coattails of Buster Keaton revivals.

Austin’s dubious and secretive past (he was a closet gay and may have used the old theatre for shows not on the screen). Eventually, he had a laundry list of enemies, including ex-cons.

He was murdered one night in the theatre as it was about to show Murnau’s Sunrise. A minor scandal in Hollywood, it was quickly solved, and the theatre was saved again by a vaudevillian mentality who knew little about silent movies.

Yet, the story of the grand old movie house transcends scandal, sordid lives, and misuse of its charm. The movie may pleasantly surprise you.