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.

 

 

Brooklyn Bridge Revisited

 DATELINE: Ken Burns Classic

great art Amazing!

In 1982 Ken Burns made a name for himself with this small, unassuming and brilliant documentary about the fifteen-year process to build the iconic, magical Brooklyn Bridge.

The film made his reputation and sent him on a career as a ground-breaking documentarian. What’s left nearly forty years later is the masterpiece of film on the masterpiece of engineering.

To take it in again after so many decades and find it as fresh and charming as when first seen is like the chance to walk across the East River like one of those who saw it like the first man to walk on the Moon.

John Roebling came from Germany as Hegel’s favorite student and a brilliant bridge maker. He designed the way to cross the river between New York and Brooklyn in three months. Then, fate intervened, giving him tetanus and killing him. It left the job then to his 30-year old son and Civil War hero Col. Washington Roebling.

David McCollough lends his narrative presence, but familiar voices dot the film: Julie Harris, Kurt Vonnegut, and others.

The dangerous caissons gave Roebling the bends, and he recovered but never fully. He managed to oversee the bridge construction from his third-floor bedroom with binoculars. His wife supervised and learned engineering to carry out on-site work.

Great Lewis Mumford lends his presence here to the cultural viewpoint with a poetic expression of his walk across the bridge as a young man. There are clips of Frank Sinatra in a movie in love with the Bridge, and even Bugs Bunny puts in an appearance.

The Bridge is monumental, inspirational, beautiful, and a cathedral of the national pride.

This is definitely American pie.

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Man, 1950s Latency Period

DATELINE: Another Oddball Western

not so lonely Tony Meets Jack at Gay Bar?

The Western lone rider is the loneliest guy this side of the Maytag repairman in the 1950s.

After appearing as the despicable gunfighter in Shane, there was only one place to go for Jack Palance: revisionist hero from hell. So, he was cast as the good guy in The Lonely Man. This was a trend, as Ernest Borgnine had just transformed into an Oscar-winner after a villainous streak. Rod Steiger was around the corner.

In 1957, the way to do this was to play either a wronged teenage son or a well-meaning father. The James Dean phenomenon was at work: so, they cast Anthony Perkins as the fey son, long separated from his gunslinging father (called an ‘aging’ gunfighter).

Perkins plays it so silly as rebel with a cause that James Dean would have laughed. He likely would have laughed too that mid-30s Palance was considered aging as a father to mid-20s Perkins. It could have been Tab, but Tony will do.

Yet, that was the style of those days. Daddy didn’t know best, but he tried.

And, you use the baritone country music of Tennessee Ernie Ford instead of Tex Ritter.

Some bad guys are unremitting: Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Elisha Cook.  They are planning on gunning down Palance first chance that comes their way. Elisha Cook’s revenge comes after Palance gunned him down in Shane.

Brand would turn goodie on TV within a few years, but it would take Van Cleef more than a decade to turn to goody-two-shoes roles. All are in their evil-doer prime here.

If you have a strong sense of homoeroticism in this movie, you are not paranoid. Palance “picks up” his son in a bar for the price of a drink. Perkins boasts anyone can have him at those prices. These guys are all interested in their male on male relationships over all else.

As a piece of Hollywood Western ersatz history, this film is a true curio.

 

Posse: Political Western by Kirk Douglas

DATELINE: Anti-Western from 1975

Posse

When star Kirk Douglas went all out to become the Orson Welles of Westerns, he chose a highly political topic in the age of Nixon and corrupt politics in 1975. It’s called Posse.

In this sagebrush tale, Douglas is Howard Nightingale, a marshal running for U.S. Senator in Texas. He will be elected over the dead body of a notorious outlaw he chases and catches straw man named Jack Strawhorn (Bruce Dern).

Therein is the rub.

Douglas knew how to make action movies. After all, he worked with some of the great directors—and he decided to produce and direct as well as star as the anti-hero, or outright villain of hypocrisy. He is pure Kirk and that is highly watchable.

Traveling with a photographer taking shots of his great moments, the marshal hopes to run for President of the United States down the road. He even has an affable relationship with the bad guy.

It’s his posse that is the Achilles heel.

Like all political leaders, he relies on his staff (underpaid, less than scrupulous, and even corrupt). The marshal treats his men worse than the outlaw treats his. There’s a message in there about your politicians.

As the bad guy Dern states, there are enough types like the marshal already in Washington. They don’t need another.

The cast is right out of 1970s supporting actors. David Canary doesn’t last long, but Bo Hopkins is there—and James Stacy, after losing an arm and leg in a motorcycle accident, and later jailed as a pedophile, plays a newspaperman who contends that Kirk Douglas is in the bag for the railroads.

 

This is a violent and cynical Western, likely meant as an antidote to Clint and Duke. However, its politics is so negative that we blanch at its modern attitude. It is also clean and well-produced, like a classic 1950s movie, which is also out-of-date for the era in which Douglas made this movie.

 

Strange and idiosyncratic, this film is as watchable as well as execrable.

Legends of the Living Dead

DATELINE: No, Not Zombies!

burton Battling Burtons!

Another short series on Amazon Prime caught our most morbid sense: there are only four episodes, and we opted to look at the one that had several incidents that we have some knowledge about.

It is a series called Legends of the Living Dead.

Called derisively “Tinseltown,” the episode is a misnomer since most of the people under study here are NOT residents of Hollywood, and only had short ancillary careers there (if at all). Our friends in the industry hate that term “Tinseltown.”

This intriguing show is made up of short vignettes, nothing too in depth. First is an examination of the fight over dead Richard Burton by his wife Sally Burton and his two-time wife Elizabeth Taylor. The one-year marriage left Sally a widow who exercised her rights ruthlessly: she went against Burton’s wishes and his family’s to be buried in Wales. Instead, he is in Switzerland. Taylor was banned from the funeral. The idiot expert called them the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston of the 60s! Imagine!

Another incident dealt with Sid Vicious and his talentless wife Nancy. Actually, he too was fairly untalented and faked guitar playing. He was arrested for her murder but overdosed shortly thereafter. Sid’s mother, another wack job, dumped his ashes on Nancy’s grave as a means to tie them together. Not a Hollywood story at all, except a movie was made about it.

Another episode in the hour discussed poetic songwriter Jim Morrison who never made a Hollywood movie, but Val Kilmer played him. He died in Paris and is buried there, not Hollywood.

Another tale is Australian Ned Kelly who was the subject of a couple of movies—made in Australia. It seems some backwoods bird keeps Ned’s skull in a box until he receives a pardon for his crimes.

Charlie Chaplin’s graverobbing incident in 1978 from his Swiss grave makes up another story, and the final episode is about the young male child who died on Titanic and is buried in Nova Scotia. Well, they have made a couple of Titanic movies, so that qualifies as a Tinseltown tale.

The little vignettes are treated with a cavalier irreverence, which is bad enough, but they really are misnomers to Tinseltown completely.

We may tackle the other three episodes at some point.

 

Hostile Witness: Not Agatha Christie

DATELINE: Good Intentions Not Well Done

ray Milland, director and star.

Alas, Oscar winner Ray Milland loved movies and he directed several feature films and a dozen TV anthology episodes during the 1950s and 1960s. He was not box-office, except as a character actor—and movies had changed.

So, the Welsh actor returned to England to film his final director effort in 1968 in which he also starred as a barrister whose mental breakdown makes him a prime murder suspect.  It’s a second-rate court-room murder mystery on the lines of Agatha Christie, called Hostile Witness.

Milland is juicy with those eyes and old Hollywood’s courtly gestures. However, the material (a Broadway murder mystery, no less) lets him down. All the actors are superior Brits like Felix Aylmer as the court justice.  Sylvia Syms plays a surprisingly modern career woman working in Milland’s office, removed when Milland arrogantly decides to defend himself in court.

The barrister cracks when his daughter is killed by a hit-and-run driver. It elicits little sympathy from fellow lawyers whom he regularly embarrassed in his court-room victories. His professional colleagues let him stew in his own juices.

The film means to be another Witness for the Prosecution, but even with intelligent actors and directors, they cannot overcome a wild script that uses color-blindness as a red herring and a frame-up as the plot devices.

It just simply isn’t clever enough than to be an overblown film that would soon become a staple of TV made for movies in 1968. It might have made a passable anthology court drama. Within a few years, he gave up all pretense of being a leading man, removed his toupee, and played it as an old reprobate usually.

As it is, with nicely appointed sets, the main action is the second-half in the courtroom with testimony and outrageous and unlikely court etiquette.

We stuck with dapper and aging Ray Milland to see what he tried to do with no budget, no script, and relying on his talents. As he said in an interview, “The problem with being a director is that you also have to eat.” We admire his attempt to make movies no matter what.

Deadwood Passes Deadline

 DEADLINE:  the Un-Deadwood Movie

Olyphant Olyphant

The movie sequel to the three-season HBO series Deadwood is not dead as a doornail after all. It’s not even moribund.

HBO gunned it down ten years ago in a shootout shout-out, and it took as much time for writer/producer David Milch to resurrect it with nearly the entire original cast. (Powers Boothe left us a few years ago, and he is not noticed or mentioned here).

For two weeks we have heard the words “Shakespearean” applied again and again to this Western. Yes, they talk funny with Swearingen leading the way with swearing in iambic pentameter. Ian McShane is the scene-stealer emeritus.

An odd thing happens when a show tries to reset after the sunset: actors either look like they have aged twenty years, not ten, or others look like they had to step out of a time machine to reappear.

A few flashbacks remind us of how much the actors have changed in a decade.

We won’t spoil it by saying who looks ancient, and who held up. That may be the real suspense. Suffice it to say that boyish Timothy Olyphant has aged into Western star Sam Elliott, one of his old villains from Justified.

Others like William Sanderson and Jeffrey Jones have looked perennially old for 30 years. No news here.

As for the characters and characterizations, everyone is the same, just moreso. Perhaps that is the real secret of aging: you just get worse in your worst habits.

As for the script that has rankled some fans, you will have to understand that these kind of shows usually center upon birth, marriage, funerals, auctions, and deaths. Yup, we have them all in spades.

Deadwood’s statehood celebration is crashed by Gerald McRaney, the house villain, who returns as a California Senator Hearst who brings the 19th century Internet with him: yes, he is putting up telephone poles for profit.

Fear not. It is still the wilder West and shoot-outs are bound to occur near the local bordello.

Robin Weigert’s Calamity Jane looks like she is caked in dirt, but she was already an international celebrity by the time of this show (1889).

Many characters don’t have much to do—and do it for a few lines.

We wouldn’t have missed this reunion show for the world of kindling wood, nor dead heroes. It even beats having Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty show up twenty years after their show Gunsmoke ended in a sequel movie.

The West never loses its allure.

My Topper Time Fun!

DATELINE: Ghostly Trifecta?

Topper & His Ghosts Leo G. Carroll as Topper with Ghosts

Who said dead people don’t have fun?

If I have learned anything by my experiences at Mill Circle, I now know that my haunting spirits have a strange sense of timing and a stranger sense of humor.

One morning at 5:30 a.m., I had a trifecta of paranormal incidents. It seems they were going to drag me into the library at dawn, no matter how much I resisted.

I had on the previous afternoon replaced the batteries in the smoke detector on the ceiling in the library. One might think nothing more of that for months—however, that was not the case.

At 3am the security camera came on, alerting me on the phone. I looked in a semi-groggy state to see nothing much in the grainy black and white video, but I did hear the smoke alarm beeping. Yes, the battery was drained within 12 hours.

It continued to beep every thirty seconds or so, but I could not hear it on my other side of the house.

But, at 5:30 a.m., I decided it was light enough in there for me to venture—and take down the smoke detector and its irritating beeper.

When I reached up to remove the ceiling unit, the Titanic shelf next to me had a reaction. Two items came flying off:  first fell a four DVD documentary series about Titanic, and then came the postcard in 3D of the Munch painting, “The Silent Scream”.

My blow-up Scream doll is across the room, hanging from another model ship where a spirit set it—and I had placed a postcard of the image of the Screamer on the deck of the 3-D puzzle model of the benighted ship.

Eventually, I expected the little postcard would come down, jumping off the ship like its counterpart doll.

As I reached up to remove the smoke detector, the postcard had its moment in conjunction with the DVD. Both jumped off the bookcase.

I bent down to pick them up and replace them on their perches. As I did so, from high up came a shooting orb, past my backside and under the table with the chessboard.

I did not see it until later when I viewed the security camera footage.

Yes, it was the trifecta all right:  batteries drained, objects falling off the shelf, and then an orb shooting past.

If you want a sense of humor from my ghostly residents, this example likely comes closest. It certainly made me feel like Cosmo Topper and his household of ghosts, George and Marian Kirby.

Indeed, the complete DVD set of Topper TV series was on the bookcase where the orb flew by.  Yes, it’s all caught on tape.

Don’t ever let it be said that ghosts don’t want to have fun.

 

 

 

Glen or Glenda: Ed or Edwina?

DATELINE:  Transvest or Transsex?

ed Glen, Ed, or Alan Young?

We never thought we’d tackle Ed Wood, figuring it was beyond anything we could tolerate.

You never know until you sample the wares. Perhaps the decades of derision about his schlock-master directing jobs, or worse, being portrayed in a movie by Johnny Depp, has left Edward Wood with a reputation in tatters. He has become synonymous with laughingstock. What a shame.

Glen or Glenda was one of his daring efforts of 1953, on the heels of Christine Jorgensen and the sex-change scandals of that socially calm time.

Looking like a version of Alan Young on steroids, Ed Wood made us think Mr. Ed will show up at any point. However, it was Mr. Ed Wood who played the outrageous Glenda in blonde wig and high heels.

Simplistic and well-intended, the film was way ahead of its time in terms of trying to present a subject that was laughable to society. He likely contributed to the snide attitudes with his masculine “woman” who dresses like his girlfriend.

Indeed, the high point of their relationship is when she understandingly gives him her beautiful angora sweater that he yearns to wear.

The notion that transvestites and transsexuals were similar is debunked here, as well as the notion that transvestites were homosexual. You have to give Wood credit. He was trying too hard to bring legitimacy to the subject matter.

On hand, inexplicably, is Bela Lugosi, sending in his performance from an armchair. You might ask why is he here? Well, box-office and a payday for him could be the answer. He talks a great deal of gibberish in his tacked-on loony scenes.

Mostly the story is a psychiatrist telling Lyle Talbot, as a sympathetic detective who has found a suicide victim (a man dressed as a woman) and he wants to understand. Talbot also added a presence to the film, as he was better known from being the neighbor friend to Ozzie and Harriet on TV!

The low-budget film is in its own way equal to anything Kenneth Anger was trying to do outside the Hollywood system. Wood works with bad actors, bad script, bad sets, and a wacky message, to present something presentable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Experience Fails H.G. & Orson Too

 DATELINE: War of the Worlds

orson  Orson, not H.G.

We can usually count on American Experience documentaries to give us intelligent and insightful looks at history.

Nobody is perfect, and an attempt to look at the 1938 radio broadcast that made young hotshot Orson Welles a household name is disappointing. War of the Worlds probably owed more to the idiocy of audiences and their unsophisticated and non-critical thinking skills.

In some ways, not much has changed when it comes to the public and its media habits. However, radio as the first big democratic source of info learned that it’s not nice to fool people, even on Halloween.

Half-way through the broadcast, executives wanted to stop Welles, but Orson had a head a steam up—and he ignored his producer John Houseman and his writer Howard Koch. He did it his way: and it won him a contract in Hollywood. Houseman thought it was a terrible idea and that Welles never read Wells.

In his own rash dash style, Welles came up with a mimic newsreel approach to the topic, eschewing the real H.G. Wells for his own personality. After all, this was the man who put on Macbeth in Harlem with an all-black cast and set it in 19th century Haiti. He dared convention.

Welles provided a contrite and unbelievable apology next morning. It must rank as the worst performance he ever gave. He hardly could hide his smirk.

As for the documentary of the event, the film uses bad actors, emoting and faking, pretending to be people in 1938 (wearing period clothes in black and white film) who talk unconvincingly about their experience listening to the program. These imbecilic comments were based on real letters.

The technique fails miserably and demeans the entire hour-long episode of American Experience. Five weeks after the broadcast of 1938, the FCC fully exonerated Orson for his folly.

 

Not Schlock at all: Tormented

DATELINE: Low-budget does not mean schlock.

Hang on, Juli Hang on, Juli!

We were a tad put off by the Amazon Prime description of a 1960 movie as a “schlock classic,” and then found the blurb noting that it was Richard Carlson in 1960 as a jazz pianist who is haunted by his former girlfriend.

This sounded intriguing at worst, and it was not truth in advertising. Tormented is a highly professional, thoroughly hypnotic little bit of ghostly lore.

Carlson cut his teeth on the Creature from the Black Lagoon movies, and after was relegated to B-pictures. Well, he was a B-star always. However, he was one of those actors who was far more intelligent than the material and gave everything a kind of gravitas.

The accidental death of Vi, or at least her deliberate lack of saving, haunts Tom (Carlson). In her earliest scenes in particular, Juli Reding sounds like Marilyn Monroe, and even has the hair style down pat. Her later appearances in a flowing flimsy dress seem like Marilyn’s “Happy Birthday gown” for President Kennedy.

Perhaps the most schlocky thing in the movie is when Vi appears to torment Carlson by showing up as a disembodied head on his coffee table. Her ghost is almost comical, to the point of reversing the Vertigo end in ironical fashion-plate boiler-plate.

Wonderful character actor Joe Turkel shows up here in a ghost movie and later made a big hit as a ghost in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He speaks in the jazz lingo of the 1950s, Dad.

With its simple and elegant beach house and light house as main sets, the film has a minimalist quality that really does not impede its effect. We love the two bodies pulled from the ocean and dropped next to each other. Nice touch.

X-Ray Milland with X-Ray Vision

DATELINE: See-Through?

Rickles Stares Down Milland Stare down between Rickles & Milland!

One of the first major box-office-poison stars who won an Oscar was also one of the first to go to American International’s low-budget junk division to continue his career when others simply faded away.

Man with X-Ray Eyes is a sight to see.

We think of Ray Milland as a man with an expensive toupee and a weary face.  His career as actor and director fell into the skids after playing the lush DT-suffering alcoholic in the film The Lost Weekend. His Oscar led to a lost career. In this movie, he makes an equally ludicrous choice when he character decides to cheat at cards in a Las Vegas casino.

Milland liked to work, and he was not about to let trashy scripts and bad TV stop him. Here, he plays Xavier, or X-Ray Milland, the savior of mankind gone all wrong.

Milland often transcended much bad material by finding something a cut above:  such was the case with Roger Corman’s delightful X-Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

Oh, it is filmed in lurid, eye-popping color, with boiling hard-boiled eggs standing in for bloody eyeballs in a glass specimen jar.

The film is actually quite modern and quite intelligent, dealing yet again with a researcher (Milland) who uses himself as the guinea pig—despite friend’s (familiar costar Harold J. Stone) objections.

Don Rickles is also around for the cynical laugh part as a carnival barker, perfectly cast as an unlikeable, greedy insulter.

The doctor starts off by seeing through paper folders to read messages or seeing through some clothes to see a missing button. Then, it becomes more sinister and more licentious. Yup, the thrill of voyeurism gives way to seeing bare bones beneath the sexuality.

There is a sense of medical come-uppance in Corman’s morality film that manages to hit on all the sensational aspects but presents them with a sensibility of political rightness. (Our woman doctor colleague demands respect—before the women’s movement in 1963).

You may be surprised that the exploitation elements are actually intriguing issues of ethics. Milland’s performance was regarded as scraping the barnacles off his once-high-toned acting, but in retrospect, he is professional and classy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Movies with Spirits

 DATELINE: Oldies but Goodies

Mrs. Muir & Ghost

 

 

 

Crusty Dead Sea Captain?

You may well wonder why five of the most influential and fascinating fantasy films about timeless ghostly encounters were made in a short span of the 1940s.

Some theories have centered on the fact it was the time that millions of women lost their husbands and boyfriends to casualties of World War II.

Our selected films do feature a romantic drama complicated by the fatalism of war. Two movies present men (one maimed, one an alleged suicide), and two depict dead women (yearning for unrealized love).

The women characters grow up and grow old in long sequences of time passing. Two of the men are actually one man: Rex Harrison.

If you have not guessed the movies, here they are:

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, wherein Gene Tierney meets a salty and dead sea captain at her new home, Gull Cottage (see photo above). In Blithe Spirit, a sophisticated writer finds his first dead wife jealously returned to claim her husband. (See photo below). It’s the only one in color, if that’s your preference.

Playful Blithe Spirit Rutherford as Madam Acardi

Between Two Worlds features a shipload of dead people learning their fate—and finding heaven and hell are the same destination and destiny.

Go to Hell?  Go to Heaven or Hell?

Life apparently is filled with apparitions and reincarnated souls, as told by these literary-styled tales.

 

Jennie, Dead Dream Girl  Jennie, Dead Dream Girl?

Portrait of Jennie featured a painter whose model seems to age a few years with every sitting—and who died before they met. In Enchanted Cottage, a location with magical qualities can help a disfigured war survivor and an ugly woman find themselves transformed into movie stars by an invisible benevolent force in the universe.

Enchantment Makeover  Enchanted Makeover?

If you are haunted by lost love, dead friends, and cheating fate, you may relate to these stunning films.

There are some fairly sophisticated quantum physics theories at work back in the 1940s. We hear about tears in the seams of time, or atmospheric conditions that give a place parallel universal magic, or we meet obese Examiners who measure your life like a haberdasher fitting a good suit.

In nearly every instance of these plots, you must ultimately give up the dead and continue your life until you may be returned to some dimension where death is ephemeral and an illusion.

Perhaps we love these movies because they tell the fortunes of a haunted landlord and his soulful tenant.

Our Cosmo Topper ties to a personal spirit parallel each of the story-lines of old celluloid ghosts. If there is a common thread for all these stories, it is a dimension called limbo. One day both parties will be reunited, if not reincarnated.

Cybill’s Defining Role: Daisy Miller

DATELINE: Top-Notch Henry James

cybill Perfectly Cybill!

As mentor to the star, director, creative  force, and whiz kid, young Peter Bogdonavich took dry Henry James and made a fast-moving, emotionally-moving film of a famous novella, Daisy Miller.

You could not find a more perfect American girl than Cybill Shepherd as Daisy: unspoiled, direct, and completely at odds with social conventions in 19th century Europe.

Caught between women like her scatter-brained mother (Cloris Leachman) and an American social doyen Mrs. Walker (Eileen Brennan), Daisy does not stand a chance if she ignores or simply teases Frederick Winterbourne (brilliant young Barry Brown, too soon gone to a premature grave), an American who is a permanent resident of Europe.

Whether it’s going on a tourist trip to Byron’s famous castle without chaperone, or worse, going to the place of the viral Roman fever at the Colosseum, Daisy is hell-bent on living her way. Extraordinary location filming makes this a treat.

Winterbourne resists the notion that her scandalous behavior is anything bad. Yet, he cannot convince others in his social set—and crumbles in their heavy pressure.

Rich Americans policed themselves to try to avoid any ugly American image. Fast-talking Daisy, flirtatious and coy, breaks all the rules in her nouveau riche niche.

If Daisy learns there is a social convention, she is hell-bent on testing its merits. What she does not expect is that she will be shunned by the Americans living abroad. To a social butterfly, as Cybill Shepherd delineates to a T, this is far more damaging than she expects.

Perhaps this quintessential American girl could bear all if only Winterbourne remained on her side. He is sorely tested, and ultimately as the laconic Barry Brown narrates, he has lived too long in foreign places.

Alas, it is Brown, the actor, who is gone too soon, based on the promise of this extraordinary film performance.