What Would Marilyn Tell Harvey Weinstein?

DATELINE: Hollywood Sexual Harassment

MM Grand Marilyn

Despite all of the complaints by actresses about Harvey Weinstein, we keep wondering what legendary star of the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe would have to say about the Hollywood scandal.

Miss Monroe spent her entire life trying to find respect as an actress in an industry where she was treated like a cheap platter of hors d’oeuvres.

She might tell us she is not surprised by what’s going on today. She might tell us nothing has changed. She could tell us that some of the most important people of the 20th century sexually harassed her and abused her.  And, it was all in a day’s work.

That was the price you had to pay to become a superstar while trying to find roles that served her talent. She was the plaything of athletes and president. On that score, not much is changed.

Our superstar athletes and our President are known sexual abusers.  Or at least use locker room talk regularly when they grab women unceremoniously.

Miss Monroe had to leave Hollywood to go to New York stage in order to find dignity as an actress. But she didn’t realize this condition of sexual cruelty was the norm of her career choice.

Hollywood derived from sexual innuendo, sexual hijinks, and serial sexual users.

Harvey Weinstein and a plethora of male stars and producers have victimized men, women, and children, since Hollywood’s earliest days.

We think Miss Monroe would tell us, if you choose this life as an actress and you are beautiful, you better be ready for what’s going to be thrown at you.  It’s no big deal to be the victim of injustice.

 

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High Cost of Men Accosting Women

DATELINE:  Naked Oscar in Gilt

oscar

In Hollywood, it is growing abundantly obvious that the only men who haven’t groped women are gay. That lets out repulsive men like Harvey Weinstein. What women would have gone with him willingly? He’s a toad—and clearly heterosexual.

We hesitate to ask if gay Hollywood icons have groped other men. We’ll have to ask Tab next time we see him. So far, we haven’t heard any charges—but since Hollywood is a place where copycats rule, you can expect the gay rapists to be fingered before Xmas.

You may expect a new sense of revisionist history: condemnation of formerly critically successful movies will be on the agenda because the participants and producers were sexist swine. Cue the recall of Oscar—a naked man in gold gilt.

In the meantime, we are hearing that Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck (but not Matt Damon), and sundry other men have proven their heterosexuality by accosting actresses. It must be a rite of spring.

Men, not accused of molesting women, will now be outed as disinterested parties (clubs where men dance only with other men).

Of course, at the time, usually in the distant 1990s, actresses expected to remain silent in the face of these kind of onslaughts. So, it is only 20 years later that a spate of rape charges is coming forth. We aren’t sure whether the statute of limitations has passed on some of these cold cases. We also wonder if an accusation is deadlier than actually finding someone is guilty.

Women are now boycotting Twitter because it is part of the male-dominated system. Apparently, these same women have missed the boat that Twitter also has favored the Russians over Hilary Clinton.

Since women are nowadays the primary readers in our society, writers like Hemingway are likely to be dunned more than ever. Expect a cadre of writers to come charging out of the closet soon.

If we start making judgments based on the thrilling days of yesteryear, no one will be safe. Twenty or thirty years ago was a different world, even if it pretended to be the Golden Age of Enlightenment.

If women are prepared to press the issue of male malfeasance, you can bet your bottom dollar and top drawer that these guys will go into rehab, aka “therapy,” which is certainly a way out of the dark and deep woods of the groped past.

As for us, we have always viewed light in the loafers as a standard defense.

 

The Long & Short of 3-Hour Movies

DATELINE:  Time is Short

Agreed

We have just informed well-intended friends who always recommend long movies to us, that our tolerance level has passed beyond endurance.

We are no longer putting three-hour movies on our dance card.

Gilligan’s Island started out as a three-hour tour, but turned into an epical series with TV movie sequels.

In our misspent youth, we watched Lawrence of Arabia multiple times. That was four hours a shot.  We also took in films like Cleopatra, or Ben Hur. It may be we saw them more than once.

Today long films are not a sign of epic historic proportion, like the Bridge on the River Kwai. We watched recently again Once Upon a Time in the West, which was not only long—but slow. Those oldies were fascinating, whereas today’s movies are pompous, overwritten stories by directors who happen to think of their own self-importance before the audience’s bladder.

Hitchcock thought film should err on the short side to match the human kidney tolerance. Even he exceeded our new guidelines by pushing movies to two-hours.

Nowadays we always figure there are six minutes of credits at the end. That helps if we skip that, though we are loath to do so.

We still believe the best movie is under 90 minutes. As much as we dislike Woody Allen, he had the right idea. Many of his best movies were only 75 minutes in length. Including credits.

Before you point out that we have watched many series like Downton Abbey, Bette and Joan, and Endeavour, all recently, we would point out that those are episodic and run usually an hour.

Most of the time they’re also self-contained. It took 25 years to film all of The Poirot Agatha Christie stories. We don’t intend to take 25 years to watch them. However, they are usually about an hour in length.  A few of the classics are shorter movies. More than tolerable.

The upshot of our complaint is that we are no longer in the market for epic movies to be watched in one long sitting. Our life is now counting down to a precious few days.

If we’re going to spend time on a movie, hovering over three hours in length, it had better be special.

Broken John Garfield in The Breaking Point

DATELINE:  Lost & Forgotten Movies

Garfield

Of the legendary Blacklist victims of old Hollywood, one of the most tragic is actor John Garfield, a star not much thought of nowadays. He died too young, but he would have been even bigger before another decade passed if only he had lived.

He had a career often playing tough guys with a conscience, often in socially redeeming movies. Clifford Odets wrote Golden Boy for him, but he never played it. Elia Kazan was a buddy, but never directed him. Garfield’s last role, before he was forced off the screen in 1951, was The Breaking Point, based on an Ernest Hemingway tale.

As you might expect, Garfield played an independent owner of a small fishing boat that rented out to corrupt businessmen on holiday.

Needing money, Garfield’s character succumbs to dealing in human contraband, bringing illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico. The story almost seems ripped from present-day headlines.

Featuring Juano Hernandez as his partner, a daring cross-color friendship in the middle of the McCarthy era, Garfield’s hero must deal with temptations of corruption. Patricia Neal, in her blonde vamp role, is hard-hearted nemesis, tempting the hero from his wife.

Garfield suffered from a rheumatic heart in the days before medications and procedures—and yet he often played the action hero. Throw in the stresses he suffered personally from the House on Un-American Activities, and you have a shortened life.

The film treads on noir ground, and it plays as cultural realism too. It seems a contradiction coming from the macho-Hemingway mode, but this is a tale of honor with filmmakers who wanted to be relevant as well as entertaining.

Today The Breaking Point stands as a movie way ahead of its time.

 

 

Poirot’s Murder Most Foul, Justice Most Brutal

DATELINE:  Another Remake on the Horizon

best orient express

Best Version of Murder on the Orient Express

The David Suchet version of Murder on the Orient Express is a completely different movie than the glitzy Hollywood all-star version of the 1970s. It is utterly dark. And it is far more cynical than the Christie novel, but is faithful next to the newest star-cartoon vehicle coming out soon with Kenneth Branagh as an unconvincing Poirot.

The teleplay version created a stunning, dank and dark 1930s. Perhaps this was what Agatha Christie intended in far more subtle manners.

From the opening scenes of  Belgian detective  Hercule Poirot being blood-splattered by a suicide to witnessing a stoning of an unfaithful wife in Turkey, the adapted version is far more than an entertaining murder mystery. It is a chilling morality play. It’s a play against films like Twelve Angry Men with a twist.

The Suchet version plays far more on the American nature of the melting pot of train travelers on the Orient Express. As one who defends the justice system, Poirot becomes alarmed, then horrified by the story’s unraveled mystery.

You won’t find the big names of the Albert Finney-Poirot movie. Here you will find Barbara Hershey, Toby Jones, and Hugh Bonneville, if you like name stars, but actors like Brian J. Smith as the victim’s secretary carry a heavy load.

Poirot loses all faith in humanity, and Suchet’s suffering face drives home the horror. In fact, his mustache does not turn off at the ends as much as the earlier shows.

A new version is forthcoming, directed by Kenneth Branagh who plays a flinty version of Poirot, rather unfaithful to the novel. Branagh’s mustache of Poirot is deplorable!

In the protracted series, the Orient Express episode was from the 12th season when the Belgian sleuth seemed bereft of all hope, as if a lifetime of dealing with murder finally sapped him of purpose and optimism. The original tale took its core from the Lindbergh kidnapping case, but became something else in the hands of Dame Agatha.

This compelling little Suchet film is brilliant, but a cold indictment of cruel justice among civilized people. The stark white snow drifts that stall the train on its journey contrast with the dark inner lives of the passengers.

If you want escapist fare, turn to the Hollywood version of Christie’s Orient Express. If you want catharsis, turn to David Suchet’s incisive portrayal of despair.

 

This blog entry is another in a series on Agatha Christie.

Whatever Happened to Agatha?

DATELINE:  1979 Vanessa Redgrave Movie

 agatha:vanessa Redgrave with Hoffman

The biopic movie about the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie remains a fairly puzzling non-explanation as can be found.

In Agatha, the Michael Apted movie is scruptiously produced and has big stars of the day in the key roles:  Timothy Dalton, fresh off James Bond, as Captain Christie, the unloving husband who drives his wife to distraction—and Dustin Hoffman as a no-nonsense American journalist who is hot on the trail of the missing mystery writer.

Vanessa Redgrave’s eyes steal the picture as the writer. Willowy, she is hardly like the real Agatha  who was a well-fed Miss Marple type. However, there are hints to indicate this is the same methodical writer who produced so many classics of fiction. Dame Agatha seems to apply her writing habits to orchestrating a disappearance that is inexplicable.

Mrs. Christie actually left her child for eleven days—and was dealing with her mother’s death at the time of her strange disappearance. Neither of these points is made in the movie.

All in all, the viewer is led to believe this was an insensitive publicity stunt, though the writer may have wanted to punish her husband who is having an affair—and Agatha may be researching how to do in her husband’s paramour.

Hoffman is physically dwarfed by the tall, elegant Redgrave, but he gives a sharp performance. However, he too seems to send mixed messages as to his real motives as Wally Stanton, a deceptive investigator. If the real Stanton looked like Hoffman, Christie would have seen her model for Hercule Poirot, a role Hoffman might have played with more relish.

Ultimately, this fictional theory about the incident of Christie’s weird disappearance is about as unsatisfying as you could give the audience.

Along the way, the performances are meant to distract and impress. Indeed, they do. If Christie had plotted this script, she would have done a better job.

(This entry is one of a series of blogs on Agatha Christie.)

Alfred Hitchcock & Agatha Christie: Never the Twain

DATELINE:  Giants in Separate Corners

   agatha       hitch

Recently the question came to us: Why did the two great forces of mystery and suspense never collaborate?

The answer may be surprising. They were both highly successful, popular and beloved: one in film and one in literature. They were both British, lived and died around the same time, and trod the same grounds of creativity.

A few claim Hitchcock was a misogynist: but his greatest collaborators were women (apart from his wife Alma). He enjoyed the works of Daphne DuMaurier (Rebecca, The Birds) and Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train).

Apart from that fact, both Hitch and Agatha loved to use the setting of trains for their greatest works! Hitchcock could have directed Witness for the Prosecution in 1957, his peak, and most think he did direct it:  but it went to Billy Wilder who used Hitch’s techniques to great effect. Hitchcock could have directed Ten Little Indians in 1945, but chose to avoid the Christie works altogether.

Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut that he disliked the genre of the ‘who done it.’  He found it antithetical to his idea of what made for cinematic story-telling. He likened the genre to a crossword puzzle, with revealing clues as the main point of the story. It was bread and butter for Christie, but Hitchcock hated the notion and revealing the killer at the end of the story.

You may think two of Hitch’s intriguing films, at the least, were of the who done it school:  Psycho actually revealed who the killer was, but not in the way you expected it to be in the final reel. Stage Fright was one of Hitch’s least favorite films and he filmed it because he was told it was a Christie story, but turned out to be one of his weakest entries.

In Shadow of a Doubt in 1943, Hitchcock had two minor characters discuss how to murder each other—and referred to Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective of Christie, in less than flattering terms.

It’s almost tragic that Hitchcock did not direct Witness for the Prosecution or Murder on the Orient Express to see how he might have handled the material. Both films are brilliant stories and wonderful films, but the echoes of Hitch are omnipresent.

So, we were left without any collaboration between the two greats of 20th century murder mystery. It’s not much of a mystery, but it is a tale of audience misfortune.

Holmesian Logic Applied to the Las Vegas Shooter

DATELINE: The Third Man or Stephen Paddock?

Welles as Third Man Welles as Harry Lime

A few friends have asked us to apply Sherlockian logic to the Las Vegas shooter case that has baffled so many people—and confounded police.

Authorities find Stephen Paddock a conundrum that defies profiles created by criminologists.

We deduce, first of all, that investigators have been probing deeply beyond obvious facts. The obvious often is deceptive and will mislead investigators.

After all, it was Sherlock Holmes who famously said that you need to eliminate all the impossible factors—and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

We must ask ourselves, what is served by misery, violence, and fear?

Paddock’s actions justify a private revenge, making his secrets all the more imponderable.

So, what can we deduce about the man who had millions of dollars from life as a high roller? He was confident in the risks and his odds of beating them.

Paddock was a fugitive from the law of averages.

This was an angry man who felt disrespected by society, despite his success as a gambler. He felt his status as an older, white male gave him no advantage in terms of respectability. As the sands of life passed by, he was dissatisfied with his lot. He hated time. It was cheating him.

Over the years, he found the ease of beating the system put him above law and society. He won millions of dollars by playing games against those he felt were dolts of society.

Paddock mistrusted other people—and had no need for their assistance. He worked alone in his problem-solving. People were manipulated to serve his own goals.

Paddock was a coward. He could not face the people he loathed—those who found happiness in simple living. He preferred the edginess of risk-taking. Thus, like infamous fictional killer Harry Lime, he took up a high position to commit his crime.

If you recall, Lime looked down on people from the perspective of a Ferris-wheel where his victims looked like “dots.” The film is The Third Man. It was easy to dehumanize those who would die if they are merely squirming dots in a dark night.

The armaments at his crime scene suggest he knew this could be a “glorious” Waterloo for him, but the use of cameras indicate he planned for the possibility to beat the law of averages to kill again.

Nick Ray’s Auspicious We Live By Night

DATELINE:  Trite Rises to Fascinating

They Live

Though it may sound like a sequel to the Twilight vampire stories, the 1949 film noir They Live by Night is important as a marker of the start of director Nicholas Ray’s career.

As one of the new wave of Hollywood figures in the post-war years under Dore Schary, They Live by Night has an impressive pedigree: John Houseman produced it and gave Ray on location camera angles that must have been striking in their day.

Ray could direct both sensitive young men types and older tough guys were equal power. Actors repeated showing up in his films because he gave them memorable roles. His young men ran the gamut from James Dean’s rebel and John Derek’s ghetto thug to Farley Granger in this picture.

No one ever again filmed Granger with such adoring and flattering care. Farley’s two Hitchcock movies, well known Rope and Strangers on a Train, used the actor effectively as stalwart character of moral duplicity, not innocent victim of fate.

Ray directed his life with more elan in later years—and his films remained archetypal, but less powerful.

Cathy O’Donnell and Granger are bland, sweet young people crushed by the societal forces that put them into a crime world.

The film is less interesting as a story (adapted by Ray himself) and less compelling than his next films, Bogart’s two classics (In a Lonely Place, Knock on Any Door).

If there is another reason to watch, it is familiar faced, ugly actor Jay C. Flippen, whose roles as menacing villain and paternal pal dominated the 1950s.

flippenJay C. Flippen

Biggest Emmy Losers: Despite Quality

DATELINE: Overblow Self-Congratulatory Emmy Awards

domestic life with Joan  westworld

How much we are out of touch with the modern Emmy voter!

The best miniseries this past year, in our humble estimation, were nominated for numerous awards.  However, they came away with next to nothing.

What happened?

We loved Westworld and Feud: Bette & Joan.  How could they do so badly in terms of winning awards?

Jonathan Nolan and Ryan Murphy went out of their way to create extraordinary worlds, with detail and sets that transported the characters and storylines to places both familiar and peculiar.

Westworld takes place in some distant, odd future where automatons are coming to have consciousness and will shed their bonds of slavery. Feud takes place in some distant past where the Golden Age of Hollywood is fading faster than old stars themselves.

Somewhere along the road to hell of good intentions, we found both series veering off into a ditch with the more unwashed members of the viewing public.

Clever doesn’t sell, and history’s lessons are lost on the 21st century cable viewers.

You might find a few root causes for trouble:  Murphy depicted great stars like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as divas who became their own best performances. Nolan depicted robots, but we couldn’t tell them apart from real people. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange gave the performances of their lives, to no avail.

It didn’t help that Olivia De Havilland took umbrage with the way she was portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

All those women stars were passed over worse than Bette Davis by the studio system and archrival Crawford by the Oscars. It’s said that Mamacita Feud actress Jackie Hoffman pulled a Crawford and begged to accept Best Supporting Actress for anyone who couldn’t be present for the award, if she didn’t win.

Alas, winner Laura Dern was there: and Hoffman’s nasty wit overwhelmed her sense of good taste, worse than Groucho at his worst. She sore loser better than Joan.

Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton might be the Davis-Crawford level stars in Westworld, though they did not actively compete against each other. They likely cancelled out the other in votes.

You had too much classical music in Westworld to suit the rocks-off bourgeoisie taste of TV audiences. Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ echoed through half the episodes, and audiences had no idea what it was or if they could tolerate it.

Perhaps these two series were not politically correct enough to suit the anti-Trump fervor in Hollywood. After all, the main antagonist of Westworld was a Trump-style billionaire with arrogant pretensions, played by Anthony Hopkins.

Jack Warner, played by nominee Stanley Tucci, was a minor-league Trump in Feud.

Time, the great equalizer, may still redeem the two mishandled losing series. They will be re-discovered by generations to come; you can count on it.

Silver Skies: Old Stars Return 

DATELINE: Yesteryear

George Hamilton

Hamilton with director Rodriguez
 

If you want an opportunity to see a bunch of your favorite 1960 stars, Silver Skies is the movie for you. It’s the tale of our group of elderly people living in an apartment complex for a come face-to-face with eviction when their homes are converted to condos.

 
Looking marvelous, George Hamilton does not look anywhere near his age, but the biting irony of this character: he is the only one of the residents with Alzheimer’s. Former mobster actor, Alex Rocco has turned into a softer grandfather figure.
The women stars include Barbara Bain, formerly of Mission impossible. There is Valerie Perrine, like Hamilton, extremely youthful still. And, in a major role, Marietta Hartley, best known for her TV commercials with James Garner.

Even Dick Van Patten shows up for a cameo.

Though this film is billed as a family drama, that is entirely deceptive from writer director Rosemary Rodriguez. The film is quite dark and bleak at times, dealing with elderly abuse and sexual issues among senior citizens.

The old residents and stars try to organize to fight back against greedy forces that have no respect for old age. For fans, this may be a glorious last chance to see those old familiar faces at again in the limelight. There’s no professional like an old professional.

Set in Sherman Oaks, California, where many former Hollywood types reside, the characters are all basically small time workers in the movie industry. It doesn’t really save them from the ravages of old age.
The film is ultimately done in by a saccharine ending under the credits. It is interesting to see a film entirely directed to the senior audience.

Feud: Ryan Murphy & Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Creepy Producer

 

coda

The spry legend, Miss Olivia DeHavilland whose Oscars outnumber anything Ryan Murphy will ever compile, has fired another volley at miniseries Feud: Joan & Bette, created by Mr. Murphy.

Right before the series is about to reap Emmy glory for its hilarious and entertaining depiction of two movie stars in a death throe struggle like scorpions, more turns of the screw emerge.

Miss DeHavilland’s character, ‘herself’ it appears, is a mere supporting figure. Yet, she does not like how she is portrayed. In a deposition through her lawyers, she tells the world she never called her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, ‘a bitch’ to any director or producer.

That may mean she used to term privately among friends, or even to hapless Joan Fontaine’s face, but her point is the script and series misrepresented her behavior. She said: “The false statements and unauthorized use of my name, identity and image by the creators of Feud have caused me discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and distress.”

Yes, being violated is like that, no matter what your age.

Murphy’s glad-hand attitude demeans Miss DeHavilland by calling her “Olivia,” despite her age, her position, and the fact that he never has met her, let alone sought her permission to use her as a figure in a docudrama.

In blatant admission, Murphy’s mouthpieces claim: “The fact that the words attributed to her and the purported endorsement are false does not transform the character into anything other than an exact depiction of de Havilland.”  Hunh?

That’s quite an admission: they know they have misused her by having her say words she never uttered, but it’s all for the profit of Ryan Murphy—and to give us viewers a few guffaws.

We wish to point out that Miss DeHavilland is a real human being, not an emblematic symbol like the White Whale, appearing in a work of fiction.

Murphy is betting that the 101-year old Oscar winner may pop off at any time—thus giving him the last word, which he will have anyhow as time will likely bestow on him the honor to be standing at the end of all this mess.

In all likelihood, the arrogant TV producer probably thought DeHavilland was already dead—and it didn’t matter how he used her identity.

What the old legend is showing here is that identity theft can occur in many ways:  when you profit from stealing someone’s personality, you’re a thief, Mr. Murphy. But, as Hollywood producers go, that is no crime at all.

 

Lady in the Lake: Under Water, but Not All Wet

DATELINE:  Hard-Boiled School of Detectives

Marlowe:Montgomery

You have to enjoy a murder mystery that is set on Christmas and begins with a potpourri of carols to set the mood. We laughed all too hard during the opening scenes: it’s witty, sharp, and clever. Lady in the Lake is a classic.

The Raymond Chandler story was directed by Robert Montgomery in 1946 with the star also briefly in front of the camera. Mostly, he narrates, keeping his face out of the limelight.

Lady in the Lake is quite inventive and will leave you quite impressed with Montgomery’s dry and cynical comments. However, this style tends to undercut the film noir aspect, as it is studio-bound.

Director Montgomery also suffers from low budget-it is that makes his original murder tale cut too many corners. We never make it to the lake to see the lady fished out, only hear about it. Yet, the quick pace will surprise you.

That too is part of the first-eye view of the film: we see only what detective Philip Marlowe sees—and characters look directly into the camera frequently as they talk to Montgomery. It is diverting and intriguing. Alas, the mystery itself is not clever enough to fit the film’s technique.

Cast is uniformly superb, especially Audrey Totter as the femme fatale, Leon Ames as her boss, owner of a lurid crime publication, and Lloyd Nolan as a dubious cop.

We must confess that light-leading man Robert Montgomery is not as tough as the Marlowes of Bogart and Mitchum, but his dry and cynical wit is hard-nosed enough to cause other characters to give him a sock in the nose more than once.

You will fondly remember Lady in the Lake for its originality and dark humor.

Twin Peaks: Revised and Unresolved

DATELINE: Confounded Yet Again

dead but not gone

If you walk with David Lynch, you play with fire.

Despite our wishes, David Lynch did not put the entire cast in a bus and drive it off a cliff at Twin Peaks. Perhaps he should have.

If you thought everything would be wrapped up as the story seems to end (as if ever possible), you’re looking for a Christmas present under the wrong Douglas fir tree.

Everything comes full circle, and Twin Peaks brings us right back to the first episode 25 years ago. There, you will find a rewrite, revisions galore, to the original story, as agent D.B. Cooper returns to meet Laura Palmer before her fate. His mission seems to be to prevent the murder that started the entire 25-year odd odyssey.

Thank heavens Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee have not changed one whit. They play themselves 25 years ago, no mean feat. And they don’t look too bad in the process.

Lynch does assemble the entire cast in the Twin Peaks police station, and there seems to be some kind of paranormal activity with spirits, smoke, and bad lighting.

However, unless you own some kind of Ouija board or crystal ball, you will not understand what on earth is going on. As a Greek chorus, the mobster  Jim Belushi standing there for no good reason also asks the question, “What the hell is going on?”

The actors themselves look befuddled as they perform the scene. Well, as long as the paycheck doesn’t bounce, actors will perform in any tripe being of any stripe.

This episode ends with the late Jack Nance being fondly remembered at the end of the credits this time, “in memory of.”  Yes, he starts the original series once again by not finding the dead Laura Palmer wrapped in cellophane on the shore.

Alas, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Run, Don’t Walk from this Movie!

DATELINE:  Cary Grant Finale

Cary Finale  Bad, Not Good

After watching the inimitable Cary Grant’s life in his own words in a brilliant documentary, it was time to look at his last film performance, one we had missed all these years.

In 1966, silver-haired and dapper, looking no different than he had for a decade, Cary was growing disenchanted with playing a leading man opposite young women, much younger women.

So, he took a page out of an old co-star’s catalogue of film roles. In Monkey Business, he worked with oldster Charles Coburn, who played for two decades the curmudgeon old man to great delight.

Grant found a film script for The More the Merrier that Coburn had brought to the screen in the mid-1940s. It was about an old reprobate who was forced to share an apartment with a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter because of a housing shortage.

Update twenty years later, and Cary played a British baronet in Tokyo for the Olympics too early and without a place to stay. For reasons ridiculous, he ends ups forcing his way into beautiful Samantha Eggar’s small flat.

If living with ‘gramps’ was meant to be full of generational embarrassments, this film misfired badly. It was not gramps, but attractive and youthful Cary Grant. He was no Charles Coburn. Try as he might, Cary could not pull off a curmudgeon, only a curdled performance.

It is disappointing and pathetic—and perhaps gave him full convincing that it was time to walk away from movies.

Hitchcock tried to give him a few good roles in the 1960s, but Cary was done with appearing as the star, either in comedy or drama.

It’s a sad state to see a great star floundering with his wonderful manner in a bad script, miscast, and poorly directed.

Run as fast as you can from Walk, Don’t Run. It’s terrible.