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.

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.

Penultimate Gold from Civil War Curse

DATELINE: No Greed Too Low?

teenage captain Capt. Luke

Gold fever means unreasonable behavior. You can certainly see it in the more frantic activities as Curse of Civil War Gold comes roaring into the close of the second season.

Kevin Dykstra has never been one to respect weather, however bad Lake Michigan can get. They reluctantly find Mike Nelson, a young hotshot who is not bothered by freezing water or crashing waves.

We were more amazed that he went down 40 feet in 35-degree water without any gloves in his dry suit. He found it nippy. With the crew out in a small boat being assaulted by waves, Dykstra tells their teenage captain Luke Springstead to hold the boat steady. Easy for him to say. When Dykstra calls him “Captain Luke,” it almost sounds like an insult.

A second lonely dive for Nelson brings them the news that two seasons of shows has insisted will pay off. He has video of gold bars—which is sent to Alex and Marty Lagina, warm and comfortable back at their estate and too smart to go out diving.

Lagina has never been shy about his greed, and he mirrors Dykstra’s attitude that safety and human concern be damned. What’s more they show an uncanny lack of loyalty. The first reaction is to bring in more professional divers—like the notorious point killer, John Chatterton.

On two separate occasions he nearly wiped out the Curse of Oak Island with his negativity. So, Marty Lagina orders them to bring him aboard. Nelson is sent packing out of the room to spare him the humiliation of being fired on camera.

We almost can hear him say in the finale: nope, nope, nope, you dope.

Tune in next time for the second season point killer.

 

Ratings Gold for Civil War Gold Show!

DATELINE: Moneybags Lagina Wins!

in Hackley library In Hackley Library Under His Images!

Somebody up there at History Channel knows how to salt a mine. Tenderfoot types are buying the bullion by the cartload.

The curse of Civil War Gold is the albatross of the Curse of Civil War Gold. It’s too late to change the show’s title, and they’re stuck with it. Kevin Dykstra, the originator, seems more and more bewildered that his pitch has been hijacked and evolves each week into something far afield from his notion of a gold hunt series.

Take the latest episode as the arc of the season nears its end. “Grave Expectations,” throws another ironic title at him. You know he’s out of his element.

Now he leads a team with co-leader Alex Lagina who joins him on the big moments, like meeting a great-grandson of a Michigan man who has gold purportedly from the Jeff Davis arrest. And when the team meets with Marty Moneybags Lagina, the old man had demanded to hold gold in his hand—it is Alex sitting next to him.

As if to add irony to the biting satire of meeting a man who confirms the Confederate Treasury was stolen by Union soldiers and hometown businessmen, the meeting takes place in the Hackley Public Library.

You guessed it: sitting under photos of Charles Hackley, the man Kevin Dykstra maligns at every stage of the series, they meet with a descendant of the conspiracy.

Well, at least, they confirmed this time that the mummy of John Wilkes Booth was a carnival attraction for years—hardly the proper fate of a man in on a plot to steal hundreds of millions of dollars in gold.

And, once again, an attempt to find the escape tunnel Booth used at Garrett’s Farm, is futile and pointless, as they have no permission to excavate to prove anything. An aside throws out the info that unspecified “authorities” have refused to allow Booth’s remains to be exhumed and tested with DNA.

The series has taken on a new life—and will likely be back on History next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titanic Leap from Shelf

 DATELINE: Shocked in the Library!

leap from Titanic   Side by Side on Shelf: DVD titled Last Mysteries of the Titanic, next to photo or Richard White in Titanic’s Reading Room.

Oh, poltergeist generally are puckish spirits who have a tendency to throw items or create havoc with a brazen sense of humor.

We have posted a video on YouTube that shows a DVD named Last Mysteries of the Titanic, sitting next to a photo of Richard White in the First Class Reading Room of the Titanic, that took on a life of its own—and jumped from the shelf leaving me speechless.

Maybe the headline for YouTube should be “Ghost Throws Book at Writer.” My spirit guardian Richard and I would receive more hits, searches, and bingo moments.

In my Titanic Memorial Library, where my roommate spirit Richard spends some time, several psychics have noted that he always has a playful sense of fun.

The library is a commemoration to him, as he lived here once long ago, and then he died on Titanic, celebrating his college graduation on a maiden voyage of a luxury ship.

Earlier my security camera had mysteriously fallen down from its perch in the library where it had been completely secured with duct tape. It provides a late-night glimpse into the space where orbs, noises, and things that go bump tend to congregate. No one really wants to be there after dark.

However, around 8pm, still with dusk at hand, the camera had fallen onto a cushion on a chair. It could be re-secured before total blackness fell. Yet, later in the early morning hours, the camera fell again. I was not going in there at that hour.

Having an early morning cup of coffee to bolster the latest visit around 6:30am, we headed over there to restore the camera and face it directly at the floor-to-ceiling shelving of books and videotapes.

Once there, we accomplished our mission and stated aloud to the spirits present that we would check on the other memorabilia and souvenirs to see if they had fallen too.

Walking to the books, we were ginger in our steps, keeping an eye out for oddities. Upon looking at the books, we were startled when one of the DVDs came off the shelf just as we asked, “Has anything else fallen?”

You can see the incident caught on camera here.  It is posted on YouTube.

The movie in question on the shelf was a documentary on Titanic, of course. What else would jump off the shelf like a passenger trying to disembark a sinking ship?

As you can see from the footage captured, your host was clearly startled. It must have amused Richard and the other resident ghosts of the library.

It’s just another day at home when your housemates are spirits from another era.

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.

Seeing Cat Eyes in Darkness!

DATELINE: What’s New, Pussycat?

cat eyes-1

A short time ago we took a security camera into the library of our haunted house and set it up to learn what goes bump in the night. We never go into the library after dusk.

So, when the security camera app rang on our cell phone at 5am, telling us there was movement and heat activation, we gulped hard and opened up the image. No burglars were stomping around.

We saw shooting fireflies. In ghost-hunter business parlance, these are orbs, the electrical impulses and energy of spirits going hither and yon.

Two orbs shot up from the floor on either side of the room. Our attention was distracted. It took a trained ghost hunter, Eric Metzler to see more orbs and a couple of flashes.

We asked the attending spirits, Richard and Addie, to show an orb, they often obliged, though I was distracted and did not see them.

Richard is our mentor spirit from Titanic, and Addie Horton was head housekeeper of the family mansion. She lived next door most of her life but seems to have taken up residence in our study off the library in the after-life.

The only spirit in the house that has appeared to me is Richard’s cat. And, this large tom-cat black-shadow walked out of a wall next to a bookcase and blithely pranced into the kitchen. I ran after, but it evaporated.

I know it is Richard’s cat because one of the light-worker psychics who visited my home sensed a ghostly cat. Three psychics were in agreement that he belonged to Richard and served as his proxy, reporting back to my guardian spirit when he was apparently elsewhere.

They did not know his name, only that it was odd and began with a “G.” That made sense because Richard and his elder brother Percy made up a language—and the cat name was likely part of it.

When my friend Jose watched the video I sent, he called to my attention two bright almond eyes in the dark. He said they flashed or blinked on and off instantly gone.

I thought it might be a reflection off the bookcase.

I went to the library in daylight to see the approximate height of two shelves—the same size as the cat I had seen several years earlier. What is even more peculiar is that pro ghost hunter Eric Metzler used filters to try to bring the image out of the dark.

He found it alien-like. When I checked what that bulbous nose could be in the animal face, I saw that it was on the book binding—a round red circle that just fell under the cat eyes.

The book was written by a friend, Susan Kelly, on the Boston Strangler. It was a small photo of Albert de Salvo in a red circle. How amusing that it seemed to be the cat’s nose.

Not that I needed a reason to avoid the library at night, but now here it was.

 

 

 

Truly Miss Marple: Rutherford Murders?

DATELINE:  Murder Most Foul!

Dames Margaret & Agatha

Dames Margaret Rutherford & Agatha Christie!

A little British documentary about character actress Margaret Rutherford is shocking, surprising, and ultimately saddening. If you have forgotten her dotty old ladies, she was the first movie Miss Marple.

The film has the overwhelming title: Truly Miss Marple: the Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford. The actress died in 1972 after a rapid decline in health at the height of her popularity

Agatha Christie was appalled at the folly of turning her aged detective into an eccentric comic actress, but they later enjoyed each other—to the degree that Christie dedicated The Mirror Crack’d to Rutherford.

Her acting career did not fully reach success until after age 40: she was always the costar, whether it was for John Gielgud or Edith Evans. When success came, she played old ladies who were NOT battle-axes. It was an unkind comment by interviewers. Dame Margaret was always a gentle figure of fun.

Her biggest break came with Noel Coward in Blithe Spirit, a role she almost refused because she thought it might demean spiritualists (as she was a believer).

Her indomitable English grand dames gave way in old age to the Christie character, though Margaret hated the word “Murder” in the titles of the four grand Miss Marple movies. There was a reason for her sensitivity: her father murdered her grandfather, and later, likely as a result, her mother committed suicide.

Yet, Rutherford herself was the ultimate woman of kind hearts and coronets. If there was a downside, it was her growing periods of depression. It was a losing battle, especially when dementia added to her woes.

She briefly went to Hollywood with Burton and Taylor in The VIPs and won an Oscar as a supporting actress. The Oscar disappeared after her death, stolen and on the black market, sold by a conniving housekeeper.

Miss Marple’s little murder mystery movies remain delightful, owing to Rutherford’s charismatic personality.

 

Kissing Bugs in Sheep’s Clothing?

DATELINE: Creepy?

Creepy Touch

A generation of touchy/feely men are about to have their kind hearts executed at dawn by a bunch of “insulted” or “disgusted” people. Yup, it’s creepy and it’s kooky, and altogether spooky.

Potential presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden shall remain nameless, but not guiltless in this regard.

Yes, there are those men who instantly and impulsively reach out to those around them, in moments of crisis, happiness, or sorrow, and hug, hold hands, or lay on a paternalistic  kiss.

They now have been given a bad rap, and the rap on the knuckles may sting as they pull back from showing any emotional reaction.

This is not to be confused with grabbing someone in a distinctly and disgustingly sexual manner. We all recall the famous bus-trip tapes of Trump’s manner to seduce women.

That is a different kettle to call black-face in metaphor.

No, we express wonder about impulsive men who deign to express their feelings in public. It looks like the late charges are being assessed in absentia, or after the statute of limitation has exceeded its grasp.

You may well ask how intimidating or harassing can it be to reach out and touch someone under the throes of media attention. What might have been construed as scratching the puppy behind the ears now takes on a sinister abusive nature, however latent. This is akin to an alcoholic drinking in public, or worse: playing patty-cakes.

It may be time to end the chest-bumps, the high-fives, the low-fives, pecks on the cheek, a man-hug, and tip-toe through the tulips from afar.

We were never demonstrative physically, thank heavens, and now feel pity for those poor souls who over the years felt compelled to demonstrate their affection and/or goodwill. It was always in bad taste, in our opinion. Now it appears to be the actions of a puppy who has wet the carpet.

 

 

 

 

Gronk Goes to the Movies

 DATELINE: Goodbye, NFL! Hello, Hollywood!

Gronk

New England’s loss is the world of movies’ gain.

We may be one of the few football Patriots fans who is happy that Rob Gronkowski has made the decision to leave the NFL for a new career in films.

As a star of the gridiron, breaking all kinds of records over nine seasons, Gronk has spent nearly all available time working his screen image. He has appeared in a handful of small-budget movies and many television commercials.

His face, pliable and likeable, has become a brand unto itself. He has hobnobbed with stars and calls himself “One-Take Gronk,” meaning he only makes one take to print for the final roll of film. The film illiterate Boston sports media have no idea about his movie career, or abilities in that regard.

We are happy because the next time Gronk is tackled by five monsters, he will not hurt his back or break a leg bone. Right before they tackle him, the director will yell, “Cut!” and his body double will step in to take the blows.

Gronk is a movie natural. We expect to see him in a new Mel Gibson action movie as the season of football starts. Put away the cleats. He is taking on movie weapons for his next big run.

With his huge physical presence, he will find a happy set of movie parts in the big genres of the 21st century: either sophomoric comedy, or cartoon superhero epics. He can play a lummox hero or a hard-nosed villain with aplomb. See Ted.

He has sold his Boston properties and his next home likely will be poolside in Beverly Hills: like so many young people, he will have had his youthful years in Boston, but will begin his career and important life work elsewhere.

For years Gronky has graced our blogs with his antics. He will continue to do so—but now as a film personality. He won’t be playing Hamlet, but he will be entertaining.

Oh, we expect that some enterprising producer will team up Tom Brady and Gronk again in some sports film. Didn’t Babe Ruth charmingly play himself in Pride of the Yankees?  Didn’t Muhammed Ali play himself in several films? Gronk will always be himself in every movie role.

 

Terminator: Not a Dead End

DATELINE: More Arnold Around Corner!

Arnold No Spring Chicken, He’s Back in 2019!

If they ever make a musical version, it will feature the tune, “the Cyborg Couldn’t Say NO.”  The first Terminator movie is now 35 years old, and it’s holding up well enough that Arnold is returning this year to reprise his role in a new 2019 movie, reunited with his waitress target, Sarah (Linda Hamilton).

In the original, Ahhnold was catapulted to fame beyond his wildest hopes. In a monosyllabic role that gave him a range up to 3 monosyllables, he simply snarled his way through James Cameron script as the bad robot.

Interestingly, Michael Biehn had second billing. He was one of those good-looking cookie-cutter actors of the 1980s. He belongs in a new movie, but where is he now?

The film starts with a bang: beautiful naked men come raining down out of lightning bolts. It was dishy to see Arnold naked, though he later claimed it was not he. What a pity. He is young and quite attractive here.

As for the 35-year old movie: it features phone books, phone booths, and wide-open gun shops where you can pick up assault rifles of your choice.

There are no PCs, let alone GPS.

Police in Los Angeles are dumbfounded, if not struck dumb, when a woman named Sarah Connor is repeatedly murdered. Well, every Sarah in the book. They missed the unlisted ones.

It seems the cyborgs from the future (like all AI to follow) believe it’s time to rid the world of that problem: human beings. The future in this movie is 2029, and we better start counting our blessings.

The movie features a shoot-out in a disco nightclub, which is quite contemporary, and it features too an office massacre when the Terminator goes into a police station and kills 20 to 30 policemen.

Of all the distinctive qualities, it most resembles a film made a decade earlier called Westworld, wherein the cyborg goes on a rampage, is burned to a cast- iron skeleton and still keeps going.

It also features a female hero survivor in the person of the director’s ex-wife, Linda Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

History of Time Travel: More or Less

DATELINE: Time, Relatively Speaking!

time bottled   At least in theory!

We admit to having a soft-spot for those mockumentaries that can fool us with their close imitation of traditional documentary form.

When you enjoy a steady diet of history through re-enactors, you certainly can grow complacent.

We tip our cap to Ricky Kennedy, director and creative force behind History of Time Travel, an ingenious little film that manages to weave a connection between reality, history, and outright fiction. He does it seamlessly and with a flourish of subtlety.

The historical overview is utterly perfect, but the focus on one “scientist” and his sons with an obsession for tripping up with a time machine takes on a large focus. Yet, that too is a sharp decision for pop appeal.

Not only are the conventions of movie-making and re-enacting spoofed, so are the so-called experts who seem both vapid and convincing: he cites professors from Harvard, Yale, and MIT, and throws in a couple of fake best-selling authors to spout their insider knowledge.

Interviews are interspersed with “home movies” from the 1940s. Oh, the technology existed, and that does ring truthful, but a few glitches in costumes and set will tip off the anachronistic lark to careful viewers.

We half-expected Dr. Strangelove to show up on the MIT faculty, and we are always receptive to a setting of Cambridge, Mass., our ancestral home.

People who like to find continuity goofs receive their come-uppance at the hands of this director. Without selling the store, we would advise any time travel theorist to pay attention to moveable props. We enjoyed the coffee mugs and backdrops: the doctor’s coffee pot is an amusing target.

Short and pithy, this 2014 film would be on the highlight reel of any proud film writer and director.

Edith Wharton: Harmonic Pretense

DATELINE: America’s Great Woman Writer

edith & dogs

Wharton also Wrote about Ghostly Dogs!

Like Henry James, one of the great American writers is a person who lived too long in foreign places.

Edith Wharton is presented in a documentary called The Sense of Harmony, which presents in somewhat disjointed form, her odd life. She was from the New York self-ordained aristocracy, socializing with a world alien from the real America of the 19th century. She is certainly at the polar opposite of Calamity Jane.

Wharton crossed the Atlantic on steamship 66 times in her life. Though she never gave up her American citizenship, and her greatest fictions were set in the United States, she lived mostly abroad in France.

You likely know her from the stories made into movies over decades:  Ethan Frome, Age of Innocence, The Old Maid, House of Mirth, all presenting scandal under the veneer of well-appointed homes.

Indeed, she began writing with an architect about interior design of houses. Though her novels sold and made money, she really had no need of it—except to live the way she wanted.

There was only a hint of scandal in her own life, though she often wrote about its corrosive secrets. She divorced and had one affair with a protégé of Henry James.

She also was the first woman to go to the front at Verdun in World War I and write about it. France considered her a war hero for tireless volunteering to help refugees and children.

Wharton famously has a haunted mansion in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she spent surprisingly little time. Perhaps ghosts frightened her, though she wrote many short stories about the paranormal. Her most famous tale, “Roman Fever,” again focused on upper-crust society.

She loved a good tale, well-told, and was planning a short story on a horror anecdote about the Titanic she had learned, but never actually finished. You might be driven to check out her less well-known tales from watching this documentary.

 

 

 

 

Unforgettable Vikings

DATELINE: Frolic in the Fjord

Viking Liking Sons of a Black Ram!

What a cast! Liking a Viking!

Forget the new-fangled cable TV series. Go back to the 1958 movie with Kirk Douglas as the Viking raider. If you have never heard the Mario Nascimbene theme, you are in for a treat—as it will stay in your head forever as the theme of Viking warriors.

If you have never seen The Vikings, prepare yourself.

This movie featured an all-star cast in bravura, over-the-top performances. Kirk Douglas and his costar Tony Curtis would return in Spartacus two years later and essentially play the same roles: Brothers under the tunic.

Here, Ernest Borgnine is the rapacious and fierce Viking king and father to Kirk (and to Tony, though no one in the movie ever learns this bit of dizzying plot complication). We are even more amused to learn that Borgnine was actually younger than the man who played his son!

Fresh off his Oscar for Marty, Ernie Borgnine is preparing to play McHale for his TV series by jumping off longboats. He calls Tony Curtis the son of a black ram, without realizing he was self-incriminating.

Throw in juicy actors like Frank Thring as an evil English king usurper (one in a line of magnificent villains—from Pontius Pilate in Ben Hur and King Herod in King of Kings). There is stalwart James Donald as the traitor to England and friend to the Vikings, and Alexander Knox as the suffering priest, with Edric Connor as Tony Curtis’s best friend.

Everyone shines. Director Richard Fleisher manages Viking chaos deftly.

Kirk Douglas plays nearly the entire film with one eye yanked out by a falcon (he wears a white contact lens).  It makes him even more frightful and plays the contrast to good Tony Curtis (whose wife Janet Leigh is the young woman every Viking wants.

This is one of those delicious fun movies you cannot believe they cannot make anymore. When the principals tried to do Spartacus, it became more message and less fun.

Every scene is exquisite in its outrageous melodrama, including amputations, eye-gouges, and a jump into a wolf pack to be chewed up. You can’t beat this stuff with special effects or computer-generated fakery.

With pure Hollywood magic, you have a truly atmospheric tale of 1000 years ago—filmed in magnificent fjords and drafty castles. The dangerous sword-fight atop the castle ramparts at the end will give you vertigo.

We lost track of how many times we heard that Nascimbene tune in various motifs. You will never forget it.