Inhuman Heiroglyphs!

DATELINE: Worst Episode in Series History 

 

An empowered creature?

Reaching its most squeamish and unpleasant episode in a dozen years, Ancient Alienstackled the big issue of human self-mutilation: tattoos and body modifications practices. They are definitely scraping the crusty bottom of the alien pie plate.

If you are of an older generation that eschews such practice and are horrified by the endless human billboards walking around society, you may be turned off here. These people are called “Human Hieroglyphs,” as opposed to petroglyphs.

Of course, those Ancient Alien theorists think this is deep-rooted habit from the desire to show connections to space creatures who were those gods of yore.

Painful and ugly body transformation may be a right of expression, but it seems a stretch mark to call it inspired by outer space connections. Our typical Aliens hosts, all devoid of tattoos or other distinguishing marks, speak blandly about a habit (or obsession) to put ink stains on every part of the body.

You will be subjected to seeing people covering their skin with unsightly designs in order to appear more extra-terrestrial. Perhaps the most appalling is the praise for a young man who colored the whites of his eyes black to look like a gray alien.

Then, they claim the Internet has inspired this “creativity.”

It’s more like a fad of depravity.

We decided to shut down this episode and its rationalization of creative impulse to be other worldly. When one clown called this activity “empowering,” we knew we were on another planet. Perhaps these oddities will be the first to go to Mars, or the first to be sent there when it becomes the Devil’s Island of the 22ndcentury.

This may be the single-worst episode in the history of the long-running series.

Trump’s Latest Antic

DATELINE: Pond Scum Unites!

 Who are these people?

Only 7 black students were allowed to attend a speech given by President T.rump at their college. Only the most out-of-touch semi-Republicans were allowed to attend. The rest were told to stay in their dorms, like good nephews of Uncle Tom.

You see, according to President Trump, those Republicans who support impeachment are “human scum.” Well, we have now learned where our place is in the food chain. We aren’t sure if we are at the top of the pond scum or at the bottom.

In any respect, two-hundred hand-picked toadies greeted the presidential nitwit’s big speech to the black community by the biggest fraud since Rudi Giuliani decided to steal assets out of the Ukraine.

You may find it ironic, or perhaps merely poetical justice, that Rep. Elijah Cummings was laid to rest at the Capitol, in repose in state under the rotunda, while several former presidents paid respect.

From the White House where the biggest idiot in history now resides, there came only deafening silence. He hated Cummings and likely celebrated his passing. You may well wonder what kind of human scum now floats on the puddles of the White House.

As the crown prince of emoluments now sees it, the Constitution he swore to uphold is “phony.” He arranges his storm trooping congressional toadies to raid hearings he does not like, violating protocol and good manners.

When baseball umpires plan to buy automatic weapons to shoot Americans who support impeachment, you know that Trump will resort to civil war to keep his job. It was once known as sedition, and Aaron Burr was the chief proponent.

History has dubbed a new Burr under our American saddle: his name is T.rump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gothic Lunacy: Lord Byron’s Party

DATELINE: A Dark & Stormy Movie

 

Polidori, Shelley, and Byron, aka Spall, Sands, and Byrne

 

If you want to learn about the dark and stormy night in 1816 that resulted in the creation of Frankenstein and Dracula by Lord Byron’s pals, you might look elsewhere.

Ken Russell’s hothouse and nuthouse movie about Percy and Mary Shelley and Lord Byron is pure Gothicnonsense. As was the style of Russell back in 1987, you had a psychedelic version of biography and history. It is not satisfactory.

The cast is somewhat exemplary:  Gabriel Byrne as lame Byron, Julian Sands as pretty Shelley, Timothy Spall as off-putting Dr. Polidori, and Natasha Richardson as demure Mary! Wow, you almost expect the acting alone will carry the film.

However, the director hijacks every moment and even has cast members chewing on rats. We thought the film turned into that rat-festival moviel, Willard.And, inexplicable pythons wrap around suits of armor. Yep, it’s Ken Russell.

Instead of a dark and stormy night where these highly creative people choose to write great books, we have a literal ghost story. The demons are really around every corner. You almost feel sorry for the servants who basically take a powder during the latter part of the movie to avoid these koo-koo birds.

The summer without sun inspired the writing of Frankenstein and Dracula. Byron took credit for Polidori’s work, and Byron couldn’t write prose. The stepsister of Mary is around for crazy moments in which the sexual peccadilloes of the characters is tested.

We have more than your usual homoerotic connections between the men, including some fairly passionate kisses, but Julian Sands was never prettier. Gabriel Byrne seems to have bigger breasts than the women stars. Timothy Spall is actually slim.

The film becomes increasingly erratic and difficult to watch, as befits what did in the style of Ken Russell ultimately. We had hoped to see something truly fascinating, but not quite on the level of a train wreck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put Out APB Fashion Police on AB!

DATELINE: All Points Bulletin on Antonio Brown!

 AB & NDA in NFL

If you thought the New England Patriots were immoral and unscrupulous, you surely are not surprised that Antonio Brown is laying on a thick residue of scandal on the beleaguered franchise. Even worse, he wore a notorious short suit in hideous design to the game.

Brown’s goop is knee-deep—ranging from Kraft’s massage parlor problems to an artist who came to paint a mural in Brown’s home and found the star walking around in his short suit birthday suit.

Is anyone shocked nowadays? How quaint that must be.

Only a Victorian throwback would find the Bill Belichick approach a shock to the system: money & ratings move the team’s off-field antics.

Yes, the Patriots have found a way to rekindle interest in their boring team. They had grown into old-hat, like the Yankees in the 1950s, standing too pat, losing interest even from fans. They were your grandfather’s bowler hat and Fred Astaire’s top hat.

Now, they have enlivened up the entire NFL season, which is built on the sandy castle of money. It shifts, and it is a porous foundation for anything permanent, except a gaudy Super Bowl ring around the toilet.

Football games are violent, scandal-ridden and off-limits to normal human civilizing influence. You may break an arm, have you clavicle broken, develop water on the brain, but it’s all for the entertainment of men with testosterone deficiency that undevelop every Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots have found a sure-fire formula to bring in fans and more money than ever: Gronk may be gone, but long live the boorish mean-spirit of AB. From A to B, you will have more alphabet soup than any spelling bee deserves.

We begin to wonder how many non-disclosure agreements there are in the NFL among players: Start singing the ditty: “you’ll never know.”

You can pour your soup into a saucer in New England, as long as there is no chowdah involved. Sip slowly with adequate slurps: with other teams collapsing all around, New England is on the road to the Super Bowl.

Move over, dead spirit of Aaron Hernandez

 

 

John Wick: Serial Killer or Mass Murderer?

DATELINE: Kill Count Around 200?

Keanu with Anjelica.

We just had the pleasure of watching a film that is the epitome of political incorrectness in America after a half-dozen shootings in society. John Wick: Chapter Three Parabellum is a violent satire of gun use. At least, we think it is meant to be funny.

Para bellum is Latin for “prepare for war.”  It is only one of several high-toned touches of art and culture in a brutal shoot’em up. We did not have our clicker with us, but we believe Wick kills over 150 people, one at a time. It causes the movie to run for a full two-hours and have credits that will feature keanu’s chef.

Keanu Reeves has now appeared in three of these sagas, his big money-making series. At 55 he is giving contemporary Tom Cruise a run for old age. We cannot imagine how he can run, jump, kill, and duck endlessly and never be out of breath. And, he is shot and stabbed on more than one occasions.

You know that Wick is dangerous when he kills an assassin in the New York Public Library—with a book. And then puts the bloody tome back on the shelf.

The film is a series of set pieces of mayhem. It seems everyone in the world is packing heat—and most of those are hired guns. No wonder we have shootings every week. It’s part of a movie fantasy world.

Among the high-brow stars is Anjelica Huston playing The Director, some kind of Russian oligarch balletomane who runs a dance company like she’s a female Diaghilev. Also on hand for chuckles is Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne. Don’t worry about your stars being killed off: they will need to return for the fourth entry (yes, it is clearly coming).

In the meantime you can wonder about the brilliant choreography done by Reeves, and then there are outlandish set scenes like a swordfight on motorcycles.

We want to say the body count is quite high, but we think more panes of glass were broken than any other kind of vandalism. There isn’t a window in which someone does not put his head right through.

We also see plenty of blood splatter as heads are blown away with armor piercing bullets when a sword through the eyeball is not handy.

We haven’t seen this high a body count since Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood went Where Eagles Dare, killing Nazis.

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Hunting Game

 DATELINE: Richard Connell Classic

 Fay Wray Sees Something!

If you are looking for the prequel to 1933’s King Kong,you will have found it with this first major adaption of Richard Connell’s famous (or infamous) story called The Most Dangerous Game.

Right from the opening credits, you will recognize the style and tone of the classic big monkey movie. That’s for a number of reasons: foremost, the producers of the Kong and Son thereof films honed their approach to the topic with this classic.

You have the basic premise of a sea captain taking his ship and passengers out into remote and uncharted waters where lurks an island with mystery. It almost seems like the same prologue to each film.  Officers are concerned with strange locales not on maps.

Instead of Bruce Bennett (or is that Cabot), you have interchangeable leading man Joel MacRae as the resilient young adventurer. When he is washed up on the shores of a strange island, he meets none other than Kong’s leading lady, Fay Wray, who is also stranded there with her brother, played by—you guessed it—the man who gave us the Eighth Wonder of the World—Robert G. Armstrong (not Carl Denham this time, but a ne’er-do-well with the same personality).

They are the guests not of a giant gorilla but of the King of the Island, General Zaroff, (played in slimeball style of the 1930s by Leslie Banks). It seems he has a strange fetish: he likes to hunt big game that is truly dangerous, like people. Back in those pre-Hitler times, he was not a Nazi, crypto-Nazi, or neo-Nazi, but some kind of twisted member of the aristocracy.

With its chase scenes through the jungle, the pounding music, and the production values of Merriam C. Cooper, you have a sense of been-there, done-that, from the next year version of King Kong.

It is a delight to feel the similarity, and you keep wondering where the dinosaurs are.

 

Caravaggio Affair, Not What You Think

DATELINE:  Them Bones, Them Bones!

Gilles Caravaggio Merisi Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi went by the name of his hometown, Caravaggio, when he stormed the art world in the early 1600s. He was the James Dean/Charlie Sheen/O.J.Simpson of his age.

The Caravaggio Affair is an attempt to solve a 400-year-old mystery. They do not delve into his dubious sex life and appetite for young male models but do explain his use of prostitutes to serve as his saintly women.

Caravaggio was a literal back-stabber, and it didn’t sit when with the Viceroy of Naples or various Cardinals at the Vatican.

At the height of his fame, he was wanted for murder and had a bunch of bounty hunters coming after his head. Literally.  If he wanted a pardon, he had to give all his paintings to a high-ranking and corrupt Vatican cardinal.

So, you find a half-dozen beheading of John the Baptist paintings among his masterpieces. The notion of being headless played on his mind. “Off with his head” was not an empty slogan.

Wherever he went, trouble followed. Until he disappeared from history. No one is quite sure if he were murdered, died from some septic illness and discarded in a pauper grave.

He may have also faked his death and took off for parts unknown. However, the scientist biographers in this little film disagree. They bring together history, genetics, archaeology, and geology to literally dig up the truth.

A cavern of bones under a church renders a handful to be tested for age (about 40), male, suffering from severe lead poison (all those paintings, about 1000 times the dose you’d expect from an average person).

Those conditions presented half a dozen candidates. And tests seemed to indicate which one was the painter. It seems he was growing increasingly mad as a hatter, likely from heavy metals. He was erratic, violent, and sick, growing worse.

Forty was not the start of life in 1610. If you reached it, you were not long for the world. So it was for Caravaggio who was attacked, likely caught an infection, and while waiting for a pardon in trade for a bunch of paintings, he collapsed and died.

It’s quite a research trip and fills up an hour with fascinating detail.

Stonewall Flower Trump

 DATELINE: Green Monsters Excluded

wall flower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Holiday Cheer for Trump Limited to Bronx Cheer!

 DATELINE: No Smocking Zone

Graham Demonstrates Technique Beat It!

There’s a smocking gun in Donald Trump’s pocket. And he’s glad to give Season’s Greetings to Stormy Daniels if she has $300,000 for him.

The National Enquirer apparently knows that “peanut stuff” can be elephantine for the fat cat president who happens to be the biggest bath tub filler since William Howard Big-Boy Taft was in the White House.

The writing is on the wall and the walls are closing in, which certainly describes a penthouse for Putin at Trump Tower.

Trump only has a vague recollection of doing business “somewhere in Russia.”  We suspect he was thinking of building gulags out in Siberia for his Fox and Friends.

We have come to realize that Mr. Trump does not know what the word “collusion” really means, which is not surprising for a self-styled genius with learning disabilities.

Next thing you know Trump will insist that payments to Stormy and friends were not champagne contributions. We’ll drink to that.

If you want to work in the White House, you have to be in line for Tom Sawyer’s whitewash fence job, according to an unimpeachable source named Tom Steyer.

Where there’s smock, for Trump, there may be a muumuu for prison garb. If the muumuu fits, it’s smocking hot.

If you want to work at the White House, you need an NDA, especially if you don’t have a big bank account on hold.

Hitler had his Big Lie, but Trump has a Bigger Denial.

The witch hunt Trump most enjoyed was when Samantha went looking her mother Endora on Bewitched.

Don, Jr., has gone missing this week. Reports have surfaced that he is Big Game Hunting for reindeer at the North Pole.

When you consider a $50million bribe to Putin to be “peanut stuff,” you have a Colossus of crime on your hands.

Napoleon was sent into political exile on a remote island for his crimes, but Trump will be sent to Gilligan’s Island for his antics.

American Pie and Racism

DATELINE: Stopping Black Candidates at Any Cost?

imbeciles at work Go Suck on a Georgia Peach!

Like many deluded Americans, we thought racism, like smallpox, had been eradicated. Well, smallpox is back—and so is racism, thanks to a president who encourages it.

Racism, a sign at Fenway Park said, last year is “as American as baseball.”  The sign was quickly removed, but its sentiment remains. No World Series victory deodorizes this stink.

Trump has encouraged white nationalists to arm themselves and travel to the border of Mexico to shoot unarmed women and children if they dare to cross the line in the dirt.

Your president (well, someone’s president Trump) has insulted every black woman he can find: latest is Michelle Obama whom he contends writes a book for money and must put in controversy. Those are his values all right. You only act for money. In most morality, that’s called bribery.

Trump has called every black female journalist he meets stupid, which goes with his view of black Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Gee, do we see a pattern here? Not if you live in Florida.

In Georgia, another Georgia Peach is running for governor and hates black women like his opponent Abrams. We note only that the original Georgia Peach was a virulent racist, so Kemp is in a grand old party tradition.

In the Citrus state where Anita Bryant used to spew hate, you now have resident Trump furious that his boy Rick Scott is having the election stolen. Trump’s other stooge, DeSantis, is forming a transition team to take over. It used to be called a coup d’etat, now it’s called a recount.

Racism is as American as the grandiose old party that kicked out Lincoln years ago.

It’s rather unusual for American history to have a robber baron and grand wizard rolled into one orange-hair orangutan in the “Whiter than White House.”

Another Dr. Moreau from H.G. Wells

DATELINE:  Genetic Engineering’s Early Days

 moreau Lancaster Experiments on York!

Of the many Island of Dr. Moreau movies, with its many caricatures of the deranged scientist, we count Charles Laughton and Marlon Brando. Each played a zaftig and outrageous mad scientist to the rafters.

In 1977, the most subdued of the versions came out from American International, of all studios, and starred Burt Lancaster as Dr. Moreau. The titan of movies was then 65, but still virile and active. His performance is pure Burt.

Playing the young shipwrecked officer came another star at the top of his game: Michael York, wafer-thin and at his most attractive in the decade where his name was above the title.

He and Lancaster really have several face-offs of grand debate over science. It falls to Lancaster to give his performance the veneer of respectability. He is not a caricature but comes across as the voice of reason. It makes his mad scientist even more frightful.

In an age before DNA, the H.G. Wells tale deals with genetic mutation at the cellular level by means of serum. Here, Moreau wants to change animals into men.

It becomes horrific when he decides to change a man into an animal in the name of science—and York is the victim.

The cast is small, but effective. Among the standouts are Richard Basehart, unrecognizable in makeup, and Nigel Davenport as the assistant to Moreau. Around for looks is Barbara Carrera, standard exotic beauty of the decade.

As for the manimals, they seem to be wearing the leftover costumes from some Planet of the Apes sequel.

The movie belongs to the master, Lancaster. Savor it.

Filmworker: More Than Kubrick’s Go-fer?

 DATELINE: Alternate Ego?

Leon Vitali Young Vitali

We won’t quibble with you. At first, we were put off by the idea that someone had done a documentary on Stanley Kubrick’s assistant. We thought it was chutzpah to call this man a partner or more in Kubrick’s career.

Leon Vitali prefers to be labeled “Filmworker,” and how wrong we were about his contributions to the works of the grand master after 1976. For 30 years, Vitali became more than an assistant: he was an alter ego, a shadow to Kubrick’s Peter Pan.

To work in such proximity to a whirlwind dervish genius takes its toll. He went from stunningly beautiful boy to haggard and wizened old man. He was there for Full Metal Jacket and The Shining, doing everything with Eyes Wide Shut.

Kubrick met Leon Vitali as an actor on the movie Barry Lyndon. The beautiful young man so impressed Kubrick that he revised the film and made him a featured actor. He is brilliant, trained by the Royal Shakespeare troupe, etc.

Yet, he threw it all away when given the chance to work as a Doppleganger to Kubrick.

Not many actors would toss away potential movie star status to become lost in the voracious appetite for work that was Kubrick. When you look at Vitali today in his old age, you cannot find the pretty boy he once was: the Kubrick perfection disease has ripped him to shreds.

We were surprised that he had time to procreate a family. For 30 years, on every film, he worked 20 hours per day, doing whatever Kubrick wanted: casting, lighting, sound, editing, scripts, and jack of all trades. Leon Vitali puts to rest the rumor that Kubrick filmed a fake Moon landing for NASA.

He had the enviable job of being on the right hand and left hand of Kubrick. He took startling photos of the reclusive genius. We liked see James Mason with Jack Nicholson on the set of The Shining.

It was Vitali who came up with the idea of twin girls murdered by axe. He was child star Danny’s acting coach, and the lines between Kubrick and Vitali disappeared over the years. Kubrick would send out messages in Leon’s name, would call him for impossible and constant errands.

Vitali was more than an assistant. He was joined at the hip with the great auteur. You might suspect they were gay lovers, but their love was strictly the film business and mostly the art.

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar A. Poe/ American Masters’ Whitewash

 DATELINE: All This, and Nothing More?

poe Actor Denis O’Hare

When PBS tackles the life of Edgar Allan Poe in a re-enacted biographical documentary, you may have something special—or not.

In this case, the superior production values and participation of actor Denis O’Hare as Poe is high-end, though the actor is a bit long-in-the-tooth for the role. The film is Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive.

What’s buried alive, akin to one of his plots, is his sordid lifestyle and the likely truth.

The problem with Poe, and with the hypothesis of the film, is that he was the victim of bad press: not mad, not a drug addict, etc.  Alas, that is not-quite honest. You could accurately say he lived up to his press clippings or musty grave stories.

Poe was an American master in terms of knowing that he had to become his own character, much like Hemingway and other writers, to play himself as flesh and blood page turner to be a social media darling.

Poe’s mother was an actress—and he certainly inherited her stage presence. He loved to present his poetry in narrative drama on stage. His “Raven” was to die for, one hot ticket. O’Hare recites a few lines, making us wish the entire show was comprised of his reading Poe poetry.

Eddie, as his experts call him with all too much familiarity, was combative, especially when drunk—and he did drink, like many talented authors. The so-called experts cited in interviews are mostly novelists who admire his style, and act as apologists for his bad behaviour.

And bad it is by modern standards. There is no way to sugar-coat his marriage to a 13-year old cousin (faked ID marriage license said 21), and the experts here in the #MeToo age are winking and nodding, even the women fans of Poe.

Having middle-age O’Hare (age 55) play Poe at 27 with his interest in the pre-pubsescent girl makes it even more lascivious. You can’t sweep the stench of pedophilia under the grave or under the floorboards.

Poe’s mad, unreliable narrators and tales of murderers may nevermore be disparaged, but Poe himself is the epitome of one of his horrors. His mysterious death at age 40 stands as his greatest unfinished tale.

This is nevertheless a brilliant tell-tale heart-felt documentary. Well, let’s at least quoth the Raven.

Trump & His Strawberry Moment

DATELINE:  Bogart & Trump as Captain Queeg

Trump seeks op-ed writer!

Like Captain Queeg on the USS Caine, President Trump is cracking up and cracking open a tin of frozen strawberries.

Queeg went bananas over his tin of strawberries, and Trump has gone bonkers over the anonymously opened fruit can. It belonged to him alone, and no one else was allowed near his favorite dessert.

The defining moment for Humphrey Bogart in the 1954 movie version of The Caine Mutiny went over the top in his role as President Trump, er…Captain Queeg. He rolled ball bearings in his fingers when under stress, or did he put on a MAGA cap on the bridge?

The paranoid commander-in-chief (during an important World War II mission) scientifically tested his can of strawberries to determine if someone was pilfering small amounts every day. He came to a disturbing conclusion that he could trust no one on his senior staff. It left his senior staff scrambling over whether the leader was losing his marbles.

Anyone of them could be a dangerous op-ed writer.

He assembled the entire crew and threatened them with treason for stealing his beloved personal  stash of strawberries.

How much  It reminds of the White House under T-rump, the dreaded dinosaur of politics.

Eventually the senior officers instigated a mutiny, invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to forcibly remove Captain T-Rump, er Queeg, from the bridge of command.

Of course, the story and movie were complete fiction. No one could ever envision of total nutcase taking over the lives of a crew and subjecting the country to his dangerous and ridiculous whims and tweets.

It could not happen unless there were complicit officers on the command to leave the deranged paranoid alone and let him do whatever crazy notion entered his twisted noggin.

It’s nothing like Washington, D.C., in the 21st century.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                               

Beware, My Lovely, or the Man Shows Up

DATELINE: TV Beats the Movie!

audie Frightening Audie!

You have to love an old movie that uses a comma for direct address, as in Beware, My Lovely.

You might think this was a detective movie—but it is about a psycho who has come to torment the resident of a rooming house. In this RKO special of 1952, it’s Ida Lupino as a landlady running a boarding house after World War I in 1918—and her unpleasant visitor is Robert Ryan as Howard, a certified early version of Norman Bates.

Tall and menacing, we wondered how Miss Lupino, still young and attractive, could not be a bit threatened by this actor who made creepy and brutish villains one of his specialty. The film is based on a stage play by Mel Dinelli, which struck a chord with us. We wrote about it in a biography of Audie Murphy called Audie in Vietnam!

In fact, we realized that we saw this play done live on television by Audie Murphy and Thelma Ritter in 1960! It’s still available for those who look hard. Now that was quite a feat: Audie Murphy, the boyish war hero turned cowboy star, played against type.  He was so innocent-looking, the Norman Bates element was horrifying in a year before Hitchcock released Psycho.

Thelma Ritter was a marvelous old character actress who could play tough or vulnerable, but seemed a helpless victim. And, her little dog is not entirely happy with the handyman who shows up to torment her. Murphy draws upon some inner demons in one of his best performances.

The movie featured about 25 minutes of pre-story development that the TV special eliminated. Of course, to see Robert Ryan apparently black out and murder someone in the first minute of the movie put a different spin on the story.

Beware, My Lovely is not bad—but we think better performances were given by Audie and Thelma a few years after this film bombed. The Man with Murphy’s Howard the psycho is available on YouTube for free.