New England Patriots Blow Up Twitter and NFL!

DATELINE:  2-Headed Monsters!

First Rosey Grier, Now This!

Once again, the New England Patriots have turned this blogger into Al Pacino in Godfather 3.  Every time we try to get out, they pull us back in.

This marks the second, or perhaps third, season we will not do a Patriots book on the season: main reason is economic, mostly because Patriot fans can’t read and don’t buy books. The other reason has to do with personal sanity.

Not since Rosey Grier and Ray Milland played one man with two heads have we seen anything as horrific. It was 1972, and the movie was The Thing with Two Heads!

And now Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have done the impossible: they have doubled the combustion factor on their Super Bowl team. Perhaps they like challenges, or perhaps they are fire bugs. The horrid monster of Belichick & Brady has found a mate.

Tom Brady is about to pour kerosene on top of the two most flammable players in NFL:  Josh Gordon and now Antonio Brown. These Bobsey Twins could bring down governments if they were involved in Brexit.

They would be hurricanes that would defy Category 5 and find themselves the objects of Trump’s madhouse White House sharpie.

Indeed, we expect a presidential tweet pardoning anyone writer who sets the tandem on a course to blow up records of pass catching and yardage.

Since Bob Kraft is owner of the Patriots, you might be a cynic and say this will permanently prove that there is no video of Kraft in a massage parlor, as it has been destroyed in an explosion of Tom Brady inflated footballs.

This makes Deflategate look like inflation pumped up to extremes that the football will look like the Goodyear Blimp in the endzone for Patriot fans.

We may now watch a few games after this Near Earth Object/asteroid crashes into Planet Foxboro.

 

UnXplained Ends Too Soon?

 DATELINE:  Shatner Show Sort of Ends…

 Survivor Mysteries!

For the first batch of the UnXplained series, Shatner hosted a bunch of tales of survival and unusual, perhaps supernatural, abilities that caused people to overcome the worst odds. Now, the most extraordinary of these survival oments came when a commercial interrupted the series, and William Shatner himself promised us that the series is not done, after all, and will return “soon.”

Such a threat actually became a delight.

The series brought its limited run to another intriguing close with an episode that again brought disparate episodes into a kind of cohesive pattern.

We saw a six-year old boy, lost in wilderness, who walked 18 miles overnight to find a road to safety. He felt something was following him: coyotes, or something else. How he chose to make the right turns is something inexplicable all right. But he did it.

One of the hosts ofAncient Aliens recounted his boyhood experience, also unusual, when time stood still and he was able to rescue a 13-year old friend from going over a waterfall to certain death.

Another tale, close to our heart and chilling to our personal experience, related to a Titanic survivor, one of the bakers, whose story is often recounted in movies as an episode that many would call fictionalized. The wonderful scenes are from A Night to Remember!

Yet, the baker who was soused, inebriated, managed to survive in below freezing water for two hours when most others who fell into the Atlantic died, of hypothermia, in ten minutes.How did it happen? Why? No one can explain.

There was the tale of the man whose parachute did not open, and he fell three mile—defying all physical laws to end up with a broken spine (that also miraculously healed) and he was able to walk away from what should have been sure death.

And, one of the other tales told a weird, extra-sensory experience about a British woman, Clare Henry, whose avoidance of a foggy car crash that should have killed her was owed to a casual friend who had recently died in a car crash.

Yes, that friend was Princess Diana who appeared before Clare and directed her to pull off the road before she would have been killed in multi-car pileup.

 

The moments gathered together all featured some rising above physical laws and physics to areas of puzzling survival. There are hints of guardian angels and directive spirits, protective forces, and other dimensions, yet as some of the experts note:  these things have not been studied by science enough to figure out if there are forces in the universe that transcend our world.

 

Yes, we want old bill Shatner’s show to return.

 

 

 

 

 

Madhouse/Funhouse/Nuthouse & Then Some!

DATELINE: One Last American International Horror

 

 

 Cushing & Price

 

Madhouse is a nuthouse extravaganza movie with a funhouse spirit.

Vincent Price finished up his American International contract, which featured so many classic Edgar Allan Poe tales done outrageously, that it seemed inevitable that he would go out with a blaze. Here, he plays a movie star who made a bunch of movies as “Dr. Death,” a hideous murderer. Art imitates life here.

His career went south when he was accused of cracking up and murdering his fiancée. Whether he did it or not is the crux of the horror. You may find more than a fair share of suspects trying to “gaslight” the old star.

Well, after a dozen years in a madhouse, he returns to acting to star, good grief, in a TV series based on his infamous character.

If you haven’t guessed that most of the funhouse nuthouse stuff is all tongue-in-cheek, you miss more than most of the Hammer House parody.

Joining Price is Peter Cushing as his best friend, fellow actor, and screenwriter of all those grisly murder movies.

If that is not spicy enough for you, A-I studios dug up their two other favorite stars of the 1960s—Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone—and featured them in amusing cameos. It’s no mean feat, as the two legendary stars were long-gone for about a half-dozen years by the time this film was before the cameras.

You have to love a movie that begins with everyone watching a film in a Hollywood mansion with the final credits rolling out the words, “The End” in blood red letters.

If shameless overacting isn’t your thing, then you may not appreciate the golden opportunity Price has been given: he even dresses the part, in white trench coat and matching fedora.

There is even an O.J. Simpson moment when Scotland Yard has everyone try on the murderer’s glove: if it fits, you know the rest…So, O.J.’s lawyers found the idea in this movie!

Playing Mr. Toombes, Price puts a cutrate on fellow cast members as they are all mysteriously dispatched as the new TV series takes place at British studios. It is a nicely set film with solid production values to make you forget this is what a good cast and production team can do with a low-budget.

 

 

 

 

Night Tide & Mermaid

DATELINE: Dennis Hopper Fantasy

How wrong could a movie genre be? Try Night Tide,a strange little low-budget movie from 1963. It stars Dennis Hopper as a sailor who meets a sideshow freak star Mora, the mermaid. The question is whether this creature is like a werewolf—she turns back from a lovely woman to a part-time fish with the full moon.

Now, this hardly qualifies as a horror movie unless you are slightly off-kilter to begin. It does qualify as a movie direction for Dennis Hopper that is off-the-beaten path of Hollywood mainstream.

For all his traditional looks, Hopper was a true rebel to the system, and his selection of $25,000 budget movies indicated his went against all Hollywood norms in the early 1960s. It likely spoke volumes about where his buddy James Dean would have gone, had he lived.

Yet, it now seems like a marvelous jazzy film noir choice, daring and delightful. Mora (Linda Lawson) lives over a merry-go-round and special effects are more suggested than actual. She is hooked into some middle-aged harridan who may be queen of the gypsies, Madame Romanovitch (Marjorie Eaton).

Hopper was absolutely stunning in his little sailor outfit, out on shore leave—by himself. That, in itself, is an odd plot twist. The seaside arcade he visits and quite cosmopolitan beatnik bar are a scream. We love the patrons with dark glasses at night inside a bistro while a jazz quartet plays David (Laura) Raksin’s film score.

We almost expected him to walk into a gay bar of the 1950s, but that would mean mermen, not mermaids.

Curtis Harrington wrote and directed this small masterpiece, which channels Edgar Allan Poe with a twist.

 

 

 

Bill & Ted Face the Music!

DATELINE:  Bill & Ted at 50 Years Not Counting!

san dimmers

Thirty years after the original Valley Boy dudes hit the big screen with immortality, a third movie is in the works, with principal photography starting this summer. Bill and Ted had one excellent time in their youth.

Not a big fan back then, it is always interesting to re-visit a story with the originals having aged well, or not well. We recently returned to Deadwood after fifteen years. Now we are going back to bogus San Dimas, California, to see how teen idols are living at age 50.

It may not be pretty. Alex Winter has not flourished quite the way John Wick/ Keanu Reeves has.

We were curious as to how they can update the tale: it seems that George Carlin has fallen victim to the Grim Reaper, but the Reaper of movie 2 will return to visit the boys.

It seems that they have wasted their lives! What a surprise!

And now they are facing the music of old age: can they finally write a hit song? The film shall be Bill and Ted Face the Music, more or less. It’s written by the same man who gave us the original insipid twosome.

Music may save the world. Good grief! talk about big expectations.

They have given our intrepid dudes marriages with daughters who look just like their fathers. Hmmm. We don’t know what other genes have been passed.

The film won’t come out for a year, but the dudes will have Ted’s father (with Alaskan military school threats long gone) and Bill’s stepmother (likely still hot for her stepson).

It comes out next year. Until then, we have only to return to Keanu and Alex in their heydays—in two ridiculously funny movies where they show no brains in a historical laugh-riot.

We can hardly wait for the summer of 2020 with its hindsight.

At the Drive-In: Past is Prologue

DATELINE: Take a Bite Night!

drive in

A strange little documentary that is utterly charming details one of the last and biggest drive-in screens in the United States. At the Drive-In notes the dream of those who loved the past and the summer nights that took the family out to the movies, sitting in their car.

Three men: Jeff, Matt, and Virgil, are the organizers. It started with Jeff, a former military man who was a projectionist, a job that no longer exists in the digital age. Older and out of touch with the modern world, Jeff leased a Pennsylvania drive-in that was slowly dying. Only a few hundred are left from the hey-day of the 1950s.

He literally ran in to Matt, a young Temple film studies graduate who thought it was abandoned and dropped by to find Jeff. Calling his friend Virgil, another Temple film student, they provided a social media approach to try to save the movie palace.

Jeff insisted that it show only 35mm movies, which made it a retro-movie theatre. Besides the lack of profit, the actual film stock of 35mm is not used by modern film-makers.

Retrospective films was the only alternative to the alternative drive-in. The entrepreneurs came up with gimmick nights: zombie movies, sci-f, bite night (Jaws and Jurassic Park). All the films had to be 35mm.

There were hangers-on who also loved old films and the ambiance, Jess—the popcorn girl, and snack bar aficionado from Keene, NH, who drives over six hours every weekend to work at what he loves: a place, not a job.

These are simple and real people who a definite love for old movies—and they build up the drive-in from two or three cars to over a hundred per night by the end of the 2016 season.

If you are old enough to recall the nostalgia of the giant screen outdoors, with field before a monster white screen, you likely recall seeing Shane, Spartacus, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and dozens of other old movies in that magical moment of childhood.

At the Drive-In is a gentle marvel of movie-making about movie history. If you love movies, you read reviews and watch with religious fervor. Here is your novena of movie life.

 

 

Angel on My Shoulder: Classic Fantasy

DATELINE: Devilish Fun.

he's no angel  He’s no angel (Muni with Rains).

Harry Segall was the trifecta leader in Hollywood in the 1940s. You may confuse his three movies about death and the hereafter for their formulaic plots.

He loved the devil/angel angles and used them in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait (original story), and Angel on My Shoulder. He worked at all the major studios and wrote exactly the heavenly tale requested.

Almost always it featured the wry, sly Claude Rains (one-time Invisible Man) as the spiritual or demonic force. He did these lighter films between a series of Warner Brothers epics with either Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart.

He was always the scene-stealing costar.

In Angel on My Shoulder, he reverses course and plays the devil. Indeed, the opening twenty minutes of the film is delightful in its cynical and diabolic presentation of Hell. And, Rains runs his  corporation with a hot hand. He quotes doggerel poetry to great effect.

Without makeup, Paul Muni is the lug this time: it’s either a boxer or a gangster from the shady side with a blue-collar, ghetto demeanor. He is always saved by a beautiful, wholesome girl (this time Anne Baxter before she went to seed in All About Eve).  Muni foregoes playing a historical figure to be a contemporary crook for once.

One you leave the netherworld and return to the Big City of 1946, you have the usual stereotypic gangster idiots with recognizable faces from a dozen other films. Of course, he takes over his Doppleganger’s body (the virtuous Judge Parker).

All the bad guys are shocked by the change in the Judge to newly acquired thuggish lexicon –“Let me case the joint,” he requests.

He has been dispatched by a traitor fellow crook, Smiley, when he asks for his old gat and receives four slugs. “Let me have it,” is exactly the mantra used.

Of course, the love of a good woman changes everything, though the gangster cannot remain in the body he doesn’t own—and more deals with the devil are required.

Special effects are simple and kept to a minimum, mostly walking through doors.

Rains always transcended the material, and he does so here too.

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.

Not Schlock at all: Tormented

DATELINE: Low-budget does not mean schlock.

Hang on, Juli Hang on, Juli!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Movies with Spirits

 DATELINE: Oldies but Goodies

Mrs. Muir & Ghost

 

 

 

Crusty Dead Sea Captain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playful Blithe Spirit Rutherford as Madam Acardi

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

Go to Hell?  Go to Heaven or Hell?

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

 

Jennie, Dead Dream Girl  Jennie, Dead Dream Girl?

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

Enchantment Makeover  Enchanted Makeover?

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

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

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

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

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

Lost at Sea: USS Partridge

DATELINE: Death on the Diamond!

USS PartridgeUSS Partridge.

My life seems to be surrounded by sea disasters.

Each person must reach a point in life where they have to take stock:  it may be time for me to sell some of the most cherished items that I have held in my safeguard for years.

Though I may hope my home will be a modern pyramid, taken care of by survivors, kept in pristine condition as I have set it up, that is not likely.

Things will be sold, or worse, thrown away and thought to be worthless by those trying to liquidate the property quickly. Oh, there is some vanity in thinking that my home, once owned by the victims of the RMS Titanic and haunted by their associates (Richard’s cat and his housekeeper Addie), deserves to be kept like Lizzie Borden’s house, in historical decoration forever, frozen in timelessness.

It would be pretty to think so.

The reality is something else, and I have put up for auction on eBay one item that particularly strikes me as precious in a lost, sad way.

I have a rare first-edition book, not even signed by author Cortland Fitzsimmons. It is his 1934 baseball murder mystery, made into a charming little movie with Robert Young that same year.

The book is special, not because of its American subject of baseball, but because of its own survivor history.

Stamped on the inside cover in fading blue print are the words “DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, Bureau of Navigation.”  Under that is another stamp, “Library, U.S.S. Partridge.”

That ship was commissioned in 1919, but never knew what heroism would be asked of it. During World War II, the ship became a mine-sweeper, fairly dangerous duty. Indeed, it was hit by a torpedo in 1944, and was brought to an ignominious end. En route to Normandy, France, after D-Day, a German E-Boat fatally attacked the ship.

The Partridge sank in 35 minutes on July 29, 1944. Thirty-five of 90 crew members were killed, and many others were seriously injured.

We don’t know who saved the book from the ship’s library, or why. We don’t know how many sailors on that boat read the book for pleasure and escape during their dangerous duties of the War. We cannot say that the spirits of heroic men are attached to this item. We know only that for a time, it fell under my protection.

Now, I must find another home for it and another who will care as much as did I. It does leave me with an empty feeling, which seems to be a bittersweet aspect of growing old.

Life After Death Project, Volume 2

 DATELINE: More Forry, 4-E from Beyond!

paul davidsFilm Auteur et Artiste Paul Jeffrey Davids

Paul Davids is an interesting associate of the film business—from his days as a whiz kid for the American Film Institute and writing a documentary titled, She Dances Alone, about Kyra Nijinsky. He has also written a book called An Atheist in Heaven.

Lately, a self-professed disbeliever, he has become overwhelmed with messages from a dead friend, film aficionado Forrest J. Ackerman. The man who coined sci-fi befriended Davids—and won’t let go since his death in 2008.

Indeed, many friends of Ackerman have experienced great beyond moments that Harry Houdini promised but never delivered.

So enchanted with life after death, Paul Davids has directed a second film on the topic, Life After Death Project 2. It features selective interviews, with highly credible witnesses, and few of those “evil” demonic ghost stories. These are benign spirits who often visit family or friends.

It is our own experience with the ghosts who continue to populate our home on the property of the former owners who died on Titanic.

Davids interviews doctors, nurses, and some Hollywood people whom he obviously trusts. It is also spiced with experts grounded in science, not your local ghost hunters with empirical info.

The film is compelling, if only because of its preponderance of evidence. And, the director goes before the camera in the final sequences to follow up on his after death experiences with old friend F-4 Ackerman, noted sci-fi figure.

Of course, vanity knows no expense. Calling up expensive scientific tests likely was held under budget when friends in academia were summoned.  Several tests required high tech and hours of lab time—to prove there is unknown out there.

The odd experiences are not frightening, but compelling and beyond coincidental, as we can testify in our own experience. If you are a disbeliever in contact from beyond, you may not be convinced. If you have an open mind that dimensions exist at the tip of your nose, you may find this film more than haunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Sy-Fy Life After Non-fiction Death

DATELINE: The Ultimate Special Effect?

Forry Forry J Ackerman.

In this fascinating study of what normally is paranormal, an intelligent consideration seems to indicate that physics is alive after death. Paul Davids provides the thinking man’s answer to The Life After Death Project.

The focus is entirely on a most unusual man named Forrest J Ackerman, no period after his initial. He was as necessary to Hollywood horror movies as a monk to a monastery.

As a Pied Piper, Ackerman spent over 90 years charming, enticing, educating, and befriending young filmmakers, actors, writers, and hangers-on. They all loved him for his wit and insights. As a Hollywood para-professional, there are bountiful film clips and photos of Forry to spice up this film.

When he died, an avowed atheist, he did what Harry Houdini could not: he began sending weird technological and personal messages to his friends, including director and writer Paul Davids.

Among the Friends of Forry were Richard Matheson and Whitney Schreiber, no slouches in the sci-fi sweepstakes. They all seemed to find he was somewhere in time. Astrophysicists and academic PhDs offer their insights into the messages. These are not phony experts: they are scientists. Hours and hours of expensive research lab time goes into their study. Davids has connections that transcend the usual crack-pot discussions.

Of course, noted skeptic Michael Shermer shows up to give No-Nothing, Ignorance is Bliss types their due. Yet, Dr. Gary Schwartz is hardly to go on a fool’s errand, and his insights into light study as a technology of communication is fascinating.

Yet, the amazing coincidences from Forry tend to indicate someone is out there (the mysterious theoretical “white crow”)—and the other side is bigger than we thought. A painting he commissioned a few years before his death featured Poe-like images, including a clock that showed three minutes to midnight, the exact time he died a few years later.

As a punster and humorist, much of Ack’s messages from beyond have a distinct sly quality. If you knock on his crypt, he will indeed answer his friends. The best brains and money of modern science has not laid Forrest J Ackerman to rest.

Stan & Ollie: Imitation or Acting?

DATELINE: Bittersweet Docdramas

Stan & Ollie

The resemblance to Laurel and Hardy is uncanny.

Stan & Ollie has a resurrection quality to its stars.

You might credit makeup masters, but there is also the subtle posture and gesture of the two stars as they mimic the familiar comedic personalities of the great movie team of the 1930s.

You have likely seen these two stars doing star turns in popular movies with tepid reviews: this is their best work and may end up being their least viewed movie. Laurel and Hardy belong to aficionados of film. Young people (meaning anyone under 40—or even 50—may be in the dark about the great comic duo).

John C. Reilly plays Babe Hardy, Mr. Oliver Hardy to you. And Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel. A Brit and a Southern gentleman were an unlikely partnership but were created by studio chemists. It was a team that clicked so well it became legend.

The movie starts in 1937 at their pinnacle of success, doing Way Out West and their amazing little dance routine. It is repeated several times for good measure. Badly paid, with little artistic credit, Stan Laurel feels slighted as Chaplin and even Buster Keaton received more accolades.

By 1953, on the down-slide with age and television co-opting their earlier films, they embark on a tour of the British Isles to re-kindle their magic. Alas, the movie turns bittersweet, with far more bitter than sweet. Breaking up is never easy.

Bad blood, old age, and festering antagonisms, seem to dog the two stars. The movie replays their famous routines as if it is part of their real lives. And, they are pure show busy folks: the show must go on, and they are always on. Poor, dear souls.

Fans may find this hard look harder to take than a Hal Roach (Danny Huston) cheapskate contract. As oldsters, they had to work; no fortune followed fame.

Younger viewers may well be advised to go back to movies like Way Out West, or shorts like Their First Mistake, for seeing comedy genesis. This movie, like old age itself, is anticlimactic.