Remembering Leonard Nimoy!

DATELINE:  Family-Based Eulogy!

  Nimoy with Quinto.

A few years after the original and amazing Mr. Spock passed away, his daughter Julie has come up with a biographical documentary about Leonard Nimoy.

Such loving family portraits are often good for the soul and avoid messy scandals and unpleasant issues. There is no mention here of Nimoy’s period of hating Mr. Spock and trying to avoid the character. Instead, we see how he comes to embrace the icon and play him even in the Zachary Quinto remakes! Nimoy steals the movie.

In such a tale of life, we were surprised at what we had forgotten: Leonard was a Bostonian who grew up near old Scollay Square, though he calls it the West End and says he was a street kid in a tough neighborhood. Well, yeah, it was the red light district of Boston for years! He never reveals that!

He went to Pasadena Playhouse at 18 and stayed in California forever after that. He did return to Boston to do a few plays in later years (Fiddler on the Roof, etc.).

The early years of struggle with dozens of guest roles on TV and working as a cab driver (where he met fellow Bostonian JFK once as a passenger), are quite fascinating.

His daughter has a criticism of her father: his two-pack a day cigarette smoking that gave him COPD. It ultimately was a death knell, though he lived until 83 years with the condition.

Fans will be delighted with how this creative and versatile artist lived and worked: he was poet, director, actor, and above all else at the end, a highly emotional family man. He joked how his ancestors were aliens to America and came to this country, but he was born in America and went to Hollywood and became an alien.

Nice little film.

 

 

 

 

 

Fatima Revisited

DATELINE: New Movie Story

 Witnesses.

With another miracle at Fatima movie now released with a devout perspective for the religious followers, there seems to be a danger of facing a buzzsaw when you take on the topic with any skepticism. Fatima again tells the story of three children who experienced some kind of paranormal visitation from a beautiful lady in the sky during World War I.

We never flinch when hacksaws come at us. A few years ago, another documentary, was produced by the multi-million-dollar organization behind the Fatima story for 50 years, came up with a semi-doc something called A Message of Hope.  It wants to be an antidote to the recent Ancient Alien view that Fatima was another UFO encounter.

The original story of three children seeing the Virgin Mary in Portugal in the middle of World War I has been never fully told. Most people think a big crowd one day saw something in the sky. It was much, much more. The sightings were regular.

Actually, the children had visions for over a year: including a bunch with a male angel who gave them a bloody host literally to eat and drink the blood of Christ.

You might dismiss this as peasant-level superstition in farm country of a backward nation. Yet, there is something absolutely weird about a beautiful woman telling coming down from the sky and telling these kids that two of them will die soon and that they will face great suffering. Today we might think this is a kind of child abuse. It is creepy at the least.

It does not come across as kindly. And, then the political forces put them into jail (not Trump cages) and threatened to boil them in oil if they did not recant. They remained firm in their testimony.

One secret the lady told them and kept by the Vatican in espionage hiding for decades was that a pope would be assassinated. Well, it did almost happen decades later to John Paul II.

Some years later, the entire experience was hijacked by the Joe McCarthy anti-communist groups who created a Blue Army to counter the Red Army. The group led by an American of dubious character made millions off the miracle. They have their own 747 jet and huge monuments. The faithful gave them plenty of loot. Their PR is among the slickest in the world.

If anything, the anti-commie segment moved the HQ to the US instead of backward Portugal. This documentary is filled with piety and well-meaning religious people who argue that it is true and a miracle. It’s easier to believe it was space aliens.

The film plays to the believers of religion, though you may have a hard time telling them apart from a visit with Erich van Daniken. The new movie corroborates the Blue Army version. We expect to be under attack for questioning this topic.

 Fright Night Revisited

DATELINE:  Vampire Classic from ’80s

Sarandon & Jeffreys

Has it really been 35 years since Fright Night rejuvenated modern vampires?

It was Tom Holland who wrote and directed it, looking like a B-movie for TV show of the week, apart from the nudity now and then. By today’s cable movie standards, this is rough, however still holds up as entertainment with a modern twist.

Two points of amusement remain unflappable: Roddy MacDowell and Stephen Jeffreys. They survive in name for sheer wacky performances. MacDowell plays an aging movie star who used to play vampire hunters in his heyday, and Jeffreys plays a teenage Jack Nicholson on uppers. He later reneged Hollywood to do gay adult films for a while, though that is now denied with a half-baked story that it was his evil twin brother.

The vampire is demure and stately Chris Sarandon, looking like he wandered into the wrong California suburb. Yes, the vampire has taken a house in a Leave It to Beaverpart of town where you can peer into the next-door windows. It seems like he’s asking for teenage trouble.

Stephen Jeffreys steals the big scenes: he becomes clearly the gay victim of Sarandon’s vampire. His two delicious scenes are with Roddy as they battle.

For MacDowell with his hair fake-frosted, this was a last grand role, and he makes the most of it. Director Holland was lucky to have the veteran star in his movie.

There is no scrimping on special effects at the finish, and you have a sunny California vampire tale.

The film was originally set to star Vincent Price, not McDowall, and Anthony Michael Hall, not Jeffreys. And, we still haven’t figured out what Sarandon’s boyfriend is supposed to be.

In the whatever happened mode, William Ragsdale is the star juvenile lead. He’s cookie-cutter good enough. Yet, he is thrown up against two scene-stealing actors who rob him of the movie. The film is considered a classic nowadays.

UFOs: The Secret History

DATELINE: (well, not so secret)

Be Still, My Earth.

Though it is billed as having new information, it really has only a new and amusing perspective.  The film is irreverent in many ways, through use of movie clips and the laconic narration of its clever director.

We are happy to report that, unlike many cheapskate directors who save money by doing their own voice-overs, this director is actually a fairly good voice and speaks with intelligence and drama. David Cherniak directs with aplomb. He also led the film for the recent look at Bob Lazar in late middle age, revisited. Don’t hold it against him.

UFOs: The Secret History  is indeed a history, but with few secrets. It does have a plethora of marvelous clips from classic sci-fi films as part of its narrative.

His hilarious insights that are new include the notorious “pelican” theory that Kenneth Arnold in 1947 actually saw pelicans flying in formation at 1700 mph and called them saucers.

Yes, a scientist tells us this with a straight face.

When it comes to more serious matters, director David Cherniak still chooses photos that are unusual, not ones you’d see on Ancient Aliens. He does give us a a fresh take on Orson Welles, Roswell, Project Grudge, and the usual litany of UFO incidents that brought us to a wholesale government coverup.

He also plays on the notion that seeing UFOs was psychological, part of the J. Allen Hynek approach, which was code for saying the viewer of such events had a psychological problem. Even Hynek was turned into a buffoon over “swamp gas.” Well, yes, being called a nutcase is distressing.

One turning point is hardly secret: abductions of Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire, the template for lost time and sexual abuse by space creatures.  There is no secret about the Travis Walton case, but it grabbed worldwide attention, as did the appearance of elderly Jesse Marcel who was at the Roswell crash in 1947, blowing the whistle.

If there is a secret here, that may be the hybridization plan of aliens to take over the Earth in subtle fashion by genetics. Oh, that secret…

 

 

 

 

 

Franchise Detectives: Blanc and Poirot

 

DATELINE: TV or Not TV

As if one fiasco performance was not enough in Murder on the Orient Express,Kenneth Branagh has pasted on his giant fake mustache for a second Poirot adventure based on Agatha Christie.

Yes, he is sailing down and down: Death on the Nile. will render another horrible remake of the murder mystery. Put aside the diminutive expert work of David Suchet a few years ago, Branagh is a behemoth in the role (too big for his tiny mincing steps).

Why would Branagh chose to do a franchise murder mystery series on the bigger screen after doing every Shakespearean play that fit his mood on film?

Likely it is the same reason that Daniel Craig has given up James Bond’s franchise to play a cornpone detective named Benoit Blanc from New Orleans. As one character noted, it was CSI by ways of KFC. Knives Out  will be followed by Knives In and Out.

Craig’s character is not even clever, except as the writer lets him solve the crime. Bombast seems to highlight these new detectives who’d never cut it on TV weekly in the old heyday of McCloud and  Rockford.

All-star supporting casts seem to be a draw for these films now: you find faces (some old TV stars) that yearn to be back in the public favor, and you have a cast of suspects that is often highly amusing. Their biggest crime is wanting a comeback role.

So, we will have more of these franchise detectives. The roles are not exactly Prince Hamlet, but great roles often have been reprised by different actors. For almost a century Basil Rathbone was considered the be-all, end-all Sherlock until Jeremy Brett gave him a run.

Now we have new actors (well, very old actors) in new versions of old wine. We toast their hubris.

Doubles and Fakers on UnXplained

 DATELINE:  Local Connection!

 Imposter, Not Tony Curtis.

Here is another fascinating subject, not usually covered in any depth by the spate of paranormal, mystery investigators. These are stories about near criminal impersonation.

The UnXplained came across with another winning episode.

If the show were worth its weight in truth, it had to deal with the most famous impostor and faker in my resident town:  yes, Ferdinand Demara stayed here a while in the 1950s, pretending to be a elementary school teacher with fake credentials. A neighbor was actually in his class that year—and she laughed he was no Tony Curtis (the movie star who played Demara in The Great Impostor).

This faker and poseurpretended to be a Canadian doctor and performed surgery during the Korean War. Yes, he operated on suffering wounded soldiers!  Caught, he was still deemed a hero for saving them. He went on to act out his fantasies as a Trappist monk, a lawyer, a college professor, and other stolen identities.

Demara’s life was always pretending, but did not much evil other than deception. He died a fat faker of 350 pounds, not pretending to be a health nut.

However, subsequent figures that Shatner’s show uncovered were increasingly sociopathic and homicidal. A French fake in the 1990s took over Hollywood as an investor and party-thrower, friend to stars. He was stealing their money and allegedly wanted to produce movies. He claimed to be Sophia Loren’s son.

Then, there was Clark Rockefeller, a German low-brow who went by several identities—and he was no Rockefeller. He was, it seems, a murderer with a yard with at least one victim—and another still missing.

These were the worst: the women were a brain damaged Polish peasant who convinced herself she was Czarina Anastasia. They made movies and plays about her fakery. And, given a short shrift was Billy Tipton, famous jazz pianist, who was found to be a woman upon his death.

This was another fascinating show, featuring rare clips, interesting insights, and the underplayed narration of William Shatner who knows something about playing roles.

Next Step in the Epstein Investigation?

 DATELINE: Costume Ballers

 Weinstein/Epstein/Maxwell.

 What a trio!

When Prince Andrew threw a costume ball, Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein joined Harvey Weinstein for fun and games.

Word is now filtering out of the Southern District of New York federal prosecutor’s office that the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell is opening up a Pandora Box. They may be looking at an investigation into public officials tied into the Jeffrey Epstein case.

You have political types jumping up and down on both sides of the aisle:  Republicans think Bill Clinton is under the gun, and Democrats think Donald Trump is the person of interest.

The term “public official” certainly rules out Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth and a royal slime-ball of another country’s color.

Trump’s firing of the US Attorney Geoffrey Berman last week indicates that he was attempting to de-rail any investigation into Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz, two Trump allies with connections to Epstein’s unsavory sexual history. Bill Gates and Elon Musk have taken to the powder room to keep dry.

Everyone denies their culpability, but the rumors for years of loose morals among these people can be uncovered on many websites and news feeds over the past decade or so. Like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, all seem to be connected to each other, crossing paths or socializing with no distance too close. Ghislaine’s photo with Kevin Spacey from 2002 has been unearthed, and pix of Weinstein with Epstein are also now easy to find.

If you want to believe in a network of sexual predators, you don’t have to stretch the mind too far. Nearly all these people were flight risks on the Lolita Express, Epstein’s aptly named jet to perdition.

Some experts think Ghislaine will talk a good game to escape a long prison term; others believe she will never make it to trial. Accidents do happen when you cross billionaires and political power horses.

 

 

 

 

Older than Dirty Gringo

DATELINE: Mexico & Villa

 Peck & Fonda

Years ago we passed up Old Gringobecause of Jane Fonda. It seems a generation past, and it was. She had the temerity to be the only one to make a movie about Ambrose Bierce, the extraordinary American literary figure.

We thought there would be others to make such a film, but in 30 years, no one has.

So, we turned to it now, on streaming view, to see old Gregory Peck playing Old Gringo. He is always marvelous, and here was another role in which he could shine: as the cynical, burned out, angry writer who ran off to Mexico because the fake media had used him his entire life.

This story is fiction and speculation. Bierce meets a naïve governess who has gone there to Mexico without knowing Villa’s revolution is in progress. She is used like a pawn by a rogue general under Villa played by the hot tamale of the time, Jimmy Smits.

The film is one of those tortilla Westerns with plenty of shoot-outs and western action. It seemed incongruous for both Peck and Fonda as they played out a freakish firing squad scene and tourista Americans.. Fonda is now 80+ and Peck is long gone.

When the gratuitous action calms down, they play a May-December love scene that is actually brilliant and touching. She is a spinster never expecting love, and he is an old reprobate whose career prevented him from smelling the roses.

If one scene can make a film, two legends brought it to life. The old politics is now long lost in today’s society, and so are these great actors.

Better to have waited to view this strangely literary movie amidst the chaff of movie crap.

Ambrose Bierce disappeared in Mexico in 1912, and this is only one theory of his demise. Yet, in movie annals, it may be the last word.

Half-way through the film, the American woman falls in love with the foreign revolution—and we had some sense of Fonda still fighting the Vietnam War. When the end comes, she has betrayed the identity of a great man for self-interest, perhaps a moment of ultimate guilt.

 

 

 

 

Mysterious Works of Stanley Kubrick

DATELINE: Faked Moon Landing?

Young Kubrick.

This is the ultimate close reading of Kubrick’s oeuvre.Alas, the narrator is a nasally turn-off, whatever interesting and looney stuff he feeds us.

Yes, this one-hour biographical conspiracy movie seems to hint that Kubrick was assassinated for being difficult, for revealing too many secrets, and for being moral. Taken one at a time: Kubrick was a perfectionist who was used to fake the Moon landing(s), all of them.

He knew too many buried skeletons in Hollywood about pedophilia, and he was an enemy of freemasons, billionaires, and world controllers in government.

Yes, that will get you killed. Just ask Jeffrey Epstein.

There is an interesting opening sequence about young Kubrick and his development into a movie director. His singular idiosyncratic, autocratic self-controlling career began after Spartacus (which the documentary says he hated). It’s a great film, nonetheless.

But this doc thinks his greatest film is Eyes Wide Shut(which we dismissed as overwrought and overindulgent).

The narrator goes on the reveal all the people he offended with each subsequent film. He had to do 2001: A Space Odysseyas a cover for his work making the Moon landing footage that was shown to the public. Those pesky astronauts were laden with guilt and hypnotized, according to this film.

The Shining (misspelled in the film documentary) is rife with references to Apollo 11 and to child molestation in case you missed it. And, the examples are startling to behold.

His final film, Eyes Wide Shut,took 18 months to film, and when important people saw the finished cut, Kubrick was alleged to have been assassinated by lethal drugs to imitate a heart attack in 1999.

Then, his final cut was altered so as to not offend billionaire government powerful figures.

The documentary is as frenzied as those monkey-men, faced with a giant monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

 

 

 

Best Agatha Christie Bio

DATELINE:  Mystery Maven

You have to delve into the Britbox archives to find the 1990 biography of Agatha Christie done a dozen years after her passing. The thinking at the time was that she was a surprise to have her popularity survive her death.

Indeed, one interviewed critic dared to say he thought she had great staying power and would keep her fame and interest alive well into the 21stcentury. Imagine that!

This is, perhaps, a highly intelligent portrait called An Unfinished Portrait.It is based on the title of one of her nom de plumeworks that passed unheralded for years. Her furtile and creative mind is boggling.

This delightful film is narrated by Joan Hickson (who played Miss Marple several times) and features appearances by David Suchet (the definitive Hercule).

Using archival interviews with the grand Dame, you have an understated genteel woman who fairly much is dumb-founded when an interviewer asks her if she likes crime. She retorts, she likes detectives and puzzles.

She worked as a pharmacist during World War One, and learned all about poisons. The documentary uses words from her novels that parallel her personal feelings and biographical events.

IN one creative period from the 1920s to 1950, Dame Agatha wrote about 35 classical titles, all still known. Several include plays like The Mousetrap  or Witness for the Prosecution.

 

We could list 30 titles here that you’d recognize.

 

The film is unflinching in examining her strange, staged disappearance in 1926 that cast a murder charge over her philandering husband, Col. Christie. She set him up, or so it appears. She later married an archaeologist, 14 years her junior, who gave her many plot ideas.

Miss Marple was based on her grandmother, and Dame Agatha always maintained good manners in her personal life and in her storylines. She just enjoyed giving people a good mystery to figure out: chess on an entertainment level.

What a refreshing look at the great mystery writer.

Cruise of the Gods

DATELINE: Early Coogan & Brydon Effort

 2002

At one point in Trip to Greece  (2019),  Steve Coogan disdainfully tells his son he has known Rob Brydon for eleven years. It’s somewhat of an underestimate. Coogan and Brydon made their first movie together in 2002. It was a BBC-TV comedy called Cruise of the Gods.

The first movie is actually similar to Galaxy Quest,the far more successful tale of a 1980s sci-fi series cast that is thrown together 20 years later. Indeed, Brydon is the dominant star in this film, but Coogan takes it away when he shows up.

They starred in a kiddie show as teenagers. Brydon has fallen on hard times outside the business—and Coogan is a big TV star (Sherlock Holmes in Miami).So, Brydon accepts a fan cruise for a week (and $2000 needed bucks). They don’t even ask Coogan, figuring he is too big to do such a ploy.

Yet, he is thrilled to meet his teen fans (now middle-aged nerds). James Corden is a teen in this, chubby and nearly playing a stalker of stars.

This all reminded this critic about his friend and cowriter, the late Jan Merlin, who starred in a sci-fi show for kids decades ago—and years later reluctantly went to fan shows (for which he was compensated).

The other point of interest is Rob Brydon who has not really aged at all in 20 years. He looks essentially the same as the teenager of 1982 and the 50-year old in the last Trip  movie. He may not be handsome, but he is consistent in looks. Coogan has aged (hairdos being his bane).

Though this is billed as an affectionate tribute to fans, it is bitter and cynical, with the two stars not quite in their hostile mode for subsequent features.

 

 

Powell & Pressburger Early Effort

DATELINE: Forgotten Classic Film

Stars together in scene not in movie.

The two creative powerhouses who gave us The Red Shoesand Stairway to Heaven within a decade provided the free world a marvelous morsel called 49thParallel in mid-World War II.

Michael Powell and his film writer Emeric Pressburger chose to give propaganda a shot in the arm. The only real German in the movie, Anton Walbrook, plays a pacifist: Eric Portman, a Brit, is the worst of the Nazi officers.

Perhaps the only war movie set in America where invading Nazi forces have landed at Hudson Bay, the film is a curio and a delight of originality.

The cast is stunning: Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, and Anton Walbrook, Finlay Currie, with Eric Portman as the Nazi Uboat officer stranded near a far-off trading post after their U-boat is sunk by RAF bombers. The Nazis think they are the first wave of invaders to conquer North America.

It is amusing to see Heathcliffe, Abe Lincoln, and Ashley Wilkes fighting Nazis. This movie gives you these cerebral actors breaking form. The film is done in picaresque style, which is to say, your stars do not have scenes together.

The Nazis are ruthless monsters to the point of hyperbole, your typical propaganda approach of the era. They are their own worst enemies and self-destruction is half the battle.

One by one, the hunted Nazis fall by the wayside, deserting or captured along the way. One of those they meet is a writer, effete and genteel, who is Leslie Howard—of course, and for whom the Nazi has utmost contempt for his “degeneracy.”

Filmed in Western Canada in black and white, you still feel the majesty of the setting among the grand forests and stunning mountains that dwarf the Nazi menace.

If the final Nazi, celebrated in Germany on radio, can make it to the neutral United States in 1941, he can be repatriated to Germany. His final encounter is with a boxcar rider named Raymond Massey.

By the way, the young teenage girl at the commune is Glynis Johns.

 

 

 

 

 

Lured: I Love Lucy!

DATELINE:   George Sanders Loves Lucy!

Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Boris Karloff, and Charles Coburn. If you are an old movie fan, these names together in a movie will send you into the stratosphere. It’s a murder mystery set in modern London with an American showgirl recruited by Scotland Yard to catch a serial killer.

Lured  is a 1947 film overlooked by most because it is such a cross against typecast.

Lucy is sarcastically funny when she needs to be. George Sanders actually has a line in which he states, “I’m an unmitigated cad,” and the killer has a penchant for the poetry of Charles Baudelaire.

This is not your usual mystery film. Douglas Sirk directs with his usual great aplomb and knows how to let his highly idiosyncratic actors play their stereotypes to the hilt. He made his name later in big budget soap opera movies, but here he plays film noir like a comic Hitchcock.

Not only that, the film is beautiful to look at—with its glossy black and white sets that do not scrimp on atmosphere.

Coburn is the lead Yard inspector—and his assistants are Alan Napier and Robert Coote!

The litany of rogue suspects is peachy Boris Karloff and Lucy are marvelous as he is the mad fashion designer and she is his model. Later she attends a Schubert concert after joining the staff of butler Alan Mowbray. She must hunt down each suspect with her brash comedy timing. You will soon recognize the Lucy you love.

You may not guess who the culprit is until the final reel—and Lucy does an excellent job working for Scotland Yard.

A lost gem, you owe it to see this charming comedy thriller.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Nichols: Becoming & Unbecoming

 DATELINE: Insider Biography

 Burtons with Nichols.

Filmed shortly before his death several years ago, director and comedian Mike Nichols reviewed his life and career before an audience and in a more private interview. HBO put together this short film about Nichols called Becoming Mike Nichols.

The result is an illuminating exposition about a self-made director.

In the early 1960s in the heyday of the monologue comic standups like Mort Sahl and Bob Newhart, you had Nichols and May among the cleverest of all. Their run ended when, Nichols admits, he became too obstreperous director for May.

It opened up a chance to direct in theater, not merely his partner. He started with Neil Simon, Walter Matthau, Robert Redford, and Odd Couple on stage. Not exactly chopped liver.

He knew many Broadway stars from his years in New York, and met Richard Burton when they were in next door theaters. Burton later invited him to Rome to visit where he met Elizabeth Taylor while filming Cleopatra—and he was instrumental in having both appear in his first film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Three days before filming, he had friend Tony Perkins give him a crash course of pointers on use of camera in movies. In fact, he learned on the job. His work began a string of brilliant movies: The Graduate, Carnal Knowledge, Catch-22, and other literate films like The Birdcage.

The documentary focuses on his first two movies in depth, giving marvelous insights into Taylor, Burton, Dustin Hoffman, Buck Henry, and Simon and Garfunkel. The anecdotes leave the audience begging for more. A few pearls drop about Jack Warner, Billy Wilder, Anthony Perkins, but there is not time or attention to those.

There is nothing really about his Emmy winners or Tony winners. You may want to know about The Birdcage or Angels in America,  or his work on Gilda Radner or Whoopi Goldberg, but you will need to look elsewhere for that.

 

 

The Train: Not a Metaphoric Train Wreck

 DATELINE: Another Gem Missed Years Ago!

 A Man for German Seasonal Art?

 After playing a saintly Thomas More, actor Paul Scofield showed his range by playing a Nazi colonel who steals all the major art works of Paris in August of 1944, and tries to smuggle them to Germany on a train.  The Trainruns on time without Mussolini in 1965, as this slice of war thrills looks back twenty years earlier to the Nazi occupation in France.

Scofield is nearly as good as a Nazi officer as James Mason. He acts mostly with his eyes, which are extraordinary in conveying all kinds of reactions. He is magnificent to behold, but is secondary to the character of trainmaster played by Burt Lancaster.

If Lancaster seems a bit too athletic American for a French resistance fighter, he more than makes up for his age by doing a couple of amazing stunts—and other activities you might not expect from a star.

Their scenes together are fairly muted. It’s not exactly Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton burning up the screen, but blame that on the script that keeps them a bureaucratic arms’ length.

They’ve thrown Jeanne Moreau into the mix in what amounts to a cameo as a hotelier with a couple of scenes with Lancaster. You need some real French people in a movie made in France.

French resistance against the Nazis was heroic, but the alterations to train stations and pretense of fooling the fleeing chaotic Nazi army seems a bit hard to swallow.

The film wanted badly to be an art house thriller like Wages of Fear, but for that they should have cast Yves Montand in the Lancaster role.

As it is, this is one of those remarkable thinking man movies with art as motive thrown in: actually the Nazi appreciates the art more than the French who try to save it, which is a tad ironic. Painting the train is poetic license.

Scofield’s Nazi officer becomes increasingly nasty, and Lancaster’s hero becomes super-sized. It’s as it should be. Scofield turns into Richard III by film’s end.

We are not disappointed that Montand and Mason were not the leads. It would have been a slightly different flavor of filmdom.  If you love a good train wreck, here you will be delighted.