Reel History: 1960’s Damned Village

DATELINE:  Creepy Kids

 Stephens & Sanders

Martin Stephens & George Sanders

We know they could not call it by the John Wyndam title of the original novel, The Midwich Cuckoos.

The marvelous little low-budget sci-fi thriller, Village of the Damned, was only 70 minutes of brilliant detail.

Only George Sanders would be not intimidated by holding his own with a bunch of British child actors who occasionally use the special effect of glowing eyes.

After the movie’s opening 15 minutes, you are utterly hooked. It’s so brilliant that what follows doesn’t matter.

With no budget, this George Sanders movie had the most chilling opening of any film of its time. Camerawork is so effective by the director Wolf Rilla.

You see charming little British village in which everyone collapses in place, into a faint for several hours. Camera pans slowly over the entire village. Chilling.

Without the benefit of science’s discovery of DNA and genetic engineering, the story proposes that during the time in which the village is knocked out, all women of child-bearing age become pregnant. It leaves for puzzled and befuddled attitudes among many.

The script uses only several incidents to indicate how dangerous these alien children are: of course, since the children are adult-like Brits, they are creepy anyhow. Add in their mental powers and you have horror. Oh, kids grow up so fast in movies.

The children admire Sanders who is professorial and so unemotional like them. He even becomes their tutor.

In the Soviet Union, a similar community is bombed with an atomic weapon. There are nests of alien children planted around the world, we learn.

George Sanders must resort to his cold-blooded manner to save the day by using his own mind tricks.

Marvelous little gem.

 

 

Reel History: Paths of Glory

DATELINE: Kubrick & Menjou  

remarkable Adolphe Menjou

The Remarkable Mr. Menjou

Between the Korean War and the Vietnam War came an anti-war film, starring and produced by Kirk Douglas. It was called Paths of Glory.

It was notable for its brazen genius direction by Stanley Kubrick and its stunning location sets, doubling for a French chateau. It actually introduced us to the hotel used in Last Year in Marienbad.

The opulence contrasted greatly with the sordid moral play as French soldiers during World War I are randomly selected for execution as an example of cowardice under fire.

You couldn’t ask for two of the most extraordinary actors to play the bad guys: George Macready (later Martin Peyton of Peyton Place) and the always debonair Adolphe Menjou. Kubrick loved Menjou’s face: it is filmed exquisitely like a punctuation mark wrapped in rococo counterpoint.

They are insufferable in different ways as French generals ready to sacrifice anyone for their political and military duty. It surely gives angry Kirk Douglas the marvelous climactic moment to tear into Menjou as a “moral degenerate.”

These were the days when Kirk Douglas wanted to make “important” movies with the death of the studio system. And, he did for a time for which he should be praised mightily.

Kubrick had won some recognition by 1957, but it was Douglas who brought him back to direct Spartacus that sent Kubrick into the stratosphere of legendary directors.

Douglas loved to chew the scenery with his intensity, but it is the vain and effete underplaying of Macready and Menjou that drives the movie. Menjou had a marvelous style of regarding everyone from the corners of his eyes, with a sparkle of disdain.

In stark black and white, this movie has “status” written all over it. Short, cruel, punctuated with righteous indignation, the movie defies you to oppose it. They don’t make’em like this anymore.

 

Noël Coward No Surprise in Surprise Package

DATELINE: Art Buchwald Satire

 Mitzi & Noel Mitzi & Noël sing and dance!

Sir Noël, showman and epitome of the English gentleman, made a plethora of movies from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. He only turned down playing Dr. No in the James Bond spy movie.

From Our Man in Havana to the Italian Job, he lent his delectable presence in costarring roles. In 1960 he went opposite Yul Brynner in the Stanley Donen comedy called Surprise Package.

The big surprise is that it was written by satirist Art Buchwald, though you would never know it. Our favorite humorist seems lost in this adapted script.

Apart from the delicious scenes between mobster Nico March (Yul) and the deposed and exiled King Pavel the Patient (Noël), the movie is not really funny or smart. However, every time you find Brynner and Coward in matchup mode, there is something extraordinary going on.

You almost have the sense that the film was meant for someone else: perhaps James Cagney, to shoot dialogue like a machine gun. Mitzi Gaynor seems to be playing Judy Holiday. Brynner is on top of it, impressive as always.

No one else in movies could have played the deadpan, throwaway lines like Noël Coward. He’s in his own movie world, like Mae West. The rest of the cast is along for the ride.

Coward steals every moment on camera, like the master showman he always was. He could depose Burton and Taylor in Boom, and so going up against Yul Brynner shortly before the Magnificent Seven might have amused Noël.

It’s a soufflé, for sure, and perhaps the success of Donen brought Coward in for the Greek isle locations shooting.

Yul had just finished another comedy with Donen, and likely enjoyed the change of pace from epical heroes and villains.

Surprise Package would be a bad TV movie nowadays with execrable actors. However, when the legends at the top of their game deign to appear in silly roles, you must pay attention.

 

 

 

 

Coward’s Italian Job, Mad Dogs & Englishmen

 DATELINE:  Sir Noël

Caine & Coward Caine & Coward Comedy!

Noël Coward and Benny Hill? In the same movie?

Our attention has been caught big-time in this 1969 crime caper movie, a genre all the rage in the 1960s, with epitome The Italian Job. Forget the recent remake.

As if pairing those Benny and Noël was enough, you add in Rossano Brazzi and Raf Vallone as the genuine Italians—and Michael Caine as the British mastermind of a robbery in Turin, Italy, of gold bullion being driven through its narrow streets.

The film is lusciously produced with all those magnificent scenes of the historic Italian city and the gorgeous Italian Alps with its twisty roads. You can figure on car chases that will outdo all those hills in San Francisco.

As with classics like this, the actual production is less impressive. The stars seem self-contained in their roles. Indeed, there are no scenes with Brazzi and his fellow stars at all. The closest Benny Hill comes to Noël Coward is standing 50 feet away on a mole hill at a funeral.

The glue is a boyish and charming Michael Caine, so young that when he meets Noël Coward in a lavatory, you almost feel it is salacious.

Waspy Coward is a mob kingpin, believe it or don’t, who has bribed enough people to move in and out of his British prison cell with aplomb you’d expect from a sophisticated star. He runs everything with an iron fist in a dainty velvet glove.

Technology, alas, is ancient here. Good heavens, Benny Hill plays a computer nerd running around with a ten-inch reel of programming. Communication is also primitive with 16mm film as the preferred mode to send text messages. Yet, the charm is delightful and timeless.

Once the cars start piling up, you have a traffic jam for the pre-Euro-dollar ages.

 

Titanic Anniversary & Ominous Day

DATELINE:  Ghosts on Mill Circle

Richard Frazar White and his father, Percival, aboard the Titanic.

 

Each year on this date, we visit the grave of Richard Frazar White who died on the Titanic. His father was with him, but his body was never recovered. It is the 106th year since the ship sank into the cold Atlantic.

Richard lived here at Mill Circle. His family owned our home and, in all likelihood, he spent some time here. The caretaker had an apartment in what is now the library. We have hung Richard’s portrait there and placed it near a model of the Titanic.

This year, unlike others, began ominously. A large crash against the picture window overlooking a patio caused some concern. We found a robin, dazed, breathing hard, that after half-an-hour staggered away. We could not see the second bird, dead, that had also crashed into the window.

This is not a commonplace event.

You see our house is haunted by the spirit of Richard White. Oh, yes, psychics have come here to tell us.

We went out to buy flowers for a gravesite visit, but never made it. The car’s systems went a little crazy: the wiper warning light went on, as did the steering wheel light, and the oil light, and the brake light. Perhaps we should not go to the cemetery this year. Was it a sign? A message?

Our Haitian health aide was alarmed enough to suggest we light a white candle and fill a clear glass with cold, cold water to be placed near the table where the birds came at the window.

Following instructions, we found that somehow after an hour the candle had been blown out: perhaps some never felt draft from some odd corner of the house.

Our Haitian friend mentioned that there was one Haitian on the Titanic who also died on this date so many years ago. He was an engineer, the only person of color among the passengers, Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche.

This information also rattled us a bit more.

So, we wait before removing the dead bird, starting the car again, or anticipating another bird crash into the window.

It’s just another day at our haunted house.

Dr. William Russo has written Tales of a Titanic Family about the background story to the two victims of the White family. It is available on amazon.com in paperback and ebook format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost in Space Returns

 DATELINE: Lost in Netflix

  Bitchy Dr. Smith reincarnated

Dr. Smith Transformed or Transgendered? Parker Posey replaces Jonathan Harris.

As the poor stepchild brother to Star Trek on TV in the 1960s, Irwin Allen’s adventure show became a kids’ favorite. It was a cartoon version sci-fi adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson.

Now, with the bandwagon long ago down the road for Star Trek, Netflix has brought back a 21st century version of Lost in Space.

We found the original amusing, at least for half the opening season. The show had a house villain in Jonathan Harris who played the cowardly, snobby, outrageous Dr. Zachary Smith. He stole every scene they put him in.

In this new version, Smith is a fake. At the end of the opening show of season 1 (will there be another?), actress Parker Posey steals a jacket with the name “Dr. Z. Smith” on it. You could not have a prissy, snooty man play the role.

Voila et voici, you have a new Smith in the form of a woman, ready to add some kind of bad guy karma to the proceedings—and not a moment too soon.

The big budget new version actually is short of special effects and presents a limited view of the future. They crash on an icy planet. Their spaceship really has only one room, and the flashbacks to the holiday scenes could have been as much 20th century as 21st.

The characters keep their names, but that’s about it. Yes, the little boy as Will Robinson may be the best throwback.

As for Dr. John and his wife Maureen: she clearly wears the pants in the family and is actually rather nasty to her husband.

You can chalk it up to a broken leg and her children in danger, danger, danger! However, we may be hard-pressed to return to the return for another episode. Nothing really grabbed us.

We missed Guy Williams who came from Zorro and June Lockhardt who was Lassie’s Mom. They were TV stars even as John and Maureen Robinson.

What a shame.

The Shape of Water-Logged

DATELINE:  Oscar Goes Glug Glug!

glug glug  Missing the Black Lagoon

Who would have envisioned Creature from the Black Lagoon winning Best Picture of 1954 for director Jack Arnold?  Yet, the wet creature won for its director in the Shape of Water in 2018. How the world has changed into a monster mash.

Guillermo del Toro may be too full of bull with his latest movie. His Gill Man takes place on the heels of the original Creature tale, circa 1960, and likely is meant to be a homage sequel. A real sequel followed in 1955.

This amphibian man is called a ‘god’ more than once, in case you don’t understand the ending.

The film is subtly anti-American, with its sympathetic Soviet spy as one of the few likeable characters.

Of course, you have Octavia Spencer in a key role, which always elevates a movie to a higher standing. Michael Shannon has apparently cornered the market on despicable villains who are sexist, racist, and anti-disabilities. And, we always perk up when Nick Searcy (from Justified) makes an appearance.

As for the Creature, swimmingly played in a wet suit by Doug Jones, we are treated to a Fred and Ginger dance number in one dream sequence. Indeed, the film is rife with clips of old movies—from Betty Grable to the Story of Ruth.

Yes, you will find Bob Denver as Maynard and Mr. Ed as the Talking Horse in a couple of clips. No wonder this struck a nerve with aging Boomers.

Alas, the overdrawn sex scenes seemed superfluous and almost tacky to the point of meanly excluding a younger audience.

The film wants to play off the King Kong-style romance between monster and damsel, but the paws of Del Toro are around the heroine’s throat all too often.

Meant to move us with its horror fantasy, we were simply antsy.

 

Not So Grand Finale on Civil War Gold

DATELINE: History Waterlogged

Hackley malignedMuch Maligned Charles Hackley!

As we come to the end of Marty Lagina’s substitute Oak Island gold hunt series, there is no joy in Michigan. We have come to the final episode of Curse of Civil War Gold for season one.

When last we saw Kevin Dykstra, he seemed to have broken a hip during a dive yet is released by the hospital a day later on crutches with a diagnosis of fracture and pain. That won’t stop him.

Wine mogul Lagina was not so sympathetic: he immediately suggested bringing in professional diver John Chatterton who was known as the buzz-killer on Curse of Oak Island.

The genuine disappointment rankles on Dykstra and his crew who sit glumly in their expensive chartered boat while Chatterton takes over. Dykstra even hesitates to accept the money man’s choice but knows better than to complain about millionaire backers.

In his own good fashion, Chatterton does not disappoint. He takes over and selects a different place to search than shown on the previous week. Dykstra’s boys sit on the boat like the proverbial monkeys, seeing and hearing and speaking no evil.

Of course, Chatterton finds nothing and returns to Florida with a shrug. It leaves Dykstra with egg on his face and a shell-case for a crutch.

No sooner had Chatterton left, suddenly Mr. Dykstra can do one more dive. Alas, his 80’ chartered boat shrinks to the size of something belonging to Captain Quint from Jaws.

One more dive before winter and bad ratings close in, the gold hunters take video that shows what they claim is a gold bar in soggy lake bottom. It is enough of an enticement to convince Marty Lagina that the series deserves a second season.

To whet our appetite, they suggest Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was behind the plot to steal the Confederate gold.

Whether viewers agree, only History Channel knows for sure.

 

 

 

Tom Brady Shall Return

DATELINE:  Like Douglas MacArthur

Belichick

Dare we return to bad habits, like mentioning the off-season New England Patriots? If eating a cream puff smashes our diet efforts, let football fans eat cake.

In the past few weeks, rumors have gone bananas that Tom  versus Father Time Brady is about to retire after all, and Gronk is going into the movies. Indeed, Gronk just signed to play a role in a movie with Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts. It’s a typical action/adventure romp, not exactly Kenneth Branagh’s attempt to do Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens in black and white contemporary dress.

Late reports tell fans that Brady is now practicing privately with Julian Edelman for a return to the the swamp at Patriot Place, not Washington, D.C.

Of course, the nutcase Boston sports media put out an April Fool’s rumor that Gronk was about to be traded, and that Coach Bill Belichick had planned to send every close friend of Tom Brady on the team into exile like Elba was a Eastern Division team in the NFL AFC. Former Patriot coordinator Matt Patricia is picking up discarded pieces for the Detroit Lions faster than anyone else.

It was a diabolical way to force Brady to quit while he was still ahead. So, Tom forced wife Giselle Bundchen to announce she no longer was pressing for retirement.

Then, of course, the Patriots interviewed nutcase Johnny Manziel for a role as Brady’s backup that would eliminate the need to keep Brady hanger-on Brian Hoyer as backup. Brady supports QB Colin What’shisname, but no one in the NFL remembers his name.

Nobody ever said Bill Belichick was a nice guy, or even liked the quarterback who has made him one of the winningest coaches in NFL history.

Of course, there is the sidebar that the NFL is soon to be history, owing to falling ratings, kneeling players, and concussed fans who froth at the mouth over Colin’s knees.

There are those who think the billionaire playboys who own these baubles of sports entertainment are part of the juggernaut bringing on the Fall of the American Empire, precipitated by a politically idiotic president in the mold of Bill Belichick.

If you think Belichick can make the Patriots great again after discarding the heart and soul of his players, then we have an immigration program that takes down the Statue of Liberty as a monument and leaves it strictly as an NFL wildcard playbook notion.

Two Godfathers in Righteous Kill

DATELINE:  Pacino & De Niro as Cop Team

two godfathers

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have made several movies together. We were surprised by the 2008 entry called Righteous Kill from 2008. When this is all we will ever receive from the two legends in tandem, we take it gladly ten years later.

You have a special treat with this movie. The two legendary actors play New York detective partners. They must’ve flipped a coin to see who got which role. We suspect they have equal numbers of scenes, but play off each other quite well. Nothing less could be expected.

Their Lieutenant played by Brian Dennehy, notes that they must have about 120 years experience between them. Yes, they seem a little long in the tooth and beyond retirement age. This is especially noticeable in De Niro’s love scenes to a girl more than half his age.

Their foil cop detectives are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, more age-appropriate detectives. They play mincemeat for laughs to the stars. Pacino calls them gay Starsky and Hutch.

There are many 60s and 70s references in this movie, like it should’ve been made 25 years earlier.

However, the stars will not disappoint their fans. Short of them playing mobsters, these roles are the best they probably could find in a script together.

The mystery about the serial killer may easily be figured out,  But the fun is watching Pacino and De Niro act up a storm.

Righteous kill pushes all the right buttons. It is formulaic, yes, but De Niro and Pacino transcend.

To prove we watched every minute including the credits, we can tell you that Pacino and De Niro each has a hairdresser; each has his own make up artist; each needs a personal Stand-in, and each has a personal driver, But Pacino has two personal assistants to De Niro’s one.

The movie is a game of one upsmanship.

 

 

 

 

Mona Lisa Mystery: Mother of Heavens!

DATELINE: Plausible Theory about Mona’s Secret

mona

A documentary on Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is always worth a glance, but we nearly clamped down on this one immediately. Secret of Mona Lisa is fairly entertaining documentary theory, despite a few missteps.

It falsely noted that the painting has been famous for “centuries,” not exactly true as it has been only well-known since its kidnapping in 1911. Before that, it was not well-protected or well-considered.

Then, the documentary narrator noted that Leonardo died at the “advanced age of 67.”  Pardon us? Perhaps they meant that 67 was advanced in 1520. We hang tough.

It’s flatly called The Secret of Mona Lisa, to no surprise.

The point of the hour-long special was to come up with a plausible theory on Mona Lisa’s true identity. For years experts have grappled with the notion she was the third wife (albeit young trophy wife) of a rich Florentine silk merchant.

What businessman pays for a painting and never collects it? And worse, would he let his wife wear her worst, most colorless togs for the sitting?  Of course, some experts think this is not the portrait of La Gioconda, the businessman’s wife; that particular portrait may actually be lost.

However, there are no records of payment, collection, transfer, or disposition until after Leonardo’s death when his boyfriend and young companion, Salai, lists a Gioconda picture among his after-effects. That one is definitely lost.

So, the Louvre picture is an entirely different portrait, misidentified as Mona Lisa Gioconda, the merchant’s spouse.

We have considered for years that Leonardo painted himself in women’s clothes for this little subject. Then again, all Leonardo’s subject faces look alike, as if he used the mirror to save on model costs.

The film comes up with the best theory of Mona Lisa’s identity that we have ever heard: though again, there is no record of it being commissioned by one of the Medici family as a picture of an illegitimate son’s dead mother.

She is, in fact, a representation of all motherhood for Leonardo, perhaps his own mother, as he too was out of wedlock born.

Since in later years, we ourselves commissioned a painting of our long-gone mother in her youth to hang in our home, we know the idea is not so far-fetched. Old men like to see a picture of their youthful mother who died long ago, too young.

In that sense, this little documentary struck a chord with us.

 

 

 

 

 

Civil War Gold: Overboard and Underwhelmed

 DATELINE:  Gong Show Amateurs

Marty  Enter Mr. Moneybags

After four weeks of toying with the Civil War gold hunters, Marty Lagina comes through with a boat. We half expected he would provide them with the SS Minnow, as Kevin Dykstra tends to look more like the Skipper than Gilligan. Marty Lagina shows up as Thurston Howell, III, and brother Rick is a no-show as Lovey.

Welcome to episode five of Curse of Civil War Gold.

To our surprise, Lagina coughed up plenty to give them a state-of-the-art 80’ yacht with all the amenities of up-to-date sonar and research ability. They even have a captain who seems to know what he is doing, though that never stops the hunters from ignoring expertise.

Kevin Dykstra is hell-bent on diving, even in choppy seas. Much to our amusement, Marty Lagina showed up for the first dive, as if to check on how his money is being spent.

Of course, the first hit is not the right boxcar on the dice. After one of the gold hunters tells Lagina there can only be so many boxcars at the bottom of Lake Michigan, we discover there are at least two.

Strike one does not daunt Kevin Dykstra who is eager to don his wet suit as if posing for the ‘before’ pictures for Jenny Craig. Alas, not using experts continues to be the daunting issue here. During his second jump, Dykstra actually breaks a hip by hitting the diving platform. Curses, foiled again.

Though they were on the cusp of finding some kind of valuable metal, the entire operation is scrubbed because of the Chuck Barris Gong Show mentality.

If there is a silver lining, it means that a real diving team will have to finish the job: so Lagina will call in his old Oak Island stand-by to resolve the issue.

We are at the end of this season, with episode six on the horizon.

And, if there is any explanation of why the series has been called the Curse of Civil War Gold, we are hard-pressed to know what it is.

We don’t usually blame stupidity on curses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watery Gill Man from Black Lagoon

DATELINE: Goon from the Lagoon

Goon from Black Lagoon

Master director of all genres at Universal Studios during the 1950s, Jack Arnold brought us so many low-budget classics: from the Incredible Shrinking Man to Space Children to No Name on the Bullet.

One of his most famous tales was the directorial gem, Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s supposed to be in 3-D, but you won’t know it.  Film recognition may be enhanced by the odd-ball Best Picture of the Year from Oscar, called The Shape of Water. It’s more like the stolen picture of the year as The Shape of Plagiarism It’s the same movie with a bigger budget, computer effects, and less panache.

So, we wanted to see what Jack Arnold did with his movie with no budget, no big effects, and more panache than horror.

The de rigueur monster of the 1950s, the creature was actually a Gill Man, covered in scales with poorly manicured, webbed fingers. He swims like a cross between Esther Williams and Michael Phelps. And, he is photographed like a choreographed water sequence at Metro from Busby Berkley.

Arnold knew enough to bring in two stalwart 1950s leading men, Richard Carlson and Richard Denning. Carlson was always some kind of scientist with heroic demeanor, and Denning comes off as a proto-Trump businessman on expedition.

Throw in Julia Adams as a research assistant and Whit Bissell as the throwaway scientist, and you have a classic gem of a cast.

Silly plot holes may have you rolling your eyes: the underwater repellent is supposed to be knock-out drops to Gill Man, but it has no effect on the regular guys in snorkel protection mode.

Everyone goes out on a dig at night and leaves Whit Bissell to fall asleep guarding the monster. And, this scholarly scientific expedition claims not to have enough weapons to fight the Creature, though every man has a rifle.

Perhaps Arnold’s most amazing feat is that he put this film together in 75 minutes without bloody gore and with a sense of fun. Victims seem to be scratched like an encounter with one of T.S. Elliott’s cats.

No, this is not Jack Arnold’s best, but it is his most well-known movie, now more than ever.

Reel History: King Yul Brynner, Gunslinger

DATELINE: Larger than Epic

 Yul  from Westworld (1973)

Back in 1995, Reel History made a documentary on the life of Yul Brynner. Ten years after his death, he was bigger than ever, and more mysterious than ever.

Almost 25 years later, we took a look at his life as seen primarily through the eyes of his son Rock Brynner and his daughter Victoria.

Everyone agreed he was original, unique, idiosyncratic, and overwhelming. He could not be poured into a typical leading man role. From an eclectic international background, he transformed into any time period, historical personage, or futuristic creature.

Yul Brynner started at the top: no one else could play the King of Siam on stage with a bald pate and in colorful pajamas. He transferred that quality to Ramses the Great in The Ten Commandments, giving Cecil B. DeMille something special. Nothing he touched was standard: from mythic Faulknerian Jason Compton in The Sound and the Fury to a magnificent gunslinger in a movie of the same name.

He was Taras Bulba, Jean LaFitte, and King Solomon, no matter how much hair you put on him, or took off him.

Somewhere on the downslide for most actors, he came back as a robot in 1973’s Westworld, basically the same character as the leader of the 1960 Magnificent Seven, but now his blackness was frightful, beyond death.

The new series Westworld paid homage to Yul in one dramatic scene when one of the executives wandered through the robot catacombs—and there was the black silhouette, utterly recognizable of Yul Brynner.

In the end, he returned for years to play in the King and I for years, making it on Broadway and in a roadshow, almost to the day he died.

One little documentary hardly seems enough to cover his mammoth personality, style, and achievements.

In keeping with our small-screen, intensive reviews, we will examine each individual episode of the 10-part series of Season 2 of Jonathan Nolan’s Westworld, beginning at the end of April, 2018.

 

 

 

Reel History: When Bette Met Mae

DATELINE:  What Becomes a Legend Most

 Bette & Mae The Reel McCoys!

Yes, a young fan at an intimate dinner party made an audio tape of a conversation with Bette Davis and Mae West when they met in November of 1973. And, now that young man has produced and directed a marvelous documentary that re-enacts that meeting with lip-synch lookalikes.

What a treat for those who love the old Hollywood legends—and it’s the actual voices of the stars, played to the hilt of re-enacting.

Their pre-dinner conversation is dotted and interrupted with annotations about their lives and celebrity that comprise a little gem that lasts over an hour.

You might expect fireworks, but Mae only plays her famous Diamond Lil for money—not for social laughs. And, Bette does her Margo Channing with an endless punch of hard drinks galore.

In some ways Davis dominates—and takes on the other two guests who came with Mae West.  But, the two legends have a love-fest as they run down the old Hollywood studio system, imitators, and worthless men in their lives.

All this is enhanced with two marvelous doppleganger actresses in the roles of Mae and Bette—looking so realistic that you feel like you really are there.

Wes Wheadon was a young friend of Bette and decided to put the chat on an old cassette tape from that long-ago night–and direct it as he recalls. Now he shares that wonderful evening with a new generation. With Victoria Mills as Mae and Karen Teliha as Bette, Sally Kellerman narrates this delicious night of stars.