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.

 

Lost Gold’s Backdoor Episode

DATELINE: Grandpa Knows Best. 

Luzon meeting Luzon Meeting of the Braintrust?

Finally, in the fifth episode of trudging through the thick, humid, sticky jungle, the intrepid American heroes of this series admitted there were bugs eating them alive. Lost Gold of World War II holds your attention.

We saw sweat dripping several times over the past few weeks as they chop through thick underbrush, bemoaning how the Japanese soldiers managed.

Well, we heard in a throwaway line that prisoners of war and others did this heavy work—and were paid by being entombed in the mine shafts where the gold was hidden.

We were also bemused to see the true oldsters of the expedition going out on this show:  Peter Struzzieri, the ostensible brains back at basecamp and a spry 70 year old, and Martin Flagg, a less spry senior expert in Japanese secret society symbols were dragged out.

Peter Casey was clearly concerned that this was an arduous trek. But, the so-called carved turtle rock was something they must behold: it’s alleged to be a direction marker to a backdoor to the gold.

We did laugh when Struzzieri noted that the younger guys would go on ahead. No one is under 50. If you stick around for the closing credits, you will note that these scenes are all “re-enacted,” for cameras.

You also have to marvel when they go to “grandpa” who is the ancient source of wisdom (sort of their version of Dan Blankenship on Oak Island).

Like our gold diggers on Oak Island, these guys like to jump to conclusions. Thank heavens that Bingo Minerva is back in Texas, taking a shell casing to a military historian.

The ammo is actually dating from 1908 and American intervention in the Spanish-American conflict of 1898. If you want rationalizing at its best, the searchers speculate that World War II Japanese soldiers were using old American ammo by war’s end.

Oh, well, this stuff is still fun.

 

The Last of the Western Elite

DATELINE: Butch & Sundance

Rakish mistakish Seated on each end.

  Bowler League?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are inevitably the guys with raindrops falling on their heads.

When the American Experience doc series takes on their story, we feel that the light ditty that sent them over the cliff of fame is unnecessary to the real truth of tragedy.

The little film is more about the Pinkertons and modern technology of 1900 with marked bills, detailed descriptions, and Morse Code. Butch and Sundance could wear bowlers better than most, but the famous picture dogged them and doomed them.

On the tail end of the Western tale, they were actually weaned on the early dime novel adventures, becoming the last of a breed in the days after Jesse and Billy. They were dainty, dynamite train robbers of the Robber Barons, and that did them in.

Taking stage names that were part of the show, Butch Cassidy protected his family name by assuming the name of a paternalistic role model named Cassidy. Sundance took his name from the town where he spent much time.

Extrovert Cassidy and introvert Sundance were methodical and almost passionate in good manners for not shedding blood. They had a Robin Hood network of followers and supporters. Some claimed the Wild Bunch had 500 followers, all dedicated to Cassidy.

The two men were ultimately, if not homoerotically,  devoted mostly to each other, whether you throw in the beard of Etta Place or not. She left them in Argentina and they could ride off into the sunset together.

Alas, not knowing geography, language, or customs, they ended up as a murder-suicide duo, hopelessly entwined unto death. The real story doesn’t need a cute song to sum up their lives.

 

 

 

Pirates on Oak Island: Deep Digging

DATELINE:  Extra-curricular Episode!

Matty Blake  Matty Blake: Out in the Rain Again!

The subset of the Curse of Oak Island is a series of a half-dozen shows that look at issues around the history and research of Oak Island.

This annotated bunch of episodes, on topics like paranormal and pirate history, is hosted, not by Robert Clotworthy, but by some cheerleader named Matty Blake, a radio personality.

Someone should tell this guy he has the job. He seems overly exuberant, hugging and high-fives all around. His exaggerated excitement seems to even rankle the Lagina brothers who show up for an interview on various topics he raises—usually for the negative.

His latest show was on Oak Island pirates. He interviewed various show people, like Charles Barkhouse and Gary Drayton. They give him insights because they usually are secondary figures without any limelight. After all, this is Marty Lagina’s production. No one elbows him out of the camera.

Apart from Matty Blake’s constant cheerleading patter, he shows elements of a lack of sense. He does one segment in pouring rain at the “smelly swamp,” and boasts that it is all part of the Oak Island experience. Sounds more like a production overrun.

 

Blake does raise some interesting points, and his latest on pirates looked at everyone from Sir Francis Drake to Captain William Kidd.

We must tell you up-front that our great-aunt Belle Walters grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and with her husband, my father’s uncle John, they went there each summer from the 1920s to the 1960s. Uncle John was also a 33rd degree Mason, quite a big deal, and they firmly believed the treasure belonged to Captain Kidd. Even as a kid, we heard this theory.

Blake spent a great deal of time trying to find locals who knew who Captain William Kidd was, without much luck. How the times have changed.

He also raised the issue of Captain Anderson, another privateer of the late 1700s who actually lived on the island for a time and may have built a ramp from his land to the ocean front. Gary Drayton felt this was important—and we always pay attention to what Mr. Metal Detector Detective states.

The show always ends with the Lagina brothers throwing cold water on Blake’s theories—and he thanks them profusely. We know who signs his paycheck.

 

Dead Give Nothing Away: Lost Gold

DATELINE:  Japanese Gold of WWII

Yamashita HQ  General Yamashita’s Headquarters in Luzon.

The third episode of this intriguing series Lost Gold of World War II  is called, “Dead Giveaway,” in which you come to realize that the Japanese soldiers spent more time setting up fake treasure vaults than real ones.

Here too comes the admission that they have no idea what the treasure may be: it may not be gold. So much for truth in advertising on History Channel.

The series Lost Gold of World War II continues to be compelling, but we are not sure if History Channel will choose to re-new it for a second season. No word has filtered out yet.

The efforts to lead treasure hunters to their doom take on even more bizarre elements. From cyanide in bottles that shatter when a shovel hits them, to flood tunnels that spew forth torrents of water when breached, to now bombs under rocks that are moved carelessly.

If they went to all this trouble to dissuade, if not kill seekers of the treasure, it must be something special.

General Titicaca, oh, we mean Yamashita, apparently made his HQ in one of the remote caverns on the mountain where the hunters are excavating. He held out for almost 3 weeks after the Japanese surrender because he had unfinished business in burying treasure.

The group brings in a highly regards ordinance expert who examines the cavern where they were about to dig—and notes there are potato mashers buried here too. Hand grenades.

The dead giveaways are easy to find treasure spots that are meant to blow up the searcher.

There is real suspense here—and a sense that something may be uncovered, which gives this show a genuine chill factor. 

  

Enquiring Minds: Pre-Pecker-Pabulum

DATELINE: Checkbook Journalism to Kill-Fees

Dead King Biggest Issue Tease of Enquirer!

The Untold Story of the National Enquirer was not killed by a Pecker kill-fee, but by anthrax. This movie is a breath-taking trip down tabloid history.

You have to admire a documentary by Ric Burns that starts off with Herman Mankiewicz’s stunning film score for Citizen Kane, and then matches with a camera slowly moving up over a chain-link fence like the opening shot of Orson Welles’ classic.

The story of the National Enquirer and its original founder, Generoso Papa (an Italian immigrant who changed his name to Generoso Pope) actually laid groundwork for the Godfather Don Corleone (whom he resembled in character). Pope was pals with the Mob but claimed never to belong. He was an early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and Benito Mussolini.

However, this film is really about his genius and ruthless and cold-blooded son, Gene Pope, Junior. Any resemblance between this Pope and the Vatican is strictly distinctive. Pope went through several wives, disowned and was disowned by his mother, and found himself the apple of his father’s eye—thereby cut out of the will by his brothers.

The man who made the National Enquirer a scandal sheet of influence predates the present kingpin and Trump ally, David Pecker, who has killed stories to help his president. A young Trump is seen in a clip, disparaging the National Enquirer.

The original owner, Pope, would never have condoned such a mad idea.

His son, Gene Junior, went to MIT and finished in two years. What? College entrance hanky-panky back in the 1940s? It seems so.

Gene borrowed money from his mobster godfather in real life, Frank Costello, and bought the New York Inquirer, like Citizen Kane. A marketing genius, he soon tried the “gore” story approach and made it work. You had horror that made the Enquirer’s bad rep and took years of new marketing to alter.

Gene transformed his newspaper two or three times but found the notion of supermarkets to coincide with his “gossip” approach. The inquiring minds of America were hooked in the check-out line.

Pope moved to Florida and made it tabloid heaven. He created checkbook journalism and used ruthless and inventive methods to spy on celebrities. His pinnacle was the notorious Elvis in his casket photo.

A three-pack cigarette addict and workaholic Type A personality, he didn’t last long. A massive heart attack seemed to stymie the Enquirer, but it took terrorism in 2001 with anthrax to destroy everything, including archives.

The film ends with the bouncy music of Brasil, which is fitting. This is a complete documentary, completely satisfying in every way.

It’s Not Heavy Metal, It’s My Brother!

DATELINE: Leaden Episode

Skowronek Skowronek Saves Day!

Good grief, is this really episode 18? Summer in Nova Scotia only lasts twelve weeks.

A friend reported that every time she tunes in to the show, she thinks it’s an episode she already saw. Every week they find a coin and dig a hole, not always in that order. The Laginas always wear the same clothes, and it’s like looking at a rerun.

With summer’s end, it rains and pours more.

In case your sense of déjà vu is slipping, Robert Clotworthy will hastily repeat what he just said two minutes earlier.

This episode was three-quarters of disappointment as another hole in the ground turned out not to be the entrance to a vault of gold, or much else. Big timbers of oak and some leather teased the hunters. They have moved on because time is running out for the season.

It came down once again to Gary Drayton, called in at the last segment to perform his magic. Through some divination, he went to lot 21 which once was owned by one of the original finders of the money pit. There, he waved his metal detector and came up with a plum.

There, in two pieces, was a long strand of lead. He instantly deduced it was a match to the lead cross he found last season on the other side of the island. He also found a second piece, broken off, but fitting exactly to form a square hole. It is a duplicate of the cross.

How can he do this stuff?

They immediately called in Tobias Skowronek from Germany on the Skype. The metallurgist who looks like a minor also confirmed this lead was a duplicate from the Templar Knight mining operation in France. Stunning.

It saved the episode from wasteful time lost.

 

 

History of Time Travel: More or Less

DATELINE: Time, Relatively Speaking!

time bottled   At least in theory!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hollywood Takes on the Bible

DATELINE: Testament of the Trailers

hollywood bible

From 1994, in time for the Passover/Easter season, comes a two-part documentary that relies heavily on newsreel footage and trailers of Bible movies from silent days to the heydays of the 1960s epics.

You can find rare clips from all your favorite epics like King of Kings and The Greatest Story.  It’s all subverted by dry humor.

Of course, the fly in the ointment is that the streaming part two comes before part one. No way to stop that cart before the horse. The Bible According to Hollywood is a fast-paced sermon on the mount.

The narrator sounds like Robert Osborne, late of TMC fame, but it is a wit named Henry Stephens. And, the Old Testament starts off with a hoot and a half as it lambastes all those tacky Adam and Eve movies.

The light-tone and word play certainly makes this an enjoyable documentary. Since Cecil B. DeMille is the name on the marquee most of the time, you have mostly clips from his movies and his interviews.

Now and then, you hear from one of the stars of yore, like Virginia Mayo or Charlton Heston, They offer a few amusing morsels too. Heston contends he made only two Bible movies: the others were costume dramas. We’ll let you guess which ones he believes a truly Biblical.

Most of these sword and sandal films use a copyright free source to save money—and the early silent movies set the tone, and likely made the most money. Profits over prophets seemed to be the Hollywood motto.

Alas, most of the movies flopped:  the Old Testament stuff is far livelier than the New Testament, which is hamstrung by political forces: evangelicals want referential, and Jews don’t want to be scapegoats. The New Testament movies walk a tightrope.

All in all, the two parts could be interchangeable, and they will make you laugh and roll your eyes. What else can you expect from parables adapted for the screen?

Calamity Jane: Other End of 19th Century

DATELINE: Deadwood, or Bust!

Calamity- 2 days before death  At Wild Bill’s gravesite.

The world of manners and civilization of the East and Europe would take 50 years to head out to the Badlands and Deadwood.

With a new TV movie updating the old series with Timothy Olyphant due soon, we figured to find the true story of Calamity Jane: Legend of the West. It’s an effective French-produced film. She was one of those rare women who lived by her own values in the Victorian Age.

The augurs were not sympathetic for Martha Canary, her real name: her mother was an alcoholic and her father deserted the family along the Oregon Trail. Martha was indentured or adopted and began a life of dubious morality.

Though some might hold her up as a transgender model, she never tried to pass as a man: she was always “Jane,” in men’s clothes, hunting, fighting Indians, and carousing. Indeed, sometimes at night she traded her buckskins for petticoats and survived as a sex worker.

She spoke a good game, told great yarns, and found herself the attraction of journalists. Some back east took her name and created a Deadwood feminine cowboy named Calamity Jane.

In reality, she and Wild Bill were only able to tolerate each other, though their love/hate relationship last a few years till his death in a notorious saloon shooting.

From there it was downhill: drinking, arrests, and endless wandering. She was a common law wife on occasion but married one abusive man to be father to her daughter whom she gave to nuns to raise.

Unfit for most jobs, she regularly went into show business, meeting people, selling photos of herself and a pamphlet story of her life. She even Buffalo Bill, but they worked separately at the Pan American Exhibition of 1900.

She had grown most unhappy in the East, and she returned to Deadwood in 1903. She looked like an ancient but was only 47. Hard drinking and hard living took a toll. The West had become gentrified, not to her liking.

Two days before her death, she went up to Wild Bill Hickok’s grave where she had her photo taken. Within a week, the people of Deadwood put her in a grave next to him.

After all, they were legends—and Westerns were about to hit the big screen with the advent of movies. Calamity would ride on forever, even unto a new TV cable movie, Deadwood, this summer. 

 

 

 

 

Allan Carr: A Spectacle to Behold

DATELINE: Carr-buncle

Carr

Can’t Stop the Hype!

It’s been 20 years since the grand poobah of film, TV, and stage producers has left the spotlight. And, boy, was Allan Carr a hog for the media.

The Fabulous Allan Carr is a misnomer. He was not the stuff of fables, nor legends and myths. He was an obese gay man with a knack for self-indulging and making fun for friends and audiences.

One supposes that such a life is enough to satisfy most people. Yet, Carr seemed a cuddly little buddha, but was more like a cactus version of Jekyll and Hyde. When the good times rolled, he was your pal.

He started out as a talent coordinator for Hugh Hefner’s late night TV show in the late 1950s, where he made the acquaintance of old and new Hollywood.

Carr produced Grease, Grease II, La Cage aux Folles, as well as stinkeroos like Can’t Stop the Music. He could do good stuff with all the bravura of Carmen Miranda and Chiquita.

He was a nightmare when failure knocked on his door, and his all-boy parties in Beverly Hills gave way to funeral processions when the AIDS crisis started taking all the twinks. A generation was decimated, and the Village People went into eclipse.

Carr was mostly voyeur, and he escaped infection from HIV. He lived life on his terms, caftans and moo-moo blouses to hide a multitude of rolls.

Born out of Middle America, he became a cocaine-motivated doyen of Hollywood and Broadway. He should have been nicer to the people going up the ladder because they remembered him when he started down the ladder.

His last years were sad, beleaguered with kidney problems and bone cancer. Every party became a line on his face, and in the end he was about as reclusive as an extrovert might never consider.

 

 

Moby Dick: What Really Happened?

 DATELINE: Whale of a Story

Essex hit by whale   Moby Rams Essex!

You may have blanched at reading the mammoth novel by Herman Melville—few professors require its reading nowadays: too long, big means Moby Dick.

The true story of what intrigued Melville may be better fodder for the short attention span of a one-hour documentary.  And so, we have come down to Moby Dick: the True Story, made in 2001.

Out of Nantucket, the whaler called Essex sailed in 1819, not long after Frankenstein appeared, and it was its own horror story, all true. Though Melville made the First Mate named Starbuck, that was actually the name of one ship’s owner. The captain was Pollard, and his bossy First Mate was Owen Chase (who wrote the memoir on which Melville based his whaling epic). He is played by Shawn Reynolds in the film.

Yes, the Essex encountered the largest whale ever seen at the time, and he was old and cranky. Though one expert on the documentary insists that whales are basically docile, some old males can be aggressive. To say the least in this case.

Perhaps he knew what the ship’s purpose was: and it infuriated the whale.  According to the reports, he rammed the ship once until he was nearly unconscious and then came at it again to sink it.

Therein lies a novel by Melville. The whale did his worst, and as a force of the universe, sailed off, leaving his Ishmael on Queequeg’s coffin.

In real life, three small lifeboats fled the scene for a horrific sail for months. They resorted to cannibalism, and ultimately drew lots to murder one of their mates for dinner.

Three men chose to get off at something akin to Gilligan’s Island in mid-Pacific, which would have been our choice too. They survived and were rescued months later.

The cabin boy Thom Nickerson (played by Trevor Ralph in re-enacting scenes) was 14, and he survived to write his memoirs too, but they were not discovered until 1980, hidden in an attic.

Other survivors did not fare well: Owen Chase went mad, and the captain became a night watchman on Nantucket. Melville’s book flopped, and he watched a mountain in the distance from his home in the Berkshires that when white-capped with snow reminded him of Moby Dick.

Really Antony & Cleo

DATELINE: Streaming & Steamy History

Octavian Richard Dempsey

Richard Dempsey as Octavian!

A real surprise is a British documentary a few years ago, now on Amazon Prime for free, called The Real Antony and Cleopatra.

Imagine a British doc that never mentions the Shakespearean plays, nor quotes from them. Instead, we have a series of experts and scholars sitting on a stuffed Roman chaise lounge, somewhat uncomfortably. No, they do not recline as they drop morsels and bombs about the famous duo.

Did we say duo? It’s almost like the casting crisis of the 1963 Joe Mankiewicz movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Rex Harrison felt slighted and left out, and he sued the studio to add his image to the suitors around the bed of Cleopatra.

The Egyptian queen was fond of murdering her younger brothers, and she was really Greek, descendant of Ptolemy. As an attractive 20-year old, she seduced the 50-year old Julius Caesar and later Marc Antony.

Cleopatra was all you might expect. She was a showgirl who knew how to stage publicity stunts better than Jussie Smollett. And, she was “attractive,” meaning she made the most of her plain looks. She was fluent with tongues (speaking six) and apparently used the tongue talent too in the boudoir.

Romans were aghast at Cleopatra’s morals, which may tell you something, considering the loose attitudes of the Romans.

As if to prove her sexuality, she had one child by Caesar and two more by Antony. He had a mixed manhood, being thought of as nearly exclusively homosexual, unless political marriage was involved. This film also lets you know he was well-endowed both on and off the battlements.

The real surprise here is the delightful re-enactors. Marina Morgan flashes eyeshadow as well as Miss Taylor, but the real delight here is young Octavian. He reportedly slept with Julius too in order to be adopted as a nephew.  As a 19-year old rival to Antony, Richard Dempsey is the golden-haired boy.

Octavian outmaneuvers Cleopatra militarily, but her symbolic death by snake bite left Augustus Octavian the one with the punctured ego.

This is an off-beat historical documentary that will tantalize all the fake news you learned from Hollywood Cleopatras.

 

 

 

 

 

A Goodie UFO Doc from Timothy Good

DATELINE:  Kennedy & Nixon & UFOs

alien

Timothy Good is a retired British musician who has made a name for himself as a UFO researcher and prolific author (Above Top Secret).

The MUFON group produced a film of one of his lectures a few years ago called UFOs and Military Intelligence.

Like many of these filmed lectures before a hand-selected audience, they are not much cinematically. This one does have the advantage of many cuts to images and film clips as Good makes many of the usual points.

He did provide a bit of info we had never heard before:  In 1962, about a year before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy requested and received permission to view dead alien bodies collected from some unspecified crash site.

Good said the viewing occurred in Tyndall AFB, but that might be disinformation. Kennedy often went to Palm Beach where his family had a compound.

It would be far more likely he made one of his frequent trips to Homestead AFB. He did so shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis under the guise of viewing new weapons.

Indeed, President Richard Nixon reportedly took his pal, UFO fan and comedian actor Jackie Gleason to view alien bodies in “coke freezers,” as Gleason reported privately a decade later.

Gleason also said Nixon escaped his Secret Service protectors and drove them in a private car to the site. Nixon did often elude his secret service agents, and Homestead was about an hour drive from Key Biscayne and Lauderhill, Florida, where Gleason lived.

The drive to Tyndall was 8 hours and 600 miles. It is likely they went to Homestead, if the report is accurate, and it is likely the Air Force would have kept the frozen alien bodies in the same place between 1962 and February of 1973, when Nixon and Gleason visited.

In fact, nowadays, a fleet of presidential jets is kept at Homestead in case of nuclear attack, at the discretion of the President.

Homestead AFB is about an hour’s drive from Mar-a-Lago, the winter home of you-know-who. Whether Trump has been there is not known.

Timothy Good is now unable or unwilling to respond to email or letters (age being a factor), to see what more he can tell about the Kennedy visit in 1962.

Some theorists insist Kennedy’s assassination, one year later, was due to his attempts to reveal secret UFO files.

 

 

Listening to Marlon Brando

DATELINE:  Method Man

Marlon Brando Fires Point Blank.

With its odd title, you may have trouble discerning what exactly is being told to whom.  Yet, Listen to Me Marlon is an affecting and striking documentary Showtime documentary about the legendary star of The Godfather, Streetcar Named Desire, and Reflections in a Golden Eye.

We wrote extensively about Brandon in Troubles in a Golden Eye, our movie biography, done with Hollywood master, Jan Merlin.

Intensely private and hostile to the press in the second half of his life, Brando made dozens and dozens of audio tapes of his philosophy, problems, and feelings. He clearly wanted to be remembered.

At the last he even had a digital map of his talking head so that it could be used sometime in futuristic movies.

In the meantime, we find many unusual photos and recreations of his unpleasant childhood in Omaha that he idealized. Though you see photos of associates and workmates, there is no gossip talk of colleagues. He speaks most admirably of Stella Adler, his acting teacher.

He does discuss his tortured children:  one committed suicide after her half-brother murdered her boyfriend. Christian died of pneumonia a few years after his father died.

He is thoughtful and sensitive, clearly appalled more and more by the money, profits, and legalities of movie-making. He worked three months a year for enormous salaries—and grew increasingly difficult to work with (ask Francis Ford Coppola).

A mutual friend of ours once told that Marlon was not like his public image: he was much, much softer. And that clearly comes across in his tapes.

Brando even rehearses how to die, which is chilling. He calls life the real improvisation and acting merely a deception of truth.

If you are a fan of Brando, or ever wondered about him, there may never be a more accurate depiction of his life—if only through his own distorted vision of self.

Jan Merlin & William Russo wrote Troubles in a Golden Eye, nonfiction about making the John Huston movie version of Carson McCullers’ novella Reflections in a Golden Eye. Brando and Elizabeth Taylor starred.