Oak Island Treasure Map Revealed!

DATELINE:  Cartography Lunacy

 Skull Island

                             

Templar Island                                   Oak Island

Can it be possible that Abbott and Costello found the treasures of Oak Island with Charles Laughton?

In 1952’s silly trifle about Captain Kidd, the Oscar-winning actor (Laughton, not Costello) owns an island where he has buried treasure and loot, though it is not stated whether the Ark of the Covenant, Spanish dubloons, or Montezuma’s coffin, are among the pickings.

We feel like the Money Pit is within reach!

For reasons beyond ridiculous, Lou Costello manages to confiscate the map and then must be abducted to lead the way to the treasure on the island.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to Skull Island…no, it did not belong to King Kong. It was, in fact, a copy of the notorious Templar map of 1398 that happens to resemble the actual island off Nova Scotia.

Back in the 1950s, long before the Lagina brothers bought the island and made it a hit TV series, it was known as a pirate lair with secrets. Among those interested were President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, swashbuckler Errol Flynn, and cowboy John Wayne. Also interested was Vincent Astor whose father died on the Titanic.

Is this someone’s idea of a joke? It is funny beyond Montezuma’s revenge.

 

Errol Flynn & First Bounty Movie

DATELINE: Mr. Christian Goes to Pitcairn

 Errol in 1932

Though most film adventure fans know the story of The Mutiny on the Bounty as a great sea saga starring Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, or Mel Gibson, the first movie version of the historic event came out of New Zealand in 1933. The short film brought Errol Flynn, living legend, to the attention of Hollywood.

The rest as they say is history.

In the Wake of the Bounty is an intriguing docudrama and investigative documentary combined. The first half hour details the offenses of “Lt. Bligh” and the low-minded first officer played by Flynn.

The film hardly makes Flynn heroic or dashing like Captain Blood. That would come later. Here, the movie takes the position that the mutineers were part and parcel of a ragtag drunken group which they call “dark pagans and white fools.”

Flynn’s role, only a few intriguing scenes, shows a man overwhelmed by guilt—taking his wanton crew and their women to some godforsaken island where they will never be discovered.

A silly context of story-telling reveals the first half: the documentary kicks in during 1932 when the director and his crew go looking for the descendants of the actual Bounty and where the wreck may be located.

That part of the movie is by far the most interesting for history buffs.

If you want to see the first motion pictures ever taken of Pitcairn Island, here they are: even in black and white, the rocky island is beautiful, yet intimidating. Christian chose it well as an impossible landing site.

The mutineers died by their own hands, in feuds and rivalries, and Fletcher Christian was killed by the last survivor of the original ship. Yet, we will see the living great grandson of Christian at work, living in the communal society.

The filmmakers fret about in-breeding of the 50 odd families that lived there in 1932. Bounty Bay was visited rarely by ships that brought supplies distributed equally among the residents who know they must band together against adversity.

This is a strange, fascinating documentary and docudrama, notable for more than the discovery of Errol Flynn: it even features underwater photos of the wreckage of Bounty.

 

 

In Like Kline; Move Over, Flynn

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

In like flynn

To play Errol Flynn in a movie, it takes a 67 year old actor to act out the final year of the 50 year old Flynn. Kevin Kline is nothing short of brilliant in the role—roguish and charming as we expect Flynn was. He is also just bloated, tired, aged, and worn out enough to play the role perfectly.

As biopics go, The Last of Robin Hood won us over.

The great star is so irresponsible and self-destructive, you want to shake him into sensibility, but he went about his decadent life, living each moment as if it were his last. Kline brings so true pathos to the decline.

 

Dakota Fanning is the young, underaged Beverly Aadland whom Flynn meets when she is fifteen and looks older. As he says, he’s too old for her, but she is not too young for him. His sense of moral irony always had the better of him.

 

Matching Kevin Kline is another surprisingly hard-boiled performance from Susan Sarandon as Flo, Bev’s mother. As a peg-legged stage mother, she is largely responsible for preparing her daughter for life in the fast lane. There is no Hollywood glamour in Sarandon—and she even comes across in a late Bette Davis mode in scenes.

 

One of the many incidents, out of chronology and used for dramatic effect, is the offer of the role of Humbert Humbert to Flynn by Stanley Kubrick. But, if Kubrick won’t take Beverly as Lolita, the fire of Flynn’s loins, then he won’t do the film.

 

Suffice it to say, Kubrick did it with other actors. He dismissed Aadland as “too old.”

 

We were prepared to dislike this film, but the performances warmed us up—and Flynn’s charming, sad story held us in the grip of man who needed true friends, not users and hangers-on.

 

 

 

Actor Goes Anonymous, Not Pseudonymous

 

DATELINE: DAMNED SCRIBBLING ACTORS

ImageJames Gertrude Franco-Stein

James Franco takes the same road as Errol Flynn, Orson Welles, George Sanders, and Kirk Douglas, by penning novels as part of his Renaissance Man act. Nathaniel Hawthorne once complained of his competition as “damned scribbling women.” Now we have an army of scribbling actors.

Mr. Franco has written a novella called Actors Anonymous about acting in movies, which likens the experience to being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous on the fame track. With his talents sewn together like a Mary Shelley novel written by Gertrude Stein, he is now Franco-Stein.

James Franco directs serious movies, acts in frivolous movies, trods the boards in Broadway plays, and now writes up a storm in Actors Anonymous, his experimental novel that has him hiding in many guises between the lines.

Eschewing traditional narrative and storyline, Franco reverts to the old Faulknerian style of multi-narrative voices, all roles acted by James Franco. It is reminiscent of his film As I Lay Dying, the multi-narrative novel of Faulkner he directed last year.

Franco may be writing autobiographically, but he is a chameleon actor. We were most impressed with his knowledge of Hollywood history—especially since our writing partner for almost 20 years has been Jan Merlin, another major actor turned writer. Merlin’s face was known as the bad guy in nearly every Western on television in the heyday of Westerns.

The young actor-Oscar host-novelist seems to be cramming a great deal of artistic aspiration into a small window of opportunity. We give him accolades for the energy he brings to his endeavors.

As with Franco’s directoral efforts, his novel is not for everyone. Indeed, his movie fans may be lost in the rich references to old stars and behind the scenes antics. From our limited knowledge of Hollywood business, he is on the money—much to the consternation of his pot-head fans of Pineapple Express.

We would have taken some pleasure had Merlin and Russo written this novella, but Franco beat us to the punchline.

Shanghai Surprise, the First Time!

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

Image

               Gilda Meets Kane in The Lady from Shanghai

One of Orson Welles’ final attempts at a Hollywood mainstream production came with The Lady from Shanghai, starring his then-wife Rita Hayworth. They were trying to be an early version of Burton & Taylor, but found they mustered closer to Sean Penn & Madonna.

The film has all the hallmarks of Welles, but worse yet, he plays a sailor with an Irish brogue that seems to have come from watching too many Barry Fitzgerald movies. We keep waiting for him to sing “Tura-Lura-Lura,” that old Irish lullaby.

On top of that, Gilda herself is a bleached blonde. In those days, such a daring hair color change proved Miss Hayworth was more than a pretty face. She was an actress.

As for the big man himself, he takes turns either sucking in his gut or wearing a moo-moo shirt loose over the excess.

Many Welles team players dot the cast, including the delicious villain Everett Sloane as Bannister, Rita’s well-to-do nutcase husband with steel braces on his legs–and the ever-familiar Erskine Sanford as the judge. Glenn Anders may sweat more diligently than any actor ever on film as Bannister’s creepy law partner.

The movie is a treat of off-kilter camera angles and even more off-beat faces. All this was too much for studio-bound Hollywood production companies who wanted their movies with more matter and less art. Welles also created production furor at Columbia Pictures.

Whatever else the production became in fact and in legend, it is hypnotic like the proverbial train wreck. We become gawkers on the road to perdition, and it is entertaining to rubberneck.

The film ran nearly three-hours uncut, which is a tad long for a cheap noir satire, though you can still spot fleeting Errol Flynn near the yacht he rented to Welles for the movie. Flynn’s pet dog, a Dachshund, steals every scene he’s in, having learned well from Errol.

The movie’s famous ending is the Hall of Mirrors extravaganza that is a hoot and a half. They don’t make’em like this anymore. Actually, they never did make’em like this—excepting Orson Welles.

We still think this movie is high comedy, not melodrama.

Whatever Welles intended the story to be, it becomes a ridiculous crime noir to savor, reminiscent of Touch of Evil, which he would make a decade later.