Time & Again Machine

DATELINE: Wells Novel on Screen Again

 Guy Pearce face-off with hologram enacted by Orlando Jones!


Back in 2002, forty years after the original classic George Pal movie, there came a remake of The Time Machine, based on the H.G. Wells classic.

This time the stalwart hero is Guy Pearce, and the story once set in London during the Victorian Age with an American as the time traveler, is now set in New York with an Austrailian as the American scientist. It doesn’t matter much as Guy Pearce is so brilliant, humorous, and always watchable. His rebel scientist eschews hats and wears his long hair greasy. It is quasi-Victorian, but totally Hollywood.

The film’s best moments are its paeon to the earlier film and story. As if to underscore the homage, they have brought Mr. Ed’s Alan Young out of retirement to play a cameo. He was one of the stars of the 1960 version.

Our favorite moment is when Orlando Jones shows up as a hologram at the New York Public Library who can tell us about the earlier movie, the Wells novel, and can even sing a tune from the bad musical version of the same.

The time machine itself is a Rube Goldberg mess that looks worse than the one used in 1960, and one character even calls it a “cappuccino maker.”

The impetus for time travel is, of course, the unfortunate death of our hero’s girlfriend. He goes back to fix the problem but discovers that you might go back a thousand times, but her death will occur every time, however differently.

The interesting travels through time also takes us 802,000 years into the future when the planet has clearly gone through some ice ages and re-growth. It is interesting that the evolving of humans seems minimal. You can blame that lack of insight on Wells, not the movie.

All in all, this old-fashioned and fun movie plays with the subject and our memories of it. It’s hard to believe that it was almost twenty years ago that it escaped our attention.











Horse’s Neck & Other Derby Matters

DATELINE: Horsey Set?

mr. ed Mr. Ed for President!

In the United States of America, there is only one horse who can talk—and Mr. Ed likely has plenty to add to the recent spectacle of horse flesh known as the Kentucky Derby.

This annual bettor event is used by swells for preening and promenading all for the better. Tom Brady was there with a plethora of former backup quarterbacks and some of his other sycophantic friends. It was a Trump supporters’ extravaganza.

However, Maximum Security stole the show and may be now in lock-down if not in harness in his solitary stall. He was disqualified for cheating.

We suspect the horse sense only applied to his jockey, but the action of judges to take the one-third of the Crown away from the pretender to the Derby has left big bettors throwing their hats in the ring for a fifteen-round fight.

Imagine a horse cheating in 21st century American sport known for gambling, and he did not even take a steroid.

Now the Cheater-in-Chief has taken again to Twitter to explain his view of the universe. He hasn’t much else to do except bet on losers.

In America the only talking horse is Mr. Ed.  But, when it comes to blowhards, the white horse’s ass is speaking again in 140 characters from the White House, no country estate.

You have to understand how a cheater and liar can be indignant when someone does not win after cheating or lying. If you are looking for a premonition of the 2020 presidential election, you may gulp hard at the attitude of the White House wannabe returnee.

Maximum Security lived up or down to his name, and the Country Horse is Country House, an offense to someone in the White House.

Of course, as you might expect, Mr. Trump cannot even spell “Kentuky,” a state he hopes to carry in the next election. His semi-literate tweets may once again prove that his father bribed some college to give the horse’s end a degree, but that’s a horse of a different color.

Monster Magic Maker: Jack Pierce

DATELINE: Unsung Creative Force!

jack with lon jr Wolf Man Credit!

What a delicious untold story!  A Greek immigrant boy comes to Hollywood and his creative juices give us the most famous monster makeup creatures of 20th century movies. Check out Jack Pierce: Maker of Monsters.

Like all the people who came to Hollywood in its infancy, they were self-made and their artistic sense was equally applied to their own lives. Jack Pierce did it all—from stunts, to camera operator, to director, but found his niche in applying makeup to the stars.

When Lon Chaney bailed on playing Dracula, Jack was thwarted by Bela Lugosi who had his own ideas. However, it was on Frankenstein that he grew into legend, spending months researching how the creature should look. It led to a plethora of famous monsters: The Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, but he was head of Universal and worked on making beautiful women more stunning.

The Mummy makeup took 8 hours to apply and another hour to remove. If Karloff was uncomplaining, no wonder a friendship between them developed.

Pierce’s makeup effects often terrified the naïve audiences of the 1930s. He was Universal Studio’s master: responsible for all the horrors up to 1947. When they were about to gather all the monsters for a comedy, Abbot and Costello meet, Jack was fired, but his makeup style was maintained.

Later, a myth grew around Frankenstein that James Whale, director, created the face: not true. Karloff always gave credit to his friend, Pierce. You can thank the movie and book Gods and Monsters for the misinfo.

Always an actor at heart, Jack wore a lab coat in the makeup room, which certainly intimidated Elsa Lanchester, who was the Bride of the monster. She recalled it thirty years later in less than happy terms. Jack did Lon Chaney, Jr., as Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein, over the years. That too was not a good relationship.

If they needed a star to age from 30 to 80, Jack Pierce could make it happen for a generation. One of his last makeup jobs was for Mr. Ed, the talking horse, hired by his friend from Universal, Arthur Lubin.

When Jack died in 1969, almost no one from the movie world came to his funeral. Fascinating bio of a nearly forgotten figure of film history.




Rondo Hung Out to Dry



When Yogi Berra famously stated, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” he had not met Rajon Rondo.

When it comes to Rajon, it’s never over—unless you are talking about the Boston Celtics season.

Just this day, Danny Ainge, who had put Rondo’s birthday bash to bed, woke up the story again for a reprise.

Ainge gave a radio interview in which the Celtics main man in the front office praised Rondo as if he were dead.

Yes, when you receive accolades from your boss after making a bonehead move, your days may be fewer than the hairs on Kevin Garnett’s head.

Those who like a good Shakespearean parallel might note that Danny doth protest too much, like Hamlet’s mother.

If the good is interred with your bones, Rondo will have a big Celtic send-off when he is traded at the end of the year.

Advised not to go to his birthday party with Mother, Rondo ignored his coach and the President of Basketball Operations because no good deed goes unpunished.

And no birthday goes unattended.

Ainge told Rondo that there would be cake and ale at the birthday, but there would be crow and turkey at the next press stopover.

Rondo never met a situation that required his apology, and embarrassing his new young coach certainly did not set a new precedent for sorrow.

A few others said Rondo regretted his action, and others said Rondo learned his lesson. But the horse’s mouth was closed tighter than Mr. Ed’s lips when Wilbur wasn’t around.

The Captain of the Celtics was beginning to look like Captain Dreyfuss or worse, Captain Hook.

As if to grease the Rondo skids, Jared Sullinger continues to be the media spokesperson for the team.

Don’t We Already Have Enough LeBron James Remorse?


                       Laugh-In for LeBron: New SitCom

Red Sox limited owner Tom Werner gave us the Cosby Show and Roseanne and now wants to give us the LeBron Laugh-in Show.

Yes, LeBron James wants to stew his creative juices into a television series, ominously titled Survivor’s Remorse.

When a TV series is billed as a situation comedy on a cable network, you know it won’t have the high literary caliber of Mr. Ed or The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yet, LeBron wants to portray a weekly laughfest about two men who make filthy millions and go back to their poor neighborhoods to flaunt their success. In the James world this is funny stuff.

Though LeBron will not act on this show (his flopping will suffice for drama critics), he will serve as Executive Producer. For those unfamiliar with the title, this is the guy who never does any work. That’s the executive producer. The Executive Producer simply pours all his money into the pit.

To avoid autobiographical parallels to LeBron’s sordid life as a traitor and turncoat, the story will be set in Philadelphia, not Akron. The main character’s mother will not be a harridan chasing the hero’s teammates, though it could be the funniest premise on the show. Someone call Whoopie.

The NBA character may sell out his hometown in this series, but the laugh-track will have to work overtime to fill in that plot hole.

Fame in the 21st century likely means LeBron will have to put in a cameo appearance on his show to give it a boost in the ratings. The Starz network generally has viewers numbering in the hundreds.

Publicists say that the Werner touch will likely mean the show will give fans a bumpy ride, but if you have followed LeBron’s career, you know that he is the NBA version of Margo Channing.

And, no, that is not Tatum’s old lady.