Mystery Files Presents 13 Cases

DATELINE:  Fake Controversies

mystery files

Well, prepare yourself for undercooked conspiracy theories and the usual suspects. It’s called without much originality, Mystery Files.

Amazon Prime gives us a British series from 2010 with thirteen traditional topics and claims they will solve the mystery behind the story.

We are inclined to give 30 minutes to a documentary series about the usual suspects. We also decided to sample the half-dozen topics for which we have an interest and have done some study. A few of them are actually people on whom we have written a book or two.

Mystery Files looks at Jack the Ripper, Leonardo da Vinci, Billy the Kid, Rasputin, Abe Lincoln, and the Romanovs, and the Man in the iron mask not necessarily in that order. We picked the names randomly to see what problem they intended to solve. We suspected that we would have the pedestrian, traditional mystery, but the series went out of its way to try to debunk something not often considered. The others we did not sample included Cleopatra, King Arthur, Nostradamus, and Joan of Arc.

Though the Leonardo show claimed it would look at his works like Mona Lisa, it actually tried to illustrate that Leonardo’s scientific reputation is largely based on plagiarized ideas from other seers of future technology.

They were going to identify the real Jack the Ripper, hinting that it was not one of the usual candidates, and they wanted to point out that Billy the Kid was not the violent serial killer dime novels claimed. (Yeah, he murdered only 4 people.) And, Rasputin may have been murdered, not by Russian nobles worried about the Czar, but by British secret service agents.

A double episode also looked at what happened to Anastasia and her sisters.

The findings all had a distinct British connection: even the Billy the Kid episode focused on his English friend John Tunstall and that the Kid was hell-bent on vindicating his murdered benefactor (avoiding the sticky issue of their consenting adulthood).

Prince Yousoupoof had an Oxford friend who worked for British intelligence and used the Czar’s relation as an excuse to stop Rasputin from convincing the Czar from brokering peace with Germany (to the detriment of England).

And, they wanted to prove that Abe Lincoln used mercury-laced pills to control his chronic depression and was poisoning himself. As for the Voltaire story, there seemed to be a prisoner in a velvet mask, not an iron one, in their assessment.

For the most part, their plans are grandiose, and not fully proven in half-an-hour, or worse they back down from the outrageous claims in nearly every case.

Yet, we give them credit for cram packing the episodes and trying to give us a different perspective.

Revolt in the NFL Palace?

DATELINE: Humor Deadly

Featured image Plots and Plotters

When dictators are assassinated, the dirty work emanates from their own palace guard. Rumors and rumors of coup d’etat seem to whirl around the Park Avenue headquarters of the NFL during the early start of the season.

Roger Goodell wisely chose to avoid going to the opening game with the New England Patriots in enemy country, Foxboro, a name that seems destined to live in infamy.

Word is now filtering out that the New York headquarters of the NFL may be harboring some palace intrigue. A group may be ready to mount an overthrow of the dictator named Roger Goodell.

We have only to look to history to find that, after years of bad decisions and mistreatment, those of high role in palace affairs begin to hatch their little plots.

Adolph Hitler found his aides putting a bomb under his table. It failed to kill Der Fuherer, but it set him back some.

In the more distant past, another parallel character to Goodell was called Caligula. His own hired bodyguards did him in as he walked in a “safe tunnel” to one of the weekly games.

Another Roman despot named Commodus was done in by one of his former gladiators who choked him to death during rough sex. Goodell should be so lucky.

Rasputin was lured to a party where he was shot, stabbed, poisoned, castrated, and dumped in the local river. Nothing is too good for Goodell according to NFL insiders.

We can only say to Goodell, “Beware the Ides of March,” especially in months ending in ‘r’.

The Agony and the Ecstatic Mad Monk



Grigory Rasputin in Agony

Hollywood has always loved the over-the-top story of the so-called monk and his enchantment of a royal family. Rasputin has been the subject of many movies out of the mainstream of the big studios, but to see a Cold War version direct from Russia is intriguing.

Elem Klimov directs Agony: the Life and Death of Rasputin in a way that holds your attention despite its length. Ultimately this Soviet production glosses over the most depraved and salacious details with a kind of puritanical disdain.

American audiences may not be prepared for the even-handedness of the telling. Though a prologue makes it seem like the film would be politically filtered, once it developed, Rasputin semed mesmerizing and devilish indeed, and the Czar, Nicholas II, seemed sympathetic in his weakness.

How such a film came to be made in Russia may be a story in itself. The film looks like it was made by Stanley Kubrick. The sequences of the debauched Rasputin and his regal concubines seems at once tame and surprising.

More staid is the depiction of Prince Felix Yousoupouf who plotted Rasputin’s murder. The more salacious details are avoided—including the alleged castration of Rasputin upon his death and the Prince’s gay fascination with his murder victim.

The film features many newsreel scenes of the cruelty and mistreatment of Russians by their monarchy. It is shocking enough to make clear why the Czar had to go.

Instead of a cartoon puppet, this film presents an artistic and morally weak man easily manipulated and caught off guard by “yes” men who blind him to the truth.

This version of Rasputin has a window on the Russian soul—a mixture of a mad monk and a holy man with feats of clay. If you are interested in what makes the Russian people tick, this seems to give one answer.

The movie seems to be a Russian Gone With the Wind, and that makes it compelling and tragic.

Ossurworld’s William Russo also has collections of movie reviews under the titles of MOVIE MASHUP and MOVIES TO SEE–OR NOT TO SEE. His books are available at