Saturday, February 27, 2021

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part V-“Bumbling Up The Moors ”-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Terror In The Night ” (1946)-A Film Review

I Accuse-Unmasking The Sherlock Holmes Legend, Part V-“Bumbling Up The Moors ”-Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s “Terror In The Night ” (1946)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Danny Moriarty

(Frankly, as I mentioned in my fourth debunking of the so-called legend of punk amateur detective Sherlock Holmes and his paramour the bumbler-in-chief Doctor “Doc” Watson in Sherlock Holmes In Washington I am tired, tired beyond endurance, of having to once again tell a candid world that Danny Moriarty is not my real name. Yes, for the skeptics and assorted evil-doers associated with the name Holmes I said paramour which I can now say freely since it had been confirmed by at least three separate and unknown to each other sources that Sherlock and Doc belonged to the Kit Kat Club, a club that had been established by the wild boys during the reign of King George III, an exclusively then called homosexual, now called gay, establishment for the private school boys once they got old enough to afford the fees, more on that new twist below. I use this Moriarty moniker to protect me against some very real threats from a bunch of dope-addled Holmes aficionados, no, worse cultists known far and wide as the Baker Street Irregulars. Not that I am not proud of the name Moriarty, the last name of the heroic professor who ran afoul of the greedy grafter Holmes and became the “fall guy” for every evil deed that bastard did to throw dirt on the good professor’s name. I will continue to defend his honor here in the review of this twaddle called Terror at Night. Another case where Holmes and company let the bodies pile up and somebody else has to lay the competition low.     

These nefarious Irregulars known to the police, to the see no evil hear no evil London peelers, the Bobby Peel guys so named after the guy who put together the first real police force in London but which has gone way downhill since then who have ignored my pleas for protection, who have dismissed the threats against me as child’s play, kid’s stuff. What passes for the law, the coppers, have gone back to their tea and crumpets as usual routine while half of the toddling town gets ransacked by these Baker Street hooligans who have sworn vengeance unto the seventh generation against me and my progeny for exposing their boyfriend hero for the fake and closet homosexual snoop that he is, was.

I stand here again today despite my need to hide my identity, my whereabouts, my voice and features and having had to send my family into private hands hiding stating I will not wilt like some silly schoolgirl under the blare of their evil deeds. This motley of criminals, junkies, and cutthroats is being protected by high society personages. The peerage I think they call it in Mother England, you know the House of Lords holy goofs with the cheapjack woolen wigs sliding all over the place and made in Bangladesh sweated labor textile factory robes who spend endless hours talking about the good old days when everything was simpler, when the mob knew its place or it better had under Charles I, monarchs like that. 

These Irregulars in case I don’t survive the onslaught to number twelve in this series of film which may be a close thing as these bastards have trolled the Internet spreading false rumors that I am homophobic, anti-same sex marriage, against sexual variety, and whatever other dirty innuendoes that can spew out to an unsuspecting social media world,  a series of blatantly propagandistic films, which has done more to create an “alternate facts” Holmes world than anything any dastardly British monarch could ever do to keep the masses at bay.  I am told this clot of degenerates and rough trade aficionados have very stylized rituals involving exotic illegal drugs, LSD being one of the milder ones, and human blood, especially of opposing tribes like the remnant of the Moriarty operation.

Yeah, these guys are the bane of the London Bobbies and maybe not so strangely corruption-infested Scotland Yard neither operation which has lifted a finger in the matter. Moreover these Irregular cretins have been connected with the disappearance of many people, high born and low, who have questioned the Sherlock myth, and not a few unsolved murders of people who have washed up on the Thames over the years. I know I am on borrowed time, I am a “dead man walking” but maybe someone will pick up the cudgels if I have to lay down my head for the cause.  

I don’t want to frighten the audience, the reader but this need for an alias, for cover, is no joke since that first review and the subsequent second and third ones I have been threatened, threatened with I won’t death, death threats, but some nasty actions edging up in that direction which necessitate my keeping very close tabs on my security apparatus as I attempt to deflate this miserable excuse for a detective, a parlor detective at that who even Agatha Christie dismissed out of hand as a rank amateur which couldn’t keep up with even one of her weakest sleuths. From my sources, serious sources under the circumstances, of ex-Irregulars who have left the organization as its attacks have become more bizarre and its blood rituals more gruesome including allegations of human sacrifice I have been told I am on their “watch list.” Told my days are numbered if I continue to “speak the truth no matter how bitter.”  

I know and can prove that I have been the subject of cyber-bullying without end including a campaign to discredit me by calling me Raymond Chandler’s “poodle” and Dashiell Hammett’s “toadie” for mentioning the undisputable fact that these hard- knock, hard-working professionals, real life detectives peeking under keyholes and into windows like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe were as likely to grab some wayward young woman and go under the silky sheets between exchanges of gunfire as kick ass on some bad guys and still have time for lunch. Sherlock and Doc, was much too dainty, much too worried about, literally, getting his hands dirty for that kind of heading to the danger work. I am willing to show an impartial commission my accusations with documents and affidavits. Believe me the pressure against me to stop my expose, including from site manager Greg Green who is worried about my security and that of my family, is getting worse and once I get a grip on who is who in that nefarious organization I will be taking names and numbers.  These twelve films have been nothing but propaganda vehicles for the Holmes legend so I have plenty more work cut out for me. Until done I will not be stopped by hoodlums, wild boys, rough trade artists, Homintern agents, your lordships and ladyships, and blood-splattered junkies. D.M.)
Terror At Night, starring Basil Rathbone (I have mentioned previously my doubts that this was his real name since unlike myself he had never been transparent enough to say that he had been using an alias. I have since uncovered information that I was generally right and found at first that his real name was Lytton Strachey a known felon who spent a few years in Dartmoor Prison on weapons and drug trafficking charges. It turns out that I was either in error or the victim of a cyber-attack since then it has come out that his real name was not Strachey but Lanny Lamont, who worked the wharfs and water-side dive taverns where the rough trade mentioned by Jean Genet in his classic rough trade expose Our Lady of the Flowers did hard-edged tricks), Nigel Bruce (a name which upon further investigation has been confirmed as a British National named “Doc” Watson who also did time at Dartmoor for not having a medical license and peddling dope to minors in the 1930s and 1940s where I had assumed he and Lanny had met up. Again a cyber-attack error they had met at the Whip and Chain tavern at dockside Thames while Lanny was doing his business on the sailor boys), 1946 
As I have mentioned previously and nothing recently has changed my view we live in an age of debunking. An age perhaps borne aloft by cynicism, hubris, sarcasm and above all “fake news,” not the fake news denying some reality that you hear so much about these days, but by the elaborate strategy of public relations cranks and flacks who will put out any swill as long as they are paid and not a minute longer. That phenomenon hardly started today but has a long pedigree, a pedigree which has included the target of today’s debunking one James Sherlock Holmes, aka Lytton Strachey, aka Lanny Lamont out of London, out of the Baker Street section of that town. From the cutesy “elementary my dear Watson” to that condescending attitude toward everybody he encounters, friend or foe, including the hapless Doctor “Doc” Watson, aka Nigel Bruce, a fellow inmate at notorious Dartmoor Prison in the early 1930s this guy Holmes, or whatever his real name is nothing but a pure creation of the public relations industrial complex, the PRIC. As I have noted above I have paid the price for exposing this chameleon, this so-called master detective, this dead end junkie, with a barrage of hate mail and threats from his insidious devotees. I have been cyber-bullied up to my eyeballs but the truth will out.

Maybe I better refresh for those who may not have read the first three reviews, may be shocked to find their paragon of a private detective has feet of clay, and an addiction problem no twelve step program could curtail in a million years. Here are some excerpts of what I said in that very first review which I stand by this day no matter the consequences:      

“Today is the day. Today is the day I have been waiting for since I was a kid. Today we tear off the veneer, tear off the mask of the reputation of one Sherlock Holmes as a master detective. Funny how things happen. Greg Green assigned me this film out of the blue, at random he said when I asked him. However this assignment after viewing this film, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (of course he doesn’t face, hadn’t been anywhere near any danger that would put death in his way but that can wait until I finish out defanging the legend) set off many bells, many memories of my childhood when I first instinctively discovered this guy was a fraud, a con artist.

Back then my grandparents and parents hushed me up about the matter when I told them what I thought of the mighty Sherlock. They went nutty and told me never to speak of it again when I mentioned that a hard-boiled real private detective, a guy who did this kind of work for a living, a guy named Sam Spade who worked out in San Francisco and solved, really solved, the case of the missing black bird which people in the profession still talk about, which is still taught in those correspondence course private detection in ten easy lesson things you used to see advertised on matchbook covers when smoking cigarettes was okay, who could run circles around a parlor so-called detective like Mr. Holmes. 

[Even Sam Spade has come in for some debunking of late right here in this space as Phil Larkin and Kenny Jacobs have gone round and round about how little Spade deserved his “rep,” his classic rep for a guy who was picked by some bimbo out of the phone book and who couldn’t even keep his partner alive against that same femme he was skirt-addled over. Kept digging that low-shelf whiskey bottle in the bottom desk drawer out too much when the deal went down. The only guy who is safe is Phillip Marlowe since nobody can call him a “one solved murder wonder” after the string of cold as ice, maybe colder, cases he wrapped up with a bow over the years. They still talk about the Sherwood case out on the Coast even today where he rapped the knuckles of a big time gangster like Eddie Mars, and his goons, to help an old man going to the great beyond no believing that he had raised a couple of monster daughters without working up a serious sweat. Talked in hushed tones too. You notice nobody has tried to go after him, not even close. D.M.]            

That was then. Now after some serious research as a result of this film’s impact on my memory I have proof to back up my childhood smothered assertions. Sherlock Holmes (if that is his name which is doubtful since I went to the London telephone directories going back the first ones in the late 1800s and found no such name on Baker Street-ever) was nothing but a stone-cold junkie, cocaine, morphine, landudum and other exotic concoctions which is the reason that he had a doctor at his side at all times in case he needed “scripts” written up. A doctor who a guy like Sam Spade would have sat on his ass a long time before as so much dead weight.

That junkie business would not amount to much if it did not mean that high and mighty Sherlock didn’t have to run his own gang of pimps, hookers, con men, fellow junkies, drag queens, rough trade sailors and the flotsam and jetsam of London, high society and low, to keep him in dough for that nasty set of habits that kept him high as a kite. There are sworn statements (suppressed at the time) by the few felons whom the Bobbies were able to pick up that Sherlock was the guy behind half the burglaries, heists and kidnappings in London. And you wonder why the Baker Street Irregulars want to silence me, show me the silence of the grave….

Of course the Bobbies, looking to wrap up a few cold file cases which Sherlock handed them to keep them off the trail, looked the other way and/or took the graft so who really knows how extensive the whole operation was. In a great sleight of hand he gave them Doctor Moriarty who as it turned out dear Sherlock had framed when one wave of police heat was on and who only got out of prison after Holmes died and one of Holmes’ flunkies told the real story about how Holmes needed a “fall guy” and the wily Doctor took the fall.”             
Now to a quick film review where once again Holmes/Strachey/Lamont lets the bodies pile up before areal detective grabs the bad guys and makes them cry “uncle;”  

Apparently this Sherlock, no, Lanny Lamont,  madness knows no borders, could not be contained with the four walls of England, hell, maybe even the bloody cockeyed Empire since the film under review has these two desperadoes travelling up moorish Scotland to muddy the highland waters there. This caper centers on the shell game played on Lady Somebody’s, do surnames really matter in the nobility trapped Empire, famous and valuable Star Of Rhodesia (for a long time now Zimbabwe) which is heading to Edinburg town on the midnight train (hence the “night” part of the film’s title) and the boys are along for cheap protection since Lady Somebody’s son is also a member of the notorious Kit Kat Club which they too belonged to although they barely knew him except a cheapjack attempt by Doc to seduce him right under his mother’s nose. The lad though was victim number one in the attempt to steal that damn diamond which as its own set of curses on it-and our dynamic duo’s eyes looking for the main chance and a quick turnover to grab a ton of dope and put them in opium den heaven. 

As the old bank robber Willie Sutton answered when asked why he robbed bank and replied “that was where the dough was” the same was true of another operation on the train trying to grab the diamond led by a remnant of the Moriarty organization one Colonel Moran, a friend of Doc’s from their public school days (no mention of whether they had been lovers then but probably before degenerate Lanny got his hooks into poor Doc. Moran had developed a pretty good plan to grab the diamond by sleight of hand. Had a hardened rough trade boy hide in a casket compartment and do his deeds grabbing the stone and nobody the wiser. Here’s where Lanny and Doc with a corrupt Scotland Yard agent in tail screwed up. Moran’s guy grabbed the diamond although a train guard bought it before the deal when down. Number two down. Moran and the thug had a falling out-number three. All while Lanny and Doc are hitting the bong in their railroad suite. Meanwhile that Scotland Yard detective totally out of character for such an officer wraps up the caper when a bunch of fake coppers hired by him try to take Moran away. No go. Meanwhile Lanny and Doc are chanting oms and wondering who the hell had the damn diamond and why. Another “victory” for the legend, another “victory” for the alternative facts bogus legend.      

But let’s allow the so-called master deductive reasoning detective have his minute just for kicks although I will never tire of letting everybody know that Sherlock made his name after he beat down some poor mistreated dog who should have been reported as abused to whatever they call the humane animal treatment society in merry old England. Also that he worked overtime to keep his name in the public prints through his friendship with the editor of the London Times despite the fact that he had no gainful employment, no source of income except whatever his thug cronies delivered to him from their various escapades and that he had the goods on that editor as they used to say since he was “light on his feet,’’ gay. The minute up I hope to high heaven at least a few viewers will finally back off from this nasty legend stuff and look to Sam and Phillip for real detection works.

[This is probably as good a place as any to discuss the elephant in the room. The whole sexual preference business that was always until the last couple of decades only inferred on film, in books, in society, if at all. I wouldn’t have though much about the matter, about the “sin that dare not speak its name,” you know, sodomy, about catamites if I hadn’t noticed in the previous film Sherlock Holmes Goes To Washington that when Sherlock and the Partridge twist were being held by Hinkel he never even looked at her and she was a dish to look at.

That started bells ringing my head that there was a reason, a real reason why Sherlock couldn’t shot straight, wore a silly boy’s regular hat no self-respecting man would be seen dead in, and had no lady-friend like Spade and Marlowe the former with that gun-simple Brigid who led him a merry chase and the latter with a string of honeys starting with that Vivian Sternwood who put him through his paces before she broke with one Eddie Mars. Either of whom had who would have eaten the Partridge dame her up with their eyes in a minute, run her to ground in the sack, the billowy pillows and had time for a hearty breakfast afterward (that Lanny Lamont time also a time when explicit sexual desire and carnal knowledge among heterosexuals also was done by indirection even among married folk-who can forget those double beds with bed stand in between once the scene invaded the marital bedroom), and had stuck it out through thick and thin with giddy, bubbly Doc Watson. Yes, a Nancy, a mommy’s boy, a fag to use the old time neighborhood term from my growing days in, no I had better not say where which might give aid and comfort to the thugs at Baker Street explains a lot of things. Tells a lot about the dope to take the unmanly shame off his face for being what he was, the outwardly improbable tell-tale scorn of women and why he and Doc were an item, in the closet.

Nowadays, recently, the whole sexual preference would not even be a subject for discussion except for what I have heard from an ex-Baker Street Irregular who broke hard with the organization after having spent the better part of twenty years in the closet about  his membership in the club as well as his sexual proclivities, who told me that there was a big division in the club between those who wanted to “out” Lanny/Sherlock and claim him for the mythical Homintern and those who wanted to not attract attention to their various nefarious activities and crimes by such a scheme. Back then though when Sherlock was roaming the world pissing off that candid world with his fake fortune-teller madness the example of poor Oscar Wilde and his youthful catamite which drove him to Reading Gaol and as recently as the Durning case in the 1950s it was not safe, was criminal to “come out.”

Of course the English public schools for boys, our private schools, were hotbeds of gay activity among the young boys isolated from young girls and who knows what by male teachers so it no wonder an odd-ball like Holmes got flighty and never looked back. Here is the problem everybody knows that no way a gay guy, a gay couple if you included Watson could then juggle dealing with hardened criminals the coppers couldn’t cope with and survive if it were known they were lovers, even platonic lovers. The pair would be in Reading Gaol themselves. Just remember what they did to Wilde and Durning. The next few films should put paid to that notion of mine that Sherlock was nothing more than a parlor plotter once the sexual preference angle intruded itself into the mix.]        

Like I said the last three times, a fake, fake all the way. Unless that Irregular crowd of thugs and blood-stained aficionados get to me, especially those who will be livid for my exposing  Lanny before they could “out” him themselves, find my hideout, this is not the last you will hear about this campaign of mine to dethrone this pompous junked-up imposter. I am just getting into high gear now.      

Friday, February 26, 2021

Once Again, All That Glitters Is Not Gold-Claude Rains And Kay Francis’s “Stolen Holiday” (1937)-A Film Review

Once Again, All That Glitters Is Not Gold-Claude Rains And Kay Francis’s “Stolen Holiday” (1937)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Leslie Dumont    

Stolen Holiday, starring Kay Francis, Claude Rains, Ian Hunter, directed by Michael Curtiz, 1937     

Sometimes going public with some private hurt, private gripe might be a  better way to put it in this case, gets you what you need, or at least a hearing. In my last film review Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ classic dance musical production Swing Time I complained out loud that that was my fifth consecutive “women’s film,” meaning of course the tried and true Hollywood girl meets boy formula that forms the plotlines of half the films ever produced playing to the hard demographic that the majority of movie goers have historically been women, and younger women to boot.

UntiI recently I had a by-line at Women Today where I only occasionally did film reviews and those few I did do usually having some political point, some such hook. I have also noted that in the distant past I have been a stringer at this publication in the days of its hard copy version when Allan Jackson was publisher and that I had left when it was clear to me that he, and his cohort of old comrades including my then companion Josh Breslin, were slowly drifting in some kind of “good old boys” 1960s coming of age nostalgia trip. After a recent internal fight over that very question and the departure of Allan as site manager (the on-line name for publisher-editor here) the new site manager Greg Green “lured” me away to come over and do some pieces with the idea that I would be able to do whatever struck my fancy. I knew that would include film reviews since that is one of the several staples that drives this publication. What I did not know and which formed the basis for going public was that I would be a de facto “women’s films, women’s issues” fixture. Even at Women Today I didn’t fill any such role. When some readers complained after I went public Greg and I had another candid talk and made our respective positions clear. Hence this not women’s film review as my “prize.” We shall see how this new understanding works out.             

I mentioned a minute ago that half the films from Hollywood have been a work-out of the tried and true girl meets boy formula. And that factor is in play here but that is not what drives the film, this Stolen Holiday.  Such things as duplicity, fraud, social over-reaching, status, loyalty, cowardice and fidelity give this one a very decided broader scope. It almost had to since the plotline was based on the notorious Stavisky Affair which roiled through Third Republic France in the 1930’s and exposed the corruption and rot of that society just prior to World War II. Maybe helped bring down the Republic and bring on the German Occupation when the French Army proved unequal to the task of defending the country due to faulty leadership and outdated theories of war.      
The action starts out in 1931 in Paris with upstart con man Orlov, played by durable Claude Rains, he of the beautiful friendship with Rick of Rick’s Cafe Americain after Rick gave up his love for the good of the cause in Casablanca another film directed by Michael Curtiz, cons high fashion model Nicole, played by elegant Kay Francis although wobbly as a model, but with serious ambitions to run her own fashion operation into playing the straight role in a small con he wanted to play to get the initial capital to run the table on the French financial markets. Forward to 1936 after the success of that initial encounter with Orlov, now a captain of French finance with the place and position that brought, and Nicole the rage of the high fashion also in the chips. Their romantic relationship though hovering between non-existent and sputtering since every action of Orlov, other than jealousy, is connected with his trying to corner yet another market. Corner some respectably in French high society as well.

That conniving of Orlov would be his undoing since he was basically running a Ponzi scheme, was issuing watered stock, and the like. Once the authorities saw what was happening in the markets, and who was manipulating what, they started zeroing in on Orlov. His duplicity would number his days quickly despite his ever conniving actions. Eventually when in another corner he asked Nicole to marry him to cover up his dealings, or try to. Nicole agrees out of loyalty for what he had done for her once she became aware of his dire situation. In the meantime she had met and fallen in love with a British diplomat, played by Ian Hunter, who had swept her off her feet. So Nicole was doubly loyal and true to the scheming Orlov. Here’s where the Hollywood tried and true came to the rescue though. Orlov was finally cornered and shot by the French authorities who chalked it up as a suicide to avoid more scandal and maybe topple a few more people in high places which left Nicole free to marry the still pursuing British diplomat. Nice twist right. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Yes, The Way You Look Tonight-Ginger Rogers And Fred Astaire’s “Swing Time” (1936)-A Film Review

Yes, The Way You Look Tonight-Ginger Rogers And Fred Astaire’s “Swing Time” (1936)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Leslie Dumont

Swing Time, starring Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, and all importantly music and lyrics by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, 1936

It probably is not good form to start off a review of a light-hearted musical comedy, what the heck, a dance film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with the music and comedy as filler, or the comedy part anyway complaining about the assignment. But I will try the reader’s patience long enough to make a point that I made in my last film review since this is of a piece with that comment. Then, and now, I have complained I won’t say bitterly yet that I have now been given five straight “women’s films,” the modern cinematic term “chick flicks” although that does not ring as a true statement with the ones I have done by new site manager Greg Green.

As I pointed out in that last review, Coco Before Chanel, once Greg became the day to day manager here he went out of his way to “lure” me from a very comfortable by-line that I had with Women Today. I also noted that I had over a decade ago been a stringer here under the old management when my companion Josh Breslin worked here (which he still does) and had left for that Women Today by-line when the old site manager Allan Jackson would not give me a by-line. Those were the days when it was clear for all to see, all who wanted to see, that while the site had all the right positions on the women’s liberation struggles (and still does) that Allan, who moreover was Josh’s very long time friend, was starting down the road to keep the place very much a male bastion haven for his “good old boys” friends whose friendship was defined by the litmus test of being stuck in the nostalgic 1960s when all hell broke loose in American society as they came of age. Greg was supposed to be a welcome break from both of those conditions. Right now I wonder, wonder out loud.                  

Don’t get me wrong this little Rogers-Astaire vehicle Swing Time one in about ten that this pair danced away the stars in is fine, is worth reviewing if for no other reason that the Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields music and lyrics collaboration on some classic songs from the American Songbook which torch-singers like Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee would feast on later. One good example which served as headline here-The Way You Look Tonight. Looking at the site archives though, after storming out of Greg’s office when I received the assignment and I could not budge him off his position that I needed to “broaden my horizons” since at Women Today any film reviews that I did, which were not many, were contemporary efforts I noticed that all the previous four or five Rogers-Astaire reviews had been done by men. Men who did a very good job of making the salient points about the films but who also made the point that from their collective perspectives these films were geared to the tastes and heartstrings of the women of those times who made up the majority, in some cases as during World War II the great majority, of the movie-going public. In other words-women’s films. So I bring no special wisdom to this genre, and maybe less so since I, unlike Sam Lowell, Sandy Salmon, and even one by my old heart-throb Josh did not live and die by watching college time revivals of such films in the 1960s having been a child of the late 1970s when that revival had burned itself out as a cheap date college night out.

As to the film itself well I think I telegraphed my take on these flashy big budget productions which were merely, let’s face it, an excuse to have Fred and Ginger dance and sing between coos. Here Fred plays Lucky, as in lucky at cards, gambling that sort of thing who also happens to be light on his feet (not that “light on his feet” used back then to signify a homosexual trait but dancing feet) who is stepping up in class, literally. That step up to be done by marrying a town debutante and on to easy street. Except through a series of lame pratfalls it never happens. No wedding and so Lucky (and Pop) lam in to the Big Apple, to New York to see if they can make some jack either from gambling or from his hoofing.  

Through another series of lame pratfalls Lucky meets Penny, Ginger’s role, a dance instructor. Meets and the rest is really history. No, the rest is a song and dance through the Kerns-Fields score interrupted by the usual attraction, distraction, misunderstanding, and finally, lovers’ bliss. I would have thought that it would have been hard for this pair to stumble through a series of plot-lines that would freeze the most indulgent brain but they did until audiences got weary. But watching one or two, and make this film one of them, will carry you through a few blue spots.          

Monday, February 22, 2021

Fighting For The Brass Ring- Kate Hudson’s “Almost Famous” (2000)- A Film Review

Fighting For The Brass Ring- Kate Hudson’s “Almost Famous” (2000)- A Film Review

DVD Review

By Alden Riley

[As of December 1, 2017 under the new regime of Greg Green, formerly of the on-line American Film Gazette website, brought in to shake things up here a bit after a vote of no confidence in the previous site administrator Allan Jackman (using the moniker Peter Paul Markin in honor of fallen comrade from high school days) some organizational norms have changed. That vote was taken among all the writers at the request of some of the younger writers abetted by one key older writer, Sam Lowell, and in the aftermath the habit of previous site manager of assigning writers to specific topics like film,  books, political commentary, and culture is over. Also over is the designation of writers in this space, young or old, by job title like senior or associate. After a short-lived experiment designating everybody as “writer” seemingly in emulation of the French Revolution’s “citizen” or the Bolshevik Revolution’s “comrade” all posts will be “signed” with given names only. The Editorial Board]

Almost Famous, starring Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit some of the story is based on real events in the young life of director Cameron Crowe, 2000  

[If any reader has read the announcement from the Editorial Board below my name above or has been following the developing situation around the change in leadership at this site they know that there has been a certain amount of fall-out around the question of whether the old site administrator, Peter Paul Markin (not his real name but a moniker he has used for the past decade of more of his leadership I will get to a bit later in this introduction) had retired or been purged. The “official” stance is that he has retired to parts unknown making that “purge” rumor only stick faster especially among the older writers, Markin’s contemporaries from the 1960s, their growing up and coming of age days which was, is, one of the issues which caused Markin’s tumble from grace. This “disappearance” a stinging remind to those guys who graphically remember the Cold War Stalinist habit of sending deposed opponents out to Siberia some place for “rest” or from their own personal experiences in the latter part of the 1960s, toward the ebb part, when among radicals the “politically incorrect” of that time were banished never to be heard from again although that was more shunning that sending them to outer Utah or someplace like that.

In an attempt to clear the air and give the readership a better understanding about what has happened over the past several months to cause the shake-up the new site administrator, Greg Green, who held a similar position at the American Film Gazette and who I knew there from the time I worked as a stringer, has allowed us free reign to tell our take on what has happened and why after Markin was deposed when he lost a vote of no confidence among the collection of writers who write for this site. In the interest of transparency I was among the “Young Turks” who led the revolt and was also a key person in bringing Greg into the fold. 

Others like my former “boss” Sandy Salmon whom I also knew at the Gazette and who brought me in to be his associate film critic after he replaced the now retired Sam Lowell another key “coup” member have given their take so I will not burden the reader with too much detail about the actual events which led up to Markin’s ouster except to broadly outline what triggered everything. (That “former boss” reference reflects as noted above the new policy of only using surnames to identify writers in an effort by Greg to break down the barriers between younger and older writers.) 

A few years ago Markin, in what at the time seemed like a good move to “pass the torch” according to the older writers who had been with him for a long time (and some whom he had known from his hometown growing up days or from his wild and wooly 1960s hippie days) and widen what was increasingly a nostalgia trip tied to the turbulent 1960s experiences which formed most of their worldviews brought in some younger writers. (Don’t make as much out of the “younger writers” designation since most of us are pushing fifty very gingerly and the only really younger writers, twenty somethings, were free-lance stringers.) That perspective was honored more in the breech that the observance as increasing the younger writers were assigned projects relating to that same period, that turbulent 1960s era,  which for the most part were not events that we were that familiar with or gave a fuck about. So some of this stuff had been simmering for a while, for a couple of years anyway.

This summer, the summer of 2017, everything came to a head when Markin after being coaxed by his old growing up neighborhood friends and a couple of the older writers whom I will not name since they have survived the tumult just as they had survived every regime change when they were younger and into radical politics he “force marched” everybody into writing about the Summer of Love, 1967 after an old friend Alex, Zack James’ brother, told him about how San Francisco was commemorating the 50th anniversary of that experience. That started the mad rush. Someone called those older turncoat writers who should be handled in the same manner as deadly snakes as ready to change their principles with the new wind blowing as their shirts and that seems about right. They had no trouble leaving Markin in the lurch wherever he is and moving on without a ripple. Whatever they thought of the project everybody was forced to reference some aspect of the 1960s fun and foolishness whatever they were writing about even if it was not germane to their subject or whether they gave a damn about it.

I will give my personal “awakening” which led me to join the “Young Turks,” join with a vengeance if you must know. Sandy to appease Markin had taken it upon himself to write a film review of the well-known documentary by D.A. Pennebaker on the first Monterey Pops Festival also held in fateful 1967 which is where the big belting blues singer from Texas Janis Joplin made her big breakthrough to stardom. As was his wont during the few years I have known him (he worked at American Film Gazette when I was a stringer there but I did not know him since I was a stringer and would submit my articles via FedEx or later e-mail attachments) he mentioned how well the documentary had held up unlike many others from that time and how Janis “stole the show.” That is when I made what would be my fatal error and told him that I did not know who Janis Joplin was. He laughed and let it pass.

Somehow though Markin got wind of the fact of my ignorance and “ordered” over Sandy’s head and without his knowledge me to “do penance” (Markin’s words) by reviewing a bio/pic on Janis entitled Little Girl Blues. If that sleigh-of-hand was not enough Markin almost went apoplectic when I mentioned in some detail that after my viewing of the Pennebaker documentary for my article that I thought that Otis Redding equally “stole the show” that year. Since this year is also the 50th anniversary of his death and of his signature song Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay released shortly before his death I gave that perspective amble space in the piece. Markin red-pencilled most of it and in a rage told me (in front) of several senior writers that while he appreciated Redding’s contribution to soulful music the piece was supposed to be a homage to Joplin’s effect on he and his growing up hometown friends who went West partially to see the “acid” rock scene emerging in the Bay Area during that decisive year.

I nursed my “wounds” over that slight and frankly Markn’s misjudgment about not putting Redding in the picture as part of the turbulent and fateful 1960s mix from the perspective of a guy who was looking at the times from the outside, a guy who didn’t go weak-kneed any time the number 60 came up. Then Sandy, who was, is, roughly Markin’s, wherever he is, contemporary and who knew his close growing up hometown friend Sam Lowell from their Gazette days and who brought Sandy in when he, Sam, decided to retire, in early September assigned me the review below, Almost Famous. Like others have said the original intent of this site was to cover all aspects of the American political, social and cultural history through commentary about events, movements, books, films, music and the like.

But when Sandy went to check with Markin on assignment and told him I was expected to do this review he again went apoplectic not against me personally, I don’t think, but about the idea that a review of music and the trials and tribulations of bands getting a leg up not from the 1960s, the subject of the film, was being covered. That heavy-handed maneuver along with other smoldering grievances led to the “Young Turks” uprising. Led me to join in if for no other reason that while I appreciated what Markin and the others had done in the 1960s I didn’t want to be trapped in a time machine stuck in that era.  So until Markin was “deposed,” sent to Siberia, or whatever happened to him after that vote of no confidence this review was put on hold. Now it can see the light of day.

I assume that director Cameron Crowe had a field day directing this little gem of a film Almost Famous about the coming of age of a teenage rock journalist based on his own rock journal experiences and the trials and tribulations of a band, a set of personalities and varying degrees of musical showmanship, trying to break out of the garage or wherever they hung out and practiced. This film had a special appeal to me since it featured an up and coming rock group that was situated in the thick of the 1970s and 1980s a time when I came of musical age, the Peter Frampton, Heart, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the “heavy metal” rock scene.

Young musical beat writer whiz kid William Miller (the character based in part on director Crowe’s youthful experiences), played by Patrick Fugit, is adrift in the world, a world where he doesn’t fit in except he has an ear for music and a big steady hand to write with (in the days when a pencil and notebook of not blessed memory were the tools of the writing trade). He works his way, despite his over-bearing mother’s attempts to thwart him at every turn from beginning to end it seemed, into the scene, the 1970s music scene of blessed memory by getting a free-lance assignment to review a Black Sabbath concert for Rolling Stone magazine despite his tender age of fifteen. Although that famous rock group does not play into the story the fictional front group band, the Stillwaters, led by William Hammond, played by Bill Crudup, does as he latches onto the idea of promoting them as the next big thing in heavy metal rock.

Two things aid him in getting on the inside of this group’s network. First Hammond liked him, likes the young kid although that relationship would have its fair share of ups and downs when the mercurial Hammond questions William’s motives and what he expected to get out of the whole thing. Then William along the way meets what is inevitable in rock circles, maybe all musical circles, the lead “groupie” Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson, who befriends him and gets him the inside track on the group. Gets him a seat on the touring bus with Stillwater as they claw their way to what they hope will be the brass ring-that coveted cover on Rolling Stone which in those days if not now signified that you had arrived. William was there at the creation to chronicle all of that. Naturally along the way he has all the coming of age experiences of friendship, betrayal, misunderstandings, fun and frolic, and losing that virginity his mother fretted about when he went on the road. Not the best story line on the emergence of a rock group but very well done, very well done indeed. (And now I can say not about a rock group emerging from the pack in the 1950s and early 1960s age of what is name classical rock, praise be.)                                                    

How The West Was Won-The Coen Brothers Remake Of “True Grit” (2010)-A Film Review

How The West Was Won-The Coen Brothers Remake Of “True Grit” (2010)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Sandy Salmon

[As of December 1, 2017 under the new regime of Greg Green, formerly of the on-line American Film Gazette website, brought in to shake things up here a bit after a vote of no confidence in the previous site administrator Allan Jackman (using the moniker Peter Paul Markin in honor of fallen comrade from high school days) some organizational norms have changed. That vote was taken among all the writers at the request of some of the younger writers abetted by one key older writer, Sam Lowell, and in the aftermath the habit of previous site manager of assigning writers to specific topics like film,  books, political commentary, and culture is over. Also over is the designation of writers in this space, young or old, by job title like senior or associate. After a short-lived experiment designating everybody as “writer” seemingly in emulation of the French Revolution’s “citizen” or the Bolshevik Revolution’s “comrade” all posts will be “signed” with given names only. The Editorial Board]

True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, Haillee Steinfeld as Mattie, Matt Damon as Texas Ranger LeBoeuf, from the novel by Charles Portis, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers as a remake of the 1969 version of the film which starred John Wayne, 2010

[Apparently the fall-out from the change of leadership of this site from the now seemingly disgraced and exiled Allan Jackson out  to the wilds of Utah where he is reportedly by rumor said to be hustling copy for the Mormons although that sounds improbable on its face since he went out of his way to skewer the most well-known Mormon Mitt Romney for disowning his great grandfather’s astounding feat of juggling five wives at one time back in the day Allan Jackson to Greg Green brought in from a similar position that he held at American Film Gazette is not over. The basic issue which the reader should know about was Jackson’s heavy-handed manner of assigning projects tilted heavily toward the turbulent times of the 1960s when he and a number of the older writers including a few he had known since high school had come of age. That emphasis despite the well-known proposition stated in the masthead that the whole of American history (albeit from a decidedly leftist perspective), culture, society, mores and all were within its purview. He had brought in a slew of younger writers, not kids out of journalism school or English dissertations but younger.

They, according to younger writer and “Young Turks” leader Lance Lawrence, were to broaden the outlook, widen the time frame and range of subjects. Instead Allan used them as “cannon fodder” (Eliot Francis’ term) for a continued expansion of that 1960s perspective. The whole thing came to a head this past summer when he unilaterally decided that everything of importance was to be thrown through the prism of the Summer of Love, 1967 which was being commemorated mainly in the Bay Area on its 50th anniversary. The younger writers balked sensing that this was merely the first shot in another total immersion in various 50th anniversary commemorations to come over the next few years. In a heated debate and contentious procedure in early fall the younger writers aided by the decisive vote of Sam Lowell one of Allan’s old high school friends who saw the writing on the wall he received a vote of no confidence.

Subsequently Jackson announced his retirement through a third party to the assembled audience. That so-called retirement versus what has been whispered about that he had been “purged” never to be heard from again like in the time of Stalin in Russia or among New Left fanatics in late 1960s radical circles seeking purity is what the fall-out is all about. Nobody quite has the whole story, or at least I have not heard anything that sounds like the whole story but younger writer Brad Fox in a recent review of Goya’s Ghosts went way out of his way to inform the reading public that something closer to being purged had been the previously missing Jackson’s fate. And Brad would know since he owes his job to his father’s friendship with Allan going back to their high school days.           

Here is some of what Brad mentioned with a little comment by me in places as we try to consolidate the new regime and provide a wider perspective for the reader to imbibe.

Brad thought it ironic, and I do too, that one of the first assignments that our new site administrator Greg Green has handed out, handed out to him especially knowing his father relationship with Allan, Goya’s Ghosts, dealt with the turmoil of the French Revolution through the prism of the Spanish occupation in Napoleon’s time by French troops aided by a bureaucracy of both imported French bureaucrats and Spaniards looking for the main chance. What Brad called guys who change their allegiances as easily as their shirts. 
Sometimes apparently, and this may have been Greg Green’s point in assigning the review life mirrors art. The staff at American Left History were, are as ardent as any Bolshevik was in his or her time to draw whatever lessons they can from the experiences of the French Revolution. Including many a hot “debate” over whiskeys at Jimmy Jake’s Tavern near the Seaport in Boston.     

Seemingly, at least to Brad and I buy some of his argument since I do believe that Green was trying to promote a literary cautionary tale in the guises of a harmless hapless film review a parallel example existed between rabid Inquisitor turned French Revolution devotee Lorenzo’s topsy-turvy career and fate and that of Jackson. I have already mentioned the main reason given but it bears repeating was Allan’s obsessive tilting of the coverage of subjects in this space toward events from the turbulent 1960s when most of the older writers came of age exemplified by the over-the-top coverage of the Summer of Love, 1967 he ordered the writers, young and old, familiar with the period or not to cover. There has been, and here the parallel with Francisco who would go to his execution under the Inquisition once the French were defeated and swept out of Spain by the British with the aid of Spanish guerillas, a persistent rumor that Allan was purged and that the retirement ploy was just that a cover for the more aggressive removal mainly through the efforts of the younger writers. On the heels of what Brad has said I will try to track this down as I get more information. Information that I believe will implicate Allan’s his old friend Sam Lowell who may have been used by the younger writers as a stalking horse once they knew he was anxious to show his old time “revolutionary turn the world upside down” credentials or maybe the mastermind behind a plan to ease Allan out for other reasons. For now if you heard that one Allan Jackson has fallen under the wheels of a modern day Inquisition don’t be surprised. Don’t be surprised at all.]
Here is the real deal though:

For those more interested in old time Old West, Old Revisionist West than the internal struggle for a new direction at this site you are now home. Old Revisionist West meaning not the stuff that guys and gals like many of the older writers and me who grew in the 1950s had to swallow on television where the guys in white hats were pure good and fast on the trigger if they needed to be and black hats signifying pure evil and somehow very bad trigger action which makes one wonder today how they survived to be bad boys, but the dirt under the fingernails, didn’t wash for a week, put that trigger quick and ask questions later. For that desire here is a film, a remake of a classic Old West western, True Grit which won John Wayne an Oscar for his performance as lead character Rooster Cogburn by the bloody thirsty Coen Brothers last seen in this space as the producers of the remake of the bloody 1955 British film The Lady Killers where an old widowed woman held off a horde of ruffians ready to do her in praise the Lord.

Recently Sam Lowell who use to do the film reviews here all by his lonesome before he retired and persuaded me to take over before I retire made some commentary about the 1961 film The Misfits, the film adaptation of playwright Arthur Miller’s story. He mentioned that the characters in that film, male and female alike, born in the West, born in the saddle really, or transported from other parts, were just then at the crossroads where the Old West and its individualistic values was fast fading in the modern industrial skyline. That the strip malls, suburban ranches, golf courses, and tourist traps were heading west. That is not the case in True Grit. Here we have all the bloodshed, the fast triggers, the fatal triggers the lawlessness needing to be tamed, the lost boys, the losers in the Civil War, the raw emotions and rawer whisky that made up a big part of the lifeblood of the Old West, the West that those who could not for one reason or another make it in the East headed for to start anew-or keep on doing the same thing in new quarters.

In a funny way, just like the plotlines from Zane Grey on, this one is simplicity itself “the age of vengeance is mine saith the Lord. Young Mattie, all of 14, played by Hailee Steinfeld, feisty as hell even if only 14, is out to avenge the death of her father by a no account bastard who just shot him down in cold blood named Tom Clancy. Little did he know his days were numbered with Mattie on the case no matter that he headed out to desolate Indian country (Native American or indigenous peoples now).

But even a feisty precocious 14 year old needs some help against a bad man desperado and so she hires for a bounty a U.S. Marshall to bring old Tom in to face justice, to face the big step-off which Mattie makes very plain is her goal-no anti-death penalty advocate she. So she hires the toughest of them all, the one with, hey, true grit, Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn played by Jeff Bridges like he was born for the role, and maybe he was. Mattie had a choice, could have and maybe should have picked Texas Ranger LaBouef, played by Matt Damon, who had been after bandito Clancy for crimes in Texas which would also require a hangman’s noose. But she took Rooster instead. 

Eventually after much banter they, all three, head out to that Indian country (remember think Native American) and before long all kind of calumny, false leads, a few confrontations and the like impede their progress. Also some internal bickering which would lead that LaBoeuf to head out on his own periodically. Not to worry though after a few rounds of rooty-toot-toot that Tom Clancy is gone to the great beyond-no one to mourn him. Along the way though Mattie and the Rooster bond, bond enough that when that Rooster went to his own great beyond he was buried in Mattie’s family plot. Yeah, wasn’t that a time boys, wasn’t that a time.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Good Morning, Vietnam"-Indeed-The Trials And Tribulations Of One Adrian Cronauer

"Good Morning, Vietnam"-Indeed-The Trials And Tribulations Of One Adrian Cronauer

By Si Lannon     

I knew from the minute I picked up this guy Adrian Cronauer from the airport that no way was he going to last in our outfit. You can take it from me Eddie Garlick that he had a “misfit” target written all over him. Our outfit if you could call it that was producing, well, hell, producing propaganda and glad tidings to the increasing number of troops coming in-country and in need of some easy listening on the Armed Forces Radio Station-Vietnam edition. First of all Cronauer, nobody called him Adrian (and he told me once we got to know each other that nobody but his mother called him that and he would usually not answer to the name even from her. I wouldn’t answer to Edward either except to my own mother after she twisted my ear a few times when I faked not hearing her) came over from some good awful place, Crete, or some place like that and was Air Force whereas the rest of us were strictly Army, Regular Army. Second of all from minute one he had me both splitting a gut laughing and looking at him sideways like he was some guy from outer space.

But see the General, General Timothy Taylor, a tough guy street general as we would call a guy like him in the old neighborhood, back in Philly, back in the Acre housing project where I grew up and where we had our own General Baker and General Pratt although not with any stars on their shoulders, didn’t need them, had heard of him when he was in Europe. He was old school, bless his soul, who won his star going through the European Theater in World War II. He, the general, must have ruffled some feathers though, annoyed some General Staff guy because he had seen Cronhuaer as he was leaving some cushy job there and transfer to hellish Vietnam as the American troops on the ground expanded like crazy in 1965 once the shit hit the fan. The general though landed on his feet though since instead of throwing him out in the boonies with the 7th Air Calvary they put him in charge of propaganda work, the radio station being one of his projects to supervise.    

The real reason though, and I proved right in the end even although I did everything in my power to try to save him including getting the grunts, you know the guys who were going in and out of the boonies looking for Mister Charlie to send fan mail to get him back on the air was Sergeant Major Dickerson, the “Dick” as we called him behind his back. (I didn’t do any fighting although I did face gun fire and bomb explosions in my tour of Vietnam like a lot of guys not on the line, it was that kind of war, but I had nothing but respect for the enemy and would not call him the derogatory Charlie but always prefaced it with the honorific Mister to show my respects). He was all spit and polish, all rules and regulations, all-lifer, the bad kind of lifer who lived to count the days until retirement but in the meantime raise seven kinds of hell, the only good commie is dead commie so you knew, I knew the minute I saw Cronauer half out of uniform, hair too long and with a laugh a minute that he wasn’t going to go the distance, would fuck up somehow and made hash out of everything. (Then I didn’t know I would wind-up being a lifer too but that was after I left the Army after my enlistment was up, seeing nothing around the Acre that I could do without winding up in stir so I re-upped. I just hope some of the guys that were under me don’t call be lifer the way I just did about the “Dick.”)

While he was riding high one Airman Cronauer was beautiful was like a breath of fresh air in the Black Hole of Calcutta. Would make a lot of guys who are making a good living doing comedy routines take up another profession, maybe lawyering or something, maybe learn to crochet. Yes, Cronauer was the avenging angel and the worst nightmare for guys like the Dick, a loose cannon. The only thing I didn’t like in the few months that Cronauer was around was that he would always kid me about my turning the key to start the engine of the jeep that I used to transport him around to his various doings when it was already running. Being around him made me nervous and forgetful. I admit I was trying to protect my stripes, maybe grab another one if I could control this force of nature. See General Taylor had personally assigned me to “look after” Cronauer since even the General knew he was loosely put together. I guess the general didn’t know in the end how big a can of worms Cronauer would be after the Dick got through with him. 

You have to know something about Armed Forces Radio back in ’65, maybe any time but mostly the thing was about presenting “happy” news, maybe cover a press conference of some important figure who was in-country to see what was really going on (and never taking the blinders off to find out, never leaving MAC-V headquarters and definitely never asking the soldiers, the grunts, what the hell was going on while they were doing their whirlwind tours) and play music like Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, I don’t know Guy Lombardo stuff our parents would dig, would find appealing. And the guys, good guys really, who took their shifts, usually four hours unless they were covering for somebody, and gave what the Dick and Army regulations dictated to him to read and play. They even had two donkeys, two brothers who must have been orphans because no mother could love them (or have carried them in her womb) who red-penciled everything especially the number of KIAs, and the lack of progress against Mister Charlie that was apparent to anybody except those idiot VIPs who had come in-country for more than five minutes. The worst lie though was the body count. The number of VC killed. The numbers just didn’t add up. Some guy during my second tour of Vietnam figured it out one time in 1968 I think that if you added all the numbers together from the body counts then to you would have more dead than were in the whole freaking country.

From day one, no, minute one, Cronauer blew all of that away. Started off at six o’clock in the morning with his signature call-“Good Morning, Vietnam” but he would stretch those three words out for what seemed like an hour. Guys would imitate him, guys on in the boonies too. Then he would do “mock” news reports, total bullshit of total bullshit, and then play something like James Brown, can you believe it, Brother James Brown. Needless to say the Dick blew his top, complained to General Taylor who told him to “fuck off” then because the men liked hearing Cronauer, and he did have a big breath of fresh air following. Like I said the General was what you would call a soldiers’ General if you know what I mean (unlike those General Staff guys who never came out of the bunker over at MAC-V).          

What did Cronauer in, what did a lot of guys stuck in Vietnam then before there were too many guys hanging around in Saigon and everything got to be a whorish merry-go-round was a girl, a beautiful Vietnamese girl who I told him was off-limits, was a no go. But Cronauer wouldn’t listen, spent every waking hour trying to figure out how to get next to this beauty, this Trinh. Including getting close to her brother Tran something I forget his full name, and it doesn’t matter since that was not his real name, his real Mister Charlie name as it turned out. Although Cronauer didn’t see it that way he was basically asking this Tran to pimp for his sister. Nothing good could come of that, and nothing did despite the extensive wooing that Cronauer did.

When push came to shove though nothing could save Cronauer. He had been too friendly with the natives as they say and the natives had bitten him, had used his as a cover to blow up a famous Saigon gin mill where GIs hung out. Not good, not good at all. Got me mixed up in it and almost ruined my career except the General had the Dick’s number and it was him that was hung out to dry not me. Cronauer, well, bad boy Cronauer got kicked out of the service for the good of the service as they say. Never did get too far with that Trinh before he became persona non grata in-country. Sent his young ass back to the States quick as a jack rabbit. End of story.   
Not quite. Some nights I still wake up thinking about some antic that mad clown did on the air or out in the streets of Saigon. Always think even though I am a Sergeant Major myself here at Fort Meade about that last gift he left me. His farewell tape to the troops which I delivered. Got to do my own version of Good Morning, Vietnam, and got to feel for just one moment what it was like to have the world in your hands. Yeah, Cronauer was one hell of a guy, was a piece of work no question.