Friday, August 29, 2014

Robert Evans Week: The Phantom

Well hello my readers and welcome to Day 5 of Robert Evans Week.  Well we have seen some great successes by Evans, a less than stellar musical according to some critics and by God we need to end this week on a good old fashioned pulp strip hero.  Yes, when you have the director of Operation Dumbo Drop, Free Will and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles at the command, you know you are in good hands.  Ladies, be honest.  A well built man clad in purple tights, sporting mighty pecs and twin holstered Colt 45s is really a deep seeded fantasy, isn't it?      Perhaps not.  This is The Phantom.

Nobody move, see?!
The Phantom: I've wore it all my life.  For protection.  I never really understood what that meant until right now.
Drax: Ha! What a cheap jungle spoiler!

From 1936 to 1999, Lee Falk created a costumed crimefighter that hailed from the far reaches of Africa as a myth or legend known only as the Phantom or the Ghost Who Walks.  With control from director Simon Wincer (Homicide, D.A.R.Y.L., Lonesome Dove, Quigley Down Under, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and  Free Willy) and scribbled by writer Jeffery Boam (The Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) starts the tale of heroism from his ancestor 400 years prior whose ship was attacked by pirates.  Washed ashore on a remote African island Bengalla, the tribesmen taught the boy the ways of the jungle and to stand up again piracy and wrong doings.

Must be the sequel to Bound.

Where he got the fabrics and synthetics for his outfit?  Eh, not relevant.  1938, Kit Walker/Phantom (Billy Zane of Back to the Future, Critters, Back to the Future II, Sniper, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight,  Titanic and Vlad) sees strangers in his adopted lands searching for an ancient power, One of the legendary Skulls of Touganda  that will create a force that man is not wise enough to harness with proper intent.

 Meanwhile in New York, Investigative reporter Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson of Hot Shots!, Highway to Hell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Chase, Silence and Living Death) on assignment for her uncle Dave Palmer (Bill Smitrovich of Bodily Harm, Nick of Time, Independence Day, Ghosts of Mississippi, Millennium, Air Force One and Futuresport) owner of the Tribune Newspaper is looking into a local "robber baron" businessman Xander Drax (Treat Williams of The Eagle Has Landed, Dead Heat, Good Advice, Deep Rising, The Devil's Own, Venomous and The Circle) and his supposed links to a piracy organization called the Sengh Brotherhood.  

Travelling away on a Pan Am clipper, Diana's flight is interrupted by a sultry squadron of... well... bi-plane pirates lead by femme fatale Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Blue Juice, Catherine the Great, The Mask of Zorro, Entrapment, Traffic, Chicago, The Terminal, Rock of Ages and RED 2).  Within a moment's notice our hero listening in on the radio rushes to save his former girlfriend Diana (Yeah, I know the cliche') and brings her back to the Ghost's Lair, discovers they are on the same case and dismisses her due to her sex and frailty and blah blah blah misogynistic tendencies.

Can the Phantom stop Drax from taking over the world with his elite cadre of bumbling buffoons and mystic skulls?  Will he admit his feelings for Diana?  Does he have to sublet his lair if he moves to New York permanently?

Now just a few bits of trivia for you.  The "Palmer Mansion" during the cocktail party of movers and shakers scene was in fact Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion.  Prior to Wincer, Both Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher were considered for the directing job.   Most of the interior shots clearly have the look of a sound stage and the cameras caught the edges in a few of the shots.  The motorcycle cops are riding around on Indians made in the 40's while the film takes place in the 30's. I noticed the clipper had an a/c unit in it and that would be historically inaccurate but it sure beats roasting your cast in Thailand.

A rock 'em, sock 'em action film that is fast paced, blue screened in parts and decent enough story arc overall.  Still an enjoyable movie in spite of some of the cheesy dialogue but hell you adapted it from a comic strip from the 30's.

 Bruce Campbell and Dolph Lundgren were also considered for the part of the Phantom and frankly "Gimme some sugar, baby" or "I will break you." coming out of that purple costume just... not instilling fear in the hearts of the cowardly or superstitious.  I know this for a fact.  I asked Batman.

Your soul.. is mine!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Number 550!!!! Robert Evans Week: Popeye

Welcome readers of mine!!!  YOU LIKE ME!!! YOU REALLY, REALLY LIKE ME!!!   Ahem* sorry Sally Fields rents a place in my frontal lobe and there is some overlap now and again.   Back to Day 4 of Robert Evans Week as we see a wonderful musical based of the works of cartoonist E.C. Segar , penned by writer Jules Feiffer and brought to life by legendary director Robert Altman (MASH, The Long Goodbye, Thieves Like Us, Nashville, A Perfect Couple, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The Player, Pret-a-Porter and Gosford Park) starring the late and great Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.   This is Popeye.

Me sailor suit is riding where it not need be.

Popeye: Another thing I got is a sensk of humiligration. Now, maybe you spoils can pool your intelligensk and sees that I'm axking you for an apologeky.

Set in the town of Sweethaven, a fishing village (that looks an awful lot like Malta) our story revolves around hot tempered sailor Popeye (Robin Williams from Mork & Mindy,  Moscow on the Hudson, Club Paradise, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Hook and Aladdin) and his assorted friends.  This town is buzzing with activity as Popeye looks for his long lost pappy.  Popeye plans to rent a room at the boarding house when he is smitten by the landlord's daughter Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall of Annie Hall, 3 Women, The Shining, Time Bandits, Roxanne, The Underneath and Dreams in the Attic) who is engaged to Captain Bluto (Paul L. Smith of Going in Style, Return of the Tiger, When I am King, Jungle Warriors, Crimewave, Red Sonja, Gor and Outlaw Force)  who taxes on behalf of the Commodore of the town.

Yes, a sailor's life for me... Yargh.

People are bled dry and Popeye is not one for bullies of any shape or size.   Finding an abandoned baby in a dingy, Popeye adopts (scoops up and claims as his own) the lad naming him Swee'Pea.   Not exactly the most creative of souls.  With dealing with ruffians in town and winning a boxing match for the sake of the town, the folk start to accept Popeye as one of their own and try to aid him in finding his pappy.   Will Bluto tax the town to turmoil?  Will Popeye persevere?

A few bits of trivia about the film now.  Paramount and Columbia got in a bidding war over Annie for a film adaptation of the Broadway musical and Paramount lost.  To retaliate, Robert Evans went to see what comic strip characters they had the rights to in order to create a movie musical.   This film was Robin William's first top billing and the first film for actress Linda Hunt (Fame, The Year of Living Dangerously, Dune, Silverado, Kindergarten Cop, If Looks Could Kill, The Relic and NCIS Los Angeles)

It took a crew of 165 men seven months to construct the set consisting of 19 buildings as well as a hotel, schoolhouse, general store, post office, a church and local watering hole.   8 seaworthy ships were bought to be sunk in the harbor and here is hoping the owners got their penny's worth.    Around 1977 as the script was being written, Robert Evans wanted Dustin Hoffman to play Popeye but was blown away by Robin Williams' comedic timing, energy and performance and changed his mind for the better.

Got more than tobaccy in this here pipe. Ug gug gug!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Robert Evans Week: The Godfather

Welcome to Day 3 of Robert Evans Week and baby we got a doozy for you today.  With immigrants, an aging patriarch of a syndicate makes preparations to leave his legacy in the hands of his son.  From the mind of brilliant writer Mario Puzo (The Dark Arena, The Fortunate Pilgrim, Fools Die, The Sicilian, The Fourth K and The Last Don) and brought to us by director/writer/producer Francis Ford Coppola ( Dementia 13, Patton, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club Dracula and The Rainmaker) comes the story of power changing hands in a ten year span based around a son that was deemed an outsider to the family to becoming harden with the times and moves up the ranks.  This is The Godfather.

I'm sorry!!! I'LL TIP!!!

Don Corleone: I hope you don't mind the way I keep going over this Barzini business.
Michael: No, not at all.
Don Corleone: It's an old spoiler. I spent my whole life trying not to be careless.  Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.

Overseeing his daughter's wedding, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando of A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, On the Waterfront, Guys and Dolls, Mutiny on the Bounty, Last Tango in Paris and Superman) greets his wayward war hero son Michael (Al Pacino of Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Bobby Deerfield, Scarface, Glengarry Glen Ross, Scent of a Woman, Heat and The Insider)  with his girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton of Play It Again, Sam, Sleeper, Reds, Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, The First Wives Club, Plan B and Something's Gotta Give) and the Don is bombarded be requests from people in the neighborhood, one of which is this would-be crooner, his godson Johnny Fontane (Crooner and actor Al Martino) for this most coveted role in a movie and not getting his foot in the door.  

Vito sends his consigilere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall of To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chase, Bullitt, True Grit, THX 1138, The Eagle Has Landed, Apocalypse Now and The Great Santini) to negotiate with studio mogul Jack Woltz (John Marley of Faces, Love Story, Dead of Night, The Amateur, Falcon's Gold, Utilities and The Glitter Dome) for the part.  Woltz is adamant about the refusal until he wakes the next morning to find his prized stallion's head in his sheets.  Really hate to have seen Hagen's next counter proposal.

Early Christmas in 1945 drug czar Virgil " The Turk" Sollozzo (Al Letterieri of The Getaway, Mr. Majestyk, Flatfoot in Hong Kong, Winner Take All and The Hired Gun) backed up by rival mob the Tattaglias, asks the Don for a piece of the action in his drug and protection racket through all his political connections.  Vito does not approve of drug peddlers and sends his enforcer Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana of The Funny Face of the Godfather, Patty, Contract on Cherry Street, Fingers and Defiance) to spy on these no good scumbags.  Shockingly enough, things don't go smoothly for Luca as his vest is wrapped with newspaper and stuffed with fishes then sent to the Corelones.  

Rise, my son.  Crap, wrong flick.

Vito is shot at and lands him in the hospital making his eldest boy, Sonny (James Caan of Red Line 7000, El Dorado, Games, Slither, Rollerball, Thief, Flesh and Bone and City of Ghosts)  in charge of the family.  Retaliations are in motion as Sonny wants Tattaglias in the ground.
Michael plots to remove the Tattaglias' monkeys both Sollozzo and Police Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden of The Asphalt Junglem The Killing, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and Venom)  but when will the bloodshed end or will it escalate into out and out gang war with the Five Families?  Should there be an olive branch or a clenched fist offered?

A few comments to make about the movie at this time.
Syndicate boss Joe Colombo and his organization The Italian-American Civil Rights League started a major campaign to stop the film from being made.   Robert Evans got more than his fair share of death threat phone calls and letters decreeing this film is anti-Italian.   Fellow producer Albert S. Ruddy met with the alleged Don who demanded the terms Mafia and Cosa Nostra be removed from the film.  Ruddy agreed and allowed them to read over the script and make changes and even agreed to have League members (gunsels and leg breakers) as extras and advisers.  Paramount's owner Charlie Bluhdorn sees this agreement in the New York Times was so outraged he fired Ruddy and shut down the film.   Evans managed to convince Bluhdorn that this agreement looks like great PR and no more disruptions for the movie so Ruddy was hired back on.

From its amazing cinematography in 35 mm Spherical with crane work through the streets, dolly tracking with our stars and some beautiful hand held to Carlo Savina's score that sets the stage, you get the feel of what life was in this time with all the ups and downs.  Shining new light on what was once deemed a blight in most theatrical releases, the family angle is what sold this film most of all and changed the face of cinema on organized crime forever.

My feet are killing me in these shoes, Lord.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Robert Evans Week: Chinatown

Howdy boys and girls and welcome back to Robert Evans Week.  This time around I thought we would go more into a neo film noir if you will.  A story of a private detective that gets in over his head, get muscled by some local talent, falls for the female client and in general get caught in a land grab scheme and did I mention a certain blonde bombshell happens in this film?  So keep a watch handy, know your street contacts and never sleep with the lady client.  This is Chinatown.

Alright, what or who is the Joker?

Noah Cross: Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and spoilers all get respectable if they last long enough.

Directed by Roman Polanski (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Rosemary’s Baby, Macbeth, The Tenant, Tess and Pirates) and written by writer Robert Towne (Bonnie and Clyde, The Last Detail, The Yakuza, Orca, Heaven Can Wait and 8 Million Ways to Die) comes a story of private detective J.J. or Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson of Easy Rider, 5 Easy Pieces, The Shining, As Good as It Gets and The Departed) fresh from a cheating wife case and the client while not thrilled settles most of the bill.  Gittes is asked to do a surveillance gig on a potential cheating husband by a woman that identifies herself as Evelyn Mulwray.  Jake follows Mr. Mulwray around a reservoir, a nearby oceanfront and finally back to a ritzy apartment snapping pics of Mulwray and a  pretty, young blonde girl.  The pictures end up in the newspaper the next day.

Back from his shave and haircut (two bits!!) he is confronted by a stunning woman who exclaims they have never met and tells Jake she is the actual Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway of The Towering Inferno, Three Days of the Condor, Network, Voyage of the Damned and Mommy Dearest) who then threatens a major lawsuit.  Realizing he has been left holding the bag, Gittes wants to know who wants to get at Mulwray but before he can get with the man he is found drown in a freshwater reservoir.   Jake looks into Mulwray’s death and find thousands of gallons of water are being dumped in the middle of a drought and the head security of Water and Power along with a hobbit with a knife work Jake over.
Mrs. Mulwray convinced that Jake will get himself killed wants to simply pay Jake off and call things square but Jake is looking to finding out the bigger picture around her husband’s death, why the water is being wasted and who stands to gain from this.

Another UFO sighting missed!

I had just a few comments about the flick.   The Chinatown screenplay is widely regarded as one of the most perfect write ups and as used as a teaching point in screenwriting seminars and classes all over the states.  Robert Towne wrote this screenplay with Nicholson in mind as the lead.
The movie line” Forget it, Jake it’s Chinatown.” was voted as the #71st of the 100 Greatest Movie Lines by Premiere.   A dark, gritty classic full of murder, romance and everything in between as Ms.Dunaway woos the crowd with her demeanor and attitude.

Towne and Polanski went round and round on the production of Chinatown.  Polanski is said to be a perfectionist demanded that he and Towne go over the script page by page and touch up everything.  As the writer, Towne was offended and snapped back.  Evans looked forward to Polanski taking the director's chair again and tackling a rough and tumble story in a city where everyone has secrets.

The story around the campfire is the role of Evelyn Mulray was intended for Evans' wife at the time Ali McGraw but she ultimately lost the role divorcing Evans for Steve McQueen.

This was to be the first part of a trilogy as Robert Evans and Jack Nicholson saw it.   At one point Towne and Nicholson wanted Evans to step away from the producer's chair and get into make-up for the sequel The Two Jakes in 1989 but they hit a snag or two in the greenlight.

Begone you little, repugnant man!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Robert Evans Week: Rosemary's Baby

Welcome to Day 1 of Robert Evans Week.  Selling a horror movie is never easy,  especially in mainstream Hollywood.   You can sell it easier with acclaimed playwright/novelist Ira Levin (A Kiss Before Dying, This Perfect Day, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil and Sliver).  Actions lead to consequences including pacts for wealth and success with dark forces may not be the wise career path.  Just ask Dennis Rodman.  This is Rosemary's Baby.

Ahh to Satan!  Er I mean our health!

Roman Castevet: I think we're spoiling Rosemary... 
Rosemary Woodhouse: I wasn't offended, really I wasn't.
Roman Castevet: You're not religious, my dear, are you?
Rosemary Woodhouse: I was brought up a Catholic... now, I don't know.

 Housewife Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow of Peyton Place, See No Evil, The Public Eye, Scoundrel in White, The Great Gatsby, Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Reckless,  A Girl Thing, Third Watch and The Omen) and struggling actor Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes of Our Virgin Island, Shadows, Johnny Staccato, The Webster Boy, Burke's Law, The Dirty Dozen, Bandits in Rome and Husbands) moved into the Bramford, a gorgeous archaic 8 floor walk-up apartment with a dubious reputation in New York City.   Was there any part of that sentence that didn't say, "Shop around, kiddies." ?

How could you say no to such a matronly face?

Their landlord Mr. Nicklas (Elisha Cook Jr. of The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep,  House on Haunted Hill, The Killing, El Condor, Blacula and Salem's Lot)  has no problem at all explaining the previous tenant had gone senile and had to be shipped off the elderly concentration camp...  old folk's home if you prefer.    No sooner have they brought their bags in an elderly couple, the Castevets Minnie (Ruth Gordon of Two-Faced Woman, Edge of Darkness, Lord Love a Duck, What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?, The Big Bus and Boardwalk) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer of Little Caesar, The Wrecker, The Lady and the Monster, The Rifleman, Ben Casey and Gentle Ben) who seem quaint and eccentric (THAT MEANS WHACKO!!!!) but charming and pleasant altogether.  The couple seem to be watching over a young lady that is a former drug addict who is grateful for a sponsor when she inexplicably hurls herself out the window at the Castevets' residence.  Hmm, bad timing I suppose.

 The Castevets give Rosemary with a strange talisman and tell her it is a good luck charm as Guy gets a role that another man was up for when he mysteriously was stricken with blindness.  With their good fortune Guy insists they start trying for a baby and basically violates Rosemary in her unconscious state so as to not miss the optimal cycle.  Yes, because this is what every husband rationally does with his wife...  IN THE LAND OF SATAN!!!!   Her cravings become unusual as her body demands raw meats, mostly organ and severe body spasms and pain as if something otherworldly is going on.  Is something amiss with those around her or is it all in her head and this is the normal path to motherhood... that no one has ever described or hinted at.

A few comments, critiques and compliments about the film now.  Roman Polanski as director took some unusual lighting and camera methods to portray a sense of dread in even sunlit scenes.   With the Spherical Eastman 35 mm a more pronounced use of the widescreen shooting and some anamorphic lens shoots it makes you feel you are in the room watching Farrow slip away into this madness and completely helpless to offer aid.   Rosemary's baby was born in June 1966. Yes, 6/66.  

Writer Ira Levin felt the film was the single most faithful adaptation of a novel to come out of Hollywood.   B-Movie Director William Castle bought the rights to Rosemary's Baby and wanted to direct.  Evans green-lit the project but persuaded Castle to produce instead, giving Polanski the go ahead for the helm.  Wise call there.  
Old Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra, people.  Take in some history, sheesh.) called Evans demanding his then wife was starring in The Detective and she needs to quit this flick.  Evans has to haggle with Sinatra and tell him she won't be done for more than a month.  Threatened with divorce, Farrow continued Rosemary's Baby which was nominated for best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay and won Best Supporting Actress.  Frankie had the papers sent to her at the set.  He did his way.  The irony of it all is Evans was producing both movies.  The critic in me wondered about Best Actress and Best Director as well but film critics alike agree it is still a terrifying movie and aged with us like a sinister wine.

Oh sweetie, let's pledge to he who shall not be named... or get a puppy.

Robert Evans Week

He has been an actor, President of Paramount Pictures and commonly known as a producer.  From fame to infamy and back again.  Dating starlets, marrying them and divorcing them it has been a whirlwind of a life for this man that help bring Paramount back from the abysmal standings it was in by bringing in films like Rosemary's Baby, Love Story and the Godfather.  for the eleven years of running the studio he has recieved more flack than most actors get for a string of bad movies and was deemed a lucky fraud.   I am talking about "Kid Notorious" himself, Robert Evans.

No I am not Mike Douglas.

Deeming himself a half-assed actor he decided the name of the game was producer.  The man behind the scenes, wheeling and dealing and putting time and effort in and during post-production.  This week we will look at his influence on what Hollywood and the world deem some of the most critically acclaimed movies he had a hand in.   Aside from the writers, very few know the producer behind the movie and that is downright awful.

Without Richard D. Zanuck, there would be no Jaws, The Verdict and Driving Miss Daisy.  Without Sam Spiegel, there would be no The African Queen, On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwaii and Lawrence of Arabia.   No Saul Zaentz and no One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus and The English Patient.   So we acknowledge a fella that has done everything but direct professionally.   We will see the highs and lows of his career and formulate our own opinions on whether or not he had an influence in Hollywood.

So Jack and I  are there in Vegas and the hookers are paying us... no, really.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anti-Hero Week: Dredd

Hello all and welcome to Day 4 of Anti-Hero Week.  Today we view a man of the law in a hostile environment.   The Atomic Wars of 2070 causing the United States to be made a radioactive wasteland.  With only three Mega Cities left in the country but the lands outside of them is now known as Cursed Earth, a radiated infested badlands filled with hideous mutations forbidden to live in the cities.  With populations in the excess of 800 million people tallying 17,000 crimes daily, a new police force is created.  The Street Judges act as judge, jury and executioner.  This is Dredd.

That kid is on the escalator again!
Judge Dredd: I was wondering when you'd remember you forget your helmet.
Anderson: Sir, a spoiler can interfere with my psychic abilities.
Judge Dredd: Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.

A highly addictive drug called "Slo-Mo" has been on the scene altering the user's perceptions of time to 1% the norm causing...  bad things to happen.  I guess any rate.  The Judges are in full swing to break the back of this drug peddling when Dredd (Karl Urban of Xena: Princess Warrior, Ghost Ship, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Chronicles of Riddick, Doom, Star Trek, RED, Star Trek Into Darkness and Almost Human) is informed by Chief Justice (Rakie Ayola of Scarlett, Waking the Dead, EastEnders, Being April, Sahara and Doctor Who) that he is breaking in and evaluating a new recruit to the Judges, Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby of Juno, The Secret, The Answer Man, Uncertainty and No Strings Attached).    Three rival drug dealers caught dealing on Ma Ma's turf. Ma Ma (Lena Headey of Band of Gold, Merlin, Gossip, Laid to Rest, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 300 and The Purge) has her boys skinned and doped up on Slo Mo, then hurled to the ground from the top floor.

I feel pretty... psycho!

Dredd backed up by Anderson are sent in to investigate and arrest if possible.  After a little observation the pair are soon hip to a drug den in the works which they hit hard in a two person raid, grabbing a thug name of Kay (Wood Harris of Committed, Remember the Titans, The Gold Cup, Joy Road, Dirty, Southland Tales and The Wire).  With a quick mind probe Anderson learns that that Kay does Ma Ma's executions and grunt work.  Dredd goes to take Kay in for a more detailed line of questioning but Ma Ma, wired into the surveillance of the building initiates a lock down procedure sealing the building from the outside,  Its blast shields completely cut our judges off from the outside.

With no help in sight our two judges have to rely on each other to see it through to the next day with limited resources, no back up and less than sympathetic civilians caught in the middle.   Will they make it and end up bloody and strewn all over the tower's floor?

Quick couple of comments about the film now.  To keep true to the comic book character, Urban stated he would not remove the helmet and emote purely by tone of voice and scowl.  Urban also insisted on riding the Lawmaster motorcycle himself.   The graffiti tagging through the Peach Trees complex is the names of two characters from the comic called Chopper and Kenny Who?   Our total run time of the movie is 96 minutes which is the exact same amount of minutes Judge Dredd tallied at.   Finally our balance of fictitious body count rounds out to 102.    Man, sounds like an entire suburb open for new occupancy.

Had to hide behind the barrels of midgets, dammit!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anti-Hero Week: Barb Wire

Greetings readers and welcome to Day 3 of Anti-Hero Week.  Normally I do not warn folks ahead of time of what they will be reading but yes today we are reviewing what most folks deem a turkey.   It is less than savory and has lifted a gorgeous story of many decades ago and as a whole the "writers" Ilene Chaiken and Chuck Pfarrer should be water boarded for, but again this is my humble opinion. Two talented writers think swapping genders in this time honored story Casablanca for a series of fist and gun fights isn't  a tremendous insult to Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch that brought that flick the love it got.   With that in mind, this is Barb Wire.

Tee hee!
Alexander Willis: Add it to my tab, Miss Kopetski. Boom boom boom!
Barb Wire: Barbara Kopetski died in the war. I'm Barb Spoiler.

In 2017,  the United States is undergoing a second civil war, a state of emergency has been declared allowing a fascist regime to happen and civil liberties has been thrown to the four winds.  One city still neutral territory is Steel Harbor, home of Barb Wire (Pamela Anderson of Baywatch, Raw Justice, Naked Souls, V.I.P.,  Scary Movie 3, Stripperella, Stacked and Blonde and Blonder) owner of the bar Hammerhead and moonlights as a mercenary and bounty hunter which keeps her club flush and her staff in the greenbacks..  sorry Canadian is the coin of the realm.

Her only real friend is corrupt Chief of Police Willis (character actor Xander Berkeley of Terminator 2, Apollo 13, Heat, Apollo 11, Gattaca, Universal Soldier: The Return and CSI: Criminal Scene Investigation)  who enjoys her top shelf booze and company.  A defector of the American Congress, a Doctor Corrina Devonshire (Victoria Rowell of The Young and the Restless, Diagnosis Murder, The Distinguished Gentleman and Dumb & Dumber) developed a bio-weapon of untold destruction, burned her notes and destroyed the prototype virus but Congress can still get what is in her head.  She has to flee into Canada to avoid this ever happening again.

See anything you like

Her steadfast protector resistance fighter and former lover to Barb, Axel Hood (Temuera Morrison of Adventurer, Mauri, Once Were Warriors, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones, The Beautiful Country and Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith) has his deal blown and he and "Cora D" are on the run in search of safe harbor until they can get her to Canada.  Will Barb once again take sides, sell out her former love or simply not care?

Now to the nitty gritty of this movie.  We open our film with a wet and wild dance number as our lead actress is topless and sprayed with hoses.  Yeah starting it off really classy.   When your sci-fi comic book hero starts off with a watery striptease, maybe the production has gone downhill.  Yes, we get it movie.  Pam is busty.   To be fair to Pam, her fight choreography was fair and damn did she learn firearms to the point she didn't even flinch when firing them but the character is over the top cheesecake for 12 year olds and even Anderson would state that Barb Wire is no role model.

Of course I could sit here comfortably dissecting every facet and nuance of the film but I would rather poke a little fun and talk about the goofs on film.   Saw the boom mic in Barb's bike helmet during her chatter with Big Fatso.   The crappy wooden table Barb is hiding behind for cover in gun play, the bullet marks made in the table switch sides in between shots.  Continuity no no!!!   Drinks keep refilling themselves between shots of Barb and her brother Charlie in different scenes more than four times.  Back to the hosing scene I swear there are shots during that sequence she is actually dry.   So like it or not, Barb Wire is an anti-hero.   Just needed an original script for the material.

Barb and her two besties... the guns, you pervs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Anti-Hero Week: The Punisher

Howdy readers of mine and welcome to Day 2 of Anti-Hero Week.  Quick question though, have you ever had a bad day?  Tire go flat?  Celtics lose on you or you know, have your entire family massacred in front of you?   Probably not the last for most of us but Frank Castle sure had a bad day and now he is venting his frustration out on the criminal scumbags.  This is The Punisher.

Hey, that's not Green Arrow!!  Rip!!!
The Punisher: Those who do evil to spoilers- the killers, the rapists, psychos, sadists- you will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead.  Call me...  The Punisher.

Special Agent FBI undercover Frank Castle (Thomas Jane of Deep Blue Sea, Magnolia. Eden, Dreamcatcher Hung and The Mist) is wrapping up his last assignment on a major arms deal covering Europe and the States when the deal goes sour and more than a few guys get shot.   Castle is moving out to London with his family within a week and gotten his farewell from the department and heads out to Puerto Rico for a family get together.  One of the aforementioned men that got shot was Robert/Bobby Saint (James Carpinello of The Great Raid, So Notorious, The Good Wife, Holiday Road, Body of Proof, The Mob Doctor and Gangster Squad) son of alleged money launderer Howard Saint (John Travolta of Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Welcome Back, Kotter, Pulp Fiction, Broken Arrow, The General's Daughter, Swordfish and From Paris with Love) who wants blood for blood but his wife Livia (Laura Harring of Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!, General Hospital, Sunset Beach, Mulholland Drive, John Q, Loco Love, Walkout and The Shield) wants Castle's whole bloodline wiped out.

I told you to NEVER bring up Wild Hogs again!

During the daylight's celebration six gunmen proceed to wipe out the extended family with Castle and his father Frank Senior (Roy Scheider of The French Connection, The Outside Man, Jaws, All That Jazz, Blue Thunder, 2010, The Russia House, Romeo Is Bleeding and SeaQuest 2032) manage to give as well as get but all for not as the Castles seem to be gone...  all but Frank Jr.

Allowed to heal and re-cooperate, Frank proceeds to arm up and go hunting for those men responsible for his family's annihilation.  Making his way to a cruddy apartment in Tampa of the ask me no questions just pay the rent variety he prepares for his one man war on the Saints.  Inhabiting the complex is Spacker Dave (Ben Foster of Flash Forward, Bang Bang You're Dead, Six Feet Under, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Mechanic and 360) Bumpo (The late comedian/actor John Pinette of Vinnie & Bobby, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, John Pinette: I Say Nay Nay, Just for Laughs and John Pinette: Still Hungry) and waitress Joan (Rebecca Romijn of Just Shoot Me!, X-Men, Rollerball, Femme Fatale,  X-2, Ugly Betty, King & Maxwell and The Pro) all curious about their broody new neighbor but mind their own business overall.

Castle abducts a low ranking member of the Saints organization who spills all the pertinent details about them.  Their habits, hobbies and lifestyles.  Castle proceeds to weedwack his way to the top putting Saint on edge with his business deals and home.

A few bits of trivia about the film now.  Thomas Jane trained 7 months with the Navy SEALS and gained about 20 pounds of muscle in the process.   With the supervision of a trainer Jane worked out two hours a day weight lifting and doing cardio training, more health shakes than he ever wanted and then had to learn multiple firearms, blades and even a bow.

The earrings Howard Saint gave his wife were not props but actual Harry Winston diamonds valued at $1 million dollars.  Hell of a product placement.    This is one of the first Marvel Comics movies to recieve an R rating since Blade.  C'mon people, they're dark characters for crying out loud.  Don't let the little ones watch it unless you think they can handle it.

Think the curls have been helping my arms out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anti-Hero Week: V for Vendetta

Good day and hello readers!  Welcome to Day 1 of Anti-Hero Week.  To start us off right how about a dystopian timeline under a white supremacist (No I don't mean Ron Paul won the elections) regime?  With anarchy in the streets of the United States, a pandemic called St. Mary's Virus raving the better portion of the known Europe, The UK is about the only still stable country ruled by fear and oppression.   Anything deemed unsavory by Norsefire was removed to concentration camps including homosexuals, racial minorities, free thinking leftists are all taken away within the first year of power.  This is V for Vendetta.

Now you have erred!
V: I told you, only truth.  For 20 years, I spoiled only this day. Nothing else existed...  until I saw you.  Then everything changed. I fell in love with you Evey.  And to think I no longer believed I could.

With oppression made to look like order, the tyrant leaders of Norsefire have a new problem to worry about.  On November 5th, a man in a outlandish black outfit wearing a Guy Fawkes (member of the Gunpowder Plot attempting to blow up House of Lords in 1605) mask calling himself V (Hugo Weaving of Sky Pirates, ...Almost, Proof, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Transformers and Captain America: The First Avenger) saves a young girl Evey (Natalie Portman of  Beautiful Girls, Garden State, Star Wars: Phantom Menace, Free Zone, No Strings Attached, Thor and Thor: The Dark World) from the Fingermen planning to violate her for being out after curfew .  Making his way into a private broadcast, he announces to the viewers of said channel that are watching to meet him in one year, on November 5, outside the Houses of Parliament of which he decrees he will destroy,  Norsefire's "Fingermen" secret police attempt to capture V but ultimately fail.

Is my nostril hair apparent???

Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea of  The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Last of the High Kings, The Musketeer, On the Edge, Bloom and Tara Road) has been assigned the dubious task of capturing and unmasking the vigilante known as V but must dig deep into investigation to find who this man is or was to have been made such a public enemy of the land.  As his investigations go further and more deaths attributed to V he finds his country is a much darker place than he could have imagined.

All hangs on the impending year as defacto dictator Adam Sutler (John Hurt of Alien, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aria, Spaceballs, Wild Bill, Hellboy, The Oxford Murders and Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor) demanding order and that this masked social deviant will cause the downfall of their utopia.    Will the people rise up against this totalitarian state and have their freedom or will V's words fall on deaf ears?

A few points of difference from the source material vs the movie.
Graphic novelist Alan Moore (Swamp Thing, The Watchmen, V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) wrote this as he view the 1990's would become under the extreme views of Margret Thatcher's conservative being down on what she deemed subversive behavior.  in the graphic novel, the Norsefire was freely elected and bio-weapons were not plot based.  Fascism seems almost neutered in the film with the exception of the note by Valerie Page an actress incarcerated for being a lesbian.  Racial purity is not covered and is actually seems almost it was completely avoided.
The domino scene where V tips the black and red dominoes to for the large V involved 22,000 dominoes and took 4 professional assemblers 200 hours to set up.   During the fight sequence in Victoria Station, the stunt-men are moving in actual slow motion while Hugo Weaving's stunt double (David Leitch) moved in real time.  Shooting the whole scene in 60 frames per second gives the illusion V was a whirlwind among the grass.

This is not the masquerade ball?  

Anti-hero Week

Welcome faithful readers.  We have had a few losses this last week that were met and hope we can progress further.  This week we take a different look at Comic Book Heroes.

Don't mock the wig, it's paid for.

They walk the line that other heroes dare not.  They take risks and lives for the greater good.  Their saga is inked in blood and all their enemies are six feet under.  They are the heroes that are as close to the darkness they fight but they don't worry about their souls in the process, so long as their crusades are met.  This week is all about the anti-hero.   The classic definition states anti-heroes are the center character in a story, movie or drama that lacks the conventional heroic attributes.
To me, it has always meant the realist character without a code versus killing.  Men and women scarred both physically and mentally, beyond repair feel they will make certain there will be no more victims and the guilty are punished with a blade or bullet.   So join me as we find some gems and evade a few turds.

I am not gaining weight to play Volstagg!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sean Bean Week: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief

Greetings and welcome to Day 4 of Sean Bean Week.  It has been kind of hetic around here so this will be the last day of the week.  Perhaps I can do something on Saturday but I offer no guarantees.  Imagine Gods of myth and legend walking about in our time.  Beings of awesome power that hail from legend and folklore. Now imagine a war breaking out that threatens to shatter not only that pantheon but our world if a wrong is not righted in time.  This is Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief.

So, was Rome a good gig?
Chiron:  Percy, take this to spoil yourself.  It's a powerful weapon. Guard it well. Only use it in times of severe distress.

Percy Jackson: This is a pen.  This is a *pen.*

Eons gone by and two of the elder gods Zeus (Sean Bean of Silent Hill, The Hitcher, Outlaw, Black Death, Game of Thrones, Mirror Mirror and Soldiers of Fortune) and Poseidon (Kevin McKidd of Trainspotting, North Square, Dog Soldiers, Nicolas Nickleby, Kingdom of Heaven, The Purifiers and Rome) have met for the first time in centuries as Zeus points to the heavens how the lightning is missing in his storm.  Poseidon takes immediate offense that his brother would accuse him when Zeus concludes it is Poseidon's son Percy (Logan Lerman of The Patriot, What Women Want, The Butterfly Effect, Jack & Bobby, 3:10 to Yuma and Gamer) that has acquired it and he has 14 days to return it or it means war.

I think the girl farted but I am not sure.

Percy, unaware of his lineage enjoys his almost waking time in water as it is a comfort.  He confides these notions to his friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson of This Christmas, Big Stan, Days of Wrath, Fast & Furious, Tooth Fairy and Operation: Endgame) who reveals to be a satyr and Percy's mother Sally (Catherine Keener of Walking and Talking, Boys, If These Walls Could Talk,  Out of Sight, Death to Smoochy and An American Crime) must take the boy to safety in Camp Half-Blood (a haven for demi-gods) but his mother is claimed by Hades as leverage on the young half god.  The boy finds a realm composed of the children of the gods that train and toil to become warriors, soldiers and even heroes.

The camp's instructor Chiron (Pierce Bronsan of Remington Steele, Noble House, The Heist, Detonator, GoldenEye, Dante's Peak, The World Is Not Enough, The Matador and Mamma Mia!), trainer of Hercules and Perseus who vows to train the boy as he is of the rarest of pantheon, born of one of the three major gods of Olympus.   He must go before Zeus, convince him of his innocence and embark of the quest to retrieve the lightning bolt, save his mother and the world from impending war.  With monsters Medusa, Hydra and even a Minotaur in the way of this quest Grover and Percy are joined by Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario of The Hottest State, The Attic, Damages, Bereavement, White Collar, Hall Pass and Texas Chainsaw 3D), daughter of Athena who aids them in the hopes to save the world and meet her mother.

A few bits of trivia now.  In the book of same title Rick Riodan made the kids all of 12 rather than 17 as they are in the film.  Anthony Head auditioned for Chiron and lost to Pierce Brosnan but later helmed the character in Percy Jackson: Seas of Monsters.

James Bond went Furry!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sean Bean Week: Scarlett

Welcome folks to Day 3 of Sean Bean Week and unlike yesterday's goof I assure you Bean has a much greater role in this tale of the South.   A journey from Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah to London and finally to the ancestral home of Ballyhara in Ireland.  This story continues after Gone with the Wind, the sequel manages a six hour mini-series filmed in more than 53 separate locations in the States, England and Ireland in this 1994 creation.  This is Scarlett.

Take that for entering my life, Kilmer!

Set 1873 in Atlanta show begins with Scarlett (Joanne Whalley of Emmerdale, How We Used to Live, A Kind of Loving, Willow, Shattered, Before You Go and The Borgias) at the funeral of Melanie Wilkes, her former sister-in-law and former rival for her very estranged husband, Rhett Butler (Timothy Dalton of Cromwell, Mary, Queen of Scots, Flash Gordon, Jane Eyre, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, The Rocketeer and Penny Dreadful).  Heartbroken that Rhett has kept her at bay, Scarlett finds her guardian Mammy (Esther Rolle of Cleopatra Jones, Maude, Good Times, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Singer & Sons, My Fellow Americans and Rosewood) is dying and Scarlett cannot forsake this woman that would be her mother in every sense of the matter.  Reluctantly Rhett accompanies her to Mammy's death bed.  Moments after this selfless old woman of good works passes away, Rhett and Scarlett have another drag down fight causing him to leave her and she heads back to Atlanta, for some reason convinced she will win him back.

Frankly, I don't care if it scares the living daylights out of her.

With a slight encounter with Ashley Wilkes (Stephen Collins of All the President's Men, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 7th Heaven and Blood Diamond) she leaves Savannah and forsakes the States in search her roots finding them in the library of her grandfather Pierre Robillard (the late John Gielgud of Secret Agent, Julius Caesar, Richard III, Murder on the Orient Express, Caligula, Chariots of Fire and Arthur) and forced to stay at her grandfather's household while his remaining years are among him in return his estate would be half a million dollars.  She graciously turns him down in a lady like fashion, Butler serves her divorce papers and she chooses to leave to Ireland which of course it is under British rule causing Scarlett reminder of the North's treatment to the South.  With child she strives to make a new change in this life no matter the obstacles in the way.

 She encounters the noble Lord Richard Fenton (Sean Bean of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Sharpe's Challenge, The Hitcher, Outlaw, Sharpe's Peril, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Ca$h and Crusoe) a handsome, pompous and heartless man that badgers and batters the servants about, a man that takes what he wants and expects no questions to the contrary.    He, of course takes a liking to Scarlett who turns him down.  No woman would or can turn this egotistical monster away or he loses face in the eyes that he deems matter.   From his forceful ways he is murdered by a servant girl Mary (Tina Kellegher of In the Name of the Father, The Snapper, Ballykissangel and The Wednesdays)  and yet Scarlett fall under blame for such.  Will Scarlett be found guilty and sentenced to hang?  Will Mary come foreward?  Will Rhett ever seek out Scarlett before it is too late?   Well go watch it but bear in mind this is a mini-series and is about six hours long.

A few highlights about the series.  This film takes slight to unbelievable directions from the novel.  Events unfold for the sake of a TV viewing audience rather than the slower story building sections of a reader.    Lord Fenton is far more evil in this than ever in the novel and Bean depicts a dapper monster than no one dare challenge.   Jean Smart was astounding in this and stole the scenes with her comedy gold.   Every location itself told a tale and set dramatic sequences film worthy so dare not call this just another TV movie.   Joanne Whalley breathed life into Scarlett and while her performance differs with the late Vivian Leigh, she brought strength, character and dignity to the a similiar fashion.  Both Dalton and Whalley bring their A game to these paradigmatic roles and do them justice.  Lengthy but highly impressive.

Thought Jake forgot about me, didn't you?

The Girl with "The Look" Leaves the Stage.

Good day and hello readers.  Say how many of you are aware of the work of Betty Joan Perske?  Actress, singer of film, stage and musical theatre.   Not ringing any bells?  How about her stage name Lauren Bacall?   From her days as a model her sultry looks allowed her to grace magazine covers such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

In 1941, she got the acting bug  and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts along a fellow classmate name of Kirk Douglas while she modeled and worked as a theatre usher.   Drawn to the stage she blew away her idol Better Davis in a musical based on the film All About Eve entitled Applause.

Acclaimed director Howard Hawks's wife Nancy noticed Bacall on Harper's Bazaar and urged him to give Bacall a screen test for to have and Have Not.  Nancy mentored Bacall in dress, mannerism, poise and elegance to give her an edge in the business.  At age 19 she appeared in film as lead female role aside Humphrey Bogart in the 1944 film To Have and Have Not.    Meeting her co-star and future husband Humphrey Bogart the chemistry seen on the scene was not forced nor faked.  Having two children by Bogart, son Stephen and Daughter Leslie, each pursued their own lives as Stephen is a news producer, documentary film maker and author while Leslie is a yoga instructor.

  After the tragic passing of Humphrey Bogart, Bacall's career was focused while juggling single parent life to wit she later fell in love with actor Jason Robards, had a child Sam and divorced 8 years later.  From an acting career in TV and Movies spanning more than 70 years she has wowed us with attitude, made tears well up in the eyes and sizzled on the screen.    The Girl with "The Look" leaves us August 12th 2014 at age 89 and Hollywood will never see the like again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sean Bean Week: Black Beauty

Howdy folks and welcome back to Day 2 of Sean Bean Week.  Oddly enough I do not have any graphic Bean death scenes to share with you lot but... we can manage to cover the fellow yet again.  This time around an adaptation of Anna Sewell's novel was released in 1994, giving a fresh perspective on this classic English novel allowing viewers to see through the main character's eyes as well as a narrative for him as well.  This is Black Beauty.

I wonder why Jake thought this was a huge part for me.

Black Beauty: Oh! If people knew what a comfort to horses a light spoil is, and how it keeps a good mouth and a good temper...

This version of the movie feels almost like a autobiography of the very same named horse.  Writer/producer/director Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, The Addams Family, The Secret Garden, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Black Beauty, Buddy and Snow White: The Fairest of Them All)  and introduced a voice over for Black Beauty via Alan Cumming (High Road, Second Best, The High Life, GoldenEye, Spy Kids, X-Men 2 and Shoebox Zoo) bringing a perspective for the audience from this majestic creature.   Black Beauty resides on the lands of Birtwick Park belonging to Squire Gordon (Peter Davison of Sink or Swim, Doctor Who, A Very Peculiar Practice, Mystery!: Campion,  All Creatures Great and Small, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries and Law & Order: UK).  As Black Beauty attempts to get closer to Lady Gordon's mare Ginger, who doesn't give him the time of day he realizes he must be patient with her and chooses to be sweet on Merrylegs, the pony that entertains the good squire's daughters, Jessica and Molly.  

Dammit, lost a contact!

Alas Mistress Gordon (Rosalind Ayres of Armchair Thriller, Penmarric, The Bounder, Father's Day, Emily's Ghost, A Face to Die For, Titanic and Gods and Monsters) has slowly became ill and requires a warmer climate to improve her health.  Beauty and Ginger are sent to a new home in Earlshall Park, home of Lord (Peter Cook of Bedazzled, The Bed Sitting Room, Not Only... But Also, Find the Lady, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Two of Us and The Black Adder) and Lady Wexmire (Eleanor Bron of Yes Minister, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Play for Today, Doctor Who, The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank, Deadly Advice and A Little Princess) forces both Beauty and Ginger to pull Lady Wexmire's carriage with reins that forces her heads up and Ginger breaks away from the carriage in anger.    Separated from Ginger for the first time Beauty is lead to yet another owner as a taxi horse.  Will he meet with Ginger again or meet any of his human friends once more?

Now you are probably wondering where in the seven hells is Sean Bean.  Well his character Farmer Grey had less of a part than I remembered. He discovered the young colt that one day would be Black Beauty and... yeah it was over fairly quick.   I feel a bit silly on this but it does happen.

Here is a bit of trivia with this movie.  This was Peter Cooks last movie and not too bad to end on a high note there.    This has been Peter Davison's first and only theatrical film release and filmed all his scenes in no less than ten days.

Guys, I got us a cologne commercial! We're rich!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sean Bean Week: Sharpe's Rifles

Welcome fine readers to Day 1 of Sean Bean Week and I hope we get off to a great start by viewing one of Bean's first ground and back breaking series based of the Bernard Cornwell novels (a novelization based on Peninsular War campaigns Sharpe's Rifles, the prequels Sharpe's Tigers, Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Prey)  a young sergeant promoted to lieutenant commanding a handful of sharpshooters.  This is Sharpe's Rifles.

Hope those guns are loaded with blanks... this time.

Richard Sharpe: So... the Chosen Spoilers, eh?  Well, I didn't choose you. But I know you, you and your kind all my life.  All I know is how to fight. So if there's any man among you expecting a quick ramble through this war, now's the time.

Sir Arthur Wellesley (David Troughton of Bonjour la Classe, Sharpe's Eagle, A Few Short Journeys of the Heart, Underworld, Captain Jack and The Cafe) is the commander of the British infantry being pursued by the French when he is saved by a shavetail sergeant Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean of Patriot Games, Scarlett, Goldeneye, Airborne, Ronin, Equilibrium, The Lord of the RIngs: The Fellowship of the Ring and Troy).  Impressed with this young wily sergeant, Wellesley offers Sharpe a field promotion to Lieutenant and command of the "Chosen Men" some of the best sharpshooters formerly lead by Rifleman Patrick Harper (Daragh O' Malley of Texas, Sharpe's Seige, Sharpe's Justice, Grim Fandango and Cleopatra) and they both immediately loathe one another. Stuck in Portugal with no monthly payment, Wellesley has arranged a loan from the Rothschild household that was sent from Vienna but is overdue.  James Rothschild was said to have been traveling with this notice and has not been heard from in some time.

I'm telling you, that is the guy from Goldeneye.

Wellesley, Sharpe, his men and company commanded by Major Dunnett (Julian Fellowes of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, The Bunker, Angels, Damage, Tomorrow Never Dies and Monarch of the Glen) follows Rothschild's last known whereabouts and set out to find him.    The company is exhausted as Sharpe and his men are on recon trying to make heads or tails of this missing member of noble house.  Will they encounter heavy resistance?  Is there a trap lying in waits for them all?  Will they ever escape this accursed war?   Well give it a view and find out.  Rather good periodical work.

Just a few comments about the TV movie now.  Paul McGann (Doctor Who, Downtime, Fish, Queen of the Damned, Doctor Who: Shada, Collison, Luther and Art Is...) was chosen for the role of Sharpe but due to a football (Soccer for us yankees) injury, Sean Bean was given the role and McGann is a shorter fellow and the outfit was tailored to fit him so that is why it looks snug and open for Bean.

Author Bernard Cornwell was blown away by Sean Bean's performance as Sharpe that he changed the physical description of his own character to closely resemble the man in question.   Sharpe's 95th Regiment and the green jackets are factual and the direct ancestor of the Royal Green Jackets better known as The Rifles Regiment.

God's sake man, put a bra on.