Volume XVI, No. 25

Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews


Volume XVI, No. 25

Sunday, September 12

Dear Readers,

I am really trying to get Fax Facts on line for you to read at your leisure, but “Face Book” does not seem to be the solution. I managed to get the entire issue of last week’s newsletter onto my current Face Book, only to be told it is far too long! Finally, by eliminating all but the first paragraph, I was able to leave it   there for you to read.

But until (or, unless) this becomes a reality, I guess I shall be forced to muddle along the same way I have been doing for the past 16 and half years!  

The Bridge Center had a Labor Day Party for us on Monday. There was a huge crowd, and all kinds of wonderful food. Sadly, they almost always have chili hot dogs as the main course, and I dislike them, so make my meal of dips, sandwiches, and desserts.

Wednesday, my monthly pedicure and a visit to Dr. Johnson (on Friday, to get medicine for a virus I have been suffering with most of the summer) broke the monotony of my week/

Yesterday, my bridge partner was not too happy with my “Seat of my pants” method of playing bridge (we were dead last) and my comments as I left the bridge center were that she had been about as much fun as playing with the Boston Strangler, Jack, the Ripper and Charles Manson- all rolled into one!


Cat Wisdom

If a cat did not put a firm paw down now and then, how could his human remain possessed?”"

---Winifred Carriere


DVD Reviews

“Lovely Bones” (Paramount)

How could any film, which begins with the main character, Susan Salmon (a young actress whose name \was printed in letters so small that I could not read them) announcing that she was murdered at 14 years of age, hold my interest for two spellbinding hours? But it does!

The entire film could have easily been a Law and Order (Special Victims’ Unit) episode, because (although it is never spoken) the girl’s murderer was a pedophile and his many victims were all young girls. Not a word about sexual abuse (aka Rape) is spoken, but this has to have been the case.

Mark Wahlberg is excellent, in a moving (by its very simplicity and truthfulness) role as Susan’s doting father. Rachel Wysz is beautiful, as well as equally convincing as the mother. But the acting kudos belong to the gifted young actress who narrates the entire film.

There is suspense, love, and heartbreak. Yet, I did not find it depressing. Certainly, the fact of the girl’s murder at the outset makes it easier to bear. (***)



Hollywood’s Biggest Mistakes

The four costliest bombs that Hollywood had produced prior to the present “Cartoon-Computer Generated-3D swill” were “Heaven’s Gate”; "“Ishtar”; “Water World; and the remake of “Lost Horizon”.

I was a huge fan of Kris Kristoferson in the days when “Heaven’s Gate” was released (escaped might be a better term) and I did make a valiant effort to find even one redeeming feature of this monstrous waste of money, film and (sadly) my time: to no avail! It was simply beyond anybody’s (except. possibly, its creator: Michael Cimino) imagination how anyone could have doubted that the whole thing would bomb. Cimino was riding Hollywood’s approval waves for his “The Deer Hunter” of two years earlier (78). Frankly, I hated that film even more than “Heaven’s Gate”! The only redeeming feature it held for me was to make me aware of Meryl Streep as a great actress. I had seen her in a small role in “Julia” but had not remembered her.

‘Ishtar” (1987) was dubbed “The Heaven’s Gate  of “movie comedies”, had a screenplay by Elaine May, who also directed it; two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, as well as and\ best actors (Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman). The cost of the film soared when one delay after another made for all sorts of dire predictions of failure long before they became factual. But the main trouble was that the film simply was not funny. It is more or less (much less!) a parody of those wonderfully entertaining “Road” movies of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. But the most amusing things in this dreary stinker was a blind camel and a bunch of vultures.

Water World was an ego trip for its petulant star, Kevin Kostner; an actor whose vanity and ego are matched (if not surpassed) by that of Mel Gibson. He gets quite physical in this third bloated budgeted waste of time. After suffering through its 135 minutes (which to me felt more like 531!) not only did I feel totally water logged, I didn’t care if I ever saw Kevin as Robin Hood, Elliot Ness, a wolf dancer.  or whoever!

During WWII, FDR (in a radio address: probably one of his “Fireside Chats”) referred to “Shangri-La”, which most people had never heard of. But I well remembered that marvelous mythical place from reading James Hilton’s haunting novel Lost Horizon.  Columbia Pictures had made the book into a successful movie in 1937, with Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, and Margo. The pivotal role of the Dali Lama was taken by Sam Jaffe (of Gunga Din fame and much later, as the older doctor in TV’s “Ben Casey”) I had never seen the film at this point, because it never was shown in Richton (where we lived in ’37) After the President’s mention of Shangri-La Columbia was savvy enough to re-issue the film (in a much trimmed-down version) as “Lost Horizon of Shangri-La” and I took the bus to Laurel where I finally got to see the movie I had longed to see for such a long time. Still later, Columbia produced the original version of the film, restoring all of the deleted scenes (some were blank spaces in the film, with only the sound intact-sometimes with a “Still”: photo from the film). I watched this version on TV, and was amazed at the difference it made in the overall story.

In 1973, Columbia invested millions of dollars in a musical version of the exact same movie: scene for original scene. Burt Bacharach (at the height of his popularity) and lyricist, Hal (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”) David are blamed for single handedly sinking the project with a terrible musical score. About the only thing it did was slow down the action. Leonard Maltin, who gives the 1937 film ****, gives the remake *1/2, which I find overly generous. The stars who sacrificed their reputations in this misguided bomb, were: Peter Finch, Sally Kellerman, Liv Ullman and Bobby Vann.

 Heaven’s Gate was a seemingly endless yawner, and “Ishtar” was perhaps a tad better than it was given credit for being at the time. But at least these two mis-fires were not retreads of earlier films.

(to be continued)



Tuesday, November 2, 2010