Friday, October 10, 2014

The Old Movie House is closed–temporarily

I’m going into the hospital in a few days. I’m going to have a biopsy of my vocal cords done. One of them has become mal formed, and my voice sounds like a cross between Tallulah Bankhead and very rusty, very old band saw on a good day.

I’ve had four benign tumors removed since 1974. And each one presented surprises for the surgeon. Some were much larger than originally suspected, and some have caused more damage than originally thought.


1974 – tumor right breast

1980 – tumor right wrist joint – 30% loss of movement

1994 – tumor in roof of my mouth – tumor pressed against skull, mouth had to be rebuilt.

2005 – tumor left breast

2005 – tumor discovered growing onto a nerve in the spine – inoperable

Hospitals and me just don’t agree. I hate them. And I hate being in them for any length of time. This biopsy should only take 15 minutes – but that’s if there’re no surprises. Recovery will take the better part of a month or so. With luck I’ll be able to compose the posts for the next film – Joanna of Christmas TV will like my choice. It’s probably one her favorites. I’ll start posting in December. So The Old Movie House will re-open in December. I’d just taking a little time off –I hope.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Demetrius and The Gladiators–Episode 6

While Demetrius has his face buried in the robe he suddenly feels what feels like a hand –a small hand – lightly touching the top of his head. Demetrius raises his head and looks into Lucia’s eyes. For the first time since the attack there is life in her eyes. She recalls having a bad dream, but nothing more.88. Lucia wakes

Peter, who has re-entered the small room, urges her to rest. But she has many questions. She asks Demetrius why he’s wearing the uniform “of our enemies”.  Demetrius says he was having a bad dream as well. Lucia has been holding on to the robe for many months, but when Peter reenters he asks for the robe which she gives it up willingly. Peter has decided to give the robe to Demetrius so he can give it to Caligula. But before Demetrius leaves they arrange to meet after he has given the robe to Caligula.

At that days games Caligula notices that the guards are not their normal noisy selves', and Claudius suggests that maybe the guards are in a foul mood because of Caligula’s edict that every tenth guard be killed. Just then a messenger brings word that Demetrius has returned with the robe. Caligula moves swiftly into the throne room and takes the robe from him. He then goes into the palace dungeon and has a prisoner killed. Caligula then grasps the robe tightly while commanding the dead prisoner to rise. When nothing happens he charges that Demetrius has given him a fraudulent robe. When Demetrius asks why Caligula tells him what he’s done. Horrified and incensed Demetrius realizes that the person before him is truly a monster. Caligula claims that the robe was supposed to be magical. Demetrius denies it was ever magical and moves closer to Caligula. Caligula interprets this as an attack and has Demetrius returned to the arena.

94. the crowd is not cheering and the guards are miffed95. Dem gives Cal the robe97. I command you to rise98. I had a prisoner killed...I ordered him to rise...he's still dead

Caligula returns to games and announces to the guards that one of their own will be killed in the arena. That bit of bluster is all the guards will tolerate. One takes aim at Macro, and kills him. While this is happening Demetrius prepares to meet his doom. Messalina joins him in the gladiators enclosure and offers to convert. As Demetrius walks out into the arena another guard takes aim at Caligula and throws his spear. It finds its intended victim, and Claudius is promptly crowned emperor.

At his official swearing in Claudius announces he is not a god, and will behave like the ruler of Rome. Messalina eats crow and admits she’s made a mockery out her marriage vows. But she she will now turn over a new leaf, and start behaving like an emperors wife( ya sure, like that’s going to happen). Claudius then speaks directly to Demetrius saying that if the Christians behave they will have nothing to fear from him. Demetrius and Glycon then walk out of the palace. They meet Peter waiting for them, and the robe.

104. I am not a god nor am I likely to be one

                      “"I am not a god nor am I likely to ever become one”

106. go to your people and tell not to expect any grief from me

                    Messalina promises to behave and play her role

107. Messy wishes him good fortune

                                     Messalina wishes Demetrius good fortune

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TCM & Me–A World without Turner Classic Movies


When I blog about a specific film I try my utmost not to interrupt the sequence of posts. The Old Movie House has been on-line since July 2011, and I’ve only interrupted a sequence of posts a couple of times. But this time is the most important thus far.

Turner Broadcasting has announced that ten percent of their employees, that’s over 1,500 people, were going to be let go. This could include people who are vital to the running of Turner Classics Movies. A natural reaction to learning of this news might be “So what ? This station doesn’t affect me in the least”. Before I started watching TCM that would have been my reaction. I didn’t start watching TCM till six years go. At first I thought it was simply another movie channel. I was wrong, and I’d like to tell you what TCM has done for me. Not only has it entertained me, its educated me. It taught me what a movie “trailer” was, a facet a movie goers frequently overlook. It has exposed me to films that have never been on any of the major networks in my life. Local stations rarely if ever show films such as “Destination Moon”, “The Time Of Their Lives” or “Reach For The Sky”.

TCM provides information about the making of a particular film. And when it doesn’t do that it provides an interesting anecdote about a star. If it wasn’t for TCM I wouldn’t have learned about a disagreement Burt Lancaster had with John Frankenheimer during the filming of the “Birdman Of Alcatraz”. Sidney Pollock finally explained to me about those black bars when he explained letterboxing. And I learned a bit about the great cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who worked on one of my favorite films – A Matter Of Life And Death. It provides a place where people who like silent films can see them – without waiting forever and a day for another channel to show them at some unholy hour while being cut to ribbons so some advertiser can tell you about something you don’t want at all. But the thing I like about TCM is that I feel like they’re talking to me.

Life without TCM would be quite boring. You wouldn’t see Lawrence of Arabia. Its too long for network television. And you’d never see them in the manner the director intended. The original version of The Bishop’s Wife might be shown on PBS, but only if you can put up with those insufferable pledge breaks. TCM is a valuable resource. It can’t be allowed to fade away, or even become a shadow. Save it from the fiscal axe.


            Post your letters to #DontTouchTCM on Twitter too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Demetrius and The Gladiators–episode 5

When Demetrius proclaims “Hail Caesar” Caligula elevates him from slave to a Roman guard in the Praetorian Guard with the rank of tribune. Messalina asks that he accompany her to her summer villa.

Meanwhile at the palace Caligula graduates from barking mad to plain crazy. He summons Claudius for a small chat. After Claudius arrives Caligula forgets summoning him, and points to the goddess Diana. Claudius can’t see anyone, and makes the mistake of mentioning this to Caligula. Up to now Claudius has been content to portray a rather dull witted character. When Caligula asks why his uncle can’t see the goddess Diana Claudius responds that only fellow gods can see her. This pleases Caligula to no end. He also gets it in his head that he is a god. Then he remembers why he summoned Claudius in the first place. He informs his uncle that his aunt is at their summer villa, and that she has Demetrius as company. He adds he’s doing this as he’s responsible for the morals of the royal court. Claudius has to be careful with what he says next. Messalina has embarrassed him for the last time. So he says he’ll deal with his wife by himself, and at the right time.

66. Cal sees things

                        “Can’t you see her…she comes to me every night”.67. Cal and Claude have a little chat about Messy

                               “Do you know where Messalina is dear uncle”68. the little twerp says he's resposible for the morals of the royal court

                 “After all, I’m responsible for the morals of the royal court”

69. the villa by the sea

At her villa by the sea Messalina and Demetrius are enjoying each others company. Wine is flowing as freely as air. And sex is frequently on the menu. Grapes are popped into mouths of one by the other. Dancing girls add to the entertainment. Glycon, a former slave and gladiator has been granted his freedom, though his friendship with Demetrius is strained at best. One night Peter, played with admirable restraint by Michael Rennie, comes to call. Immediately Messalina is on the defense.  She thinks Peter has come to convince Demetrius to re-join the fold. She boasts that she can give Demetrius more than he ever could. Peter takes her words and tosses them back at her in the polite form of an insult. She throws wine from her goblet at him. Peter resembles a wet dog. Demetrius wanders in and repeats what Messalina has already said. Peter says he has not come to ask Demetrius to re-join his fellow Christians. As Peter prepares to depart Demetrius starts to stammer, eventually walking out on Messalina.

Back at the palace things are not going well for Caligula. The robe Jesus wore is nowhere to be seen, the Pretorian guard has not been paid in a long time, and to make matters worse the people of Rome have started to vandalize statues of Caligula. The head of the Pretorian Guard says he hasn’t enough men to patrol every street in Rome and guard every statue. Caligula decrees that every tenth guard will be executed for not protecting the statues more. Messalina enters with information for Caligula. Before he even listens he has her searched. She announces that Peter the fisherman, and current owner of the robe, has re-entered the city. Caligula proceeds to really get his toga in a twist and blame the guards for this. Then he hits upon the idea of getting Demetrius to retrieve the robe.

When soon see Demetrius is in his soldier suit. He goes directly to Peters abode, and explains that Peter can either give him the robe, or he can wait for soldiers to ransack the Christian part of town. Peter says there won’t be any need for soldiers, and directs Demetrius to the robe.

81. Dem is sent to get the robe83. Dem sees Lucia -alive84. but in a catatonic state - mental breakdown

Upon entering Demetrius sees the woman he thought was dead very much alive. Peter enters and informs him that she has been this way since she was attacked. Demetrius takes the feather duster off his head and looks at Lucia. Her body has healed but her mind hasn’t. Feeling partly responsible for this he kneels at her side and starts to pray for God to restore her mind. While he buries his face in the robe he remembers seeing Christ on the cross and seeing the robe for the first time.

85. Dem remembers and starts to pray