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Mary Ann or Ginger?: I’ve Got the Answer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Dedicated to the memory of Dawn Wells (1938-2020), our beloved Mary Ann. Gone, but never forgotten.

All the rest – Fame Hungry
Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Sommers
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant - Gilligan's Island Image (21429747) - Fanpop
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant

A long standing, and long popular question, amongst the classic TV series Gilligan’s Island is who was the more preferable: Ginger or Mary Ann? Now everybody has their own particular answer to this question, and for differing reasons as well, but I think I can lay down an essential that answers the question in a majority fashion that allows for concise reasons.

TV Q&A: Did Gilligan and the gang escape from 'Gilligan's Island'? |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mary Ann Listening to Her Favorite Radio Soap Opera (from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Ginger Modeling a Swimsuit (from Pinterest)Gilligan's Island | Ginger gilligans island, Tina louise, Ginger grant

First let’s go with some information on the characters themselves.

Mary Ann is a working middle class girl from the state of Kansas. Depending on which story arch creator Sherwood Schwartz wanted fans to follow, she either works at the local general store or is her father’s main assistant on the family farm. She has a homespun feel and manner to her, very sweet and gentle, and always tries to be fair. Ginger is an actress and aspiring movie star. She has made a few pictures, mainly “B” features that attracted the grade school and teenage crowd, but still popular. While she never made it to high level films, she does know several big time actors like Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and Gregory Peck, hinting that while she wasn’t high echelon as far as roles go, she was a frequent guest as social events all the actors and actresses attended, and also hinting she got to know the various big names in a more personal, off camera way. Despite being exotic and legend like, she’s highly approachable, has no vanity or ego, though still likes using her charms and beauty if the situation calls for it.

5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Gilligan's Island' | Tv show halloween  costumes, Vintage halloween costume, Giligans island
Mary Ann Trying to Lift Gilligan’s Morale (from Pinterest)
Gilligan's Island" Seer Gilligan (TV Episode 1966) - IMDb
Ginger Trying Some Night Time Seduction on Gilligan (from IMDb)

Now let’s look at an interesting the behind the scenes aspect of the characters.

While Bob Denver and Dawn Wells were tied for the most fan letters of all the cast, it was Dawn Wells who had the most varying letters, coming from kids, teenagers, and adults. This showed that she connected with a vast multitude and demographic of people, almost all walks of life finding one connection or another with the homespun beauty. Tina Louise, by contrast, received letters primarily from middle aged males and, to a smaller scale, high school age boys. This showed she was the object of affection from afar for young males coming into adulthood, and the wandering eye of some older gentlemen who were looking at recapturing their youth.

Dawn Wells Gilligan's Island #19 Original Autographed 8X10 Photo at  Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store
Mary Ann, When a Head Injury Had Her Briefly Thinking She Was Ginger (from Amazon)
Gilligan's Island' Star Tina Louise on the Show's 55th Anniversary
Ginger Reminiscing Past Kisses (from Closer Weekly)

And the undisputed winner is…….

MARY ANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' Dies at 82 - The New York Times
Publicity Still (from the New York Times)

The vast majority of people when asked the question have picked Mary Ann for the winner, and quite a good number share similar reasons. At the heart of the whole matter is that Ginger is the woman most guys (and some girls) will dream and fantasize about, and Mary Ann is the woman most guys (and some girls) know they would have a chance with. Mary Ann is the prototype of the girl next door, the girl who lived down the block, the girl seen at school, and the girl at the community functions. She was relatable to a far higher demographic of folks as she represented the young lady everybody has at some point known or seen in their lives. She is a fine example of the girl you wouldn’t be afraid to approach and talk to, and even ask out on a date or to the school dance. That she kind of was a presentation of what middle America was in the 60’s helped a lot in audiences being reminded of someone from their youth or a first sweetheart.

This doesn’t mean of course that no one ever would have a shot with Ginger, she was very down to earth and approachable, but because she’s a high profile actress and someone everyone has seen a photo of, she’s far more out of reach. Not so much the forbidden fruit, but Ginger would probably have throngs of eligible singles following her around like moths to a flame making her not so much hard to approach, but swallowed up by the masses clinging to her. Ginger represented the ideal of what men wanted their wives to be like, but because the ideal is often a far too high reach, it becomes unattainable, and more of a happy thought to look back on every so often.

Gilligan's Island: A fateful trip behind-the-scenes | History 101
The Duo Together (from History 101)

(I had intended to include a little thing from a College paper I wrote 10 years ago in Mass Media about Gilligan’s Island, but I think I deleted my original copy. I didn’t go into Ginger or Mary Ann part too much, more of how it continued to be a popular Pop Culture phenomenon. I know I haven’t truly settled the debate on who’s the fairest between the two, but it sure has been fun giving what I hope will be an interesting take on the subject. To quench anyone ‘s curiosity of who I prefer, I can wholeheartedly say it’s a split decision between Ginger and Mary Ann, but a slight leaning toward Mary Ann.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and Their Respective Owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057751/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilligan%27s_Island

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, TV: Special Topics

HAPPY (Belated) 55TH, JIM AND ARTIE!!!!

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

Tickle Me: The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Watery Death (1966)
The Iconic Opening Title (from Tickle Me)

The Wild Wild West (1965-1969) ***** TV-PG

Robert Conrad: James T. “Jim” West

Ross Martin: Artemus “Artie” Gordon

Michael Dunn: Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless

Phoebe Dorin: Antoinette

Roy Engel: President Ulysses S. Grant

Douglas Henderson: Colonel Richmond

William Schallert: Frank Harper/Silas Grigsby/Rufus Krause

Nehemiah Persoff: Gen. Andreas Cassinello/Adam Barclay/Major Hazard

Victor Buono: Count Carlos Manzeppi/Juan Manolo

Ford Rainey: Hellfire Simon/Pa Garrison/Adm. Charles Hammond

Anthony Caruso: Chief Bright Star/Deuce/Jose Aguila

Robert Ellenstein: Dr. Horatio Occularis/ Dr. Theobald Raker/Luis Vasquez/Arthur Tickle

Christopher Carey: Tycho/Snakes Tolliver

Theodore Marcuse: Abdul Hassan/Gustave Mauvais/Dr. Jonathan Kirby (as Theo Marcuse)

Richard Kiel: Voltaire/Dimas Buckley

Charles Aidman: Jeremy Pike

Other Notable Guest Stars Including: Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Jackie Coogan, Leslie Neilson, Robert Duvall, James Gregory, Jack Elam, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Floyd Patterson, Keenan Wynn, Martin Landau, Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, Barbara Luna, Nick Adams, Brad Dillman, Beverly Garland, Don Rickles, Ed Asner, and Simon Oakland

Created by: Michael Garrison

Produced by: Bruce Lansbury

Synopsis: In post Civil War America, government agents Jim West and Artie Gordon, under direct orders from President Grant, save the world from varying maniacal madmen, corrupt businessmen & politicians, and sometimes elements bordering the fantastical/supernatural.

Robert Conrad, Two-Fisted TV Star of 'Wild Wild West,' Dies at 84 - The New  York Times
Jim and Artie Investigating a Lead (from NY Times)

This September will mark the 55th Anniversary of my 2nd all time favorite TV show from childhood, The Wild Wild West. I can still recall many a Saturday and Sunday morning watching this show with my Dad on TNT (back when stations still aired classic TV), and thoroughly have a good time. Finally getting the TV show for varying Christmas and Birthday gifts allows me (and my Dad) to revisit the show anytime I want.

TV TRAIN
Artie Reads a Note to Jim About the Large Crate Sent to Them (from aboard the wanderer)

What made the show so cool for me was the unique adventures Jim and Artie would have, the varying gadgets they would employ to escape and outsmart the bad guys, and the seemingly endless array of disguises Artie would use to help Jim out of a jam and to infiltrate suspects to get info they needed. The fight scenes with Robert Conrad taking on the various henchmen of the villain or villains at hand were always my favorite parts to watch as Conrad did all of his own fight choreography and the majority other stunts (he would’ve done the full 100% had one particularly tricky stunt not gone haywire and put him in the hospital). Seeing Jim West take on legions of baddies and kicking ass every time was/and still is a big thrill for me, something not a lot of TV Westerns I was able to catch glimpses of here and there did. Even now I prefer a good solid storyline with well timed action over to character study Westerns any day, although now that I’m older I do find I enjoy some of those types of stories as well.

Cool Ass Cinema: From Beyond Television: The Wildest Episodes of The Wild,  Wild West Season 1
West and Dr. Loveless – Sworn Enemies (from Cool Ass Cinema)

I may need to backtrack my previous statement about character depth, as some of the best episodes were the frequent battle of barbs, wit, and wills between Jim West and Dr. Miguelito Loveless, who labeled West as his archenemy. Robert Conrad and Michael Dunn had a fantastic chemistry (as good as the chemistry Conrad had with Ross Martin) together that led to great dialogue and spicing up the storyline the duo were involved in. Whether Loveless was trying to threaten the US government with violence if he didn’t get what he wanted, or was simply looking to take over the World, West was always around to confound and drive Loveless batty. The ultimate irony was is that over time, both men developed a type of respect for one another, although West would never approve of Loveless’ methods and Loveless would always be baffled by West’s unwavering optimism in his government and country. Michael Dunn’s increasing poor health stemming from Dwarfism resulted in the actor’s less frequent appearances after Season 2, and while several attempts were made to give West a couple other recurring villains so Dunn wouldn’t have as high a workload, no one ever matched the same click chemistry Dunn and Conrad enjoyed.

Classic TV & Movie Hits - The Wild Wild West / The Wild, Wild West
A Promotional Still (from Classic TV Hits)

Another cool thing that separated the series from others like it was the take on violence. While there were gunfights, they were often instigated by the baddies, West and Gordon acting completely in self defense. The producers and writers focused more on well choreographed fight scenes where West and Gordon would knock the baddies out and send them to the nearest police or federal officers. When death usually happened on the show, usually the bad guys did the killing, and when West often did kill someone, it was because he had no other choice. Ironically, all the fighting is why people demanded the show be canceled, though in all honestly there wasn’t a whole lot of killing, in fact shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, The High Chaparral, etc. had far more deaths each episode than the Wild Wild West per season. Granted, sometimes it was nice seeing the bad guy get the ultimate comeuppance, but I more often I find it a lot more refreshing to see them get the ever loving crap beat out them as their taken to jail.

Only a true fan of 'The Wild Wild West' can score 8/10 on this quiz
Some of the Noted Guest Stars (from MeTV)

The show also broke ground by having several high profile actors and actresses make guest appearances. Legends like Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr., Ida Lupino, Peter Lawford, Agnes Moorehead, and Jackie Coogan all became known to future new audiences thanks to the series. Future successes like Robert Duvall and Richard Kiel had some of their earliest big time gigs with the series that would lead to more work and their eventual work with The Godfather and James Bond franchises respectively. For stuntmen, working on the Wild Wild West meant for good paychecks as Robert Conrad would sometimes get to fight up to 20 men for the stunt fights, some guys appearing in multiple fights per episodes.

(I missed out on doing this post last year thanks to the craziness of COVID, but better late than never. What great childhood memories this show has for me, and will continue to have. I highly recommend the show. seasons 2 and 3 in particular as they have some of the cleverest stuff. It’s just pure all around fun. I know Robert Conrad had some regrets with the show, claiming after it ended that no other producers took him seriously for more character driven roles, but I still thank him for the hours of entertainment and joy he gave me and probably loads of other boys over the years )

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058855/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Wild_West

buying options

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

The Crippen Case Romanticized

by Tony Nash

(Forgotten TV Gem Part 6)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Lady Killers (TV Series 1980–1981) - IMDb

Ladykillers: Miss Elmore (1981) **** TV-14

John Fraser: Dr. Hawley Harvey “Peter” Crippen

Hannah Gordon: Ethel Le Neve

Alex Johnston: Mr. A.A. Tobin

Lewis Flander: Mr. R.D. Muir

Alan Downer: Chief Inspector Dew

Lewis Shaw: Justice Lord Alverstone

Joan Simms: “Belle” Elmore (Mrs. Crippen) (voice)

Donald Eccles: Dr. A.J. Pepper

Andrew Johns: Dr. B.H. Spilsbury

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Edwin Pearce

Directed by: Nicholas Ferguson

Synopsis: A dramatic retelling of the case of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, an American doctor living in London who was executed for the murder of his dance hall stage wife.

PD James on Dr Crippen

The Mini Series Lady Killers went through a rehaul when Granada greenlit a second set of 7 episodes. This time the series focused on famous murder trials in which women were the victims. The cases ranged from crimes of passion to jealousy to money to revenge, and usually where a man was the culprit. The first episode of the new series tackled one of the first major crimes in the first years of the 20th century, the case of American born doctor Hawley Harvey Crippen. Crippen was suspected of, and later arrested for, the murder of his wife Cora, who professionally was known as Belle Elmore, a stage actress. The case became an immediate sensation in England, and abroad, due to Crippen purportedly dismembering her body and then burying it in the cellar. Things became worse for the doctor when he attempted to flee the country with his secretary and lover Ethel Le Neve. The use of radio and telegraph by the captain of the ship Crippen boarded made history, and became a technique adopted by police as a tool in tracking suspects connected to various types of crimes. The public’s interest in the case was primarily in Crippen’s personality as he was quiet, unassuming, and even a little mousey, that people couldn’t believe so gentle looking a man could be capable of such a horrid act. Crippen’s insistence up until he was executed that he didn’t kill his wife became another sensation of the time.

Photo John Fraser

John Fraser, a fairly well noted British character actor, gives a powerful and poignant performance as Dr. Crippen. Fraser almost perfectly emulates Crippen’s quiet demeanor, completely calm, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he killed his wife. Surprisingly, after he was arrested and brought to trial, Crippen never once denied that he had fallen out of love with his wife and had fallen in love with Ms. Le Neve, only that he regretted putting her unfairly in the spotlight via his decision to flee, and that he didn’t have the courage to divorce his wife when he had the chance. Fraser gives Crippen a kind of quiet dignity in that he cares more for Ms. Le Neve’s welfare than his own, having seemingly fatally accepted his fate. Fraser even gives audiences a deep insight into Crippen during the scenes in his cell as he awaits execution, his emotions so high from the realization of his predicament that his jailors become genuinely worried he’s nearing a mental breakdown and is suicidal. Fraser shows, via a restless dream of Crippen’s, that his wife was both a verbally and physically abusive woman, who wanted to torture her husband into staying with her.

Upstairs Downstairs' Hannah Gordon admits she can't bear fame as ...

Hannah Gordon gives an equally eloquent performance as Ethel Le Neve. Le Neve as well, was more concerned for the welfare of Crippen than her own well being, though it’s shown early on her mind and body were having trouble dealing with everything, however hard she tried to remain string for the man she loved. Gordon never gives any indication that Le Neve was aware that Crippen may have killed his wife, although she was very aware that Mrs. Crippen was a vindictive and cruel woman who constantly tortured her husband into a frenzy. That she tries to remain hopeful and tries staying strong for Crippen’s sake is intriguing.

Hawley Harvey Crippen | American murderer | Britannica

The secret life of Victorian killer Dr Crippen's mistress revealed ...

Quite a bit of the facts in the Crippen case in the episode are highly overexaggerated or nearly fabricated. Ethel Le Neve never once visited Crippen while he was in prison, nor did she make any statements declaring any permanent romantic ties to him. In reality, once Crippen was hanged, she fled England and never once spoke of Crippen or her involvement with him ever again and her death was almost completely ignored by the international press. Also unmentioned was the revelation that evidence was planted by the initial investigators in order to arrest Crippen, though by the time the episode was made, the public became forgiving, believing the men only acted in what they were certain was the stopping of a heinous criminal. Host Robert Morley’s statement that Le Neve was pregnant with Crippen’s child at the time and that the baby is full grown is a complete fabrication, Le Neve wasn’t pregnant.

July 22, 1910: Murderer Dr Crippen caught by international ...

In a bizarre sense of irony, since the episode’s filming and release, evidence was discovered in the 90’s and 2000’s that cleared Crippen of his wife’s murder. When the DNA evidence in the Scotland Yard Museum was re-examined with modern technology, it was discovered the remains weren’t those of Mrs. Crippen, leading to speculation that she did in fact abandon Crippen and disappeared and cold heartedly allowed him to be hung for her supposed death. For a period of time it couldn’t be determined if the remains had been in the Crippen home before they took up residence or if a patient of Crippen’s had died and, in a panic, he buried the body. The former seems to be the consensus as since Crippen’s reputation had already been ruined, a confession of the accidental death of a patient wouldn’t have added much to the happenings.

The History Press | The notorious case of Dr Crippen

Dr Crippen Murder: Chamber of Horror | The Unredacted

While little is accurate historically regarding the episode, it still offers a compelling look at a man who, at the time, no one could fathom how he could commit such a horrible act of murder. That he cared more for the safety of the woman he really loved and that she not be dragged through the mud made him a little sympathetic.

(Even though it mainly fictionalizes the events presented, this is still a good episode to watch as it does give interesting insight into Crippen’s mindset and what he must have been feeling as he was on trial for his life and the composure he was able to maintain in public, only to humanly break down in his cell and show the audience he was indeed afraid as anyone would be in such situations.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_5

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624350/?ref_=ttep_ep1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawley_Harvey_Crippen

https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-notorious-case-of-dr-crippen/

Hawley Crippen

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/execution-dr-crippen

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-10802059

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/oct/17/ukcrime.science

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hawley-Harvey-Crippen

https://murderpedia.org/male.C/c/crippen-hawley.htm

Buying option

https://networkonair.com/all-products/1594-lady-killers-the-complete-series-2

For the complete series, please see my Marguerite Alibert post

 

 

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

Was it Murder or Suicide?

by Tony Nash

(Profiling a Forgotten TV Gem 5)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Amazon.com: Ladykillers - The Complete Series 1 [DVD]: Movies & TV

Lady Killers: Miss Madeleine Smith (1980) **** TV-14

Elizabeth Richardson: Madeleine Hamilton Smith

Ian McCulloch: John Inglis

Philip Voss: Auguste de Mean

Walter Carr: Prosecutor James Moncreiff

David McKail: The Rt. Hon. John Hope

Joan Scott: Miss Altken

Eleanor McCready: Mrs. Jenkins

Elaine Wells: Miss Mary Arthur Perry

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Susan Pleat

Directed by: Joan Kemp-Welch

Synopsis: In March of 1857, Glasgow heiress and spinster Madeleine Smith was arrested and placed on trial for the murder of her blackmailing lover.

Lady Killers (1980)

The Lady Killers Mini Series goes for something a little bit different this time, re-enacting a murder trial that took place in Scotland. With Scotland as part of the British Commonwealth, court trials were conducted in the same manner as the Old Bailey in London. The episode also marked one of the earliest instances that a member of the upper class was put on trial for a crime. Heiress Madeleine Smith, whose family was very prominent in Scottish and British society, caused a considerable media sensation with not only having a lover in spite of already being engaged to a prominent businessman, but also purportedly having murdered the lover when he threatened to expose their affair to her father if she didn’t end her prearranged engagement and make her relationship with him public. The case was noted for having lasted 9 days and the press’s statements the case was open and shut with not only Miss Smith’s letters to the deceased, but also the eye witness accounts of a lady friend of the dead man confirming he feared Miss Smith would try to kill him.

Elizabeth Richardson

Elizabeth Richardson, another of England’s talented stage and screen actresses, give an intriguing performance as Madeleine Smith.  Richardson plays Smith as a charming and witty beautiful lady in spite of historically being a spinster woman, albeit one with charm and enigma. While never denying she had a romantic liaison with the dead man in question, she was firm in her insistence it was merely a last effort at a romance before fully committing herself to her fiancé in marriage. She also doesn’t deny having asked for the risqué letters she wrote to the dead man, but insists her wanting them back was more for to permanently end her association with the man rather than because he threatened to publicly humiliate her or blackmail her family. Richardson adds something unique to her performance in that as Smith sits in the defense box, she gives the viewers her thoughts on the testimony via voiceover narration, sometimes stating her surprise at someone not remembering something she told them or how they should know her better than saying a complete falsehood in regard to it. Richardson’s most interesting scene is when she uses her charm to convince a local barrister to keep on as her defense counsel.

Ian McCulloch (actor) - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

Ian McCulloch, a Scottish character actor known mainly for his brief work in Italian Gore films from 1979 to 1980, has a small role as one of the many witnesses to testify in Smith’s case. While he only appears briefly, he still does very well in his part.

Historic Scottish unsolved murder mystery cracked at crime ...

Much like with the case of Ruth Ellis, host Robert Morley appears between certain points in the episode to give the audience extra facts in the Madeleine Smith’s trial. With Smith’s high society background, that she was put on trial like any common criminal was a sensation of the period, even more so that her family notedly distanced itself from her while she was in confinement. It’s never specified if Madeleine was an embarrassment to her family, or if Scotland didn’t have the same elitist attitudes its sister nation England did, as to why she was allowed to faced public trial, but the mere fact she did made the case all the more fascinating.

The Case of Madeleine Smith by Rick Geary

An interesting historical note is the conflicting evidence in regards to how the poison was administered to the dead man. Some made the claim that Smith gradually poisoned him over a period of time while others claim the dead man had an addiction to a substance that contained the same ingredients in the poison and that he sometimes took heavy doses. Even more interesting is that the people speaking of the dead man’s consistent taking of the unnamed concoction is not only their insistence of having seen him do it, but some even mention him saying he enjoyed taking the stuff without worry of consequences. A combination of this and fairly radically different forms of testimony in regards to other aspects of the case is what gave the trial its very unusual conclusion.

The case of Madeleine Smith - Dangerous Women Project

While a little clunky at times in its presentation of the facts and some of the performances, the Madeleine Smith episode is still quite interesting in the showcase it presents of a court trial that had so much differing information and motives that it was nearly impossible to decern what was to be taken seriously or be disregarded all together. While not a bungle in that the courts did everything right in its presentation of evidence and testimony, but that how reliable much of what had been presented was becomes the real question and reflection in the time century and a half since the trial. Miss Richardson gives a very convincing performance, though how accurate she is to the real-life woman may end up being a matter of individual opinion.

(A very watchable episode and not the complete clunker the reviewers on the IMDB make it out to be. It can be a little stiff, but it still has its intriguing moments and Elizabeth Richardson gives a very good performance as the title character, offering a nice mix of mystery and intrigue.)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=tt_ov_inf

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624351/?ref_=tt_ep_nx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Smith

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011616873

https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1767&context=penn_law_review

https://murderpedia.org/female.S/s/smith-madeleine.htm

Please see my post of Marguerite Alibert for buying options

 

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

They May Have Hung an Innocent Woman

by Tony Nash

(Profiling a Forgotten TV Gem 4)

All opinions are of the author alone)

(Major Spoilers ahead, read at own risk)

Lady Killers (1980)

Lady Killers: Don’t Let Them Kill Me on Wednesday (1980) ***** TV-14

Rita Tushingham: Charlotte Bryant

George Baker: Sir Terence O’Connor, Q.C.

John Woodnutt: Mr. Justice McKinnon

Colin George: Christopher George Arrow

Paul Arlington: Mr. J.D. Casswell

Patricia Heneghan: Ethel Staunton

Veronica Doran: Lucy Ostler

Peter Kelly Leonard Parsons

Karen Cuff: Lily Bryant

Stephen Cuff: Ernest Bryant

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Jeremy Sandford

Directed by: Valerie Hanson

Synopsis: In 1935-1936, Irish Gypsy immigrant Charlotte “Lotte” Bryant was arrested and tried for the murder of her husband Frederick by poisoning. The case later became controversial when evidence was ignored that proved the deceased died through uncontrolled arsenic addiction.

Rita Tushingham in Lady Killers (1980)

Probably the most controversial case in the history of Britain, and one that left the country with an unfair blackeye concerned another Irish woman, Charlotte Bryant. Bryant had much going against her within the trial: not only was she Irish, she also had Gypsy blood, an ethnic group with a shady history, a history of repetitive infidelity and flirtations, and was completely illiterate. The prosecution did everything in its power to show Bryant as an amoral, cold-calculating murderess who intended to run off with her live-in lover after killing her husband, in spite of having children already. It became clear however, midway through the trial, that certain things just weren’t adding up. Stories were conflicting via both Bryant’s purposed lover, who was also married, and a widow friend Bryant offered shelter to, who admitted to having clashed with the dead man over her and her own children having taken up residence. Some evidence crucial to the case was outrightly dismissed and the jury was encouraged by the Justice himself to remember Bryant’s past history, though only the last few years had any real relevance to the case at hand. Soon people were beginning to wonder if an innocent woman was about to go to the gallows.

British 60s cinema - Rita Tushingham

Rita Tushingham, a British character actress known primarily for her important role in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, gives a compelling and thought-provoking performance as Charlotte Bryant. Tushingham portrayed Charlotte as a simple woman who may have indeed strayed quite a bit from her husband, but was very much a devoted mother and seemed to take religion seriously. Silent for most of the trial, Charlotte appears to be bewildered by all of what’s said about her by people she thought liked her. What makes her compelling is that she never actually denies having had several affairs and even found Parsons attractive, and tries her best to be honest with all the questions presented to her. Tushingham shows Charlotte as breaking twice during the trial: when her own son and daughter are asked questions in relation to their father’s death and when she hears the damning verdict of the jury. Tushingham shows off very well the extent of Charlotte’s illiteracy in that she has to ask several times about the questions put to her by both her attorney and the prosecution, clearly having no knowledge of how poison is supposed to work.

Charlotte Bryant | Photos | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers

Not long after Bryant’s conviction, information was given to the press about the findings of a second physician who discovered the doctor consulted by the prosecution had made a huge error in the amount of poison in Frederick Bryant’s system. This information, along with more inquiries by a local Suffragette leader discovered Frederick had become addicted to a narcotic heavily laced with ingredients used in arsenic, which also accounted for his previous attacks of illness. The presiding Justice was also openly accused of influencing the jury into accepting information that had no bearing on the case. The prosecution refused to accept the 2nd opinion to their expert’s mistake. The most damaging evidence of tampering by the courts was the omittance of the name of the person Charlotte confessed was the catalyst in her husband’s death. This led many to believe that Charlotte only looked the other way when her husband was killed, and not directly responsible for it. Opinions have varied as to whether Charlotte was a scapegoat in the government’s increasing action against the rising IRA terror group or if England’s strong elitist influences saw her as nothing more than a discardable guttersnipe.

So do YOU think these early 20th century murderers were guilty ...

Host Robert Morley, in a rare end of episode appearance, appeared to get choked up when discussing Charlotte Bryant’s final days before her execution. Whether he felt her conviction shameful and his country’s failure to uphold the law a disgrace is left up to viewer opinion in interpretation of how he speaks and his body language, but it is clear that many lost some faith in the courts after the new information became public knowledge.

The Hidden History Blog : The Life and Death of Charlotte Bryant

A case in which the conviction may have been a mistake or a deliberate act of a miscarriage of justice that will never truly be known makes for compelling drama and intriguing mystery. A rare case of where the viewer must draw his or her own conclusions.

(I found this episode very emotionally engaging, and is certainly a must watch for the series. As the episode got closer to the conclusion, I began to realize just how much was really against Charlotte Bryant, and how her unsavory past really played against her. I do believe she had knowledge her husband was killed, but wasn’t a directly involved player in the crime, and that her background as a poor Irish Catholic really had a lot to do with the court’s perception of her. The exceptional acting by everyone involved in the episode, especially star Rita Tushingham, evokes this highly and beautifully.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=hm_rvi_tt

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624346/?ref_=rvi_tt

https://murderpedia.org/female.B/b/bryant-charlotte.htm

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/bryant.html

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0032258X3801100105?journalCode=pjxa

Please see my Marguerite Alibert post for buying options

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

She Faced Death With Dignity

by Tony Nash

(Profiling Forgotten TV Gem 3)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Georgina Hale in Lady Killers (1980)

Lady Killers: Lucky, Lucky Thirteen! (1980) ***** TV-14

Georgina Hale: Ruth Ellis

Roberta Taylor: Roberta Martin

Edward Hardwicke: Prosecutor Christmas Humphries

Robert Flemyng: Mr. Justice Havers

Bernard Horsfall: Melford Stevenson, Q.C.

Jane Lowe: Edna Baker

Andrew Johns: John Bickford

Michael Johnson: Desmond Cussen

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Frances Galleymore

Directed by: Nicholas Ferguson

Synopsis: Ruth Ellis stuns the British judicial system by not only pleading guilty to the murder of her lover David Blakely, but also demanding to be executed. Ellis also made international news by being the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

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Lady Killers hit a high mark with its third ever episode by profiling Britain’s most famous trial of the mid-20th century: the day long trial of night club operator Ruth Ellis for the blatant murder of racecar driver David Blakely. In a move that even the courts were taken aback by, Ellis not only pled guilty to the murder, but demanded that no appeals be made by her solicitor and barrister and to be executed as soon as possible. Since Ellis’ guilt wasn’t in doubt, the episode instead focuses on attempts by her closest friend, her barrister and solicitor, and even members of Britain’s court system to find out why Ellis made no attempts to at least get her sentence reduced to life in jail. As the episode progresses, audiences and characters alike become attached to a very strange woman who seemed to know exactly what she was doing by accepting to be hung for her crime of passion and facing it with a type of quiet dignity. Even stranger is the empathy and sadness viewers and characters start feeling for her.

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Host Robert Morley, who normally only appeared at the beginning and sometimes at the end of the episodes with information and facts, this time around makes frequent appearances between certain scenes discussing Ellis and her trial. This is no real surprise given the high notoriety the case received from the press, but also the history the trial made as after Ellis was hung, the Parliament, the monarchy, and even the judicial system itself abolished the death penalty for female prisoners.

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Georgina Hale, a fairly well recognized British character actress, gives the performance of a lifetime as the tragic Ruth Ellis. Ellis appeared to be a very worldly and practical woman, and Hale portrays that very well. What made Ellis standout from most of her contemporary and predecessor murderesses, was the complete calmness she displayed during her arrest, imprisonment, and trial, almost as of she was expecting everything to go as it did. Why she decided not to fight for her life, or why she wouldn’t give any details regarding how she came to find Blakely and kill him, and who may have supplied her with the gun would for some time be a mystery until way after her death, but Hale hints in her performance that Ellis didn’t want to get anyone associated with her, especially her son, more attention than was necessary, feeling this was her burden alone. Hale also plays up Ellis as a woman to be respected, as even the prison warden and bailiffs seem to have developed a kind of friendship with her, trying to make what little time she has left as pleasant as possible. The dignity Ellis displays and emits is almost overwhelming, almost as if she was a kind of martyr, acting out an almost cold rationale, as if she wanted to die.

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Several other noted British character players, including Edward Hardwicke (son of Sir Cedric, and the primary Dr. Watson of Granada’s Sherlock Holmes franchise), Robert Flemyng, and Roberta Taylor, all play characters either completely bewildered, or indifferent to Ellis’ unusual demeanor as she goes from prison, to the defendant’s block, to the Gallows. Some characters can’t comprehend why she committed the murder, while others can’t comprehend why she won’t defend herself and is almost fatalistically resigned to facing the hangman’s noose. Some try to at least get her to leave a record of what really happened, so as her son could go through life knowing his mother wasn’t the monster the press and others made her out to be. The latter does succeed as Ellis does indeed want her son to know the truth, but forces the promise of others that he’ll only see it after she’s gone. Even with this uncertainty, characters can’t help but feel a kind of admiration for Ellis.

Image result for ruth ellis caseBluntly honest and unafraid to treat the case exactly how it played out in the eyes of the press and public, Lucky, Lucky Thirteen! succeeded in showing audiences how good Lady Killers was as a series, and while each case was not as enticing or as dramatic as others, could still prove to be interesting to both history buffs and film buffs.

(This episode is another one I would consider giving a view of, primarily for Georgina Hale’s wonderful performance as Ellis. Certainly not as frank as some of the other episodes of the series, the Ruth Ellis case was a turning point in the world history as the death penalty for female prisoners was abolished not long after her execution, an act that would soon be carried over to male prisoners, and would make its way to the States. One of the few heart felt episodes where the viewer can feel a kind of empathy for Ellis as she had some regrets for her actions, but also realized it was better to pay for her crime rather than to make a plea she didn’t feel worthy of.  The episode has its moments of age over the years, but the quality is still very good.

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=tt_ov_inf

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624348/?ref_=ttep_ep3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Ellis

https://murderpedia.org/female.E/e/ellis-ruth.htm

Go to the Marguerite Alibert case post for DVD buying options

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

The Devil in a Deceitful Body

by Tony Nash

(A Forgotten TV Series Part 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Author’s Note: Like with the first installment, stills from the real case will be used as no stills from the episode exist. Also, while I don’t go into any graphic detail, some may find the details and instances of the case presented to be a little unsettling and even disturbing, so anyone who is sensitive and squeamish may want to skip this one.)

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Lady Killers Episode 2: Not for the Nervous (1980) ***** TV-14

Elaine Page: Kate Webster

Michael Kitchen: Reverend Father M’Enery

Peter Sallis: Mr. O’Brien

William Wilde: Barrister Warner Sleigh

T.P. McKenna: Sir Hardinge Giffard, Q.C.

Leslie French: Mr. Justice Denman

John Fraser: John Church

Harry Littlewood: Henry Porter

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Arden Winch

Directed by: Valerie Hanson

Synopsis: Irish criminal Kate Webster faces trial for the murder of her aged employer Mrs. Julia Thomas in 1879. Considered the most sinister murder case prior the White Chapel/Jack the Ripper Murders a decade later.

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Lady Killers second episode explored one of the first murder cases to cause mass debate and discussion among the populace of Britain, and its surrounding areas. Irish immigrant Kate Webster, having to leave her homeland due to her criminal past and the mass potato famine, was arrested for the murder of her employer Mrs. Thomas. The evidence presented by the prosecution and witnesses revealed a sordid and horrific act in which Webster is said to have attacked Mrs. Thomas, killed her, and then proceeded to dismember her body. Webster maintained her innocence throughout the trial, claiming she was forced into the act by an old boyfriend and the patriarch of a family she’d known for several years, and insisted her belief in God would never lead her to such actions on normal grounds. Since she was indeed Catholic, the courts allowed her the benefit of religious council and brought in a priest from a small community to advise her spiritually and care for her young son. When it becomes clear, Webster’s accounts change too much, even the Priest begins to suspect something, and warns her to be honest with him. The question that remains is, can he handle her confession?

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Elaine Page, a character actress known for her comedy and broadcasting career, gives an understated dramatic performance as Kate Webster. Webster was indeed a two-faced woman, devout and even a little superstitious in her Catholic upbringing, a loving and caring mother, but at the same time very manipulative and deceitful. While seemingly friendly towards the people who tried to welcome her warmly, Webster clearly displays an erratic behavior that has her lying one minute, and telling the truth another. Page shows off Webster as a self-loathing woman, hating to constantly be reminded of her humble origins in Ireland, having to steal because her family was too poor for most necessities, and forced to endure the harsh criticisms of her British neighbors for her heritage. Her actions become even stranger when she states she had no interest in taking the deceased’s expensive jewelry, which would’ve got her safe passage abroad. Page’s acting leaves the viewer constantly wondering if Webster truly hated doing what she had to do in order to survive, or if her circumstances finally pushed her to a point where she no longer cared, or if there was an evil inside Webster that she herself couldn’t understand, or even saw as normal behavior for someone like herself.

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The remainder of the cast, including Peter Sallis and Michael Kitchen, deliver fine supporting and secondary roles in the episode. All of the characters, particularly Father M’Enery, are often at odds with themselves because, on the one hand they believe in Webster’s sincerities, but at the same time constantly feel that there’s something the woman isn’t telling them. The crime itself has them all baffled as it was committed with such intricacy and sadism that whoever the killer was had no morality or decency in them. They also ponder why Webster accuses someone as forcing her involvement in the crime, then changing her story, or why none of Mrs. Thomas’s jewelry was taken given Webster’s past as a thief. As more and more truths come to light in the trial, either inadvertently, or because Webster was caught in a lie, everyone begins to sense something more sinister to the crime, and to Webster herself.

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Host Robert Morley only states in the opening that the trial of Kate Webster caused a salacious and scandalous amount of talk in the wake of her conviction and execution, and it’s actually better he only stated that aspect, because as the episode unfolds and audiences see Elaine Page’s acting and her monumental confession scene, the truth of the murder and trial becomes more potent than if Mr. Morley had hinted what of viewers of that time and now would see unfold. The revelations are frank and to the point with nothing held back, and leaves those who watched it, bewildered, unsettled, and even a little afraid.

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While the premiere episode about Marguerite Alibert was anti-climatic to audiences, the case of Kate Webster proved the series had much to offer in its handling of the various murder cases it would present for the next year and a half. Handled very much like a stage play as it goes from set to set, and of course the fine acting from all the players, the plot slowly unveils the true nature of the case and its prime suspect with sublimity and finesse, leading the viewer step by step to an unflinching conclusion.

(I highly recommend this one as the ending really is one you don’t see coming until the last five or ten minutes of the episode and does leave you heavily shaken and scared. Elaine Page does a fantastic job as Kate Webster as audiences don’t know whether to believe or despise  her for her actions and manner. For anyone who enjoys true crime stories, this one would not only be up your ally, but it would also be the most true to form depiction of a court case ever brought to screen. The episode has its flaws in the transfer as it was videotape and at points you can the aging process occur, but is still very clear, and the lighting does add to the mood in the non court scenes.)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624354/?ref_=ttep_ep2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Julia_Martha_Thomas

https://murderpedia.org/female.W/w/webster-catherine.htm

(please see the Marguerite Alibert episode post for the DVD options)

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

The Worldly Woman & The Prince

by Tony Nash

(Profiling a Forgotten TV Gem 1)

All opinions are of the author alone

(Spoilers ahead)

(Author’s Note: Little to no stills exist for the episodes of this series, so save for promotional stills of the main characters, all photos will of the real life people)

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Lady Killers Episode 1: Murder at the Savoy Hotel (1980) TV-14 ****

Robert Stephens: Sir Edward Marshall Hall, K.C.

Barbara Kellerman: Princess Madame Marie Marguerite Fahmy

Charles Kay: Sir Henry Curtis Bennett, K.C.

John Horsley: Mr. Justice Rigby Swift

Susan Wooldridge: Janet Cole

David Buck: Percival Clarke, K.C.

Edward Hammond: Roland Oliver

Lewis Flander: Said Enani

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Helena Osborne

Directed by: Philip Draycott

Synopsis: Ex-Prostitute turned Princess Marie Marguerite is on trial for the murder of her husband, the Egyptian Prince Ali Fahmy Bey. Defended by the famous barrister Sir Marshall Hall, her case is primarily focused on Ali’s reported abusive and decadent behavior towards her.

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Before the British TV company Granada became famous for the Jeremy Brett version of Sherlock Holmes, one of its first touches of notoriety came from the Mini-Series Lady Killers. Initially focusing on infamous murders committed by women in the late 19th to mid-20th century, then on murders of women by both genders, the show was the first of its kind to present true life murder cases as close to historical accuracy as possible, often very unflinching and frank in the process. Veteran British character actor Robert Morley acted as the host of each episode’s beginning, sometimes offering a voice over at the end of further information of the case post trial.

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The Series’ premiere episode told the case of Marguerite Alibert (called Marie Marguerite in the episode) a French prostitute who stunned the world when it was announced she had married the Egyptian Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy. The rocky marriage, said to often include acts of physical abuse, bizarre sexual acts, and even sadism, became public knowledge very quickly, with rumors arising Ali cheated on Marguerite constantly and treated her like personal property rather than a wife. A heated argument in London in July of 1923 led to what was initially deemed an accidental shooting when Marguerite believed her life was in danger, shooting her husband three times with a gun she thought empty. What followed was one of the most discussed, bizarre, and intriguing trial of the day in London. The Prosecution argued Marguerite intentionally killed her husband as she was after his fortune, along with a document she failed to read properly stated under the law of Islam she couldn’t divorce him even with grounds, and that he purportedly denied her inclusion in his will. The Defense argued Marguerite was in constant fear of her life, that the gentle and charming man she first met changed into a beast that took every opportunity to force himself on her and commit acts of violence and debauchery, Marguerite finally having enough and acted completely in defense of her safety. The question remained, which story is true?

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Robert Stephens, one of Britain’s most prominent stage, film, and TV actors, gives the performance of a lifetime as the barrister Sir Edward Marshall Hall. Stephens depicts Hall as the English equivalent of many an American lawyer character on TV, with the flamboyancy and theatrics to go along with it. His team of fellow lawyers often try to reign him in during the episode, constantly telling him he could go too far in his conducting examinations, and surely get his client the death penalty. Like any lawyer, Hall tries not to think about his client’s innocence or guilt too much, but with Marguerite, he appears totally convinced she didn’t deliberately murder her husband. Hall appears to have a bias when it comes to the late Prince Fahmy, clearly expressing a very anti-Arab sentiment whenever he has the opportunity to make the dead man out to be a brutal savage trying to behave European. Very intense and methodical in his handling of witnesses, he uses both wit and plain speaking in discrediting his opposition. His opposing barrister, his team, and even the presiding Justice of the case are both impressed and confounded by his method of conducting his case, but feel he is a competent and fair-minded attorney.

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Barbara Kellerman, an actress only known by UK fans, delivers a quiet, but telling and convincing performance as Marguerite. Not being familiar with English customs or etiquette, Marguerite spends the majority of the trial sitting back and watching as her barrister tries to prevent her getting the death penalty or life in prison and as the prosecution tries to paint her as a cold blooded, non-feeling gold digger out to get prominence and money. Her behavior is generally shown through her interactions with the lady bailiffs between court sessions as a kind of quiet acceptance of what she must go through, but attempts to stay positive with encouragement from the one bailiff. When the time comes for her to tell what had occurred between herself and Ali, Kellerman goes into a melodramatic tirade of emotions as she expresses how she loved her husband, but at the same time was appalled by his change from gentlemanly to animalistic in only a short amount of time. The crescendo being when she described when she fired the gun, even then begging Ali to forgive her for not realizing the gun was still loaded, but also asking why he had to be so cruel to her is where her testimony gets a little laughable in how emotional she gets.

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While Host Morley states in the opening that the trial’s lengthy documentation had to be condensed to fit the hour time slot, quite a bit of important information was left out in the episode:

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Marguerite’s attorney Sir Marshall Hall spent a good bit of his cross examination of Ali’s male secretary making innuendoes that the two men engaged in a homosexual relationship. The public reasoning for this tactic was to discredit Ali’s character as an adherer to Islamic law and custom, thus giving Marguerite cause to wish to divorce him and her fears of his fetishes, but the real reason appears to have been that homosexuality was seen as a crime way back then, and a sin punishable by death under the edicts of Islam, thus making it possible he was looking for either Ali’s family to have the trial stopped to protect their standing in Egypt or to have the government stop the trial out of fear of an international incident.

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Marguerite was known, by rumor at the time, to have had an affair with Edward VIII, then the Prince of Wales, while he was stationed in France during WWI. Edward had made the mistake of writing very intimate and colorful letters to her while he was away on maneuvers, and Marguerite was noted to have kept all the Prince’s letters. Sources are certain Marguerite intended to blackmail Edward should Sir Marshall Hall’s defense prove faulty, and soon the Old Bailey was receiving orders the prosecution be denied the ability to question Marguerite about her past, specifically her life when she was a prostitute in Paris,  noted for engaging both male and female clients, some with very “eclectic” tastes. Today, many believe the government ordered the trial expedited to save the Prince’s character and reputation, which ironically would be destroyed by his actions during WWII.

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The Male-Female jury in the filmed version of the case is wholly fictitious. The real-life jury in Marguerite’s trial was made up entirely of women, all in their late teens to early 20’s, and were ordered to ignore the prosecutions references to Marguerite’s character and what was declared irrelevant evidence.

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Morley, in his closing narration, states that little was known of Marguerite after the Egyptian courts denied her claim to half of Ali’s estate. This is also untrue. Marguerite returned to Paris where she maintained a fairly comfortable lifestyle and kept the title of Princess, even appearing in some French films of the late Silent and Early Sound periods. After a libel suit that didn’t go her way made her a laughing stock in France, Marguerite retired to seclusion at her apartment in Nice until her death in 1971. She never had a second child after her first, though she did in fact destroy the letters from Edward VIII.

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While a little clunky in parts as there wasn’t enough time to utilize all the fascinating information associated with the case and focused mainly on the actual court room proceedings, the Murder at the Savoy Hotel is a good starting point episode to an interesting series that recreates some very fascinating, and at times disturbing, cases that rocked the whole of the United Kingdom. Main stars Stephens and Kellerman may go a little into overboard theatrics while some smaller characters can be a little stiff, is done fairly well by episode’s end and leaves the viewer satisfied.

(I do highly recommend giving this series a try as it does present the cases they chose to dramatize fairly well, even though some information had to be condensed to fit the hour time slot. History buffs, Murder/Mystery buffs, and even Courtroom Drama buffs will find something to enjoy about the series overall. The Stage Play atmosphere of the episode is also very creative and brings something unique and different to the series that was seldom done elsewhere. The DVD from Network Entertainment offers the best possible presentation of the episodes as some do have slight to them and fair audio transfers.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners, including the IMDB

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=fn_ep_tt_4a

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624352/?ref_=ttep_ep1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Alibert

This video from ObsoleteOddity of YouTube and Vimeo offers more detailed information of the Case

(I’m including both sites version of the video as I imagine people may prefer one over the other)

Buying options

https://networkonair.com/all-products/2827-lady-killers-the-complete-series

https://networkonair.com/all-products/1534-lady-killers-the-complete-series-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B005VDLO1U/ref=tmm_dvd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1582743720&sr=1-2

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lady-Killers-Complete-Elaine-Paige/dp/B079VSH2VT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2BQSLNCBWDWM2&keywords=lady+killers+the+complete+series&qid=1582743690&s=dvd&sprefix=Lady+Killers%2Caps%2C254&sr=1-1

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

The Joys & Benefits of a Region Free Blu-Ray Player (And Why Film Fans Should Have One)

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Author’s Note: I’m taking a little break from doing film reviews, I haven’t stopped watching films, but for some reason or the next has made being able to sit down for at least 2 hours to enjoy a film a little flip-floppy for the moment, but I want to keep the content going on the blog, so here’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a while in a little more depth, and I hope you enjoy it)

Sony BDP-S3700 Region Free Blu-Ray Player - front view

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, all curious visitors,

What happens when there’s a film or TV Series you’ve read about for a while via the IMDb or a film forum that has peaked your curiosity, but you learn it isn’t on DVD or Blu Ray in the US or Canada, but is available from the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, etc. Pretty good right? Well, then you discover in your research there’s a pesky thing called Region Encoding, which prevents discs from playing on certain players. All is lost right because there’s no way you can find some means of playing a non Region A disc? It’s not over yet, because certain companies specialize in Region Free, or All Region, players that allow discs from all over the world to played on the same player.

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I have to admit that while I’m fairly knowledgeable when it comes to films, I’m a complete novice when it comes to the technology in putting them into disc form and creating the machines they play in. For a long time I held a certain envy for film collectors over in Europe as they had access to these great editions of films that either weren’t available at here in the US or where available in less than mild quality. Finally having enough of spending money on no product or spotty product, I started doing the research into Region Free Players to see if they were in fact real, or if it was something out of my reach. Seeing it was possible to get one was a thrill, but the price at first seemed a little steep, a $150 plus steep depending on how simple or how fancy you wanted your player. Talking it over with my folks, so long as I wouldn’t be double dipping too much on certain films, I got the green light to purchase my first All Region Player.

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Now for those of you who are wondering if working this type of machine is complex, it’s actually fairly simple. The company you purchase the player from, provides you with specialty instructions in how to work with Region A, B, and C, discs.  The only part that can be tricky is making sure which button to push when shutting off or starting up the player, as certain machine actions can affect the All Region Encoding, but luckily the manufacturers have a step in the All Region instructions to fix the issue.

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Now I imagine you viewers are asking why a Region Free Player is something to have. Well, to begin with, having this player will fully open your opportunities to films you might not normally have access to. For Fans of Italian Westerns, Giallos, and Euro Crime for example, many companies the UK and Germany, Germany having the market for variety and output of these particular genres, will include both the English dub and the original Italian language track. Unfortunately, the German releases often lack English translated subtitles, unless of course no English dub exists, so that may damper some peoples interest in giving those films a try, but if you’re interested in learning another language, or simply daring enough to take a chance in watching a film sans subtitles, I guarantee you’d be in for a treat.

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For Fans of British films and certain types of US Genre films, the UK offers some the best editions in transfers, extras (interviews and the such), and availability. The films of Roger Corman for example, which are only available in boxsets from companies like Shout Factory! for instance, the UK company Arrow Video gives its customers the option of individual releases of those films, often with more in the way of extras and information. In other cases, films that fans want to see on Blu Ray or DVD, but that mainstream companies insist won’t give them a profit to put money into a release, the UK, German, and Japanese companies will put the time and effort in to making a fine release. Now of course Boutique labels like The Criterion Collection, Arrow’s US Division, etc, will always put 100% into releases other places won’t, but there’s just so many films a year they can do and it does take time, so the more mainstream labels do need to pick up the pace.

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Another benefit, and one that works very well for collectors, is price for overseas releases. Sometimes the UK, German, and even Japanese editions of certain harder to find films elsewhere are actually cheaper and more affordable than the US editions. So while the player itself will certainly cost triple figures, it’s all worth it when you find you can pay less for certain editions of DVDs or Blu Rays overall. A concern here might be the fear of ordering from overseas, whether it be from websites of the companies themselves or Amazon’s UK and Euro sister sites, which is natural and not unexpected, but I think I can ease these fears. Amazon is one of those companies you either love or hate, but their partners in Europe are actually quite good in customer service, making sure lost items are replaced should they get lost in transit, and include the tax cost on the item page so you don’t feel like you’re getting blindsided by unseen costs. With the websites and shops of the many companies out in Europe, I found it best to use PayPal for all purchases. One of the nicest things about PayPal is that you don’t need to have an account to use to it, though I’ll admit having an account is beneficial as it does help to keep track of purchases. The only website I purchase from that doesn’t use PayPal is Eureka! Masters of Cinema, but they have an equally good service from World Pay that also doesn’t require an account to use.

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Another concern is typically the conversion of either Dollar to Pound or Dollar to Euro. This process is also not as difficult as people might believe it to be or have heard it to be. Currency Conversion is on the list of simple mathematics and becomes almost secondary nature like any other type of equation once learned. All you need to do to find out the cost in dollars from either pounds or euros is to look up the current currency exchange charge and multiply it by the cost of the item you want to purchase. Now most websites, including Amazon, will tell you the final cost in dollars when you list the US as the place your ordering from, which is a big help. Taxes and shipping also should be factored in, but generally it works out in the end. Another way of finding the cost of currency exchange is to Google Pound to Dollar or Euro to Dollar ratio and type in the cost of the item in the assigned converter. This I find works well too, as the currency conversion is constantly changing, sometimes day to day.

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Now I fully understand that the Region Free Player isn’t for everybody either because their genre interests don’t require getting a region free player or because they feel the price of $150 or more of a player is too much for a player. The serious film fan should consider the Region Free Player as an honest option because of the option it holds for expanding your interests and ability to see films you wouldn’t normally have access to. In terms of price, the more flash you want for your player like apps for things like Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix, and 3D, 4K UHD, and Streaming, any combinations of which would come out to $250 or $300 and more in price. Companies like 220 Electronics, MultiSystem Electronics, and Bombay Electronics offer pretty decent sales prices of sometime $120 and lower depending on the type of sale they’re doing, and Amazon offers $150 and under for the simpler, easy to use models. Whether your interests justify getting a Region Free Player is completely up to you and the choice is fully yours, I merely hope I have given any of you out there a pretty good idea of the positives, and lessened your fears of others.

All images courtesy of Google.com.Google Images and their respective owners

https://www.220-electronics.com/

(I also highly recommend reading their sales pitch on players)

https://www.amazon.com/sp?seller=A2EH3A7AEDBIYP

https://www.bombayelectronics.com/

Sony, IMHO, offers some of the best Region Free Players around

https://www.amazon.com/Sony-BDP-S3500-100-240-European-Adapter/dp/B017MQ3IHG/ref=sr_1_9?crid=36WKRJEFIQ1NR&keywords=region+free+blu+ray+player&qid=1582151753&s=electronics&sprefix=Region+%2Caps%2C217&sr=1-9

https://www.amazon.com/WGC-BDP-S1500-Region-Player-012345678/dp/B076DHWN2P/ref=sr_1_4?crid=36WKRJEFIQ1NR&keywords=region+free+blu+ray+player&qid=1582151753&s=electronics&sprefix=Region+%2Caps%2C217&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.com/BDP-S1700-Blu-ray-110-240-Dynastar-Adapter/dp/B01E4NDR8U/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=36WKRJEFIQ1NR&keywords=region+free+blu+ray+player&qid=1582151681&s=electronics&sprefix=Region+%2Caps%2C217&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1&smid=ALEWIQ2F9CQDR&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExOVpaNjBNRVhLTDJLJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNjg0NzEwTlFTTlZBWVVGTTUzJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAyOTUyNjkxSUo4RE84RzhDSFVLJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

Filed under: Annoucements, Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics, TV: Special Topics

My Sunshine Blogger Nomination Try-Out

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone.)

Image result for sunshine blogger award

Hello to all my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors

About 48 hours ago I saw one of my followers, The Wee Writing Lassie, had been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and as I reciprocated her following and decided to follow her channel and adventures, offered her my congratulations. My first look at her nomination was a quick one as I was getting ready for my daily walk, and when I was checking my blog today, was in for a surprise of my own when the sweet Lassie informed me she had put up my name for nomination as well.

I want to start off by giving an ultra BIG THANK YOU! to the Wee Writing Lassie for thinking of me and offering my name up for nomination. My goal has always been to have fun with this blog and share my love of films with others, and hoping others will give the lesser known films I write about a viewing. Being nominated for something like an award is extra icing on the cake for me.

Now to tackle the questions the sweet Lassie set down for her nominees

1. Who is your favorite author?

I’m gonna admit right now that I’ve never been able to limit myself to picking just one answer, so some of these questions may have multiple answers. My top five favorite authors are: Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Samuel Beckett, and Robert Bloch.

Poe was the first author to ever get me interested in reading, and while my favorites have always been The Raven, Annabel Lee, and The Black Cats, his style and themes have always fascinated me more.

Shakespeare was the first playwright I ever read in school, and was also the first writer to get me interested in seriously writing plays. What I especially love about him is that the majority of his plays are timeless and will always have a place in every generation.

Christie reignited my interest in Murder Mystery stories and I’ve always loved her ability to keep the viewer guessing as to who committed the crime.

Samuel Beckett introduced me to the Intellectual side of literature and play-writing my senior year of High School and I’ve always been grateful for that. He also helped me in starting off with smaller plays and working my way up to longer stuff.

Robert Bloch is primarily on the list for his short story The Opener of the Way, one of the finest constructed stories ever on Ancient Egyptian Curses. He also showed me that story writers can be script writers from his brief period on the original Star Trek series.

2. If you could rule one of these five fictional/mythical lands: the Galaxy of Star Wars, King Arthur’s Britain, Westeros, Middle-Earth or Discworld – which one would it be and why?

I want to thank Lassie again for inspiring a carefully thought out choice here. For me, I would choose King Arthur’s Britain to rule.

As to the why, there are several reasons I’ll try to be brief and to the point with each. First off, the Medieval Period of Europe has always had a big fascination with me, especially the inspiration I received on it from my Sophomore English teacher in High School; he made the whole era sound magical and exciting. The Knights in armor, Kings, Queens, Dragons, and Wizards are cool to think about having existed at one time too.

Since the Medieval Age promoted the idea of chivalry and honor, I would really try to have the period live up to those ideals and also promote brotherhood and diversity. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome I would try to have awareness made to be kind and not harsh to people who were different than the norm. To be able to mold the world the way you’d like it to be is very inviting.

And to be able to interact with such figures as Arthur himself, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Uther Pendragon, etc, would be the ultimate dream come true.

3. If you had the powers of a god, what would you do with them?

Whew, to be able to be like Zeus or Odin. If I had the powers of a god, I would use them to make positive changes to the world and in people’s lives. As the gods as we know them from folklore and literature tended to have selfish reasons in using their powers, I would try not to follow that pattern and try to do good whenever I could, though I admit the idea of making bad people pay for their crimes is tempting, I would stick to doing the right things.

4. Which famous historical figure would you have round to dinner?

Like with first question, I can’t pick just one person.

I would have Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc )as a dinner guest as I was always impressed with her stoic nature, her resolve, her honesty, and down to earth quality. She’s a religious figure that’s true, but I’m certain we’d find much to talk about.

I would have Abraham Lincoln as a dinner guest just because of all the accomplishments he made and the good man he always tried to be. He’s always been my favorite president and as someone who came from humble beginnings, he’d be someone I’d feel totally comfortable talking with.

I would have Cleopatra as a dinner guest cause you have to have at least one bad girl at the dinner table. As she was an intelligent person and could speak a dozen or more languages, I think I’d have no trouble finding something very engaging to discuss.

I would have the Pharaoh Akhenaten as a dinner guest to find out what inspired him to become the first monotheistic ruler in Egypt. He seemed like a really fascinating man and it would be interesting to engage in a discussion with him.

I have to include at least one figure from my interest in film and theater and I choose to have Shakespeare as a dinner guest. I think we’d mainly discuss his plays and themes, but I feel I could learn a lot from him.

5. You’ve been abducted by aliens, and they demand you take them to your leader- who do you take them to? 

To be honest, I doubt aliens would find me a worthy abductee as I’m a Liberal Arts Associate, but hey, anything’s possible.

I would take them to see the Dalai Lama in Tibet, as he has both wisdom and common sense. I’ve never had the chance to meet him myself, but I believe he’s the only one who could transcend the barrier between us and the aliens, and get positive communications and brotherhood going on.

6. If there was a film made about your life story, which famous actor would you want to play you? 

Hmm, that’s a tough one, and like question 1 and 4, I can’t pick just one.

I’m not the handsomest guy around, but I’d really like it if the following guys could play me: Peter Sellers, Jonah Hill, Will Sasso, Billy Gardell, and Kevin Smith. I think any of these actors could pull me off as I’m a slightly big guy, but not overweight.

7. If you were trapped in a historical time (presumably your time machine has malfunctioned) what period would you be most likely to survive in?

America and Europe of the 1960’s and 1970’s. As a lover of films, the International scene of the 60’s was the place to be for American actors/actresses, writers, and such to get their foot in the door to their career of choice when the chances of getting noticed ion Hollywood would take years. With my having Asperger’s Syndrome, I think being seen as an eccentric in 1960’s America and Europe would be the best for me.

8. What is your favorite kind of weather and why?

I would have to say a cloudy day, between 38-48 degree in temperature, it’s the perfect weather for taking walks to stay healthy.

9. Chocolate or Caramel?

I like both. Plain and simple.

10. If you could turn into any mythical creature, which one would it be?

Whew, that too is a tough one. I’ve always been a little on the uncoordinated side for a lot of  tasks and dancing, so I would say I’d like to be Pegasus, simply for his gracefulness and demeanor. And who wouldn’t enjoy the ability to fly. 😉

11. Who are you most grateful to in your life?

My Parents, my immediate Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and my two best friends Christine and Ashley, all of whom do their best in their own way to encourage me and help me reach my life goals.

Now for the people I wish to nominate for the Sunshine Blogger Award

Spinenumbered aka Make Mine Criterion!

https://makeminecriterion.wordpress.com/

ItalianCultCinema

https://italiancultcinema.wordpress.com/

Mikes Take on the Movies

https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/

Debbi aka I Found it at the Movies

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/78218897

Kevin Lyons aka The EOFFTV Reviews

https://eofftvreview.wordpress.com/

Progcroc aka House of Freudstein

https://houseoffreudstein.wordpress.com/

Zaijovan aka CatMarie at the Movies

https://catmarieatthemoviessite.wordpress.com/

Through the Shattered Lens

https://unobtainium13.com/

Eric Binford aka Diary of a Movie Maniac

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/65913929

Hilly Elkins aka 24 Femmes Per Second

https://24femmespersecond.wordpress.com/

B and S About Movies

https://bandsaboutmovies.com/

Here are the 11 Questions I’ll put to them

  1. Who or what inspired you to take up your passion in life?
  2. What is your favorite language other than English or Spanish?
  3. Which of 6 lost Wonders of the Ancient World do wish was still in existence?
  4. The Blu Ray release of Abel Gance’s Napoleon was one of the Holy Grail’s of Cinema. What film that you’ve seen that has had little exposure on home media would you like to see restored to its original glory?
  5. Which European country would you most love to visit?
  6. If you could rediscover one of the famous Lost Civilizations and/or Cities, which one would it be and why?
  7. Name 5 actors and/or actresses (living or dead) that you would love to meet in person.
  8. Which pantheon of gods do you prefer: the Greek/Roman ones, The Nordic ones, or the Celtic ones?
  9. What short story or book would love to see made into a film or which deserves a better film adaptation?
  10. Which film genre that you normally don’t watch would you be willing to give a try of if a friend recommended a film from said genre?
  11. Give a shout out on your blog to someone you really admire.

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to post this before or after I find out I win, but I’ll take a chance and send the post to my nominee’s not long after.

Again I want to give a BIG THANKS to The Wee Writing Lassie and hope the people of the Sunshine Blogger Awards find this as well written as so many others hopefully do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Annoucements, Film: Special Topics, TV: Special Topics