11 May 2019

Thrones, and other missed items.

I'm putting my hand up. I don't watch it. Game of Thrones. After several years, apparently, of riveting viewing, the big final season is going down in Middle Earth, or Westworld, or where ever it's set. For three days in a row this week, I've heard people discussing it at the office. When I flick open a news site on the web (CNN, The Guardian, Slate, et al) I'll see a link to an article to something about the show; often more than one. Event television, water cooler television, apparently. I have only ever seen ONE episode of GOT (see, I even know the fan acronym) and that was about six years ago, but through sheer force of osmosis of the press and social media, I know more about that TV show (who's in it, plot lines, plot twists, plot holes, spoilers, surprises, murders, deaths, trivia, controversy, and Starbucks' coffee cups) than I know about I Love Lucy, which I did watch.
Some guy and some girl (who has something to do with dragons) and a coffee cup.
Will I ever watch GOT? I have no idea. I might, I've come late to a lot of TV things. Breaking Bad, for example, which I binge watched over the course of a couple of months a year ago, long after everyone else had seen it. The Wire is another example, and I think it's an excellent show, but I've so far only binged the first season; I'm due to watch the second in 2030. The Wire is now so old it's not even in widescreen—it's in that old boxy TV 4x3 format. And then there's a bunch of recent shows I want to watch, but haven't even begun to make the effort, like The Knick, Peaky Blinders, The Alienist.

And then there are movies, and a couple by Orson Welles I've never seen.

I like Welles' movies and have watched many more than once—Citizen Kane maybe thirty times (I was a nerdy, film crazy kid). I think Touch of Evil (1958) is his best, and I recently rewatched it when I discovered Netflix had the HD version. I've seen that movie maybe ten times over the years, and I still come to the same conclusion the next day about why it's not one of the greatest movies ever made: Charlton Heston, the second least convincing actor in history (in my opinion). He was the 1950s' Tom Cruise (the first). Wood. Grade-A certification. Heston's impersonation of a Mexican man in Touch of Evil is about as good as my impersonation of a New York bagel.

Orson Welles in Touch of Evil 
Oh, why couldn't they have cast someone like Ramón Novarro, or Ricardo Montalbán to play the Mexican drug enforcement agent, you know, a real actor (and Mexican)? Oh, yeah. Charlton Heston, that's right. He was the only reason the picture got made at all, and the only reason Orson Welles did the writing, directing, and taking the lead role in it. The studio really didn't want Welles anywhere near the thing. Heston probably laid down one of his you'll have to pry this movie out of my cold dead hands speeches to the studio bosses; such is the clout of a Grade-A certification movie star. I'll give Heston this, he believed in Welles, and Welles gave him his best picture (Welles' best picture, that is).

One of Welles' movies I've never seen is Chimes at Midnight (1965). I've seen several clips, I know it draws upon two Shakespeare plays (Welles plays Sir John Falstaff—Shakespeare's version of Col. Blimp), I've heard it has one of best medieval battle scenes ever put to film, and Welles thought of it as his best film. And that's all I know. Why haven't I seen it? Well, chance would be a fine thing. It's simply never come my way. Citizen Kane was always rerunning on TV when I was a kid. Same too with TOE, and The Magnificent Ambersons, The Stranger, Journey into Fear, Lady from Shanghai, and so on. I suppose, I could simply buy it.

Another of Welles' movies I have never seen is The Other Side of the Wind. I've known about this one for years. And I've never seen it, because (up until recently) almost no one had, because Welles never finished it; he died in 1985. I can now watch this one, and I plan to soon, as it's on Netflix. Somebody finished it; and I believe one of those people was Peter Bogdanovich, who knows a thing or two about movies, was a friend of Welles, and, also, was in the movie. So, there is some authenticity to the completion. I firmly expect the movie will be a strange experiment in film making / mess. But it'll be great to see John Huston, one of my other favorite directors, playing a role in it. John Huston was no slouch as an actor; hell, even he would have made for a convincing Mexican drug enforcement agent.

I've seen almost all of John Huston's films (and a couple I wish I hadn't: The List of Adrian Messenger). And one, The Man Who Would be King, I really wished he'd made earlier, as he had planned, because then it would have starred Humphrey Bogart, and not Sean Connery (the third piece of lumber in the acting yard). Yes, I know it was Kipling and the characters were British Empire, but even Bogart would have made for a convincing Mexican drug enforcement agent. And sergeant in her majesty's army.

I'll shut up now. Forgive my loose ramble. It's the weather here in NZ. Winter is coming and I have a head cold.

Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich in a short scene from Touch of Evil that probably sums up noir in every possible way. Film making, acting, writing. It don't get much better than this.



  1. For somebody as media-savvy as I'm supposed to be, the list of stuff I haven't watched reads like a who's who! I haven't seen "Game of Thrones." I have seen the author (at Worldcon in Kansas City in 2012!) I have seen a bunch of tv shows that apparently nobody else did: "Struck By Lightning," "My Life and Times," and "Jake 2.0," just o name a few! I hadn't seen "Gone With the Wind" until a few years ago! Feel better soon!

  2. Hi Jeff, I have seen GWTW only once, but it was in an old "Cinerama" movie theater (a year before they tore it down). It was an excellent print and a HUGE screen. I don't like the movie at all, but it was an amazing cinema experience.

  3. Your future is all used up -- the perfect noir line.

    I haven't seen GOT either. My wife watches it. I also haven't seen a lot of other stuff. I think I'll survive, though maybe not.

  4. Glad to know someone else has managed to avoid the big battles and big costumes!

  5. Stephen, I read all the GOT books. Guess that will do for me, except I didn't get an ending.

  6. Stephen,

    I agree about the terrible THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER but not about THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING. You're right, it would have been interesting to have the great Bogart in the movie but Huston's 1975 version is excellent. Michael Caine steals the movie, of course, and his partnering with Sean Connery works. Christopher Plummer's Rudyard Kipling is so cool and Saeed Jeffrey's Billy Fish the Gurka is worth waiting for the movie to be done in 1975 where we also got to see the beautiful Shakira Caine, a woman any man would fall for. Just my opinion, pisano.

    The novella is a good read as well.

  7. It's a great line, agreed, Paul!

    Janice, I don't know about avoid. With all the information I know about it from the press over the years, it's like I have watched it, only, I haven't.

    Yes, R.T., I heard the books haven't had an ending yet. Such an odd thing where a TV show goes off and makes up its own ending. Did they ask George RRR Martin how to end it, or did they just make something up?

    O'Neil, I forgot about Christopher Plummer. Yes, he was good.

  8. Uh-oh, Stephen. I've seen ZERO episodes of GoT. I think that implies some sort of dementia or criminal leanings, or something.

    "He was a loner. Suspicious type, didn't like television much. Didn't own a TV, in fact. Check his telly license. Plus his mama said he's a good boy. That's always the clincher."

    My friend Steve is convinced that movies and television series come with expirations, just like milk and other stuff in your refrigerator. If you don't consume either before the date stamp, you expire too, a horrible, lonely, agonizing death. It's true. J.B. Hornswallow of Bithlo, Florida ate a can of Campbell's soup found in the back of his pantry while watching a LOST episode he missed. His body was found some months later. Skeletal remains showed the rictus of a scream.

    I confess I haven't seen Chimes at Midnight, which I must correct along with The Other Side of the Wind. The best part of ToE is the opening sequence; I've watched that many, many times, then flip it off after the explosion.

    By the way, you might watch Welles' Butterfly, hated by the critics for reasons unrelated to the film. Check it out.

    As for the woodpile, I recall a critic's statement about Robert Mitchum (which would also apply to Keanu Reeves): The actor used both his expressions.

  9. Hi Leigh, you are correct "GoT." I watched the first eight episodes of LOST, and concluded either I was LOST, or the writers were. FOUND something else to watch. Yes, the long, uncut opening of ToE is great. I like Robert Mitchum: Cape Fear, Farewell my Lovely (1975), and many more.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>