Friday, August 19, 2005

Movie: The Crimson Pirate (1952)

After watching A FATHER ... A SON ... ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, the new HBO documentary about Kirk and Michael Douglas, I had the urge to see a movie starring ... Burt Lancaster. (Sorry. Those ellipses are catching.) Douglas père et fils come off great in the film – it even ends with them singing a song from 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA together – but the clips of Kirk sparring with Burt reminded me that it had been too long since I’d seen Lancaster in action. Fortunately, my DVR was way ahead of me.

I started with the 1973 espionage drama SCORPIO. Burt on the run from his CIA masters, Alain Delon as the assassin on his trail. How bad could it be?

I bailed 30 minutes in. Right after Burt eludes the Company by slipping onto an airplane disguised as a priest. In blackface. It’s the scene from SILVER STREAK played straight.

But the DVR had planned for that eventuality, too. (Frankly, this machine is beginning to freak me out.) Four months ago, it recorded THE CRIMSON PIRATE, in which every last buckle is swashed. No movie makes better use of Lancaster’s early training as an acrobat; his performance is gloriously physical and a joy throughout. Plus, a young Christopher Lee appears as a villain. Top that.

TV: News Watch

Bob Costas, subbing for Larry King, becomes the latest CNN anchor to balk at blanket coverage of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance when there are no new developments. True, the pot/kettle/black factor is at play here; King’s show aired with another host, and Nancy Grace is milking the story five nights a week. But at least the question is being raised by someone other than Jon Stewart.

Miscellaneous: Links

Whenever people ask me what the difference between a manager and an agent is, I always give the same answer: How did you get this number? Now, I will tell them to go to Kung Fu Monkey, where all will be explained.

More work that I’ve been saved: For months I’ve been meaning to write about Jack-FM, the new radio format that supposedly mimics the iPod. It’s killed oldies stations in New York and Chicago. In Seattle it just replaced one of many unfocused adult contemporary outlets, so no harm done. The Onion A.V. Club says all that needs to be said. Via Scrubbles.