We watched more movies over my extended Birthday Weekend, “From Russia with Love,” “The Catcher Was a Spy”, “Moulin Rouge”, and “The House of Mirth”.
From Russia with Love” is the only James Bond with Sean Connery we’d not seen. Netflix didn’t have it, the library didn’t. Until two weeks, when Tom found the film at the library. This is (I believe) the second Bond film; the first was “Dr. No.” Connery made six or seven films.
The film features all the formulaic elements that Bond films follow afterward—the opening credits appear on a woman’s body. Bond is a Sixties-style playboy. Bond has a gizmo with several tricks designed by Q that helps him out in a clinch. The evil organization Spectre comes between the British and Russians. There’s an evil Spectre lesbian. (Goldfinger had a helpful lesbian. Apparently, Ian Fleming had a thing about lesbians.)
Bond seduces a beautiful Russian woman (or she seduces him) who helps him steal a decoding device from the Russians. He hand-to-hand fights with a bad guy and wins. He’s chased by enemies and escapes them. He blows up a helicopter and several boats. A good guy is killed. The action doesn’t take place in Russia at all, but almost entirely in Istanbul.
Back at the office, Bond flirts with Miss Moneypenny. The signature song is sung by a man. Starting with “Goldfinger”, the signature songs thereafter were sung by women (I believe—I haven’t seen all 20+ Bond films.) Connery is fine form. James Bond fans will love this classic film.
The Catcher Was a Spy” is a different sort of spy story, a serious story telling the fascinating true history of Morris “Moe” Berg. The film is tightly edited. Most scenes take no more than a few minutes, the flashback scenes, intercut with the current action, often take no more than a few seconds. The film’s pace keeps you on the edge of your chair. Highly recommended.
Moe Berg was a professional baseball player, playing catcher for the Boston Red Sox. He also held three PhDs from Princeton University and other prestigious universities and was fluent in seven languages, was proficient in three more (Cantonese, Japanese, and Hindi).
He sought a position in the OSS during World War II (precursor to the CIA), given his language skills, and was sent to Italy to contact an Italian physicist and then to Switzerland to contact the physicist Werner Heisenberg who established the “uncertainty principle” of quantum physics and was appointed the head of the Nazi effort to develop the atomic bomb. Berg says, reading Heisenberg’s seminal book on the subject, “The uncertainty principle means no one knows anything.”
The plot effectively plays with the uncertainty principle. Berg asks a colleague who was a former friend of Heisenberg could Heisenberg develop an atomic bomb for Nazi Germany? The friend says, Heisenberg is the best physicist in the world besides Albert Einstein. He certainly could. But would he? Berg asks. Where did his loyalties lie? We don’t know. And will Berg assassinate Heisenberg before he develops an atomic bomb for the Nazis as the OSS sent him to do? He carries a gun. Or won’t he, believing Heisenberg is deliberately stalling with Nazis? Will Berg reunite and marry with his girlfriend, a beautiful piano teacher (he tells he loves her twice) or will he continue his homosexual lifestyle? No plot spoilers here! This viewer was kept in suspense to the very end.
Moulin Rouge” (1952) directed by John Huston, tells the tragic story of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, played by Jose Ferrer, the nineteenth century artist who painted Paris performers of the famous nightclub and much more. He was born to a rich, aristocratic family but he had a terrible accident as a child that stunted the growth in his legs. He was only four feet tall as an adult.
He chose to live in the middle of Paris, instead of on his countryside family’s estate, and paint the people of the streets. His mother was supportive, but not his father, who reviled him and his art until Lautrec was the only living artist to show contemporary paintings in the Louvre. Only then did his father honor him. Huston shows the nightclub in full glory and also many details of Lautrec’s artwork. A sad story but colorful and enjoyable.
And last, we viewed “The House of Mirth”, based on the second novel by Edith Wharton. There is little mirth in this story. The title is meant to be ironic just “The Age of Innocence” was not innocent at all. New York Society was shocked and scandalized by Wharton’s novel, which is a scathing critique of the American aristocracy. Wharton (who was a red-head), who was from a really rich family in New York (“Keeping up with Joneses” was about her family who owned real estate in Manhattan), was famously unhappily married to another rich man. She was obsessed with unhappy marriages and divorces in just about all of her work, including in her collected ghost stories.
Mirth” tells of Lily Bart (played by Gillian Anderson), a beautiful, red-headed, single woman about to turn thirty, and her quest to marry a rich man who will support her luxurious style of living but a man whom she loves. She’s deceived by her single and married “friends”, men and women alike. Her father lost the family money and then died. She’s dependent on her rich, mean Aunt. Her cousin, a plain woman, snitches on Lily’s gambling debt to the disapproving Aunt, lies to Lily, and then refuses to help her when she is in need.
The story chronicles Lily’s swiftly downward spiral in the space of two short years and does not end happily. This viewer said to the screen, “Lily, do NOT do that!” She makes many social mistakes. Still the story is fascinating about a time when women had no education and no profession.
So there you have it, my friends. An enjoyable time was had by all.
From the author of ODDITIES: 22 Stories IN PRINT as a beautiful trade paperback in the US, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
CHROME (five-stars) an ebook on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo. And on US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle. IN PRINT at U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print.
Summer of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT! Find the beautiful trade paperback at https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Love-Travel-Lisa-Mason/dp/1548106119/ or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-of-love-a-time-travel-lisa-mason/1104160569.
The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT! Find the beautiful trade paperback at https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Time-Travel/dp/1975853172/ or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-gilded-age-a-time-travel-lisa-mason/1106038566.
The Garden of Abracadabra (“Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy . . . I want to read more!) On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW IN PRINT! Find the beautiful trade paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978148291/ or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-garden-of-abracadabra-lisa-mason/1108093507
Arachne (a Locus Hardover Bestseller) is an ebook on US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle worldwide in France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle. Back in Print! Find the beautiful trade paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/198435602X or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arachne-lisa-mason/1000035633.
Cyberweb (sequel to Arachne) is on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also Kindle worldwide on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle. Back in Print at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1984356941 or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cyberweb-lisa-mason/1001932064
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle world wide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW IN PRINT at https://www.amazon.com/Strange-Ladies-Stories-Lisa-Mason/dp/1981104380/ or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strange-ladies-lisa-mason/1115861322.
One Day in the Life of Alexa (“Five stars! An appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms”). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. Order the beautiful trade paperback NOW IN PRINT at https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-Alexa-Lisa-Mason/dp/1546783091 or IN PRINT at Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-day-in-the-life-of-alexa-lisa-mason/1126431598.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition, A Lily Modjeska Mystery (Five stars) On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
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