Fog Of Confusion

For you to understand the approaching train wreck that is my aging brain, you need only to look at this email exchange between me and a Reader:

Thanks for your post about Michael Caine this morning.
Thought I’d add my $0.02, if you don’t mind. One of my favorite movies that he made was “The Eagle Has Landed”.
I wondered if you like it, and if not, why not? I’m not much of a discerning literature or movie connoisseur as you are, but I like to learn. — Tim

Love it.  I have the movie AND the novel trilogy.  (Higgins is one of my favorite modern authors, ever since Eye Of The Needle.)

Well, you all know where this is going, right?  Hold on:

I haven’t read the novel, thanks for the heads up. I’ll put the trilogy on my reading list. — Tim

Then about ten minutes later, some pieces of Truth came upon me, and I hastily continued:

I’m losing my mind.  The author of Eye Of The Needle was Ken Follett, not Jack Higgins.  DOH!!!!
But Higgins did write the trilogy:  Eagle Has Landed, Eagle Has Flown, Night Of The Fox.
Although Follett also wrote a novel called The Fox.
All very confusing to an old man like me.

The latter is not to be confused with D.H. Lawrence’s novella of the same name, nor with the Peter Sellers / Vittorio De Sica movie After The Fox, which featured the luscious Maria Grazia Buccella:

The movie was derived from a play of the same name by Paul  Neil Simon.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Anyway:  Jack Higgins wrote The Eagle Has Landed  and its two sequels (a.k.a. the Liam Devlin Trilogy ).

And Ken Follett wrote The Eye Of The Needle and other fine stories.

Everyone got that?  Good.

Now explain the middle bit to me.

Well Deserved

I have always loved Michael Caine’s acting work — whether his debut starring performance in Zulu, followed by Alfie, Educating Rita, Get Carter, and of course the exquisite Second Hand Lions, among countless others.

In fact, Caine has been one of the hardest-working actors of his, or any, generation — his first appearance on screen was in 1946 — so if Sir Michael has decided to pack it in at the ripe old age of 88, then good for him, say I.

What I always liked about Michael Caine was that he never forgot his roots — growing up in absolute poverty in London’s East End, he remained rooted in reality and unlike so many others, he never let the Hollywood bug get its claws into him.

I think I have more than a few of his movies in my DVD collection — ah, I see Zulu, Harry Brown, Pulp and Little Voice., not to mention appearances in A Bridge Too Far and Battle of Britain... choices, choices, choices.

Image Problem

I’ve always thought that the problem with Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond is that Craig doesn’t look like Ian Fleming’s description and characterization of Bond as a man with a cultured veneer, and a tough, ruthless man barely concealed just underneath.  It’s why Sean Connery was so good:

…but the rest were too heavy on the “cultured” (Roger Moore) or else pretty boys (Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton) with no “rough” in evidence anywhere.  This doesn’t mean they’re bad actors (I’m a huge fan of both Moore and Brosnan), but they were just miscast.

By comparison, Daniel Craig is the complete opposite:  a street thug in a tuxedo, no sophistication to be found anywhere.

Which is why his swan song as Bond at the world premiere of whatever they’re calling the  latest car on the 007 money train is so jarring:

The jacket’s too short by two inches, and… pink?  No doubt the producers are setting us up for the next iteration of 007:  Jamie Bond, from West Hollywood.

To make things even worse, his co-star Leah Seydoux looks like a man in drag, and the movie has been dubbed the “wokest Bond movie ever“… to the whirring sound of Ian Fleming spinning in his grave.

All this means I’m unlikely ever to see this movie, but I (and people like me) am no longer relevant to the 007 Marketing Department.

Oh Yeah, I Almost Forgot

There’s a new Kim du Toit book on sale.


Just be warned:  it’s nothing like my usual fare.

The idea came to me shortly after Connie died, and I wrote most of it while staying at Free Market Towers.

I’m still working on Skeleton Coast;  while it is completed (finally!), I have to reformat it the whole thing to make it work in both print and Kindle, which requires almost a line-by-line edit.  It should all be done by the end of next week.

Plus One

John Nolte provides a list of Clint Eastwood’s “offbeat” movies and characters, and I can’t really argue with any of them.

I just wish he’d made it a “top six” and added the much-ignored but superb Tightrope, wherein Clinty plays a New Orleans cop who is nothing like his Harry Callahan forebears:  he’s a single dad, vulnerable, a below-average cop who makes mistakes almost every step of the way.  He doesn’t even carry a .44 Magnum, but some teeny little .38 snubbie.

But the best part is that his investigation takes him into the murky world of deviant sex — which at first repels him, but after some time, and despite all his better instincts, starts to attract him and in so doing, draws him into his prey’s world, making him the hunted.

One of the most attractive features of Clint’s typical movie personae  is that he is strong in his beliefs, and when he straddles the line between right and wrong, he’s always aware of the line.  Not in Tightrope.  And his portrayal of the moral confusion and temptation to which he begins to succumb makes it, I think, one of his most compelling performances.

Watch it if you can get it.


A couple Christmases back, New Wife admitted to #2 Son that she had no idea what animé was, whereupon he gasped in shock.  I was a little scornful, because my only  exposure to the genre had been the kiddie junk seen on TV during the kids’ childhood.  And New Wife can hardly bear to watch cartoons, of any kind.

But the thought obviously rankled him, and being a thoughtful and considerate boy (okay, man:  he’s now 31), when he came on Monday to visit us for his birthday week (family tradition, don’t ask), he brought New Wife an animé movie to watch.  And so we watched it together last night.

What a revelation.

Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress  is an absolute tour de force.  The story is compelling, the time/space continuum jumps are seamless — the latter are better than any other movie I’ve ever seen, in any format — and the plot is faultlessly written.  It is, quite honestly, a perfect movie.

#2 Son also revealed to us that his favorite Christmas (?) movie is Tokyo Godfathers  (also directed by Satoshi Kon), which means it’s high on my list.

If you’re a fan of the animé genre, you’re probably laughing at me right now (and that’s okay);  but if like me you’re an ignoramus of the genre, then you owe it to yourself to watch it — just as much as if you’d never seen a black-and-white movie before, you’d have to watch one of the classics made by Ernst Lubitsch, Elia Kazan or John Ford.

He’s left us a few others, carefully selected because he knows my taste in movies.  I can’t wait to watch them.

Afterthought:  I have to admit that this is not the first time #2 Son has done this to me:  he also turned me on to Archer  and Arrested Development, to name but two  Needless to say, I trust his judgment a great deal.  Oh, and one of his Christmas presents to me, many years back, was the boxed set of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’s dance movies.