50 Shades of Greitens?!

I live in Missouri and have since 1993. Our family survived the giant flooding of the St. Louis area back then as we chose a suburb on high ground that wasn’t affected too much by that natural disaster.  I bring that up as an introduction to a political disaster that has hit Missouri this week, brought about by one person’s hugely bad choice.

 

I woke up on Wednesday morning, as I typically do, and proceeded to make the morning coffee, turning on the kitchen radio and listening to the news.  First up was ABC Radio News, at the top of the hour, 7:00 am.  What then followed almost caused me to do a spit-take of my first sip of coffee, at 7:05, with the Missourinet news report.  It was reported that the state’s governor,Eric Greitens, who had campaigned as a conservative republican, a family man, a US navy seal, had had an affair right before he ran for the governorship and that blackmail was involved. Missourinet went on to report that St. Louis’s  CBS tv affliate station KMOV was reporting this, that the station had done a special investigative report all about this breaking news.  I quickly went over to the computer and searched for KMOV and found their report, with lurid details about the governor’s tawdry affair with his  hair stylist, and how he supposedly had blackmailed her into never revealing this affair.  KMOV   had interviewed the hair stylist’s former husband who had provided details about his then-wife’s blackmail threat.    I was shocked by this news and quickly texted my husband about it all as he had already gone into work that morning and had missed this news story.  I then texted our kids about it and one of them came up with the quip that I used for my blog’s title; the hair stylist’s husband’s commentary for KMOV mentioned some strange methods one would use in an affair, which made all of us think of that 50 Shades movie and book.

Since all of that news came out, the governor’s office has issued several statements. First, Mrs. Greitens and the governor acknowledged that their marriage went through a rough patch prior to the campaign, that they have healed their marriage and Mrs. Greitens has  forgiven her husband.  Mrs. Greitens also issued a statement, really a warning of sorts, for the gossip mongers to leave her and their two young sons alone.  The governor’s latest statement is that while he did have the affair, the story about blackmailing the other woman is untrue.

One of my favorite radio podcasts, The Three Martini Lunch, discussed this story.  I had to agree with podcast hosts Jim Geraghty and Greg Corombos that the audio of the blackmailed woman, given to KMOV by the woman’s now ex-husband certainly sounds authentic-her choking voice trying to confess to her husband about the affair is heart-breaking as she mentions the blackmailing.

At all of this news that hit Missourians this week, I have some advice.  If you are ever, ever thinking about running for a public office, please don’t do so if you have made lousy choices in life.  Breaking your marriage vows being an example of a lousy choice.  If you haven’t made such a lousy choice and want to run for public office, consider some safeguards in your public life: don’t go to a hair stylist if your’re a guy, just go to the nearby neighborhood barber shop.  Also, adopting Vice President Pence’s policy of not eating dinner alone with a female isn’t a bad policy, or if you have to, make sure the wife is with you!  Voters don’t want to find out after they’ve voted for you that you are an idiot!!

From listening to another podcast during Christmas break, Need to Know, hosted by Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, I discovered a possible solution for Governor Greitens.  In 1961, in Great Britain, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, had an affair with a 19 year old model.  In March 0f 1963, this information was leaked to the British press and Profumo, at first, denied all of the accusations. (If you have watched Netflix’s original series, The Crown, Season 2 mentions this a bit.)  A few weeks after making his denial speech to the House of Commons, Profumo  confessed and admitted to the affair.  What also made this such a scandal is that the model in the affair, Christy Keeler, was also fooling around with a Soviet naval attache who was stationed in London, and that there may have been a security risk; British government info Profumo may have blabbed about to Keeler getting relayed to the Soviet guy. Profumo resigned  and here’s the rest of the story I learned from the podcast.  Instead of trying to rally  his political career, Profumo accepted that his political life was over, and turned to a quieter pursuit,working as a volunteer for a charity based in the East End of London.( If any of you are fans of Call the Midwife, it is set in the East End of London.) He basically disappeared into that life, atoning for what he had done and worked at that charity for 40 years as a volunteer.

My advice to Governor Greitens, is to finish out your term as governor, if you’re not forced out.  Bow out of a political life and find a charity to support quietly as a volunteer, as Profumo did.  When Profumo passed away at the age of 91, he was surrounded by his wife and children, showing that forgiveness did indeed happen for that family and I do truly hope it can happen for Missouri’s govenor and  his family.   

Here’s to hoping Missourians won’t be hit with a news story such as this in the weeks to come. Hopeful that we can get to Spring safely and dodging of the flu and bad weather will be all that we in the Show-Me state will have to contend with!

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My Classic Movie Pick: 1955 Western, The Violent Men

During Turner Classic Movies’s Summer Under the Stars in August of 2017, I dvred several movies starring Glenn Ford.  Ford was one of the 31 stars featured that month.  Ford made several westerns in his career and a new one to me was released  in 1955, The Violent Men.   The film is  dramatic with a capital D, set in the rugged west of New Mexico, with a lot of action and plot twists.

 

Columbia Pictures bought the rights of the novel, Smoky Valley, by Donald Hamilton and hired Harry Keiner to write the  screenplay.   Direction was by Rudolph Mate and the  producer was Lewis J.  Rachmil.  The soaring music was by Max Steiner and the film was made with cinemascope for a better look via the widescreen with the added splash of  technicolor.  This film sounds and looks great.   The cast is large, and there are two actresses in it I was not familiar with.  Glenn Ford, obviously the protagonist, plays John Parrish, a former Yankee soldier turned cattle rancher who after a 3 year try, has decided to take his fiancee Caroline(May Wynn-one of the actresses I wasn’t familiar with) back east with him, where they’ll marry and he’ll find something else to do for a living.

Moving east will take money and John tells Caroline, her father, and John’s ranch hands that he plans on selling his cattle ranch to area cattle baron Lew Wilkison(played by Edward G. Robinson-yes! the actor most associated with playing gangsters, is in a western!).  John does add a warning to his announcement, if Wilkison doesn’t offer him what his ranch is really worth, he’ll turn down the offer.  Caroline isn’t happy to hear this, as she wants to get east and urges John to take whatever offer he receives.  The ranch hands are outraged, and tell John that Wilkison has sent his henchmen out and about to harass the smaller ranchers in order to drive them away and they thought John was a better boss, a better man who wouldn’t cut and run.  John is left between a rock and a hard place, and goes off to see Wilkison.

Wilkison has an impressive spread, a small man in size but not in ego. Despite being crippled due to a range war that happened 12 years in the past, Lew Wilkison still inspires a sort of fear amongst the local folks.  Lew vowed to buy up all the land in a large area to please his wife, Martha,(Barbara Stanwyck) so that they would be the leading family in the New Mexico territory.  One would think if one were pursuing a family dynasty one would have a passel of heirs, but no, there is only one daughter, Judith(Dianne Foster-the other actress I wasn’t familiar with.)  Lew worships the ground Martha walks on yet daughter Judith hates her mother-that plot point isn’t given much explanation, but as the story moves forward, we’ll see reasons as to why Judith is right to be wary of her mother.  Lew’s younger brother, Cole(Brian Keith, with dark hair and mustache, not looking like Uncle Bill from Family Affair at all!) helps with running the ranch and reason one for Judith to hate mama: Martha and Cole are carrying on a torrid affair under Lew’s nose!!!  Cole, not a great guy, is two-timing Martha with a Mexican girl Elena(Lita Milan); the phrase that there is no honor among thieves comes to my mind.  A shout out to a young Richard Jaeckel is in order too, as he is his smarmy, snarling best as henchman #1 Wade Matlock, murdering the sheriff in cold blood, under orders from someone at Wilkison’s ranch, but Lew denies giving out any such order when John confronts him about this event.  John, refusing to be charmed by Martha, also refuses Lew’s weak offer for his ranch, and the Wilkison’s new motto(not Judith’s) is to drive John Parrish from the territory and all the rest of the small ranchers trying to hold on to their properties.

Lew and Martha Wilkison, power couple of New Mexico territory

Judith, who hates her mother, Martha

Martha with her lover, Cole

 

John casually confronting Matlock in the saloon.

Edward G. Robinson, the more I explore the films he was in, the more I am impressed with his acting abilities and his talent.  He wasn’t only good at playing an underworld gangster, he played a gentle father in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, a spoof of his gangster self in Larceny, Inc., a wise insurance inspector in Double Indemnity, and now as ranch baron Lew in The Violent Men.  If you aren’t familiar with all of his films, make that a goal for yourself in 2018!  I will give a tiny spoiler, at the film’s end, Lew accepts  a giant dose of mea culpa and it’s good to see that happen.

Barbara Stanwyck is good in this film, too.  I mentally noted that her character is sort of a western version of Lady Macbeth.  She is power behind her husband’s throne, yet conniving for her own power in several ways, leaving her husband oblivious to her machinations.  She will receive a shock in the film and her just desserts, two more tiny spoilers.

The film may pop up again on TCM this year, and it is available via the TCM Shop and at Amazon.  I’ll end the post with two great posters that advertised the film in Italy, back in 1955.  I find these two posters very artistic.  I also found a great shot of Ford and Robinson on the set, making me hope that there was a great sense of fun and camaraderie despite the film being  a dark drama.

 

Robinson and Ford on set

 

It Wasn’t a Bomb, but a Fruitcake!

This morning as I was lolling in bed, my attempt at sleeping in failing, I turned on the radio and listened to the national news with my eyes closed.  One news story caught my attention- on December 26th, a lone, wrapped Christmas present with no name on it was sitting under a Christmas tree at a Seattle ferry terminal.  Washington State Troopers were notified about the suspicious package and and in turn, they notified the terminal’s officials.  The officials temporarily evacuated the area, halted ferry boats out at sea from coming in for 30 minutes so that a bomb squad could examine and deal with the package.  Soon after the bomb squad began their work, it was determined that the unknown package was a fruitcake. Phew!  

I confess, I enjoy a good slice of fruitcake.  I am the only one in our household who does enjoy the holiday offering, with a good mug of tea or coffee to wash it down with.  I have never tried to make my own fruitcake from scratch and usually purchase one from a grocery store’s bakery department.  After this morning’s news story, I decided to find out how fruitcakes came to exist at Christmas time.

The Romans get the credit for first creating a “fruit cake”, meaning a barley batter that had added nuts and pomegranite seeds and raisins mixed in.  The Barbarians must have liked that recipe because versions of it were soon being made all over Europe. In the  16th century, when sugar was introduced via America, and it was seen to be a great way to preserve fruits, candied fruits became a product many consumers could purchase and making a fruitcake at home became easier.  Purchasing a fruit cake from a bakery also became more affordable.  Some countries’ versions do soak the fruits and/or the cake in brandy or rum and some don’t.  Some countries put frostings on their fruit cakes and some don’t.  New Zealanders often enjoy  a lightly frosted fruitcake as the main dessert at a wedding.

America has two main fruitcake companies to order from: The Claxton Bakery in Claxton, GA and Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, TX.  1913 was the first year in the United States that mail-order fruitcakes could  be ordered and sent as gifts.  One last wacky bit  of fruitcake information is that since 1995, on the first Saturday of January, in Manitou Springs, CO, there is The Great Fruitcake Toss.  Contestants vie for the honor of being the person, or team, that can throw a fruitcake the farthest.   

I think it would be fun to attend the “Toss” in CO, but would personally prefer to tuck into a slice of fruitcake with a steaming mug of Constant Comment Tea, Orange Pekoe flavor.

To those who follow my blog and wonder if I have been ok, as I haven’t written as many blog posts in 2017, I am in great health and have had to take online college courses in order to update my teaching credentials in order to receive a Missouri teaching certificate.  One class is done, two more to go! Hopefully, I will be able to pay more attention to my blog posts in 2018, but in case I don’t, it’s due to those online college courses!

Source cited:

“Fruitcake package temporarily halts Seattle ferry service”. Associated Press. 26 December 2017. Web. 27 December 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Boy Scouts of America: If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

I am a mom of a boy scout.  I have 4 sons, and the youngest one has participated in scouting and has stuck with the program.  Hopefully, in a couple more years, he’ll reach Eagle Scout, the highest level in the scouting program.  His troop is a part of the River Trails District in our part of Missouri, under the Ozark Trails Council, based in Springfield, MO.  In July, we received an email about an upcoming meeting happening in early August, to discuss the possiblity of adding girls to the Boy Scouts, and wanting parental opinions from the River Trails District.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be able to attend the meeting held in Rolla, or the other two meetings held in other areas of the state guided by  the Council,  but I hoped common sense would prevail at these 3 meetings.   

 

Fast forward to a week or so ago, and the BSA National HQ’s announced that girls would now be allowed to join Boy Scouts.  I was dismayed at this news.  From my understanding of the announcement, it will be left up to individual troops if they will let their existing troops become coed, or if they will also begin troops exclusively for girls.  My objections are that for 100 plus years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a group for boys.  Not only for boys to learn about outdoor activities, camping, fishing, hiking, respecting nature, canoeing, kayaking, etc. but for boys to learn leadership skills.  In the 1969, Venturers were added, and then there are the many  Explorer troops, which are all co-ed groups within Boy Scouts.  Since those co-ed programs already exist, I don’t see the need for adding girls to the regular cub scout packs and boy scout troops.

The Girl Scouts of America are also not pleased by this new announcement.  Their organization, a part of American life since 1912, doesn’t want this new option to pull girls away from their organization and I don’t blame them for their concerns.  Here is a link  to a report by NPR, aired on August 24th, 2017,  about the Girl Scouts negative opinion as to the Boy Scouts possibly letting girls join Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops.

I can’t agree more with the Girl Scouts opinion.  For over 100 years the two organizations have operated with similar goals, one for boys and one for girls.  In my opinion both organizations have worked well for the youth of this country for a long time.  Both of these organizations present unique opportunities for boys and girls and one group doesn’t need to possibly undercut the other by possibly taking away potential scouts.  I say, leave the two organizations as they are and drop this new plan before more damage is done to the two scouting organizations.  From what I have seen since the BSA announced this new policy, longtime adults in scouting are dropping out and no girls have been knocking on my son’s troop’s door to join.  Again, I say to the BSA, drop this new idea before more damage is done by it’s implementation.  It’s a new idea that’s not wanted or needed.

The Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon: 1952’s Ivanhoe

Sir Walter Scott wrote thrilling action-adventure novels with intricate plots, often about his country when it was in it’s early days; Scotland.  He also wrote his best known novel about that neighboring country, and sometime foe of Scotland, England, set during the rule of King Richard I.  In the 1950s, using rich technicolor, the major movie studios were on a “historical” film fix, and MGM was no exception.  Wanting to make money with such a film, producer Pandro S. Berman got the greenlight to make a lavish film version of Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe.  Curious to me, that the majority of the cast was British or had ties to the UK, but for the lead, American actor Robert Taylor was selected to play Ivanhoe.  Two beautiful actresses were chosen to play the two women that love Ivanhoe, Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, and Joan Fontaine as Rowena.

Today, October 22nd, would have been Joan Fontaine’s 100th birthday.  She happened to be the younger sister of another great actress, Olivia de Haviland, who is still alive and kicking, at 101!  To celebrate this great actress’s life and career, be sure to visit Crystal’s blog site at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Virginie’s at The Wonderful World of Cinema to read all of the great posts from other classic film fans.  

Joan, I felt, lived an exotic type of life.  She was born in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents.  Sadly, her parents’ marriage failed, and she and her sister Olivia were taken to CA by their mother, who had herself been on the stage as a young woman, and I think had an idea to have her daughters also pursue acting as a career.  Olivia had successes first, and then Joan did, also.  Joan’s first film role was in 1935’s No More Ladies playing a very minor role, but by 1940, better parts were coming her way and in 1941, she won the Best Actress Oscar for her part as the wife convinced her husband was out to kill her in Suspicion.

Ivanhoe, was an ensemble film, in that there were quite a few characters  all revolving around the hero, Ivanhoe.  For those not familiar with the novel or the film, I’ll explain the plot, but it will contain spoilers. Wilfrid of  Ivanhoe(Robert Taylor)  is the son of a proud Anglo-Saxon man, Sir Cedric of Ivanhoe(Finlay Currie).  Sir Cedric is also an angry man, angry that the dastardly Normans have conquered England, have brought their way of government and laws and taxes to crush the Anglo-Saxons with, and he is also mad that his son, Wilfrid, has decided to run off on a wild goose chase to find King Richard(Norman Wooland) who, while traveling to fight in the current crusade,has disappeared.  Wilfrid does find King Richard, he is a prisoner of King Leopold of Austria, who is holding King Richard for a huge ransom.  King Richard’s slimy little brother, Prince John(Guy Rolfe), knows all about this but is enjoying ruling for his absent brother.  Prince John decides to do nothing  to spring his brother out of King Leopold’s dungeon.

Super serious Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe returns to his father’s home to ask his father for help in procuring the ransom money, but his father, Sir Cedric, refuses to raise any money to rescue a Norman King! Ivanhoe also takes time during his visit to woo his love, the fair Lady Rowena(Joan Fontaine), who is his father’s ward.  Several wayward travelers arrive at Sir Cedric’s door, asking for food and a place to sleep for the night: two Norman knights, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert(George Sanders) and Sir Hugh de Bracy(Robert Douglas) and Isaac of York, a Jewish money-lender(Felix Aylmer).  During the meal, the Normans insult the Anglo-Saxons, they ogle Lady Rowena, and as word has spread that there’s a money-lender at Sir Cedric’s, several men attack Isaac when he is checking on his  horse at the stable. The evil men’s plan to steal Isaac’s money fails when Ivanhoe rescues Isaac.  Sir Cedric has ordered his son out of his sight by this time, so Ivanhoe offers to escort Isaac to his home.  Wamba(Emlyn Williams), Sir Cedric’s jester, asks to be Ivanhoe’s squire, and accompanies Ivanhoe on the trip to Isaac’s home.  Once there, Isaac, so moved by Ivanhoe’s rescue of him, gives him the money to pay for King Richard’s ransom. Isaac also asks Ivanhoe to beseech the King that Jews in England won’t be persecuted anymore.  Isaac’s beautiful daughter, Rebecca(Elizabeth Taylor), quietly gives  Ivanhoe her late mother’s jewels to add to the ransom amount. This is  her way of thanking Ivanhoe for saving her father’s life.  Ivanhoe and Rebecca immediately are attracted to one another, but neither will act on their feelings due to the strict rules of the day forbidding Jews from  marrying Gentiles.

Isaac thanking Ivanhoe for saving his life

Joan Fontaine as Lady Rowena

I won’t go into too many more plot points, but there is a great jousting scene, a castle siege scene, Rebecca, Rowena, and Sir Cedric all get kidnapped by the evil Norman Knights, Sir Brian and Sir Hugh, as the two men are lusting after Rebecca and Rowena.  The two knights also know that holding these three hostage will bring Ivanhoe to them and they can kill him.  Prince John gets a whiff of a rumor that his big brother has been sprung from that dungeon in Austria, and he’s becoming a nervous wreck.   Of course, it will be Ivanhoe to the rescue, with some help from Robin Hood and his Merry Men(but they go by different names in this film.)

Evil, whiny, Prince John

Baddie Sir Brian trying to explain to Rebecca his love for her.

Lady Rowena thanks Rebecca for all she had done to save Ivanhoe’s life

Robert Taylor, plays his role well; very stoic throughout.  He doesn’t laugh much  because he has a lot of heroic things to do! George Sanders is great as nasty Norman Sir Brian, but then as the film progresses, we see his inner struggle with falling in love with a Jewish woman who doesn’t love him.  Elizabeth Taylor is gorgeous in the film, and plays her character with sincerity and warmth and a quiet strength.  Felix Aylmer, Finlay Currie, and Emlynn Williams are superb in their supporting roles, as is Guy Rolfe as Prince John.  Joan Fontaine, while not billed before Elizabeth Taylor on the movie poster, plays Rowena as a calm, and wise woman, who just wants peace for England, and for peace to exist between the man she loves, Ivanhoe, and his father.

To see this rousing epic, that was one of the top 4 films in England in 1952, and earned MGM big box office profits, seek out Ivanhoe.  As luck would have it, TCM will be airing Ivanhoe this week, on Oct. 25th, at 4:00 pm eastern/3:00 pm central.  The film is also available via Amazon’s instant rent.  Here is the link to Youtube to see the British version of the film trailer.

Lovely Joan Fontaine

 

 

 

 

The Great Breening Blogathon

A couple years ago, Turner Classic Movies aired on their “Silent Sunday Nights” the 1925 film Ben-Hur.  I had seen the 1959 version many times, and my husband decided to buy it when it first came out on dvd.  I decided to dvr this silent version and then settled in one afternoon to watch it.  For a silent film, it was fast-paced and told the story of a Jewish man providentially meeting Jesus during pivotal moments in his life quite well.  However, during one crowd scene, I was shocked when Roman soldiers were jostling the people in the crowd and some of the women’s toga tops fell to their waists! Here, in a silent film was nudity which led to my mind harboring comments and questions: Naked women in Ben-Hur! That didn’t happen in the Charleton Heston version! Why weren’t the women given costumes that would stay in their proper places? Were silent era films more risque?   

I decided to do a bit of research on this aspect of American film.  When did censorship in the movies begin and why did it begin?  One needs to look at the sport of baseball for the inspiration of starting up a wing of the motion picture industry who’s goal it was to make sure films shown to American audiences wouldn’t be offensive.  In 1919, The Black Sox Scandal rocked the sporting world in the US when it was revealed that 8 members of the Chicago White Sox purposely lost the World Series in order to gain money from a gambling ring.  To soothe away this awful stain on baseball, Major League Baseball hired Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be the new league commissioner to help restore the image of baseball to the American public.  In 1922, Hollywood was facing lower box office numbers due to some movies labeled too risque for the public’s taste and due to  various stars’  scandals  and others in the industry. The major movie studios hired their own “commissioner”, Will Hays, to enforce a production code.  The Hays Code, as it came to be known, didn’t become truly enforced until 1934, so there are movies made before 1934 known as Pre-Code, which contain plots that were shocking for the times in which they were made and shown to audiences.

The version with no nudity.

Helping Hays to enforce this code was Joseph Breen, hence the title of this blogathon.  When a request for a  film under production to make a change in the plot, script, etc., the request was usually made by Breen.  Breen successfully enforced the Production Code from 1934-1954, then he retired.  His assistant, Geoffrey Shurlock, took over for Breen but under Shurlock’s watch, the Code was phased away, and eventually replaced with the ratings system for films.

I still wondered as to why there was nudity allowed in the silent film version of Ben-Hur.  I did some research on that film’s director, Fred Niblo.  Born in Nebraska to immigrant parents who divorced, I really couldn’t find much about the director that would point to any controversies in his life.  For more on Niblo, here is a link to an interesting bio written about him by one of his sons.  Over at the blog, Movies Silently, a wonderful resource is there comparing and contrasting the two versions of Ben-Hur, plus more background about the novel the films were based upon as well as it’s history when Ben-Hur played on Broadway. I wonder how those chariot races were shown on stage??

For more blog posts about Joseph Breen and why or how a film got the Breening treatment, be sure to visit Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s site for the “Great Breening Blogathon”, and learn about American film-making history along the way!   

 

My Classic Movie Pick: 1968’s Blackbeard’s Ghost

Turner Classic Movies cable channel decided that during the month of September they would show films from the “Disney Vault”, so to speak.  Not the animated films Disney is most famous for but the films the studio made with human actors and actresses, and a lot of special effects.  A couple weeks ago, I watched one that was new to me.  I decided to see it due to it’s cast: Peter Ustinov(Yes! The oscar winning british actor was in a Disney film!!), Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette, and Elsa Lanchester.  From 1968, in living color, Blackbeard’s Ghost  is a fun movie to view.

 

Dean Jones, as he often was cast, is the hapless hero of the film.  He plays Steve Walker, newly hired track coach for small Godolphin College, on the Carolina coast. ( Having lived in SC myself, there is a bit of historical lore that Blackbeard did hang out in  Charleston, SC but since I heard no southern accents in this film, I assumed Godolphin was in NC; the film doesn’t clearly specify the geographic location.)  The college booked Steve a room at an old inn, Blackbeard’s Inn, and the place is run by a group of little old ladies(Elsa Lanchester being the main owner) who are all descended from Blackbeard, who evidently got around-ahem,  he had a lot of wives, but wasn’t a polygamist!

When Steve arrives at the inn, there is a festival occurring, as a fundraiser for the little old ladies to be able to buy off the rest of the mortgage and get a local gambler off of their backs.  Gambler Silky Seymour(Joby Baker) wants to buy out the mortgage for the inn, take it away from the old bags(as he calls them) and turn the place into a casino.  Since the inn sits on a small island off shore, the state government can’t tax this casino.  Suzanne Pleshette(Prof. Jo Ann Baker) is at the festival running a Kissing Booth.  Steve can’t help but notice her and hands over a dollar for a kiss.  It’s s fun “meet cute” moment for the two characters.  Steve soon learns that the football coach at Godolphin, Pinetop Purvis(Michael Conrad of Hill Street Blues fame) is very interested in Jo Ann, and has a lot of distain for the track team. We soon learn that the track team members are a bunch of non-athletic bumblers, nice guys, but horrible at track.  An auction is announced, and to impress Jo Ann, Steve decides to bid on an antique bed warmer.  He is also showing local gambling kingpin Silky that he’s not afraid to financially donate to the little old ladies so they can save their inn.  Coach Purvis sees that Steve is bidding, realizes it may impress Jo Ann, so he joins in the bidding war to also impress her.  Steve wins the bed warmer, impresses Jo Ann, makes Purvis irritated, as well as Silky.  When Steve retires for the evening, he accidentally breaks off the handle on the bedwarmer and finds in it a scroll, with spells written on it.  He laughs at his find, and feeling silly, he reads a spell outloud.  With lightening flashes, thunder rumblings, and the camera panning over to a portrait of a creepy looking gal with huge eyes, Blackbeard’s ghost appears, and only Steve can see and hear him.

The Kissing Booth part 1

The Kissing Booth part 2

 

Bidding against Purvis at the auction.

Steve meets Blackbird’s Ghost for the first time.

Blackbird scolding the ex-wife who put a curse on him.

Blackbeard(Peter Ustinov, having a lot of fun) tells Steve that one of his ex-wives, who he accused of witchcraft, was being burned at the stake and she put a curse on him.  Until he conducts an act of human kindness, he will remain in “Limbo”.   I won’t delve into the plot anymore, but I will leave you with questions! Can the little old ladies save their inn from the clutches of the greedy gambler, Silky?  Can Steve turn the track team around into winners?  Can Steve win the heart of Jo Ann, and thwart Coach Purvis??  Will Blackbeard do a deed of human kindness and be able to exit Limbo?

Blackbeard suggesting how he can help Steve and the team.

Having fun with the cheerleaders!

Blackbeard meddling during the track meet.

Blackbeard trying to nab Jo Ann’s purse, but for a good reason.

Gambling kingpin Silky Seymore and his henchmen.

As I wrote earlier, Ustinov has a lot of fun playing the pirate.  He is feisty, crafty, but not outright evil, as the real Blackbeard probably was.  He and Jones have a good rapport in all of their scenes together, and with Jones’s Steve being the only one who can see the ghost, when he is yelling at Ustinov, and bystanders only see Steve yelling at the air, it makes for some funny moments of miscommunication.  Disney’s special effects team had a lot to do in this film, to show the ghost’s antics in his efforts to help Steve and the little old ladies, and the track team.  Pleshette and Jones make a cute couple, which they did in some other Disney films, and it’s great to see them together in this film too.

My only caveat is that this film is probably going to be boring to young kids, 5 and younger, and the scene where there is a volatile reaction to Steve reciting the spell may scare kids who are sensitive to such stuff on films.  For pre-teens, teens and adults, this is a fun film to view.  So get that popcorn popping, and as the weather turns colder, view this film-perhaps a good choice for Halloween weekend?  Some kind soul has put the entire film on Youtube!  Since the film was made in 1968, it possibly is still available at your local dvd renting store.  It is also available to buy or view through instant rent at Amazon.