First Episode of Playhouse 90

Wednesday, April 26, AD 2017


The things you find on You tube!  The first episode of Playhouse 90, the hour and half long weekly series that aired on CBS from 1956-1960.  This episode, Forbidden Area, was written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer.  Introduced by Jack Palance, this live Cold War espionage drama starred Charlton Heston and Vincent Price.  That television used to present such quality fare makes one weep for the current waste of airtime programming, usually filled with sniggering obscenity, mindless violence, and almost no thought, that makes up most television schedules.

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3 Responses to First Episode of Playhouse 90

Feast Day of the Beheading of John the Baptist

Monday, August 29, AD 2016

August 29 is the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist, the herald of Christ.  Charlton Heston, in the video clip above, gave a powerful portrayal of the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told, capturing the raw courage and energy that animated John the Baptist as a result of the blazing faith he had in God.  Like Elijah, John came out of the wilderness to fearlessly proclaim the word of God, but what Elijah and the other prophets could only glimpse darkly, the coming of the Messiah, John saw with his own eyes.  The last and greatest of the prophets, John fulfilled the role of Elijah as proclaimed by the prophet Malachi:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.

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One Response to Feast Day of the Beheading of John the Baptist

New Orleans Is Ready For Its Close Up Mr. DeMille

Sunday, January 4, AD 2015



American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film. It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans, the two hundredth anniversary of which is coming up this week on January 8, 2015. The 1938 film The Buccaneer was directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte. Two future stars have bit parts in the film: Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan. Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.


The 1958 remake was also to have been directed by Cecil B. DeMille, but he was seriously ill at that time, and relegated himself to the role of executive producer, turning the director’s chair over to Anthony Quinn, his then son-in-law, the one and only film that Quinn ever directed. DeMille was unhappy with the film and it received fairly negative reviews, although I think the battle sequences are superior to the first film. Yul Brynner plays Jean Lafitte and Charlton Heston is a commanding Andrew Jackson. Like Hugh Sothern, Heston would portray Jackson twice, the first time being in The President’s Lady (1953), the tale of the great love story of Rachel Jackson (Susan Hayward) and Andrew Jackson. Future stars in this version include Inger Stevens, Claire Bloom and Lorne Green. Adequate coverage of the battle is given in each film, although not much detail. The battle of course is merely an adjunct to the romantic tale of Jean Lafitte. Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.

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Major Dundee

Saturday, March 8, AD 2014



Something for the weekend.  A musical medley from the movie Major Dundee (1965).  Sam Pekinpah’s flawed, unfinished masterpiece, the film tells the fictional account of a mixed force of Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners who join forces to hunt and ultimately defeat an Apache raider, Sierra Charriba, in 1864-65.  Charlton Heston gives an outstanding performance as Major Amos Dundee, a man battling his own personal demons of a failed military career, as he commands this Union-Confederate force through northern Mexico on the trail of the Apache, with fighting often threatening to break out between the Union and Confederate soldiers.  Use of Confederate prisoners as Union soldiers in the West was not uncommon.  Six Union infantry regiments of Confederate prisoners, called “Galvanized Yankees”, served in the West.   The final section of the film involving a battle between Major Dundee’s force and French Lancers, the French occupying Mexico at the time, has always struck me as one of the best filmed combat sequences in any movie.

Here is a fan made trailer for the restored edition that was released in 2005 that included much of the footage that was cut over Pekinpah’s protests:

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4 Responses to Major Dundee

  • Sadly, the studio (or whomever it was –I don’t have a copy of the restoration) went and wrecked the restoration with a new score that in my opinion is inferior to the original.

    I love the director’s cut of The Wild Bunch. The extended edition of Major Dundee, not so much.

    Having said that: Charlton Heston at his monotone staccato best. “I have three orders of march….”

  • I have the restored version and I agree that the new score is a waste. Fortunately you have the option of playing it with the original score which is what I did when I viewed it for the umpteenth time last Friday night.

    The dialogue is brilliant throughout the film. I greatly enjoy this exchange between Heston and Jim Hutton, portraying Lieutenant Graham, the archetype of eager young shavetails everywhere and everywhen:

    Maj. Amos Dundee: Lieutenant Graham?

    Lt. Graham: Yes, sir.

    Maj. Amos Dundee: I gave you a specific order, and you failed to carry it out.

    Lt. Graham: No, sir, you gave me a command. I gave the orders from then on.

    Maj. Amos Dundee: You surely did, Lieutenant. Have a cigar.

  • (sin of omission identified and repented) (Major Dundee placed into Netflix queue) Here’s hoping for an enjoyable penance.

  • 1965 was a busy year, moving from New Jersey to New Hampshire, I missed the movie. Somewhere, I have an old “Charlton Heston is my President” bumper sticker. He died April 5, 2008, with Lydia, his wife of 64 years, by his side, a favorite actor and a decent man. Rest in Peace.

Tell Us What You Really Think Greg

Wednesday, March 27, AD 2013

Greg Gutfeld unloads on Jim Carrey, an aging Canadian comedian whose career is currently in the process of tanking, over Carrey’s remakably unfunny “Hee-Haw” attack on the late Charlton Heston and anyone who supports the Second Amendment.  Nothing is sadder than a professional funnyman who does not realize that his time in the limelight has passed him by.  I have two words for Mr. Carrey:  Jerry Lewis.  Oh well, perhaps the French will hail him as a genius too.

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22 Responses to Tell Us What You Really Think Greg

  • Jim Carrey wouldn’t dare make fun of Muslims that way. Thing is, Heston often encountered that kind of ridicule often his gun rights stance when he was still alive. But he always responded with the kind of grace I never could.

  • This reminds me of the times when mother has called you two or three time to get out of bed and get ready for school and your bedroom door opens and father is walking toward you. You are suddenly wide awake the covers are off and you realize the truth detector is staring you in the face. We needed a wake up call like Greg’s.

  • I’ve seen this clip before. I want to spread this clip on toast and have it every morning as part of a balanced breakfast. I want to sew this clip on the back of a leather jacket and ride around on a motorcycle.

  • How pathetic Jim Carrey is. Somehow he thinks he is still funny.

    If I were to become Benevolent Dictator of the United States, I would put most of Hollywood in a detainment camp on one of the Aleutians, seize their property and money and use it to pay down the national debt, and turn Hollywood into a Naval and Air Force bombing range.

    These dufuses have done more to wreck this country than anyone else, with the dufuses running public education running second.

  • The problem is that the doofuses are often quite talented at what they do, if at very little else in their lives. They use their talent for the relentless marketing of vice. It would help if various other parties (mothers and fathers) were willing and able to formulate arguments contrary to vice, but in general people are fairly complacent about what goes on around them, or, push comes to shove, value commodious living and not much else (see Portman, Robert, Esq).

  • Rob Portman is the prime example of why I am disgusted at the Republican Party.

  • 1) Jim Carey is wrong and his video and tweet were stupid and offensive.

    2) This Greg fellow is an idiot.

    3) Jim Carey’s stupidity does not take away from the fact that he is a fantastic actor and a comedic genius– although of the low brow variety.

  • 1. Agreed.
    2. Disagree. The rant is a masterpiece.
    3. Please. The only one of his movies I could tolerate is “Liar, Liar” and that one I found intriguing only because of the concept of an attorney always having to tell the truth. (Applied for twenty-four hours to attorneys worldwide and civilization would teeter!) Carrey is a poor man’s Jerry Lewis and Lewis, the French to the contrary, was far from a comedic genius. If plagiarism were a crime in show business, instead of a way of life, the lawsuit by Lewis against Carrey would be vastly more amusing than any of Carrey’s movies.

  • JL – I’m a big fan of Gutfeld’s show Red Eye. Not exactly highbrow humor there either, but it’s funny. I also like Jim Carrey. I thought that The Truman Show was great. But Carrey’s video wasn’t funny, and his anti-vaccine stuff is fair game.

  • And I should add – Gutfeld used to work for Prevention Magazine and he gets really hot about the anti-vaccine stuff.

  • Other than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and perhaps Bruce Almighty, I don’t think Carrey’s starred in anything that hasn’t been a box office or critical flop (and often both) since Truman Show. Even Travolta didn’t have that long a down period.

  • 1) OK.
    2) Disagree. Absurd hyperbole and wishing ill upon someone else (not to mention it was staged). Sounds like an idiot and an asshole. But I guess he agreed with our point of view so that makes anything he says and the manner in which he says it OK.
    3) Agree to disagree.

  • Regardless of your political views, to mock a colleague is one thing, but to slam him when he is dead is altogether a pitiful act.

    Jim Carrey may want to leave the Political satire to professionals….say Ted Nugent. 🙂

  • Paul – As per earlier conversation, Chris Plante’s radio show the last few days has been talking about Marylanders giving up on their state and moving to VA.

  • Pinky,

    To me that’s an even worse option. Northern Virginia is just as liberal as Maryland, and it’s just not as pleasant an area to be in, politics aside. If I’m moving, it’s well south of Virginia.

    Speaking of WMAL, not sure if you were listening to the state delegate from PG County discussing giving driving licences to illegal, err, undocumented immigrants. Whatever one thinks about the issue, I couldn’t help but weep that this person was an elected official, that’s how idiotic she sounded. If only the guy on the other end of the line – Dan Bongino – could get elected in this state.

  • Well, there was one email from a now-Floridian, and another guy was talking about South Carolina.

    I only caught a little of today’s show and none of yesterday’s.

  • Northern Virginia is just as liberal as Maryland, and it’s just not as pleasant an area to be in, politics aside. If I’m moving, it’s well south of Virginia.

    Northern Virginia is near as liberal as Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Baltimore has a different sensibility than Washington and the rural zones, small towns, and small cities in Maryland are not liberal in their politics. State boundaries are not respecters of settlement patterns and unfortunately the quintessential Maryland and (increasingly) the quintessential Virginia have seen their political dynamic ruined by the unfortunate influence of the federal capital.

  • Whatever one thinks about the issue, I couldn’t help but weep that this person was an elected official, that’s how idiotic she sounded.

    Democratic politicos are motivated by the ‘plight’ of potential clients (and potential voters). The interests of their common-and-garden constituents do not motivate them.

  • Here is the conversation I was referring to. I missed the later call from the GOP delegate.

  • Thanks for that gem in the crown of Maryland’s legislature.

    If I have this right, we’ll give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants for safety reasons, but only after they’ve filed tax returns in the state for two years? If it’s such a safety concern, why wait? And what about all the spouses, and kids, and students who aren’t working? If licenses are going to improve Maryland’s safety so much, shouldn’t we be trying to get the risky 16-year-old illegals into the DMV? You can’t make the safety argument at the same time you put up restrictions. And you can’t make the restrictions argument at the same time you say that the licenses won’t have any official use other than for driving.

  • I’ve been able to avoid watching the thing.

    That said, there’s a line that folks keep playing from it, something about “Charleston Heston’s films are no longer in demand”… and a little voice in my head says “as opposed to, what, Ace Ventura Six? Mask 4? Hey, doesn’t this guy remind you of the class clown, turned up to eleven and with a bigger budget episode… like… fifty?”

    It is impressive how elastic his face is, and that he managed to take acting like that kid that’s in every single class and turn it into a pretty good career, but…he’s not that funny. Or that impressive. He’s a ham, yeah, and that’s not a bad thing– until he starts getting nasty, and thinking that making money means he’s to be taken seriously.

  • Dear American friends,

    Well being an Eastern Orthodox Christian from Russia, I stand with all conservatives. But listening to this parody, which I don’t approve, I heard a very good music. Is he parodying a concrete song? If yes, where can I find it? To what sub-genre of country music does this composition belong?

    Thank you very much and sorry for my poor English.


Theme From El Cid

Saturday, January 26, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  The forgiveness song from El Cid (1961).  I have always loved this retelling of the legend of El Campeador, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, who purportedly despised each other during the filming.  I think the etchings of the intro capture something of the spirit of believing Spain, always waiting for the next great Crusade.

Here is my favorite sequence from the film:

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5 Responses to Theme From El Cid

  • Thank you so much Donald. That is one of my favorite scores and movies, and I have been around since talkies began.

  • Pure souls and majestic sounds of the pipe organ and hooves versus lost souls and contrived electronic sounds and motors seems like a way to describe the difference between cultures of life and death.

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I completely agree with PM’s comment above. Well said.

  • O, for another El Cid!

  • I made a long post about this two years ago – thanx for the link, Mr. McClarey, so I won’t repeat myself.

    My wife’s ancestors are from Spain, and mine are from Poland – countries on the opposite sides of Europe, yet both Catholic (at least Spain was) and both fought off Muslim invaders.

    I have to watch El Cid sometime. I wish there was a movie about the Battle of Vienna.

Josephus on the Beheading of John the Baptist

Wednesday, August 29, AD 2012

Today is the feast of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, an event which is mentioned in a source other than the Gospels.  Here is the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote circa 93-94 AD  regarding the death of the Baptist in his Jewish Antiquities:

About this time Aretas, the king of  Petra, and Herod the Tetrarch had a quarrel on account of the following. Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas and had lived with her a great while; but once when he was on his way to Rome he lodged with  his half-brother, also named Herod but who had a different mother,  the high priest Simon’s daughter.  There he fell in love with Herodias, this latter Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of their brother Aristobulus and the sister of Agrippa the Great.     This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; she accepted, and an agreement was made for her to come to him as soon as he should return from Rome, one condition of this marriage being that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter. So when he had made this agreement, he sailed to Rome; but when he had finished there and returned again, his wife, having discovered the agreement he had made with Herodias, and before he knew that she knew of the plan, asked him to send her to Machaerus, a place on the border between the territories of Aretas and Herod, without informing him of any of her intentions.     Accordingly Herod sent her there, thinking his wife had not perceived anything. But she had sent messages a good while before to Machaerus, which had been under the control of her father, and so all things necessary for her escape were made ready for her by the general of Aretas’s army.  By that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another successively; and soon she came to her father and told him of Herod’s intentions.     Aretas made this the start of his enmity toward Herod. He also had a quarrel with him about their boundaries in the area of Gabalis. So they raised armies on both sides and prepared for war, sending their generals to fight instead of themselves. And when they had joined battle, all Herod’s army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip and joined the army, betrayed him.  So Herod wrote about these affairs to Emperor Tiberius, who was very angry at the attempt made by Aretas and wrote to Vitellius to make war upon him and either to take him alive, and bring him in chains, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the command that Tiberius gave to the governor of Syria.

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2 Responses to Josephus on the Beheading of John the Baptist

  • John was not saved from prison miraculously as were others. Both Peter in Acts 12 and Paul in Acts 16 are saved from prison; Peter by an angel after great prayer by the Church and Paul by an earthquake after he and Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison after being beaten with rods. Paul didn’t flee though but converted the jailer and his whole household and went back to his cell in the AM by choice and was released by the Romans.
    But John was not saved miraculously from prison like Peter and Paul. But since all three were martyred in the long run, therefore Peter and Paul eventually experienced the inescapable custody of John that led to Heaven. And yes….Paul sang hymns after being beaten with rods by Roman soldiers and being put in chains; and last week I cursed as I got a flat tire.

  • How many more St.Johns and St. Thomas Moores do we need to wake up? How many more Henrys and Herods will there be before we come to understand that a wrong is a wrong and a good is a good and there is no “in-between”?
    Henry the VIIIth destroyed England and Herods of these times are destroying the world at large – and we let them!

The Battle of New Orleans Brought to You By Cecille B. DeMille!

Tuesday, May 17, AD 2011

American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film.  It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans.  The 1938 film was directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte.  Two future stars have bit parts in the film:  Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan.  Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.

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3 Responses to The Battle of New Orleans Brought to You By Cecille B. DeMille!

  • “Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.”

    The same would likely have happened without country balladeer Johnny Horton and his hit song “Battle of New Orleans” — the one that begins “In 1814 we took a little trip/Along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Mississip.” That song has stuck in my head for decades.

  • When Queen Elizabeth visited Newfoundland in 1959, the provincial government, out of concern of offending the Queen, banned the playing of the “Battle of New Orleans”. As my Mom informed me, in reaction Newfies were hanging record players out of their windows, the volume cranked up full blast playing the song. Her comment on this fiasco is that if the idiots in government hadn’t attempted to ban it, no one would have been playing it. I think my attitude towards government began to be forged by this example of folly related to me at a very young age at my mother’s knee!

  • Watching these films shows how far we have come as far as American culture is concerned.

Advent and John the Baptist

Friday, December 11, AD 2009

In Advent my thoughts frequently turn to John the Baptist, the last, and the greatest, of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ.  The Jews lived in expectation for many centuries for the coming of the Anointed One, the Christ.  It was left for the Baptist to be His final herald.  His cries for repentance in preparing the way for the Lord are a useful reminder to us as to the proper spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Of the film portrayals of John the Baptist, my favorite is that of Charlton Heston in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, who conveys well the sheer force of the Baptist’s message and the courage with which he conveyed it.  John came to testify to the Truth and nothing would stop him from doing it, not even death as the last 2000 years can attest.

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