Archives 2021


In a word: Heartbreaking

Movie goers who have negative personal history with persons who are gay, or have witnessed suffering by those who have been constantly bullied in the
school arena, should bring an extra hankie to this picture.

The main character, JOE BELL, played by journeyman actor, Mark Wahlberg, tells the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father (and mother)
who struggle with acceptance that their 15 year old son, Jadin, is homosexual. Initially non-accepting, the dad eventually turns his feelings around and pays
tribute to his teenage son by embarking on a self-reflective walk across America, from Oregon to New York, speaking passionately to a myriad of heartland citizens about the terrifying costs of bullying which receives so little attention in
today’s environment.

The real Joe Bell received a flood of national attention in 2013 for his plight, pleading with average people to gain awareness about the impact of bullying,
and the sensitivity it deserves.

In real life, actor Reid Miller, now 20, has seen his acting career soar to new heights, with many opportunities in the film and TV marketplace.
My criticisms of this movie are few. I think the director could have installed more clarity to time/place scenes which leaves audience members trying to discern what, when, where and how. (Where’s that remote when you need it?) Reid Miller is a good actor, though his diminutive stature and exotically blonde features bear
zero resemblance to either of the boy’s on-screen parents.

There’s far more power in the story which is omitted here, so the reader will not know all the important facts ahead of time. For sure, regardless of one’s orientation, the story is quite emotional, likely to hit hard to anyone who has endured similar issues among loved ones.

I doubt this movie will receive any Oscars, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile story which is well delivered by all the on and off screen persons.

I give this movie a 7.5 out of 10.

Joe Bell (2020) – IMDb 

Cuban people sense an opening for freedom; the U.S. cannot let them down

I’ll not forget my rookie year as a new cop for Dade County in 1960.

Until then, I had never met a Spanish-speaking person. The populations of Miami and Miami Beach were lily-white.

Schools were not integrated and neighborhoods were divided by race. Spanish-speaking folks were a novelty.

With Miami situated in southeast Florida, residents were mostly immigrants from New York and other northern states.

While Americans followed the war taking place in the mountainous Cuban terrain, many were happy to see crooked Fulgencio Batista toppled from power while a rugged, charismatic revolutionary leader emerged from the hills to assume the seat of leadership. His name: Fidel Castro. Cubans, and many Americans, were happy to see a new government take control of the Island nation. So what if he said he was “socialist.”

After Castro took full control over the new government, he unveiled his alliance with the Soviet Union and announced that he was a die-hard communist.

The stranglehold was now in place. Cities and towns in Cuba were “cleansed” of people who stood in the way of a one-party rule government. Thousands of dissidents disappeared. Families were pulled apart. Schools became propaganda strongholds for students. Thousands more frantically risked their lives rafting over ocean currents to America, many of whom never reached the shores. Everyone was stripped of their possessions.

The Cuban people no longer owned their homes or their businesses. There was no such thing as freedom of speech or the right to assemble or control of their future. Within 20 years, some 1.5 million Cubans managed to resettle in America and build new lives for themselves and their families.

In 1961, while in uniform, I had just attended a court session in Miami when I spotted a middle-aged man wearing a Cubavera shirt, selling bananas on Flagler Street at the intersection. Curiously, I approached and said, “Sir. Can I ask a question?”

He looked at my uniform. “About what?”

“Can I ask what you did when you lived in Cuba?”

Proudly, he puffed out his chest and replied in broken English, “I was vice president of a bank.”

“You have a family?” I asked.

“Si, a wife and two daughters.”

He went on to explain that they were living in a two-bedroom apartment with two other families. With furrowed eyebrows he looked at me strongly. With his finger pointing to the sky, he declared they were proud people and would not take welfare.

That was a lesson.

As years passed, I developed a closeness to the Cuban people who assimilated and worked hard to support their families. Many became teachers, business owners, military, entertainers and even police officers. Some of the best cops I ever knew were of Cuban heritage. I came to enjoy their music, their food, their humor, and die-hard honesty.

Castro’s plight was not a one-time event. Twenty years later, the Cuban economy was in dire straits. Multi-thousands were sick and injured, unable to work or contribute. Mental hospitals were beyond capacity. The elderly in Cuba were considered useless. Prisons were in overload. Too many people were taking, but not giving. The remedy? Get rid of everyone. What else?

Starting May 17, 1980, over four arduous months, more than 125,000 desperate human beings were granted exits from Cuba to reach America via rafts and rickety vessels from a port called Mariel. President Carter gave the OK as the infamous Mariel Boatlift conveyed desperate human beings to South Florida, devoid of possessions. Thousands died or disappeared. Miami became the murder capital of America for four years. Bodies surfaced everywhere, in waterways, the Everglades, in car trunks and garbage cans. The medical examiner needed a huge refrigerated truck to house the overflow of bodies.

The Cuban people have once again taken to the streets of Havana in protest as the government has failed to provide basic necessities.

Why rise up now, 61 years since Castro’s communist dictatorship began? Because the oppressed Cuban people sense an opening for the first time ever, daring to stand up against the regime, making demands.

Not for food. Not for medicine. Not for luxuries. But for the most precious commodity of all: freedom.

Perhaps that time has finally come.

I pray the American government will rise to the occasion.

 Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and author of 15 books.


 THE DICK-DOC DUO           

It was sometime in 2005 that I was invited to appear for a book talk plus playing a song or two on the violin at the main library in Titusville, Fl.  The turnout was great, selling lots of books. When the program ended, a little lady named Ruth approached and asked, “Would you like to play music with my husband, Dr. Jay Barnhart, he’s also a pianist?”


Uhhh…I don’t think so., I said to myself. My first reaction was something like, “Fuhgetaboutit. I don’t play music well with other musicians.  I ad lib too much.”

With her husband standing near, she replied, “My husband retired as a Medical Examiner in Miami, working with Dr. Joe Davis, you know, autopsies and such. Maybe you knew him.”

Dr. Davis was one of must admired people in the world, thought of with high esteem by every cop I ever knew. Any friend of Dr. Davis was a friend of mine. So I gandered over toward Dr. Barnhart, who seemed iffy about the whole idea. We were like two German Shepherds,  sniffing each other.


We shook hands, and made a date to meet at his house. What the heck, I thought. We’ll know in two minutes if we are compatible musicians or not.


The following week, we met at his house in the music room. “I play a lot of songs by ear,” he said, feeling me out.


“Well, so do I. Wanna give it a try? Can you play Dark Eyes?”



Boy, could we play Dark Eyes.  Before the hour was over we play a dozen songs by ear, i.e., Gypsy, Italian, French, Classical, Broadway, etc. Dr. Barnhart was a fabulous pianist. We were a match.


Jay’s brother, also a doctor, suggested we call ourselves, “The Dick-Doc Duo.” The name stuck, people loved it.


Thus began a fifteen year friendship, which included music, but not solely. Indeed, we became the best of friends. Strange that we had never met during our tenures working death investigations in Miami-Dade in the 1980s.


Dr. Barnhart has a music mind like a steel trap. Very often, we challenged anyone in the audience who could name a published song title…that he DID NOT know from memory.  It was worth a prize, of one of my books, to anyone who could “Stump the Doc.” I gave very few book away.


Before the Barnharts finally decided to move to another state, to be near kids and grandkids, we enjoyed performing at scores of venues around Florida, mostly in the central region. He and I hit it off like two peas in a pod, not only musically, but as best friends.  People enjoy our performances, not because we were so impressive, we were obviously having fun. We enjoyed seeing people enjoy our music. It all rubbed off.


Time marches on. Jay and I remain close friends to this day although the distance is daunting. It’s been an honor, not just to make music together, but to call him my friend.


Thanks, Ruth.

(Here’s a little dose of “Dark Eyes.”)


A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “Twelve Mighty Orphans” – 9.0





In a word:  Heartwarming


This! … Is a good movie. If you appreciate great scripts based on true stories, good acting, and a plot that’s all about trials and tribulations, destitution and tenacious efforts toward nearly impossible odds, you’ll find it all in this film.

     The story is based in an orphanage for children in Fort Worth ,Texas, circa 1938 where rough and tumble kids were rejected by troubled parents, or had no parents at all, making up the student body. Hostile attitudes and depression prevails amid all the boys and girls, while the crusty, and sometimes brutal, management by the institution leaves much to be desired.

     Recruited from a school/orphanage in another region, a teacher and football coach named Rusty Russell, (played by Luke Wilson) gives up a privileged position elsewhere to teach and coach a rag-tag, undisciplined football team that couldn’t score against any team, yet win. While seemingly unable to keep up with the standards of traditional schools, and against all odds without necessary resources, Mr. Russell instills a new sense of optimism in his young players who ultimately bond into shape as a competitive team. Their plight became a national story and inspiration to others among the downtrodden.

     Acting is a bit corny in spots, but who cares, it was a true series of events brought together by real people about unexpected accomplishments sparked by renewed attitudes of students and teacher that brought them together, becoming desperately needed families for the boys in order to overcome the odds.

     When the film is over, I urge people to remain in their seats to see the rolling credits that subsequently reveal the actual players/students from that era and their remarkable lifetime achievements that followed.  None of that could have happened if it were not for the persistence, courage and dedication inspired into those kids by a coach who convinced each one of them they had value and to never give up. The common denominator between the orphans and the coach can be summed up in one word: Love.

     Yes, I dropped a couple of tears. They were well-earned.

     Also starring in the film, was Martin Sheen, playing the school doctor who supported the new football coach, to the chagrin of the upper staff of the institution. In a brief scene, we can find aging actor Robert Duvall amid the crowd, but with no speaking role or discernable character. The appearance of his name and persona in the credits, I assume, was intended to draw folks to the theater.

I would give this movie a 9 out of 10.


12 Mighty Orphans (2021) – IMDb









In a word:  Junk


Because this movie was so bad, I feel compelled to inform readers and friends to save their time and money on a motion picture that has to be among the crappiest of all time. It could be that the film may have improved after the 35-minute mark, but by then we’d had enough.

     The plot doesn’t matter, because the story is lost in all the chases, high-jumps, fights, acrobatics, noise, and endless doses of mass shootings while ensuring that every sentence in the dialogue includes the “F” bomb, even when it makes no sense whatsoever.  “The Wolf of Wall Street,” (2013) supposedly holds the record for non-stop “F” this and “F” when the word was used 715 times. Otherwise, that was still a decent movie with a compelling story. “Hitman’s” has no compelling story, it’s just pure shoot-em- up  crap, laced with bad acting and an immense offering of excruciating, bombastic  noise.

     Class A actors like Samuel L Jackson, Selma Hayek, and Ryan Reynolds (the stars) must be in dire straits to allow themselves to appear in a Class F garbage film like this. Consider, also, these are actors among the Hollywood elite who, as most of Hollywood’s power houses adamantly support stricter gun control, while making millions from appearing in pro-gun, mass killing scenes – for entertainment. The hypocrisy is sickening. Why would such highly acclaimed and very rich actors sign contracts to be a part of film garbage?

     I’d write a short comment about the plot, but there wasn’t any. 

     I know nothing about the director, Patrick Hughes. Nor shall I if ever if that name appears again.

     It’s no wonder the current trend in movies is to stay at home.

I give this movie — based on 35 minutes of tolerating the “Junk,”  my first ever rating of – “0”


The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) – IMDb