VICTOR BORGE – A GREAT COMIC REMEMBERED

This brief article is not about politics, cops, crime, drugs or sex. It’s about a great man who brought the lighter side of life into our hearts, who was equally as funny as he was musically brilliant. We old folks will remember him well. It’s too bad such a dear-hearted soul is not still around, to bring joy, love and laughter into our lives. Examples:

 Who said…

      Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

      Santa Claus has the right idea – visit people only once a year.

      I only know two pieces; one is ‘Clair de Lune’ and the other one isn’t.   

      I wish to thank my parents for making it all possible… and I wish to thank my children for making it necessary.

      My father invented a cure for which there was no disease and unfortunately my mother caught it and died.

      When an opera star sings her head off, she usually improves her appearance.

      If I have caused just one person to wipe away a tear of laughter, that’s my reward.

Born Borge Rosenbaum in Denmark, 1909, Victor Borge was blessed to be the son of professional musicians, where he began studying piano at the age of two. He performed his first major piano concert in 1926. Soon after, the Nazi war machine was creeping into all of Europe, rounding up Jews by the millions. Young Borge, a Jew, was playing a concert in Sweden in April of 1939 where he managed to escape to Finland. He arrived in the U.S. in August of 1940, unable to speak a word of English.

America was fortunate to be graced by this man’s warmth and genius. His talent, not only in music but in humor as well, soon became recognized by some of the most famous performers in America (at the time), including Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee who first featured Borge on his radio show.

The rest is history, most of which has been recorded for show biz addicts to enjoy, including modern times. He died in the year 2000.

What astounds me the most about Borge besides his obvious musical talent, is the effortless manner in which he cracked jokes or engaged in physical stunts while playing the most difficult of classical music. He was not a typical  “stand-up” comic. He never needed to rely on crude language, insults, politics or sex for his audiences. He was an all-around comedian in a genre that belonged to him alone.  No one has copied his style, before or since.

Now I’ll shut up and provide the link in which he was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999. Enjoy. 

Victor Borge – Honored by Kennedy Center, Lifetime Achievement 1999 – YouTube

And if you’ve never seen a Borge performance in which he uses “phonetic punctuation” to tell a story, you’ll be amazed.  Less than 3 minutes. Here’s a link:

Victor Borge – Phonetic Punctuation – YouTube

And…A typical Victor Borge performance at the Eisenhower White House, where people were stricken with powerful stomach aches…

 

 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "EMMA" – 5/10

Movie:         “Emma”
Rating:         5 out of 10.
In a word:   Boring
 
     Be prepared for one more adaptation of the 1815 Jane Austen novel, first filmed in 1996 starring Gwyneth Paltrow. This movie, starring Anya Taylor-Joy follows the same basic characters within like-settings, mainly the breathtaking countryside of inner England dotted with landscapes and mansions much like any other period-based film about old England, to include a smattering of snobbery.
     If you like that genre, though unoriginal, you’ll like this movie. For sure, the photography is inspiring and the costumes awesome. The cast of actors played their roles well, including Miss Taylor-Joy’s lead.
     If there is criticism earned, it must be attributed to the director, Autumn De Wilde who gave us one scene after another of Emma’s gazing eyes and close-up expressions ad nauseam, slowing the film to a point of sheer boredom.
     The plot is simple: Emma Woodhouse is a young, beautiful, and vain woman who lives in a large mansion on the Hartford estate of her elderly father in the village of Highbury. She has no wish to marry, but enjoys pairing her family and friends. The film mostly follows Emma and her friend Harriet as they experience friendships, love and heartbreaks, complete with an array of misunderstandings because no one ever comes to the point in a conversation.
     One interesting item of trivia: When the gentleman, Mr. Knightly, asked Emma for her hand in marriage, the close-up shows the actress suffering from a nosebleed, that was apparently unscripted. But they left it in the movie anyway.
     Lovers of old-English aristocracy will like this film. Otherwise, be prepared to yawn.
     I give it a 5 out of 10.
Emma. (2020) – Trivia – IMDb
 
 
 
 
 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW – "1917" – 10.0

“1917”  –  Rating:   10.0
     In a word:  Intense
 
Alex Heeney is a movie critic who writes for Seventh Row. In regards to “1917”, he opines: 
    1917 is breathtaking in every way. A chamber drama tucked inside an exquisitely rendered war epic, 1917 is more heart-stopping thriller than traditional war movie.
     Before writing this review, I accessed a number of other professional critics to see if there was a consensus, because I had agreed totally with Mr. Heeney. The great majority of critics I found shared similar feelings about this picture.
     I think this will go down as one of the top ten war movies of all time, on a level with “Saving Private Ryan,” “Midway” and “Schindler’s List.”
     The basic premise of the story is as simple as it is complicated. During the final stages of WWI when Great Britain was in a critical position in the French countryside fighting the Germans, Lance Corporal Blake and Lance Corporal Schofield, young soldiers each, are selected by the field commander to embark on a harrowing foot mission to deliver a critical message to another American brigade commander thought to be trenched in miles away. The dire message, which could only be delivered by hand, is a matter of life and death for the other brigade. Time was of the essence. Not only that, one of the assigned soldiers is aware that his brother on the other side is facing certain death if the message is not received in time.
     The cinematography is outstanding throughout. One scene after another, we found ourselves caught up in the intensity and the horrors of war, as these two brave soldiers dodged one obstacle after another. The sense of realism reminded me of “Private Ryan.” 
     Did the soldiers achieve their goals?  Watch the movie.
     Director Sam Mendes is rightfully in line for a Best Director Oscar, one of nine other categories in which this movie earned nominations, including best cinematography.  
     The boys who played starring roles – Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay — certainly had their fitness tested to the limits in scene after scene of grueling dangers and near-impossible obstacles, not to mention having to wade through a sea of dead bodies.
     Alex Heeney said it best. It is breathtaking indeed. A heart-stopping thriller. As war films go, this movie would be tough to top. And, there’s very little bad language and no sexual references. 
     I give it a rare 10.
1917 (2019) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "UNCUT GEMS" – 1.0

 
“Uncut Gems” – 1 out of 10.
 
In a word:  Frenetic
     If you like good movies don’t bother seeing “Uncut Gems.” It’s the greatest waste of viewer dollars I’ve seen in a long time.
     The premise of the plot:  A crime thriller about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score. When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a high-risk and dangerous act, balancing business, family, and adversaries on all sides in his pursuit of the ultimate victory.
     The movie had way too many implausible scenes. For  example, the bad guys kidnap Ratner, drive him around then bring him to where his own car is parked. There, the bad guys strip him nude and deposit him into the trunk. Minutes later, in the darkness of the trunk, Ratner is using his cell phone to call his wife, who, in fact, comes to help him out.
     Cell phone in the darkness of an auto trunk? Naked?
     If you like the sounds and optics of New York City, viewers will get plenty of that. People who are concerned about crime and vulgarity, prepare for an overdose, particularly the “F” bomb and “MF” that seems to adorn every sentence of dialogue. In some spots, the dialogue is lost in all the frenzy because we cannot hear over the relentless screaming by people or the blaring of backdrop music which would be better used as a “hands off” torture technique at Gitmo.
     We walked out after an hour. 
     Pure junk film.
     I give it a 1 out of 10, only because Sandler is a surprisingly adept actor. 
Uncut Gems (2019) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "RICHARD JEWELL" – 7.5

“RICHARD JEWELL” – 7.5
In a word:  Awakening
     This is a Clint Eastwood film, who at the age of 89, is one of the great wonders of the world, delving into the depths of the actual story then making it come alive in film. This was a good movie, but not one of his best. That’s saying a lot, because most of his films have been first class.
     Fans going to see this film must first know that it is intended to be a docudrama, based on a true story that focuses around an overweight frumpy security guard who was a police-wannabe, working for a company which assigned him a guard role at the 1996 Olympics in Atanta where – amid the throes of thousands of citizens – he (Jewell) discovers a suspicious backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. His frenetic actions warning everyone in the area, caught the attention of police and other security personnel, though his allegations about a package with a bomb inside was doubted by many. Shortly after he began screaming at people to get back, “Get Back,” sure enough a bomb exploded. Two died, scores were injured. There would have been more victims if not for Jewell’s actions.
     Without revealing the most important aspects of the investigation, suffice to say that the law enforcement community, headed by FBI, focused entirely on Richard Jewell as the prime suspect, to the exclusion of anyone else. With all the interrogations and searches and humiliation, it changed his life forever.  
     Besides what happened to Jewell, a strong message in the film depicts how investigations should not be conducted and how media, in the hunt for the big story, can get it wrong. When authorities form a narrow focus on one individual based on unsupported circumstances that prove nothing, and refuse to expand the probe elsewhere, they are violating the rules of evidence and recklessly stomping on the rights of individuals. This reminds me of the Bill Dillon and Wilton Dedge cases in the early 1980s in Florida that stripped innocent men of their freedom for decades by concocting false evidence for no other reason than “winning.”
     Paul Howser deftly plays the key role of Richard Jewell, while veteran actor, Sam Rockwell plays an Oscar-worthy performance as Jewell’s lawyer. What I liked the least about the movie, were a number of scenes and dialogue that seemed amateurish, departing from reality in depicting police conduct and procedures. As a former career cop, those scenes felt like the proverbial “fingernails on the blackboard.”  For that, we’d have to call out the writers, and I suppose, the director.
     Regardless, it’s a movie worth seeing and a story worth knowing about. In real life, this was about selecting a target, then contriving evidence to support an untruth. This, according to the film, was clearly the fault of the prime FBI investigator and a story-thirsty reporter.
     I give this a 7.5 out of 10.  
Richard Jewell (2019) – IMDb