Found-Again Friday: American Dreamer

Why Found-Again? If you’re familiar with both American Dreamer and this site, you’ll have noticed that it hits all the benchmarks—mystery, romance, bookish heroine, interesting setting, spy crap—necessary to have been part of my formative movie-watching years. And it is so.

The Premise: Housewife Cathy Palmer is in a rut, so she enters (and wins) a writing contest sponsored by her favorite spy novels. After a blow to the head during a tour of Paris, Cathy thinks she is fictional superspy Rebecca Ryan, and it’s up to the books’ real author (Tom Conti) to stop her from running amok.

He fails miserably, of course, because she thinks he’s Rebecca’s sidekick: what self-respecting spy listens to her sidekick?

The movie’s opening homage to 1963’s Charade lets you know exactly what you’re in for. American Dreamer is a kind of movie that doesn’t seem to be made anymore, elegant and articulate and completely bonkers. “Someone gets hit on the head and thinks they’re a superhero” is a cartoon plot, not a movie where important things happen at the ambassador’s ball—and yet here we are. Supporting actors include the excellent Coral Browne and Giancarlo Giannini, and there are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments along with the beautiful shots of Paris.

The Verdict: I’d thought the passage of time might have made me too cynical for this movie. At its heart it’s a fairy tale, a seductive story that murmurs that, as George Eliot wrote,  “it is never too late to be who you might have been.” But who among us doesn’t need to hear that from time to time?

Might go well with: Champagne, French food, Hitchcock movies, Roger Moore Bond films.

The trailer gives away the bad guy (did all the trailers of my youth suck this much and I never noticed until 2015?), so have this instead:


Next time: More time with Duncan MacLeod of some clan or other.

Found-Again (and Again) Friday: Musical Interlude 5

This week we’ll run down some of my recent obsessions.

I like to listen to this one when I’m writing, and the video is excellent, too:

And I just got this fellow’s most recent album—you may remember him from the goth interlude. It’s been ten years since I saw him live, but even after being updated this is a classic… if lyrically NSFW.

How about some electroswing?

I couldn’t find an official video for this next one, nor am I sure footage from the Thin Man movies entirely goes with the song.

Eh, who am I kidding? The Thin Man goes with everything.

And finally, the last song that lodged in my head for days on end. You’re welcome!


Next time: More Highlander, either the third movie first sequel that actually exists or some more audio. What fun!

Found-Again Friday: The Original Beauty & The Beast TV Show

An article on io9 about the rebooted Beauty and the Beast series inspired me to give the original another look.

Why Found-Again? I was 13 when the series began and immediately fell in love with the entire idea; I’ve never had many nightmares about things I watch on TV, but I can still remember a very detailed, happy dream about spending time in Beauty & The Beast‘s subterranean tunnels. I even had a poster of Vincent on my closet, next to INXS and Morrissey and REM and the rest of my musical interests. But the series eventually got…not great (I was about to write “strange.” Hah!) and like a lot of viewers, I drifted away. Now that it’s on Netflix, I took a peek at season 1.

The Premise: (Don’t laugh.) When a case of mistaken identity ends with lawyer Katherine Chandler left for dead, she’s taken in by a secret quasi-medieval society of people who live beneath New York City. Most are the ordinary lost souls of any large city, but one—lion-faced Vincent (Ron Perlman)—becomes her true love and her protector. In between times when Vincent is shredding bad guys by tooth and claw (offscreen), they read and quote a lot of poetry.

Given that I’ve been writing about Highlander for months now, I’m surprised it took me so long to realize this was another supernaturally inflected “gritty New York” show, and years before urban fantasy became popular as a book genre. But this is one of the few series in which, for me, the crime-show aspects take a distinct back seat to the romance. I gravitate to art whose central theme is “the weird are deserving of love,” I suppose, and Beauty and the Beast is certainly not the least of these.

The Verdict: This is the part where I would ordinarily say my opinion is mixed; it’s not. Instead I find myself having two divergent opinions at the same time, able to see the flaws in the story and the cheesiness of the characters even as my inner teenager revels in the poetry-reciting, face-ripping hero who lives in a modern-day fairy fortress.  The result, honestly, is that I feel a little weird rewatching it: I like it but don’t feel entirely comfortable liking it.

Hey, I said don’t laugh.

Might go well with: Champagne, sonnets, the Cocteau movie based on the original tale…and I only just realized this is the second Friday in a row in which Gummi rats wouldn’t be out of place.


Next time: What’s it all about, Highlander?

Found-Again Friday: Bullshot


The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries.

Partners in Crime.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

If any or all of these are on your “fondly watched” list, you might enjoy Bullshot. Ostensibly a parody of the Bulldog Drummond movies of the 1930s, this movie doesn’t require knowledge of Drummond to be enjoyed—I’m proof of that. Any old tale of bored World War One veterans embarking on a life of solving mysteries will do, and there are plenty to choose from.

Why Found-Again? Like Kent Montana, Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond is far too silly a character to revisit on a regular basis: a former WWI flying ace with a background in marksmanship, science, fisticuffs, winning regattas all by himself, and pretty much anything else (except tarantulas!), Crummond and his faithful valet—pronounce the T, please— are on the case.

On someone’s case, anyway.

The Premise: When absentminded professor Rupert Fenton is kidnapped by nefarious foreigner Otto von Bruno for his new discovery, it’s up to Fenton’s daughter Rosemary to get to “the one man in England who can help us.” Is there any doubt who that is? And is there any doubt that von Bruno is already his nemesis?

This movie is, and I mean this in the best possible way, gleefully stupid: a broad comedy that is always great but could never be considered “good.” The cast is also fantastic, as leads Alan Shearman, Diz White and Ron House are joined by Billy Connolly and Mel “The Albino from Princess Bride” Smith, among others. It’s got adventure, slapstick, parody, romance of a sort, a touch of steampunk, and lines like “Is this seemly, Mrs Platt-Higgins? Playing popular music and your husband only ten years dead?” Good stuff.

The Verdict: In addition to the above, I’ve never regretted watching anything with Billy Connolly in it, even the final seasons of Head of the Class.

Well okay, those, but only those.

Might go well with: Stilton; tea; jazz.


Next time: The one question we should all be asking at this point in Highlander.




Found-Again Friday: Simon & Simon Season 1

I hesitated about this one, because this show’s theme song is one of the most pernicious earworms ever crafted by humans (according to the credits, “humans” in this case would be The Thrasher Brothers; it’s been a while since I wanted to write a College Bowl question quite this badly). If you turned this into a ringtone, you would either rule the hearing world or be killed by an angry mob. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Why Found-Again? This, like all the other shows from Matt Houston to Riptide, was on at my house a lot when I was young. Mom had a thing for Gerald McRaney. I…did not.

The Premise: Bickering brothers Rick and A.J. Simon (McRaney and Jameson Parker, respectively) run a little detective agency in San Diego that seems to function as a remora attached to the bigger firm across the street. Rick is the shady one; A.J. is the uptight one who for some reason has a red lining in his blazer. As with its cousin Magnum, P.I., the show’s setting itself is often practically a character.

As I revisit the detective/crime shows of my youth and otherwise, it’s interesting to see how much or how little one knows about the characters’ lives: one of my favorite things about classic Law & Order was teasing out the little details about Lenny Briscoe or McCoy/Kincaid as they were dropped in the middle of the real business of the episode. Simon & Simon takes it to the other extreme and lays on a thick layer of back story: the Simons tease each other about childhood incessantly, their mother makes regular appearances, etc. To return to the Magnum comparison, it’s almost as if someone thought internal monologues would be so much  better if only you had someone to talk to.

The Verdict: Mixed. They won’t be playing it for the damned souls in hell or anything, but you’d have to be pretty bored to seek this out. (If you are, however, full episodes seem to be available on YouTube.)

Might go well with: Tacos. But then again, what doesn’t?