Romancing the Stone [1984)

This movie was very dear to me as a kid.

It’s one of those which came on TV all the time.

And it always pulled me in.

For me, nothing in this film beats the scene in which Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas huddle ’round a marijuana campfire in the fuselage of a crashed plane.

Taking strong belts of Jose Cuervo tequila.

Basically sitting in a giant bong ūüôā

But the best part–the cutest part…is KT eating olives.

An old jar.  To be sure.

But they last awhile.

And liquor kills all germs, right?

Who cares if the dead pilot took a few swigs long ago ūüôā

It’s such a cozy scene.

Perhaps it’s what the Danish mean by¬†hygge.

And it’s an ambiance I’ve only seen approached in¬†Vertigo¬†(Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart by the fireplace in his apartment…after he rescues her from the waters of San Francisco Bay) and, surprisingly,¬†The Pink Panther¬†(David Niven and Claudia Cardinale by the fireplace…Claudia on the tiger-skin rug).

But Romancing the Stone, unlike those two films, is a full-on romcom.

Sure, there’s¬†action…to entice the leery men ūüôā

But there’s no denying that this is a romantic comedy.

And so I’m glad to join the ranks of romcom lovers.

Glad to christen a new category on my site with this fine film.

Some of it hasn’t aged so well (like Alan Silvestri’s sequenced electro-samba soundtrack), but most of it has…so kudos to director Robert Zemeckis.

Zach Norman plays a gay villain in such a way that one cannot help thinking of John Podesta.

Danny DeVito, who plays Norman’s cousin, is definitely the funniest thing in this film.

Neither Turner nor Douglas are particularly funny, but they are graceful and charming (respectively).

I would even add that Michael Douglas encapsulates a sort of masculinity which has been on the wane since the 1980s in America…UNTIL DONALD TRUMP WON THE FUCKING PRESIDENCY!

Yeah ūüôā

It is trippy.

To watch this movie late at night.

To relive childhood memories.

And then to rouse oneself to one’s feet and think, “Is Donald Trump really the President? Is this not some kind of dream???” ūüôā

I know for many it is a nightmare.

So I will just leave that train of thought there.  For now.

Actually, there is a more serious villain in this film:  Manuel Ojeda.

He is certainly a BAD HOMBRE ūüôā

[sorry, can’t help it]

So yeah…

The bulk of the action takes place in Colombia.

It’s like William S. Burroughs, in search of yage, writing back to Allen Ginsberg.

Though the narrative becomes evermore-farfetched as it unfurls, it’s so much fun that we don’t much care ūüôā

Buried treasure?  Check.

Wrestling crocodiles?  Check.

Mr. Dundee and¬†The Goonies¬†were from this same era ūüôā

Alfonso Arau is here too…with his little “mule” ūüôā

[I guess, on second thought, that is a drug-smuggling joke]

This was the performance which preceded Mr. Arau’s all-world turn as El Guapo in¬†Three Amigos.

Yeah…the plot really gets ridiculous right after the waterfall ūüôā

But this is a feel-good movie!

And we need this kind of stuff.

Sitting down to ENJOY a movie ūüôā

What a concept!

 

-PD

Sen Kimsin? [2012)

It’s been a long time since I “visited” Turkey.

Indeed, it’s been awhile since I reviewed an actual movie ūüôā

Film critics should review films, right?

Not sporting events. ¬†Not YouTube videos. ¬†Not the Double Windsor of Trump’s necktie.

Well, I am guilty as charged.

I like sports.

And occasionally a video on the Internet has immense impact on me.

And I like Trump.  Sometimes I disagree (strongly) with what he does.

But mostly I agree.

So far.

But as I was saying, I have not reviewed a Turkish film since my initial foray into the national cinema of Anatolia.

In retrospect, I actually reviewed two Turkish films long ago:  Hudutlarin Kanunu and Susuz Yaz.

What is really complex is the “i” with no dot. ¬†I don’t think I have this anywhere on my WordPress possibilities.

But we will forget about that for now.

[at least I can copy and paste]

ūüôā

Which is to say, it is hard to top¬†YńĪlmaz G√ľney. ¬†Hudutlarin¬†Kanunu is a really special film.

But we must move into the modern era…and see what the Turkish are doing now, right?

Well,¬†Sen Kimsin?¬†may not be a perfect film, but I really enjoyed it ūüôā

There is something about Turkish humor which I love!

So let me tell you about this motion picture.

First of all, it is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S. (!)…

Yes, Netflix seems to all-of-sudden be glutted with Turkish films (which is, for me, a good thing).

And we will get to geopolitics shortly (the strange case of U.S. forces “guarding” the Turkish border [to prevent attacks on the Kurds in Syria?!?]).

Actually, let’s get to that now.

Webster Tarpley (whom I stopped listening to quite awhile ago…when he started calling Trump a Nazi) was forever railing about closing the Jarabulus corridor.

Jarabulus is a Syrian city very near the Turkish border.

Tarpley maintained (if I remember correctly) that ISIS (which, like al-Qaeda, was created by the U.S. [according to Pieczenik]) was being supplied mainly from Turkey.

Tarpley continuously insisted that closing the “Jarabulus corridor” would starve the supply line(s) of ISIS.

And then today we have these headlines: ¬†“US troops patrol Turkey-Syria border after strikes on Kurds”.

That was CNN.

It required immense (and worthwhile) effort to not click on that article.

Fuck CNN!

They don’t even deserve italics…

“US troops deployed at Syrian border to prevent clashes between Turkish & Kurdish forces”.

That’s¬†RT.

[Russia Today]

Hmmm…

I thought Turkey was part of NATO?

I thought NATO was the greatest thing since sliced shawarma??

I thought the USA and Turkey were on the same side???

Well, maybe not.

Which brings us back to that “failed coup attempt” last year in Turkey.

July 15.

Now, if the U.S. is today (literally) protecting the Kurds from the Turkish (which even CNN and RT can agree upon).

And the U.S. has nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey as part of NATO’s “nuke sharing” program (which is well-known).

Then what the fuck is going on here?

Is Erdońüan such a dipshit that we have to work AGAINST him (while keeping nuclear weapons in his country)?

If that’s the case, then it would not be farfetched to think that the U.S. had some part to play in the failed coup attempt of last year.

Motive?  Check.  Means?  Check.  Opportunity?  Probably.

As for the U.S. forces on the Turkish border (inside Syria?), their location is not clear from the reportage I am seeing (whether Jarabulus or not).

In a moment of weakness, I clicked on CNN.

The gist there seems to be that the Turks and the Kurds hate each other, but that the Turks and the Kurds are the closest “anti-ISIS” allies of the U.S.. ūüôā

Boy, if that’s not generalizing things…

Which is why we need comedy.

And why this will seek to be a film review from here on out.

First, let’s translate¬†Sen Kimsin?: ¬†“who are you?”.

Who are you?

This phrase becomes very important during the course of Sen Kimsin?.

Tolga √áevik is the star of our film ūüôā

He’s very funny!

Truly, he has some great comedic talent!!

And so this whole film is a bit like The Pink Panther minus Peter Sellers.

But¬†Tolga √áevik does a very admirable job ūüôā

Actually, as you’ve noticed, I can’t stop smiling after this film.

There are so many wonderful parts to it.

Indeed, Çevik is the fumbling/bumbling detective (!) who gets made for a useful idiot.

But the ID was only half-right.

He’s an idiot, alright.

But he’s completely useless ūüôā

And I know the feeling.

I really related to¬†Tolga √áevik’s character Tekin.

Director¬†Ozan A√ßńĪktan did an excellent job of letting Tolga’s talents come to the fore!

But this comedy of errors just wouldn’t be the same without the priceless contribution of¬†K√∂ksal Eng√ľr.

You know, the Turks are a brave people.

And seeing the great humor of¬†K√∂ksal Eng√ľr reminded me of that ūüôā

But let us talk about the beautiful ladies of this film.

Zeynep¬†√Ėzder is really charming as Pelin ūüôā

But I must also give credit to the villainess¬†Pelin K√∂rm√ľk√ß√ľ.

Wow!  What a beautiful 46-year-old woman!!!

Anyhow, these ladies are distracting.

But this is just a plain fun film.

It is meant for enjoyment.

And there is some great dialogue (particularly between Tekin and Ismail).

I thoroughly recommend this film as a fun way to learn a little more about Turkish culture ūüôā

Thank you, my friends!

-PD

The Man Who Knew Too Much [1956)

Netflix seems to be down tonight.

I tried several times.  Several movies.  Several fixes.

And so it is only fitting that history should trump the ephemeral stages of technological development.

Yes, time for a good old VHS tape.

And not a film about which I’ve previously written.

While I have surveyed many of the early Hitchcock films, I never wrote about the original version of this film.

1934.

To my knowledge, this is the only film of Alfred Hitchcock’s early career which he chose to remake.

Just on this fact alone, it would seem that the story was either very dear to the¬†auteur or that he couldn’t resist something about the plot.

Granted, the two films are considerably different.

Even on a surface level, the 1934 version was (of course) in black and white.

But this was a VistaVision, Technicolor production.

1956.

22 years later.

For better or worse, I was familiar first with the earlier version.

It is a film I should revisit.

But it was not what I would call a “home run”.

The one aspect of the original which one might miss in the remake is the presence of Peter Lorre.

But we must move on to the future.  The present.

1956.

Jimmy Stewart plays the leading male role.  A doctor from Indianapolis.

Doris Day plays his wife.

The action is set for a good bit in Morocco.

Specifically, Marrakesh.

Indeed, the beginning of the film is a sort of travelogue.

In other words, its a good excuse to show off the exotic locale in North Africa.

Camels. ¬†Veils. ¬†[that one’s important] ¬†The social tradition of eating with the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand. ¬†While leaving the left hand in the lap.

All very edifying and exciting.

But Doris Day is suspicious from the start.

If we knew nothing of Hitchcock, we’d say her paranoia was unfounded.

But, in fact, it’s Jimmy Stewart’s ease which is the fateful misstep early on.

And so this movie is about suspicion.

Who can we trust?

In this age of anxiety (thank you W.H. Auden), everyone and everything is suspect.

The only true bliss is ignorance.

[and perhaps my only wisdom is that of paraphrase]

One thing which escaped me the first time I saw this version of¬†The Man Who Knew Too Much¬†(in the theater…lucky me) was a funny detail about Brenda de Banzie.

Yes, dear readers (and fans of Peter Sellers), Ms. de Banzie would later appear as the annoying, flamboyant Angela Dunning in The Pink Panther (1963).

Indeed, her role as the terror of Cortina (d’Ampezzo) was her second-to-last film.

But here she is a much more mysterious character.

I will leave it at that.

We get some interesting things in this film.

“Arabs” in disguise.

Which is to say, certain personages of the spook variety in brown makeup (and native garb).

One need not look very far back in history to find a poignant parallel.

Consider, for instance, the “Basra prison incident” of 2005.

I’m guessing that T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) would provide another example, though I am no expert on this matter.

As are almost all Hitchcock films, this one is a tense affair.

Doris Day, in particular, does a surprising job of portraying the personal terror of her character.

Perhaps most notable about this film is the musical component.

As an accomplished percussionist in my own right, I heartily appreciate Hitchcock’s attention to the intricacies of an orchestral percussion section.

Indeed, the film begins with a close-up of this little-featured “choir” (in addition to the three trumpets and three trombones at the bottom of the frame).

What is most remarkable is Hitchcock’s use of the musical score (in various permutations) to tell this unique story.

Funniest is the shot of the cymbalist’s sheet music.

It is nearly a complete¬†tacit…save for one fateful crash.

I fondly remember (with some measure of anxiety) a time when I manned the cymbals for the overture of Verdi’s¬†La forza del¬†destino.

It was a similar affair.

Interminable waiting.

And if you miss your one crash?  Even in rehearsal?

Well, you are screwed!

The judging stares of oboists are enough to melt a man…

But the musical score appears elsewhere.

In the private box.

Perhaps a page-turner for an assassin.

Most vividly, Hitchcock makes the score come alive in a fascinating series of extreme close-ups.

It is like a very erudite version of “follow the bouncing ball”.

So yes…some of our action happens at the Royal Albert Hall.

In an interesting twist of fate, usual Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann garners copious screen time as the conductor…OF ANOTHER COMPOSER’S WORK!

Were it Beethoven, I’d understand.

But the piece is Storm Clouds Cantata by Arthur Benjamin (who?) and D.B. Wyndham-Lewis (not to be confused with [Percy] Wyndham Lewis).

And yet it is a moving piece.

The London Symphony Orchestra sounds lovely (really magical!) in their on-screen segments.

But the real¬†Leitmotiv¬†of our film is “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”.

Speaking of magic…it is always a gossamer thing to hear Doris Day sing this song in¬†The Man Who Knew Too Much.

I remember a time when I didn’t know this song at all.

Being in a studio with Corinne Bailey Rae and hearing a playback of her wonderful band own this song.

And my discovery of Sly and the Family Stone’s inimitable version (sung by Rose Stone).

But few movie music moments equal Doris Day in her Marrakesh hotel room singing “Que Sera, Sera…” with little¬†desafinado Christopher Olson.

The only ones which come close are Rita Hayworth (actually Jo Ann Greer?) singing the Rodgers and Hart masterpiece “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” the next year (1957) in¬†Pal Joey¬†and Ms. Hayworth “singing” (actually Anita Kert Ellis) “Put the Blame on Mame” in¬†Gilda¬†(1946).

An interesting note about this version of¬†The Man¬†Who Knew Too Much…

It seems to be a sort of forgotten classic, wedged as it is between the first of my Hitchcock “holy trinity” (Rear Window,¬†1954) and the other two perfect films (Vertigo,¬†1958, and¬†North by Northwest,¬†1959).

Actually, this was a period of experimentation for Hitchcock.

Our film most precisely follows the odd comedy (!) The Trouble with Harry (1955) and precedes the black and white hand-wringer The Wrong Man (released later in 1956).

But The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) should not be forgotten!

It is such a beautifully-shot film!

Robert Burks’ cinematography is divine.

And George Tomasini’s editing is artfully deft.

Like To Catch a Thief (which is actually on Netflix in the U.S. [last time I checked]), The Man Who Knew Too Much is a film which perhaps needs multiple viewings to be truly appreciated.

-PD

Johnny English [2003)

What to say…¬† A witty beginning, perhaps?

An arresting turn of phrase?

No, I shan’t deign preface my critique with decorum.

Rather, one needs must hold steadfast to the cocked-up tone of this talkie in order to convey its essence.

Johnny English.

Take¬†three measures of¬†Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films, one of Sean Connery in Dr. No, half a measure of Joseph Beuys.¬† Shake it very well until it’s gasp-inducingly funny (might take quite a bit of shaking, er…), then add a surprisingly adept turn by Natalie Imbruglia.¬† Right?¬† Right.

What could go wrong?

Well, in contrast to this film’s beginning, pleasantly little.

It’s true:¬† the opening credits of this picture have not aged well at all.

They make the kitsch titles of Austin Powers’ first film (which also suffers from clunky mise-en-sc√®ne) seem positively polished in comparison.

It’s a shame neither of these spy spoof franchises sprung for a Maurice Binder.

But I digress…

My point is that Johnny English gets better over the course of its 88 minutes.

Coming into this experiment I figured that Rowan Atkinson clearly had the superior comedic chops vs. Mike Myers.

And he does.

But Johnny English suffers from some strange virus of general incompetence.¬† Something doesn’t quite click in the process of potentially calling the film under review a masterpiece.

Not that I expected as much…

Happily, Johnny English is a tremendously enjoyable flick.

I laughed harder and more earnestly during this picture compared to Austin Powers’ debut, yet Jay Roach delivered a more seamless spy spoof for Myers than the film under consideration.

But let us not throw Peter Howitt under the double-decker quite yet…

Howitt turned in a quite an admirable film.

In actuality, the story of Johnny English is stronger and more convincing than that of Austin Powers:  International Man of Mystery.

But back to comedic chops…¬† When Mike Myers is good, he’s very good.¬† When Rowan Atkinson is good, he’s great.

And so, there are moments in this film which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the Austin Powers opener.

I can’t say the converse is true.

Natalie Imbruglia is as good in this film as John Malkovich is bad.

I know, I know…

Sounds impossible…

I have a feeling that Malkovich cherished (in some perverse way) the clunky role he was given.

He plays it as if he’s in a high school musical.

I am not doubting Malkovich’s acting skills.¬† They are world-class.

Yet, for some reason, he is the acting equivalent of a Styrofoam cup herein.

Imbruglia, on the other hand, amazingly (!) out-acts Elizabeth Hurley.

Notice, if you will, the fact that I did not even mention Hurley in my piece on Austin Powers.

That was because her performance was largely limp.

Sure…she’s exquisitely beautiful.¬† Yes, she has acting chops…

But Imbruglia took a small role in a cursed film and turned it into a moment in which to really shine.

But but but…

Let’s not get too lost in the praise.

Really this whole thing would be lost at sea were it not for Rowan Atkinson.

He indeed approaches the genius of Harpo Marx.

That is no small feat.

I, for one, wish Atkinson’s oeuvre was larger so that I could devote more attention to his talent.

Perhaps the best is yet to come.

We can certainly hold out such hope!

-PD

Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs [1988)

“Made-for-TV movie” used to have such a cheap ring to it and this flick would be defying the odds to have aged well, but it is surprisingly charming in a Night Court/Roxanne sort of way.¬† Often on my site I take the opportunity to wax geopolitical under the pretext of reviewing a rather vapid film.¬† I think, for once, I’m going to stick to the basics.¬† There are just too many endearing qualities about this bastard film for me to dissect the gross ethno-cultural generalizations at any great length.

I was reminded recently about Airplane! (1980).  Indeed, I picked the wrong week to quit tobacco.  So, sometimes we have to revel in the yucks and let some water go under the bridge (or some such hackneyed expression).

This movie depicts Arabs as blood-thirsty caricatures, but if you haven’t figured out that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a false flag by now…you’re never gonna get it.¬† If you didn’t look up Operation Gladio the last time I mentioned it, then you probably just don’t give a fuck about the truth.

Ah, touchy touchy…¬† Yes, I’m tired of the 24/7 propaganda of Fox News.¬† Same goes for MSNBC, CNN, all of them.¬† All crap.¬† The only, ONLY person I saw get it right and write an elegant article about it was Paul Craig Roberts.¬† It was a featured story at infowars.com.¬† It should be cached there.¬† If you want to know the truth about the recent wave of fake terror, look there.¬† HOWEVER, I must say that the quickest to call BS were Wayne Madsen and Webster Tarpley.¬† Madsen’s pithy comments are usually right on the money.¬† He can be found at waynemadsenreport.com.¬† Tarpley is at tarpley.net.

Ok, now we’ve really deviated from film review.¬† Wow.¬† See, that exercise in not caring did not work.¬† Sorry guys.¬† I care.

So, basically two Arabs in this film draw their short swords (gladio, anyone?) at the very beginning of this film during an argument on the floor of the UN General Assembly.¬† Actually, it is a very cheap made-for-TV rendering, but that is ostensibly what we are to be looking at.¬† And so they insult one another and act like animals (comical, of course) and one infers that the other is involved in bestiality with his camel.¬† Ah, another time…¬† It’s almost like rewatching 48 Hours.¬† Some of that humor is just TOO RAW now.

But anyway, blah blah…a generic Asian character is cinematically accused of eating dog.¬† You know, those sort of ethnic stereotypes from this chestnut:¬† 1988.

But…BUT…it IS a charming movie.¬† If you can get past all that other stuff as the world is being manipulated into further war through Islamo-Gladio, then there is much to like about this little classic with Harry Anderson from Night Court and Ed Begley Jr. from Spinal Tap (ha!).¬† Linda Purl is actually pretty darn good in this.¬† Same for Wendy Crewson.¬† Hey, director James Frawley obviously didn’t have a big budget here…and so this is a nice little homage to the Pink Panther series and other spy spoofs.¬† Oh, pro tip:¬† my “espionage” category is all spy spoofs…so far!¬† Might have to keep you people on your toes.¬† Ah, but it’s not like anyone is actually reading this.¬† So to the bought-and-paid-for enemies of humanity (the intel agency assassins/military special ops) who continue to turn bloody trick after trick like the prostitutes you know you are:¬† fuck you.

-PD

For Your Eyes Only [1981)

This is where it gets good again.¬† After the misery of Moonraker, leave it to a guy named John Glen to rescue the series from ineptitude.¬† Like a master astronaut compared to Lewis Gilbert, Glen’s directorial debut in the series was auspicious enough to grant him the chair for four more films.

The MacGuffin (the ATAC machine…a missile command system) bears a striking resemblance to a Boss DR-880 drum machine.¬† When I was a boy this was a film I saw numerous times on TV.¬† It may, in fact, be the first Bond film I ever saw.

Credit the props department or perhaps wardrobe for the iconic octagonal glasses of the transient villain Locque.¬† While not as obviously creepy as Blofeld (seen in the intro where he meets his demise at the bottom of a smokestack), Locque’s silent presence is a unifying element for a series which had recently lacked imagination.¬† His nickname “The Dove” is said to be, “a sick joke.”¬† In short, he is a complex if not central character.

For once in the series, Bond turns down the affections of a beautiful young woman (ostensibly because she is too young).  Bibi Dahl also perhaps makes it too easy for our Don Juan superspy.

The underwater recovery of the ATAC is the closest thing to a true hint of return to the glory of Thunderball the series had captured in a long time.¬† It is a genuinely engaging scene and makes us realize just how far astray the¬†franchise had gone.¬† Even the escape from the¬†keelhauling is convincing and ingenious.¬† Glen distinguishes himself as a careful director in the Hitchcock tradition (attention to detail)…a far cry from his predecessor Gilbert.

The climb up the¬†cliff face to St. Cyril’s monastery is riveting.¬† I remember this scene palpably from my youth.¬† The stress on the climbing tools…the rope…the hooks and hammers.¬† Bond’s recovery (with aid from his copious shoestrings) is really a nifty trick.

Carole Bouquet is mysteriously beautiful (and deadly with a crossbow) as Melina Havelock.  She is such a step up from previous Bond girl Lois Chiles.  Chaim Topol (credited as merely Topol) is really a great, great supporting actor in this film.  I mistook him for Alfonso Arau from Romancing the Stone (another great 80s film).

Michael Gothard was very well-cast as Locque.  Walter Gotell is brilliant as always as General Gogol.  We see a bit more of him in this film as the Reagan era of the Cold War was beginning its deep freeze.

The final touch of having Bond wired through to Prime Minister Thatcher is hilarious.  Janet Brown does an impeccable impersonation.  Bernard Lee (M) had passed on before he could film his scenes and this seems like a good time to honor the memory of a fine actor.  Thank you Mr. Lee.

Further recommended viewing is That Obscure Object of Desire (directed by Luis Bu√Īuel)…that is, if you can’t get enough Carole Bouquet.

That Bond goes from driving a Lotus to a Citro√ęn 2CV is emblematic of a film which hits all the right buttons both high and low.¬† Fans of The Pink Panther (1963) might recognize the location shoot of Cortina D’Ampezzo.¬† The greatest cheese factor comes at the outset with the song by Sheena Easton.¬† It really does get better from there.¬† Happy viewing!

 

-PD

 

The Pink Panther [1963)

Reporting from Lugash…I just have word that Cortina d’Ampezzo is a real place.¬† It cannot be confirmed at this time, but the report indicates it was the location of the 1956 Winter Olympics.¬† What is even more unbelievable is the claim that a James Bond movie was shot there in 1981.

There is no disputing that Switzerland has four official languages (including Romansh), but our fabled Cortina is said to have a language called Ladin.  This is, I know, hard to fathom.  It is even said that Hemingway wrote for a short time in Cortina, but I do not believe it for one second.

Now…Skardu, in Pakistan:¬† that is an actual town!¬† [and not too very far from Lugash, I might add]¬† But one must never confuse Akbar the Magnificent with the Mughal Emperor Akbar.¬† They are approximately 450 years apart chronologically.¬† There are some rumors of a mountain called K2 in the vicinity of Skardu, but do not pay this any mind.¬† It is simply a myth, I tell you.¬† It would behoove these mythmakers to concentrate on more pressing problems such as Y2K.¬† The world is still in danger, I tell you!¬† Think, for instance, if a clock was 15 years behind, yes?¬† It could be this very New Year’s Eve when this very real menace finally brings our technological world to its knees.¬† But I digress…

Now, let me tell you about this lake in the vicinity of the very real Skardu (near to the very real Lugash).¬† Shangrila Lake is as lovely as the probably-fictional Cortina purports to be.¬† There is even a restaurant in the fuselage of an aircraft which crashed nearby.¬† See:¬† you would never have such an obviously real detail in the notes of a “place” like Cortina.¬† One must use logic and deduce what is faux from what is not faux.¬† Now then…

I tell you all of this back story because I firmly believe Sir Charles Lytton to be one and the same with Sir James Bond.¬† I¬†know this may seem to be a stretch to the untrained mind, but I will elucidate my reasoning in due time.¬† I would also be willing to bet my job with the S√Ľret√© that this same Sir Charles is the elusive Phantom for whom I have been searching my entire life.¬† In due course I will explain this, this…how do you call it?¬† Triple agent!

I, of course, am now writing from the Gaol here in Voghera.¬† I believe that the very real Princess Dala was conspiring with someone (I don’t know who…certainly not my wife) and that she stole the Pink Panther herself so that it would not be taken away from her by the government of the very real country of Lugash (Voghera being a little-known hamlet in the Lombardy area of Lugash).¬† I will address the claims that I am homosexual at a later date.

The fact that I was made to testify against myself in court was really a sneaky gambit on the part of Sir Charles’ barrister.¬† I must admit that I passed out in shock from having the Pink Panther fall from my coat pocket.¬† Now they are claiming I also stole some ridiculous and obviously nonexistent jewel called the Hope Diamond, but I tell you…I am about 400 years too young for that to even be possible.¬† And contrary to accounts, I have never gone by the name Tavernier.

I would like to clear up some further controversy.  The Daria-i-Noor diamond does not exist.  I can see how some might mistake it for the very real Pink Panther because of the preposterous similarities between the very real Lugash and some fictional country called Iran, but I can assure you that there is no Iran.  India?  Yes.  Persia?  Of course.  Iran?  It sounds like a song by The Flock of The Seagulls.  It is obviously a lie.

Most importantly!¬† I do not plan to be held in the gaol for much longer as I am sure the real Phantom will strike again.¬† At that point, I intend to resume work for the S√Ľret√© (having been properly exonerated of all wrongdoing).

Furthermore, I have never heard of this silly Alfred Itchcock nor his supposed film Foreign Correspondent so I cannot answer claims that any of my story bears resemblance to his film.¬† But be well-advised:¬† when I chase a criminal, I always catch that criminal.¬† As my great countryman Racine said, “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”

One last note.  Topkapi is just a movie.  I will admit, I do not see the humor in the criminal aspects, but I do enjoy that the thieves are eventually dispensed justice.  So to further clarify with the geography lesson:  Topkapi is not a real place.

I have been asking for coffee here in my cell in Voghera in Lugash since I have been imprisoned and if TopkapńĪ were really a neighborhood of Istanbul I would demand they bring me a Turkish coffee immediately (and it better be tonight).¬† But you see, they could not…the whole concept is a farce…unlike my very sad and serious imprisonment.¬† Please tell my darling Simone that I love her…and remind her not to be too frugal with the housekeeping money.¬† I know she is quite capable of buying mink coats from the leftover money.¬† She has done it before, my pigeon…

-PD