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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Writer's Life 7/10 - Salutes

As much as I love movies, certain films in which I would surely be interested elude me. Such was the case with Morituri (1965), which I watched last night courtesy of Netflix. The title is taken from ancient Rome, Suetonius:"Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant," which translates as: "Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you." The quote, seen at the start, didn't really work in the film. I'd bet it did in the novel. The flick has elements that should have drawn me to it upon its release: a WWII story and Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner, actors I've always enjoyed, especially the former. Was I disappointed it was shot in black and white? I doubt that would have deterred me, especially since the reviews were decent. Based on the novel by Werner Jorg Lueddecke, it is well-plotted. Back then, story was more important than action. Brando plays a German who fled his country, disgusted with its direction under Hitler. He wants no part of war, but is blackmailed by British Secret Service into undertaking a dangerous mission aboard a ship carrying rubber, which the allies intend to steal. Brando must disarm the explosives that would scuttle the craft to keep it out of the enemy's hands. His accent seems flawless, at least to my ear. This was before he soured on his craft and compromised his great gift. Brynner plays the Captain. Trevor Howard has only one scene, as the officer who "recruits" Brando. Wally Cox, a lifelong friend of Brando, plays the morphine-addicted ship's doctor. Janet Margolin plays a captured prisoner who has suffered Nazi humiliations. I was surprised at how good the film is, perhaps because I went in with low expectations. After all, it is largely forgotten. I haven't seen it in the TV listings in decades. Another plus was Jerry Goldsmith's score. He has 93 credits listed under Soundtrack at IMDb. The screenplay was adapted by Daniel Taradash, who won an Oscar for his adaptation of James Jones' From Here to Eternity (1953), and also adapted Clifford Odets' play Golden Boy (1939) for the big screen. The director, Bernhard Wicki, was a complete mystery to me. He worked largely in Europe and mostly as an actor, logging 75 credits, to his 14 at the helm, and ten as screenwriter. Margolin, who succumbed to cancer at 50, has exactly 50 credits. She was on Broadway at 18 and was nominated for a Tony for Daughter of Silence. Despite an auspicious beginning in Hollywood playing a schizophrenic in David and Lisa (1962), her career never truly blossomed, despite talent and good looks. 2355 users at IMDb have rated Morituri, forging to a consensus of seven out of ten. I agree. Here's a pic of Margolin:
QB Kordell Stewart left the University of Colorado after the 1994 season, in which the Buffaloes finished third in the national rankings. He was one course short of a degree in Communications. He has finally completed that requirement. He played eleven years in the NFL with the Steelers, Bears and Ravens. Although he was not a great passer, he helped his teams by being a triple threat, throwing, rushing and receiving. He had 14,746 yards passing, a completion percentage of 55.8. He threw 77 TD's and 84 Int's. He combined for 2874 yards rushing and receiving and scored 38 TD's. His record as a starting QB was 48-34. Well done, sir.

My thanks to the two ladies who bought six works of non-fiction between them, and to the gentleman who donated a bag of books that contained three classics: Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Richard Adams' Watership Down.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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