Episode 63 Norma Rae Part 1. This week sees us examining this 1979 movie about a Southern States textile worker, Norma Rae of the title fighting to gain Union representation at her mill. For playing the title role, Sally Field won the Best Actress Oscar and it has been widely praised for its depiction of the long and often bitter fight of the working people against the moneyed bosses in American industry. We will assess its entertainment level but mainly just how true to the real story the movie manages to stay. Part 2 will be along next week.
Episode 62: Reversal of Fortune. This week sees us joined again by guest co-host Sean Munger of the wonderful Second Decade Podcast. This is one of Sean’s favourite movies and he has a lawyer’s insight into the legal battle described as New York socialite Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons) tries to have his conviction reversed for attempted murder of his wife Sunny (Glenn Close). Claus is represented by Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silvers), now a well-known celebrity lawyer and also the author of the book on which the movie is based. So is it a true depiction of these mid-1980s events? We will try and find out.
Episode 61: Thirteen Days. Released in 2000, this movie stars Kevin Costner as special advisor to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and shows the tension, the sense of impending doom and the real risk of imminent nuclear war that occurred over this brief period in 1962. The movie takes a White House perspective on the crisis and has been very well received by critics and audiences although it struggled at the box office. We look at how well it entertains as well as its level of accuracy.
Episode 60: Breaker Morant. We are delighted to be joined by Des Latham, host of The Anglo-Boer War Podcast as we examine this 1980 depiction of a British war crimes trial held in South Africa, little known outside Australia and South Africa but within those countries, a case that still resonates loudly today. Rated 100% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, superb performances by Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson make it an incredibly watchable movie. Our task, expertly assisted by Des, will be to judge its accuracy.
Episode 59: Supplementary 4 The Ones That Got Away Part Two. This week sees Martin flying solo as we bring you our second batch of movies that didn’t quite make the cut for a full episode. We are covering the following movies, each with their start time in case you want to skip ahead:
The Bridge on the River Kwai 13.45 The epic David Lean war movie about a group of Allied POWs in Japanese occupied Thailand building a bridge.
Mississippi Burning 35.00 Based on the 1960s FBI investigation into the murder of three civil rights volunteers, this powerful movie stars Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as the lead investigators.
The Greatest Showman 50.05 The musical biopic of PT Barnum and how his circus show was started. Beloved by audiences, less so by critics (or Martin!) we look at how much glitter has been spread over the real story.
The Lost City of Z 1hr 11.52 Colonel Percy Fawcett was a British explorer in the early 1900s, seeking evidence of a lost Amazonian civilization.
BAT-21 1hr 29.44 Gene Hackman makes his second appearance in today’s episode playing the role of Colonel Iceal Hambelton, shot down over Vietnam and trying to evade capture.
Gangs of New York 1hr 45.39 The first collaboration between Martin Scorcese and Leonardo di Caprio, this sprawling movie shows the lawless side of New York during the US Civil War. Daniel Day Lewis stands out as the movie’s villain with a typically brilliant performance.
Episode 58: Kingdom of Heaven. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom, this story of a young Crusader trying to come to terms with religion, guilt and knightly aspirations promises much with some great cinematography, detailed battle scenes, a love interest plus court intrigue as our hero discovers that supposed friends can be a lot more scheming and devious than your supposed enemies. Our interest is in both the entertainment value of the movie and its historical accuracy as we attempt to sort myth from truth, Hollywood hype from gritty reality. More popular with audiences than critics, the version we are examining is the theatrical release one; there is a director’s cut which is said to be more coherent so if that’s the one you’ve seen, good choice and sorry if we don’t mention the extra bits. We hope you enjoy.
Episode 57: The Great Escape. 1963’s epic war movie has become a classic, loved by many viewers and remembered for some iconic moments, most of them involving Steve McQueen who is arguably one of the coolest actors ever to grace a screen. Based on a book by Paul Brickhill who was a POW in Stalag Luft III when the break-out occurred, we aim to find out how accurately the movie follows the reality of the breakout, the men involved and the details of their various experiences. It’s a big movie so this is a big episode with ups and downs and, no doubt, a few daredevil leaps across the fences of accepted reality (that one was inserted with help from the HbH literary crowbar).
Episode 56: The Favourite. 2018’s period piece about Queen Anne and two of her female courtiers vying for preference in her favours was beloved by critics more than it was by audiences. Some very accomplished performances by the leading role actors led to an Oscar for Olivia Coleman and multiple other awards. Director Yorgos Lanthimos said all along that he was not making an historical documentary so our quest is to establish just how much he played with the known facts in his quest to make an entertaining story about friendship and the corrupting effects of power.
Episode 55 Bohemian Rhapsody. This episode takes a nostalgia trip for both hosts as we examine 2018’s musical biopic about Queen and Freddie Mercury. Critics didn’t much like it but audiences love it, as did the Academy Award committee as the movie won four Oscars including Best Actor for Rami Malek. We very much side with the audiences as we both thoroughly enjoyed what is a very entertaining and moving film. What we’ll try to do here is establish how close to the truth the movie managed to keep as it charts the rise of one of the world’s most successful rock bands.