Top Ten Favorite Movies Set in the 1970s

Below is my current list of favorite movies set in the 1970s:

FAVORITE MOVIES SET IN THE 1970s

1 - American Gangster

1. American Gangster (2007) – Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe starred in this biopic about former Harlem drug kingpin, Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts, the Newark police detective who finally caught him. Ridley Scott directed this energetic tale.

2 - Munich

2. Munich (2005) – Steven Spielberg directed this tense drama about Israel’s retaliation against the men who committed the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Ciarán Hinds starred.

3. Rush (2013) – Ron Howard directed this account of the sports rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One auto racing season. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl starred.

4 - Casino

4. Casino (1995) – Martin Scorsese directed this crime drama about rise and downfall of a gambler and enforcer sent West to run a Mob-owned Las Vegas casino. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone starred.

5 - Super 8

5. Super 8 (2011) – J.J. Abrams directed this science-fiction thriller about a group of young teens who stumble across a dangerous presence in their town, after witnessing a train accident, while shooting their own 8mm film. Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Kyle Chandler starred.

6 - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) – Gary Oldman starred as George Smiley in this recent adaptation of John le Carré’s 1974 novel about the hunt for a Soviet mole in MI-6. Tomas Alfredson directed.

7 - Apollo 13

7. Apollo 13(1995) – Ron Howard directed this dramatic account about the failed Apollo 13 mission in April 1970. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon starred.

8 - Nixon

8. Nixon (1995) – Oliver Stone directed this biopic about President Richard M. Nixon. The movie starred Anthony Hopkins and Joan Allen.

9 - Starsky and Hutch

9. Starsky and Hutch (2004) – Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson starred in this comedic movie adaptation of the 70s television series about two street cops hunting down a drug kingpin. Directed by Todd Phillips, the movie also starred Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Snoop Dogg.

10 - Frost-Nixon

10. Frost/Nixon (2008) – Ron Howard directed this adaptation of the stage play about David Frost’s interviews with former President Richard Nixon in 1977. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen starred.

“JULIE AND JULIA” (2009) Review

“JULIE AND JULIA” (2009) Review

Written and directed by Nora Ephron, “JULIE AND JULIA” depicts events in the life of chef Julia Child during the early years in her culinary career; contrasting with the life of a woman named Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook during a single year. Ephron had based her screenplay on two books – “My Life in France”, Child’s autobiography, written with Alex Prud’homme; and “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously” by Powell. Two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep portrayed Julia Child and two-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams portrayed Julie Powell.

The plot is simple. A New Yorker named Julie Powell, who works for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to help victims of the 9/11 bombings, has become disatisfied with her life when she realizes that her friends (or should I say acquaintances?) have more exciting professional lives. To help her deal with her apathy and knowing that she is an excellent cook, husband Eric (Chris Messina) suggests that she create a blog to record her experiences in cooking a recipe (each day) from Julia Child’s famous cookbook, ” Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Woven in to Powell’s story is Child’s experiences as the wife of an American diplomat in Paris during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The movie also reveals Child’s entry into the world of French cuisine and her attempts to write and publish a cookbook on French cooking for Americans.

“JULIE AND JULIA” was not a movie that exactly shook my world. It was a warm and engaging look into the lives of two women whose interest in French cuisine attracted the attention of the public. In the case of Julia Child, her decade long attempt to write a cookbook on French cuisine led to her becoming a television celebrity and icon. Julie Powell’s attempt to recount her experiences in preparing the recipes from Child’s cookbook led to her blog, media attention and this movie. I have read a few reviews of the movie and most critics and filmgoers seemed more interested in Child’s early years as a chef in France than they were by Powell’s experiences with her blog. Granted, the Child sequences were a lot of fun, due to Streep’s performance of the charming, enthusiastic and fun-loving chef. But I must admit to being surprised by how much I had enjoyed Powell’s experiences with her blog. I realize that I am going to be bashed for this, but Powell’s experiences seemed to have more emotional substance to them.

I am not saying that the Powell sequences were better written or more entertaining. But due to Ephron’s portrayal of the Texan-turned-New Yorker, the Powell sequences seemed more complex and emotionally satisfying. In other words, Amy Adams – who portrayed Powell – had the meatier role. Most critics and fans of the film would disagree with me. After all, it seemed very obvious that Streep was having a ball portraying the enthusiastic and fun loving Julia Child. Her ability to easily befriend many of the French and her deepening love for French cuisine made it quite easy to see how she quickly became a celebrity. But Ephron never really delved into the darker aspects of Child’s character or marriage – except touch upon the chef’s disappointment at being childless. She certainly did with Powell. And Amy Adams did a superb job in re-creating a very complex and occasionally insecure personality. But I suspect that when the awards season rolls around the corner, it will be Streep who will earn most of the nominations . . . or perhaps all of them.

The rest of the cast of “JULIE AND JULIA” were just as excellent as Streep and Adams. Stanley Tucci portrayed Child’s diplomat husband, Paul Child. He gave a warm, yet more restrained performance as a man happily caught up in his wife’s growing interest in becoming a chef; yet at the same time, conveyed his character’s unhappiness with his failing diplomatic career due to a change in the country’s political winds. Like Adams, Chris Messina had a more difficult role as Powell’s husband, Eric Powell. Unlike Child, he has to deal with his frustration in his wife’s growing obssession with her blog . . . along with her occasional bouts with arrogance, insecurity and self-absorption. And at one point in the film, he loses his temper in spectacular fashion. I also enjoyed Linda Emond’s performance as French cook Simone Beck, who co-authored Child’s cookbook; and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Powell’s acerbic friend, Amy. One other performance that really caught my eye belonged to Jane Lynch as Julia Child’s equally extroverted sister, Dorothy McWilliams. Watching Lynch and Streep portray the McWilliams sisters take Paris by storm was a joy to behold.

Although I had enjoyed “JULIA AND JULIA”, I had a few problems with it. One, it was too long. The movie’s pacing started out fine. Unfortunately, I was ready for it to end at least twenty minutes before it actually did. By 100 minutes into the film, the pacing began to drag. And although I had no problems with the movie’s alternating storylines, I felt that it failed to seque smoothly between Child and Powell’s stories. The jump from Powell’s story to Child’s and back seemed ragged and uneven to me. And as I had pointed out before, the story surrounding Child’s story seemed less emotionally complex and more frothy in compare to Powell’s story, giving me another reason to view the movie as uneven.

Despite its flaws, “JULIE AND JULIA” is an entertaining film that many who are into cooking or food would enjoy. Both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams gave first-rate performances. And the movie also gave filmgoers a peek into life for Americans in post-World War II Paris. In the end, I found the movie enjoyable, but not earth-shattering. I would recommend it.

EL DORADO WEST [PG] – Chapter Twelve

The following is Chapter Twelve of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849: 

Chapter Twelve – On the Trail

May 12, 1849
Tension has permeated the wagon company since Marcus Cross nearly fell into the Kanzas River, two days ago. Mr. Anderson has been trying to put an end to their feud by offering his apologies since the noon break, yesterday. But the Cross cousins maintained their distance. As far as they were concerned, the Louisiana emigrant had been careless. 

The Delaware cousins’ hostile silence finally cracked during supper, today. After Marcus Cross rebuked another one of Mr. Anderson’s apologies, the latter turned away, mumbling complaints about ”bad” manners. It turned out to be the last straw for the Delaware native. Mr. Cross grabbed Mr. Anderson by the lapels of the his coat and punched him in the jaw. Intervention by Mr. John Cross, Mr. James and Mr. Wendell prevented the younger Cross cousin from committing further assault.

“I want that bastard hanged!” Mr. Anderson had cried. “That man tried to kill me!” His cries came to naught, for most of the company did not want to get involved in the feud between and the Cross cousins – even if most of them sympathized with the Delaware men.

Whatever feelings most of the company possessed, everyone’s main concern seemed to be that the two feuding men should remain apart. According to Mr. James, there was nothing more destructive to a wagon train than dissention among the emigrants. While the Cross cousins traveled behind the Robbins wagon, Mr. Anderson and his companions traveled at the rear.

May 18, 1849
Nearly two weeks had passed since our departure from Westport. By this time, a daily pattern had emerged for our trek west. The company usually started the day around five in the morning. While a handful of men tended to the stock, other emigrants – both men and women – gathered wood and water for breakfast. Mr. James refuses to allow any of the women to wander off alone. The women usually finished preparing breakfast by six-thirty, which was eaten by seven o’clock. After the company hitched up the wagons, another day’s journey would commence.

Around noon, the wagon train usually formed a circle to guard against marauding Indians (which we have yet to encounter) and prevent the stock from wandering. Only water was usually gathered for the midday meals. Mr. James had suggested we eat cold dinners around this time of the day and save the next hot meal for suppers. The noon halt usually lasted an hour before we set out on the road again.

The second half of a day’s journey usually ended around six o’clock. Mr. James informed us that when the days began to get shorter by September, the company’s evening halt would begin an hour earlier. September? That is four months away. How long will it take us to reach California?

Again, the men gathered water and wood. The women prepared the meals and we all ate supper. It was usually around this time when Mr. James would entertain us with one of his tales about the West or the Palmer brothers would engage in their outrageous sense of humor. One of our Tennesseeans, the younger Mr. Goodwin, seemed slightly perplexed by the New Englanders’ humor.

“What’s wrong with our humor?” Warren Palmer demanded in a more sober mood.

Jonas Goodwin admitted that he found them entertaining. “It’s just that I always thought you Yankees were a serious lot. You know – religious and penny pinching. With no sense of humor.”

Both Palmers broke into laughter. “Ah, the very image of Brother Jonathan himself,” Richard Palmer said with a twinkle in his eyes. “I reckon there are a good number of such men in our part of the country. Since traveling cross country, I’ve noticed that they seemed to be all over. Maybe even in Tennessee?”

The elder Mr. Goodwin spoke up in defense of his son and state. “Now, I would not exactly say that, sir. True, we have a lot of God fearing folk in Tennessee. But I don’t know about penny pinchers.”

“I’m from Kentucky,” Mr. Robbins said. “And I have certainly encountered a good number of Brother Jonathan types there. And in Virginia. I’ll tell you what. How many of you have encountered these Brother Jonathan types back home? With no sense of humor?”

Nearly everyone raised their hands, save the Goodwins and Mr. Anderson. The latter shot warning looks at his female companions. But they refused to be intimidated and raised their hands. “This is nonsense!” The younger Mr. Goodwin cried out. “But all of y’all are Yankees!”

Elias Wendell revealed that he was from Maryland. The Crosses mentioned that Delaware was a border state. Each of Mr. Anderson’s female companions stated that their birthplaces were Augusta, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana respectively. Mr. James added, “Although I’ve been living in Ohio these past two decades, I’m originally from North Carolina. Just goes to show you, Mr. Goodwin, it don’t do to judge a book by its cover. A fine old adage to follow, if you ask me.”

Unable to support his earlier belief, young Mr. Goodwin acknowledged defeat . . . with good grace, I might add. However, Mr. Anderson seemed annoyed by the whole matter. Some people simply do not want to learn.

End of Chapter Twelve

“TIMELESS”: Secrets and Mistrust

“TIMELESS”: SECRETS AND MISTRUST

Ever since Season Two of NBC’s “TIMELESS” completed its run, I have found myself re-watching the series from the beginning. It has been something of a slow burn, but I did not wish rush through it. Recently, I watched Season One episode called (1.06) “The Watergate Tape” and discovered something unpleasant about the series’ trio of protagonists. Well . . . at least two of them.

Ever since the series’ premiere, (1.01) “Pilot”, the initial protagonist, the former NSA agent and rogue time traveler Garcia Flynn, has been trying to convince main protagonist Dr. Lucy Preston that they would become future colleagues and that he had possession of her future diary. Flynn also tried to warn Lucy about Rittenhouse, a mysterious political organization that has been at the forefront of the United States’ development since the American Revolution. Horrified by the idea of being a colleague with a man she regarded as nothing more than a murderer, she kept silent about the encounters.

In the same episode, the creator of the two time machines and head of Mason Industries, Connor Mason, had instructed his programming engineer/time machine pilot Rufus Carlin to provide an audio recording of his missions with Lucy and U.S. Army Delta Force operative Master Sergeant Wyatt Logan. Although Rufus agreed, he changed his mind in the next episode, (2.02) “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln”. To convince Rufus to cooperate, Mason reminded the engineer that he had bankrolled the latter’s education. When Rufus had refused to continue recording their missions in (1.04) “Party at Castle Varlar”, a Rittenhouse operative threatened to harm Rufus’s family if he did not cooperate. Rittenhouse’s threat was issued again in “The Watergate Tape” when an older operative (or official) appeared outside of Rufus’ home with Mason inside a limousine. The Rittenhouse official made it clear that the organization was monitoring Rufus’ family. He also made it clear that if Rufus continues to refuse recording the time travel missions, the Carlin family might cease to exist.

Both Lucy’s previous encounters with Flynn and Rufus’ secret recordings finally came to light in this episode. After Flynn managed to capture the trio not long after their arrival in 1972 Washington D.C., he revealed his previous encounters with Lucy to both Rufus and Wyatt. Needless to say, both men were surprised and upset. While Flynn kept Wyatt as a hostage, he tasked both Lucy and Rufus to find the missing “doc” that was mentioned in the infamous 18 1/2 missing minutes from one of President Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes. Both Lucy and Rufus discovered that the “doc” is actually a young African-American woman, whose family has been associated with Rittenhouse for generations. The “Doc” wanted to make her escape from the organization. Lucy overheard Rufus contact Rittenhouse and discovers that he had been providing the organization with audio recordings of their missions and reacts with anger. Meanwhile, Flynn informed Wyatt of his discovery that Rittenhouse had bankrolled Mason Industries and the organization’s murders of his wife and child. Because of this, Flynn became determined to bring down Rittenhouse, using the stolen time machine created by Mason. By the end of the episode, a very angry Wyatt learned about Rufus’ recordings on Rittenhouse’s behalf and instructed the latter to continue recording their missions.

I must not have understood the emotions that emitted from the protagonists in this episode, when I first saw it. As far as I knew, Lucy was angry at Rufus for recording their missions for Rittenhouse. Rufus was angry (at first) over Lucy’s previous discussions with Flynn. And Wyatt was angry at both of them for keeping secrets from him. I did not pay much attention to all of this, because in the following episode, (1.07) “Stranded”, the trio made their peace with each other. But after this latest re-watch of the episode, I found myself speculating on the two secrets kept by Rufus and Lucy and the reactions to them.

I understood why Rufus and Wyatt were upset over Flynn’s revelations that he had been in contact with Lucy. As far as both men were aware, Garcia Flynn was an enemy determined to bring down the United States government and the man who had murdered his family. The U.S. government have been trying to capture or kill him since the first episode. And considering that Lucy had failed to inform them of her interactions with Flynn since the first mission, I would not have been surprised if Wyatt and Rufus had began to wonder about her role on their team or whether she had been associated with Flynn all along.

However, my feelings regarding Rufus’ situation proved to be different. I understood Lucy and Wyatt’s initial anger over their discovery that the former had been recording their missions. But Rufus had made it clear that after their first mission he had refused to continue his recording until Rittenhouse had threatened to kill his family. He had even made an effort to point out that the organization had been observing him, his mother and his brother. Although Wyatt had instructed Rufus to continue recording the missions until they can learn more about Rittenhouse . . . he remained angry at and distrustful of the engineer. So did Lucy. And for some reason, I found myself feeling angry at both of them.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Wyatt and Lucy had allowed their anger to get the best of them . . . to the point that they seemed unwilling to comprehend the threat that Rittenhouse had personally posed to Rufus. It was bad enough that Connor had used his past sponsorship of Rufus’s career to blackmail the latter into cooperating.

Following Wyatt’s discovery of Flynn’s past history of Rittenhouse and the threats that Rufus had received, I found myself wondering why he still remained angry at the engineer. Surely he understood why Rufus had agreed to cooperate with Rittenhouse? The latter’s family had been threatened. And considering Flynn’s revelation that Rittenhouse had murdered his family, surely Wyatt understood that Rufus had a good reason to cooperate and keep those recordings a secret in the first place. On one level, he seemed to understand. After all, he did instruct Rufus to continue the recordings. But why remain angry at the other man? Why declare in an angry voice that he could never trust Rufus again? Was Wyatt really that self absorbed and hypocritical? Did he really believe that Rufus should have thought of the team over the Carlin family? Was he privately pissed that he might have to consider that Garcia Flynn’s conflict with Rittenhouse had some merit?

One might accuse Rufus of hypocrisy, considering his reaction to the revelation that Lucy had been in contact with Flynn since the first mission. However, I realized that Rufus had a better excuse for keeping his secret than Lucy had for keeping hers. His family had been threatened. Their safety, along with his, was at stake. Had Flynn threatened Lucy to keep their past conversations a secret? Had he threatened to kill her mother, Carol Preston, if she reveal their encounters to Rufus, Wyatt and Agent Christopher? The answer to both questions were “no”. Not only did Flynn not threatened Lucy to keep their private encounters a secret, he was the one who revealed those encounters to Rufus and Wyatt. And he had seemed a bit surprised that Lucy’s teammates never knew.

And yet . . . like Wyatt, Lucy had remained angry at Rufus by the end of the episode. I found myself wondering why she had remained angry. She seemed well aware that Rittenhouse was a threat. Not only had Rufus informed her that the organization had threatened him and his family, but that it also wanted “the Doc” killed. More importantly, the latter had explained to Lucy on just how dangerous Rittenhouse could be. Yet, she was still pissed at Rufus by the time they had returned to 2016. What the fuck? Was she pissed . . . jealous that Rufus had a better excuse to keep his activities a secret than she had for keeping her conversations with Flynn a secret? Frankly, I found Lucy’s hypocrisy even worse than Wyatt’s. After all, what was her excuse? She was appalled at the idea of her future self becoming a friend and/or ally of Garcia Flynn?

I am certain that many fans of the show would find my above ramblings inconsequential. As I had pointed out earlier, the tensions between Rufus, Lucy and Wyatt were eventually settled by the next episode. Why make a fuss over what happened between them in “The Watergate Episode”. Well . . . I had read several articles about the episode. Although some reviewers had discussed how tensions had arose between the three colleagues, no one had really bothered to discuss the hypocrisy that seemed rampant in this episode. Or how this episode had pretty much exposed the uglier side of their natures – especially that of Lucy and Wyatt. At this point in the series, no one seemed willing to discuss this. And perhaps . . . the episode had annoyed me so much that I had to express myself in some form.

EL DORADO WEST [PG] – Chapter Eleven

The following is Chapter Eleven of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849: 

Chapter Eleven – Crossing the River

May 10, 1849
The wagon company came upon the Kanzas River. Mr. James took one look at the body of water and decided that our wagons would not be able to ford it. I could see why. The clear water seemed to gush from a cluster of rocks at a breakneck speed. And it flowed above the banks. Spring flood.

Mr. Robbins suggested that we wait for the river’s current to die down. But Mr. James naysayed the notion. “There’s no telling how long it would take for the water to go down. And we can’t afford to wait.” In other words – the company had to find a way to ferry across the river.

In the end, we did it with the help of a band of Indians that operated a ferry service. We came across their landing, just a little upriver. According to Mr. Wendell, they were Osage. “They came here nearly two hundred years ago from the Ohio Valley.” We stood near the riverbank, while we watched two Osage braves ferry the Robbins and Palmer wagons across the river on a flat, wooden raft. I asked about the other Indians, who also lived in this region. “Oh, you mean the Kansa and the Pawnee? They’ve been pushed a little further west. To the Platte River.”

I saw that the Osage were a handsome, bronze-skinned bunch whose clothes were decorated with colorful beads, cloths and feathers. They seemed to have established a brisk business as ferrymen and traders. For us emigrants, they were our last chance to purchase goods, until Fort Laramie – 600 miles from here. To our dismay, we discovered that the Osage charged steep prices. For all services.

“This is downright robbery,” Ben complained. “Why doesn’t the Army do something about them?” Typical Ben. Grumpy as usual. A dark suspicion began to enter in the back of my mind that he might be harboring regrets about this journey. What had he expected? A picnic on the Plains?

When our turn came to cross the Kanzas River, Ben parked our wagon between two others – the one belonging to our fellow emigrants from Indiana and the wagon belonging to the Gibson family – on what looked like a flimsy piece of wood. This was our raft? This was going to carry three wagons across the river?

The river crossing turned out to be the longest twenty minutes I have ever experienced. My anxiety increased when the water began to rise above the raft in the middle of the river. Just as I had feared, three wagons on one raft was turning out to be one wagon too many. Yet, before I could catch my breath again, we had finally reached the other side.

Mrs. Robbins commented on my expression. She declared that I looked ”a little drawn in the gills”. When I told her about the water rising above the raft, she revealed that the same had happened during her crossing. “Them Injuns sure know how to make a sturdy raft with a pile of flimsy sticks.”

Those of us who were safely on the river’s north bank, watched the other crossings. It was not long before it was time for the Crosses and our flashy New Orleans friends to cross the river. Everything seemed to proceed smoothly . . . until Mr. Wendell cried out loud. The lines holding Mr. Anderson’s wagon had loosened.

The river’s current surged upward, causing the raft to lurch. Because it had been loosely tied, the Anderson wagon slowly began to slide . . . toward the Crosses’ wagon. Fortunately, the latter wagon had been firmly secured, or both wagons would have slipped into the river. Despite this, a tragedy nearly occurred. Marcus Cross, a chestnut-haired fellow with a long, solemn face, had been sitting on the wagon seat, when Mr. Anderson’s wagon had begun to slide toward him. When the two wagons collided, Mr. Cross fell from his wagon seat and toward the river. His cousin grabbed him in time to prevent him from falling into the fast-moving river. A very close call.

After the raft completed its crossing, the two wagons rolled onto the north bank. Marcus Cross jumped from his wagon seat and angrily accosted Mr. Anderson for failing to secure his wagon. It was not before the two men became engaged in a fist fight. Thankfully, Mr. Robbins and Mr. Gibson pulled the two men apart. Judging by the looks the two men exchanged during the rest of the day, I fear that a feud has commenced between the Crosses and Mr. Anderson.

End of Chapter Eleven

“EL DORADO WEST” [PG] – Chapter Ten

The following is Chapter Ten of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:

From the Journal of Alice Fleming

Chapter Ten – Westward Ho!

May 6, 1849
Our wagon train finally left the wretched chaos of Westport and began the real journey west to California. Mr. Wendell (he had insisted that I call him Elias, but since I do not know him that well, I decided not to) suggested that I enjoy and appreciate the woods and greenery, while I can. By the end of the journey, the train will be traveling across flat prairies, deserts, shallow rivers and mountains. Even worse, there will be periods in we might not see a speck of green in sight.

Despite Mr. Wendell’s warnings, I still managed to look forward to seeing the West. Contrary to what my older brother Ben might believe, I had not accompanied him in order to escape our family’s reaction to my rejection of Charles Maxwell’s wedding proposal. I genuinely wanted to see the West. I suppose I can blame Mr. Ephraim Whitman for inflaming this desire within me with his tales of the West. He must have missed being a mountain man very much. Why on earth did he decide to spend his remaining years in a place like Cleveland, Ohio?

I was not the only one in our train, gripped with excitement over the journey’s beginning. Everyone, including the taciturn Mr. Bryant and Mr. Moore. Eyes sparkled, cheeks flushed and laughter trembled on everyone’s lips. Mrs. Robbins, bless her heart, retrieved an accordion from her wagon and began to sing a song that has recently become very popular:

Oh California! That’s the land for me!
I’m off to California with a banjo on my knee!”

What a time we had, leaving Westport!

May 8, 1849
We have finally arrived at Council Grove – “the point of no return”. Our train camped near a small body of water called Bull Creek. Surrounded by cottonwoods and elms, it seemed very tranquil. Most of the westbound wagons usually formed into companies, here at Council Grove. Although we had already formed a company back at Westport, Mr. James saw no harm in allowing two more wagons to join us. He added that more than two wagons would be too large.

Two women and a man occupied one of the wagons that joined our company. The women wore the most gaudiest outfits imaginable. One of the woman, who possessed a cluster of pale blond curls hanging down her back wore a dress with three flounces, made of deep blue crepe de Chine. The other woman – who possessed olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes – wore a Fuschia Organdie Muslin dress with more flounces and tight narrow sleeves. Both were unsuitably dressed for the journey across the Plains. I could say the same about their male companion. He was a tall, lanky man who wore a dark, frock coat, striped trousers that were narrowly cut and a heavily-embroidered waist coat. Only his wide hat seemed suitable. Unlike the women, he rode a mount. It was not difficult to surmise what occupation they engaged in.

“May I ask who you are, sir?” Mr. James addressed the flash gentleman. The latter’s name turned out to be Clive Anderson of Memphis and New Orleans. And his companions (more likely his employees) were Mary Lee Watkins and Lisette Guilbert. Apparently, they planned to open an ”establishment” in San Francisco. Mr. James replied, “Well that’s fine sir . . . as long as you and your . . . ah, companions wait until we get to California before you open for business.” Mr. Anderson scowled at Mr. James’ remark, but he remained silent. Both Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Gibson made it clear that they did not want the trio to join the wagon company, but since they were the only females in the party, they were outvoted. Naturally, my vote did not count.

Two cousins from Delaware became the last travelers to join our company. Their names were Marcus and John Cross. I found nothing remarkable or interesting about them. However, they did not exactly make themselves known. After this last addition to the James-Robbins Company, our wagon train was ready for the journey to California.

End of Chapter Ten

1880s Costumes in Movies and Television

Below are images of fashion from the decade of the 1880s, found in movies and television productions over the years:

1880s COSTUMES IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION

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“Mayerling” (1968)

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“Young Winston” (1972)

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“The Bostonians” (1984)

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“The Bostonians” (1984)

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“Back to the Future III” (1990)

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“Tombstone” (1993)

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“Wyatt Earp” (1994)

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“Topsy-Turvy” (1999)

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“Tipping the Velvet” (2002)

Top Favorite Movies of the Decade (2010-2019)

Below is a list of my top favorite movies of the decade between 2010-2019:

TOP TWENTY FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE DECADE (2000-2009)

1. “Django Unchained” (2012) – Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this first-rate film about a slave-turned-bounty hunter, who searches for his enslaved wife in antebellum Mississippi, with the help of his mentor. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson star.

2. “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) – Zack Synder directed this superb and vastly underrated second installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) about supervillain Lex Luthor’s efforts to manipulate veteran vigilante Batman into a pre-emptive battle with Superman, whom Luthor is obsessed with destroying. Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill starred as Bruce Wayne aka Batman and Clark Kent aka Superman.

3. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) – Chris Evans starred in this superb sequel to his 2011 hit about the Marvel superhero, who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy regarding S.H.I.E.L.D. and its old nemesis, HYDRA. The movie was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

4. “Lincoln” (2012) – Steven Spielberg directed this excellent look at President Abraham Lincoln near the end of his presidency. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones star.

5. “Man of Steel” (2013) – Zack Snyder directed this excellent reboot of the Superman mythos, in which the Kryptonian superhero battles a nemesis from his father’s past. Henry Cavill starred as Clark Kent aka Superman.

6. “Inception” (2010) – Christopher Nolan wrote and directed one of the most unique films I have seen – which told the story of a thief who uses dream sharing technology to steal and plant corporate secrets. Leonardo DiCaprio starred.

7. “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013) – John Lee Hancock directed this superb and emotional tale about author P.L. Travers and producer Walt Disney’s tug-of-war over the development of the 1964 movie, “MARY POPPINS”. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks starred.

8. “Dunkirk” (2017) – Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this acclaimed look at the British Expeditionary Force’s evacuation from Dunkirk, France in 1940. Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance starred.

9. “Hidden Figures” (2016) – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe starred in this Oscar nominated biopic about the true story of African American women who provided NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. Theodore Melfi directed.

10. “The Great Gatsby” (2013) – Baz Luhrmann co-wrote and directed this splashy yet entertaining adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel about a mysterious millionaire during the early years of the Jazz Age. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton starred.

11. “True Grit” (2010) – Ethan and Joel Coen wrote and directed this excellent adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel about a fourteen year-old girl’s desire for retribution against her father’s killer. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hattie Steinfeld starred.

12. “Gone Girl” (2014) – David Fincher directed this outstanding and colorful adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel about whether a man is responsible for the disappearance of his wife or not. Ben Affleck and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike starred.

13. “Silver Lining Playbook” (2012) – David O. Russell wrote and directed this Oscar-nominated adaptation of Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel, “The Silver Linings Playbook”. Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence starred.

14. “The Avengers” (2012) – Joss Whedon wrote and directed this excellent blockbuster in which S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury forms a team of superheroes to save Earth from Asgardian villain Loki and alien invaders. The cast included Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson.

15. “Wonder Woman” (2017) – Gal Gadot starred in this excellent movie about the D.C. Comics’ heroine Wonder Woman and her experiences during World War I. Patty Jenkins directed.

16. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) – Gareth Edwards directed this excellent stand alone film in the Star Wars saga about a group of Rebels who learn about the Imperial Galaxy’s new weapon, the Death Star, and set about stealing the plans. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna starred.

17. “Rush” (2013) – Ron Howard directed this exciting biopic about Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda … and their rivalry during the 1976 racing season. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl starred as the two rivals.

18. “Solo: A Star Wars Movie” (2018) – This excellent STAR WARS movie set ten years before the Original Trilogy, told the story of the early years of Han Solo as a smuggler and criminal. Directed by Ron Howard, Alden Ehrenreich starred in the title role.

19. “Black Panther” (2018) – Chadwick Boseman starred in this excellent adaptation of the Marvel Comics hero Black Panther aka King T’Challa of Wakanda about the title character’s efforts to maintain his position as Wakanda’s king, while dealing with a vengeful relation. Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, the movie co-starred Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o.

20. “Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood” (2019) – Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this excellent tale about a fading actor and his stunt double struggling to regain success in the film industry during the final year of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles. Oscar nominee Leonardo Di Caprio, Oscar winner Brad Pitt and Oscar nominee Margot Robbie starred.

Honorable Mention: “Incredibles 2” (2018) – This first-rate direct sequel to the 2004 hit Disney animated film follows the Parr family as they try to restore public’s trust in superheroes, while balancing their family life. They also find themselves combating a new foe who seeks to turn the populace against all superheroes. Directed by Brad Bird, Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson provided the voices.

Lobster Roll

Below is a small article about the American sandwich known as the Lobster Roll:

LOBSTER ROLL

One of the most popular sandwiches created in the United States in the New England dish known as the Lobster Roll. Not only is the latter native to the New England states, but also the Canadian Maritimes.

The sandwich consists of lobster meat served on a grilled hot dog-style bun. The lobster filling is served with the opening on top of the bun, instead of the side. The filling usually consists of lemon juice, salt, black pepper diced celery (or scallions) and melted butter. However, in some parts of New England, the butter is substituted with mayonnaise. Potato chips or french fries are usually served as sides for the sandwich.

According to the “Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink”, the Lobster Roll may have originated in 1929, as a hot dish at a restaurant named Perry’s in Milford, Connecticut. Over the years, the sandwich’s popularity spread up and down the Connecticut coastline, but not far beyond it. In Connecticut, when the sandwich is served warm, it is called a “Lobster Roll”. When served cold, it was called a “Lobster Salad Roll”. Over the decades, the Lobster Roll’s popularity had spread to other states along the Northeastern seaboard. As far back as 1970, chopped lobster meat heated in drawn butter was served on a hot dog bun at road side stands such as Red’s Eats in Maine.

Although it is believed to have originated in Connecticut, the Lobster Roll in the United States is usually associated with the State of Maine. But as I had pointed out, it is commonly available at seafood restaurants in the other New England states and on Eastern Long Island, New York; where lobster fishing is common. The sandwich has also become a staple summer dish throughout the Maritime provinces in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia, where hamburger buns, baguettes, or other types of bread rolls and even pita pockets are used. The traditional sides are potato chips and dill pickles. McDonald’s restaurants in the New England states and in Canadian provinces such as Nova Scotia and Ontario usually offer Lobster Rolls as a limited edition item during the summer.

Below is a recipe for the classic Maine Lobster Roll from the Destination Kennebunkport website:

Maine Lobster Roll

Ingredients

*1lbs (or slightly more) cooked lobster meat, keeping 4 of the claw meat intact for garnish
*1/4cup finely minced celery
*1/4cup best-quality mayonnaise(I prefer Stonewall Kitchen’s Farmhouse Mayo), plus additional to garnish (only if you didn’t get the claw meat out in one piece!)
*1/2tsp fresh lemon juice(I literally just squeeze a few drops on the lobster)
*Sea salt, only if necessary
*Finely ground black pepper, to taste
*4 best quality New England-style hot dog rolls
*5tbs very soft salted butter
*Optional but good – paprika to garnish

Preparation

1. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the lobster, celery, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Taste first, seasoning with salt only if necessary and lightly with pepper. Chill until ready to use, but no more than 8 hours in advance.

2. When ready to serve, place a griddle or a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spread both sides of the rolls with the butter and cook each side until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side (check your first roll, I found the bakery rolls browned faster, and it only took slightly more than a minute per side).

3. Fill and mound each roll with the lobster mixture—they will be quite full. Garnish the top of each with a piece of claw meat, or place a little dollop of mayonnaise on top of each roll and sprinkle it with a smidge of paprika or chopped chives. Serve immediately.

“FEUD” Season One – “Bette and Joan” (2017) Episode Ranking

Below is my ranking of the episodes from Season One (and the only season so far) of the F/X series called “FEUD”. Titled “Bette and Joan” and created by Ryan Murphy, the season starred Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon:

“FEUD” SEASON ONE – “BETTE AND JOAN” (2017) EPISODE RANKING

1. (1.05) “And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)” – The fallout from the Oscar nominations for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” leads to underhanded tactics from Joan Crawford, while co-star Bette Davis relishes the opportunity to break a record.

2. (1.02) “The Other Woman” – With production on “Baby Jane?” underway, Bette and Joan form an alliance, but outside forces in the form of Warner Brothers studio chief Jack Warner, director Robert Aldrich and an unsuspecting bit player conspire against them.

3. (1.07) “Abandoned!” – Following the beginning of production for “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”, the feud between Bette and Joan intensifies. Meanwhile, Bette reveals her vulnerabilities to Aldrich during their affair.

4. (1.03) “Mommie Dearest” – The “Baby Jane” production reaches its climax, while Bette and Joan clash over every last detail. And both actresses face private struggles.

5. (1.01) “Pilot” – Cast aside by Hollywood and struggling to maintain their film careers, Bette and Joan sign up for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” before they commence upon a feud.

6. (1.06) “Hagsploitation” – Hungry for another hit after “Baby Jane?”, Jack Warner pressures Aldrich into bringing the original team back together for a second project – “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”. Meanwhile, Joan receives a surprising blackmail threat from her brother.

7. (1.08) “You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?” – In this finale, Joan accepts a leading role on a new film (her last one), despite her deteriorating health. Faced with a possible new rival, Bette reflects on her misplaced feud with Joan.

8. (1.04) “More or Less” – When “Baby Jane?” opens in movie theaters, Bette and Joan face uncertain prospects, Aldrich deals with his own personal and professional difficulties, and his assistant Pauline Jameson makes a surprising offer.