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Part of last night’s conversation was in response to Boy #2’s suggestion that we watch The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellan, 1982). We finally bought a DVD version of this because our taped-from-my-parents’-TV VHS copy died. Hubby led off the discussion on “fictional gentlemen adventurers with secret identities”, with an eye to finding out if there was one older than Sir Percy Blakeney. I mean, the Baroness D’Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel back in 1903. There had to be somebody!

Well, we really couldn’t think of one! Zorro, whose pedigree is similar, wasn’t created until 1919 in “The Curse of Capistrano”. The Shadow, another “wealthy man about town” was 1930. Wikipedia suggests Sherlock Holmes to have or be a secret identity, but he was more a master of disguise – then again, so is Sir Percy! But, as Hubby put it, “he’s not going around under an assumed name in a more or less constant fashion”.

Tonight I brought up two old Disney favorites that I thought might be relevant. One was the Swamp Fox, who is a historical figure anyway and not at all fictional. The “old swamp fox” was a sobriquet the British gave him.

The other was the Scarecrow, or the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn, who was a smuggler and pirate with a “secret identity” of a country vicar. Hubby brought out the fact that the man was not a hero, and a quick look at Wikipedia showed that his first appearance was 1915. Hubby mentioned a character in an operetta, that of an archeologist who had a secret identity of a freedom-fighter in Northern Africa. The operetta was The Desert Song, and was written in 1926. It was inspired both by tales of Lawrence of Arabia and a 1925 uprising in Morocco. The archeologist’s name was Pierre Birabeau and his heroic alter ego was The Red Shadow. (It had a really cool song: The Riffs.)

So, as far as I can tell, ol’ Percy is an original! Do any of my readers or friends have any candidates? (And don’t you just love our table talk?)

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We rented four movies and watched them over Saturday night and today. Here are the movies we watched, in order of watching them.

Detective Dee -- a Chinese action/detective movie set in China's past. We've heard recordings of the "Judge Dee" stories, which were based on a historical figure named Di Renjie from the Tang dynasty. So, to some extent, we were familiar with the character, though this took a lot of liberties with him. The sets were fantastic and the fight scenes were choreographed by Sammo Hung, who had an American TV detective show of his own some years back. The funniest part was the disconnect between the English subtitles (which we had on so my husband could understand the dialog) and the English dubbing. The subtitles were probably a more faithful translation of the Chinese, especially since the word "beetles" in the subtitles (referring to "fire beetles") was translated into the English dialog as "turtles"! (Believe me, when you finally saw these things, you knew they weren't turtles at all!) Lots of fun for us.

The Three Musketeers -- This was the most recent one, with airships and martial-arts style fight sequences. The dialog could be terribly corny with the French nobility sounding like a whole lot of modern-day Americans. Even Cardinal Richelieu says something as crass as, "Yep." Hubby was particularly affronted by Richelieu's swordplay in the movie, though he never uses it against the Musketeers. Not a bad romp, but horribly unfaithful to the story. Of interest: D'Artagnan's horse is named Buttercup, and Athos quotes from The Princess Bride.

Kung Fu Panda 2 -- Loved this film. So much I could say about it, but I'll just stick to this one thing: Po finds out about himself and who he is (and may actually be reunited with his father in the next one. There better be a next one.)

Finally, Tintin -- We saved the best for last here. We have a huge selection of these books thanks to my BIL from Hong Kong (who knows what his brother likes). This script merges three different books: The Crab with Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. The motion-capture and CGI are really good here and the characterization is spot-on. I love Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock! Lots of action, adventure, flying bullets, and spunky dog sidekicks. I think one of the best scenes occurs near the end when Haddock and Sakharine (the villain) basically duel with dockside loading cranes.

November 2016

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