The Boy in Blue (1986):

The Boy in Blue is theoretically a historical film about the life of the great Canadian sculler Ned Hanlon, who dominated world competition in the late 1870s and early 1880s, and who was honored by a postage stamp. More precisely, this film is to Ned Hanlan's life what "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is to the lives of those famous outlaws, which is to say the resemblance stops at the character's name and a few general facts.

I can sum up my thoughts in three brief sentences.

1. A very good movie could be made about the life of Ned Hanlan

2.  This is not a very good movie.

3.  At any rate, good or not, this movie has very little to do with the life of Ned Hanlan

The rest of the review is just going to elaborate on those points.

As the story is told here, Ned was a championship bootlegger who developed his rowing skills by getting away from the coppers. It plays out like Thunder Road on water. Some colorful characters discovered Ned and turned him pro in order to make their own fortunes in what was essentially a crooked professional sport. Throughout his career, Ned continued to be a naive small-town boy at heart, to refuse to throw races, and to demonstrate excellent sportsmanship despite being constantly taunted by the uppity college-educated snobs who comprised his competition. He was always the underdog. Ned was played by a tall, clean-shaven, muscular Nic Cage (who was in magnificent shape.)

Yeah, right.

In reality, Ned was a tiny guy, 5'8", 155, but nonetheless a mustachioed roughneck who competed in a rough world of gamblers and swindlers. He took a lot of guff from his competitors, but he gave back more than he took. He was not humble or naive by any stretch of the imagination, and he was never an underdog except maybe in his first race in the USA. He was, in fact, far better than his competitors, and once won 200 races in a row. He was not only good, but also cocky about his superiority. He toyed with his opponents, often humiliating them intentionally to please the crowds. When he raced against Trickett, the Aussie who had been the World Champion,

"Hanlan played with Trickett during the race and then crossed the finish with almost a minute and a half lead. To add insult to injury, Hanlan turned his boat around and rowed down to Trickett, still on the racecourse, turned around again and beat him back to the finish a second time."

In other races, he would finish by discarding one oar and using the other on alternating sides, like a canoe. Imagine Lance Armstrong finishing the Tour de France by carrying his bicycle on this shoulders and giving the razzberry to the French riders. That's the modern day equivalent of Hanlan. This guy made Mohammad Ali seem as modest as Audrey Hepburn. In fact, Hanlan was so famous for his obnoxious hot-dogging against badly beaten opponents that Australian Elias Laycock insisted that clauses in their contract be included that forbade Hanlan from mocking him in the race, or embarrassing him in any other way. Read many more great Hanlan yarns on this excellent page, which is specifically dedicated to professional rowing in the 19th century, and which is also the source of the quotation above.

Oh, yeah, remember that bootlegging thing?

Wrong. The real story is much better. Ned's dad ran a hotel on Toronto Island, and there was no school on the island, so Ned had to row to school every day from the time he was in kindergarten. He had been written up in the Toronto Colonist when he was only five years old, and  had won the Ontario provincial championship three times before his trip to Philadelphia. The film's version is nothing like that.

The film's rendering of the story takes a couple of historical characters (like Ned's business manager, Colonel Shaw), and a few of Ned's more colorful anecdotes in which he was not a complete ass, and jumbles them together in nearly random fashion, often taking facts about one race or one person and using them elsewhere. If you did not know the actors and I told you that this movie was made in 1956 you would never doubt it for a minute. It is a classic mid-fifties Hollywood biopic - silly, inaccurate, and corny. If it really were a 1956 movie, 'twould be bad enough, but it is a Canadian film made in 1986, and these filmmakers really should have known better. It was directed by Charles Jarrott, whose most famous film is the respected Anne of 1000 Days. Jarrott did not do an especially good job on The Boy in Blue. The sports scenes are quite ineffectively edited, and lacking in continuity, to the point where some of the racing footage appears to be out of sequence.  

Read the stories at the link above, and I am certain you will agree with me that Hanlan's story would make a fantastic movie. Unfortunately, this is not it, and is not even Hanlan's story. It's basically a Hollywood formula picture with a sitcom flavor, and cannot be considered historical or biographical at all. It's essentially a grade-B attempt to invoke the spirit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

... And yet, though it is old-fashioned and trite, and has little relationship to Hanlan's story ... I honestly can't deny that it is actually kind of an easy watch, and a very young Cage does a good job in the lead.



Blue Desert (1991):


Blue Desert is a noir thriller about a New York rape victim who flees to a small town out in the wide open spaces, in the hope that she can find peace of mind. The first thing she finds is a rather disturbed individual who seems to be stalking her. When he puts a move on her and doesn't back off soon enough, the terrified woman clobbers him with an oversized frying pan and calls the cops. Upon reflection, she thinks she may have over-reacted to the guy, who really seems like a hippie with a few screws loose, so he refuses to file any formal charges. Her reluctance means that the police cannot hold him. A couple of nights later, she finds that her mobile home was entered while she was in town playing bingo, and it appears that someone masturbated into her underwear. The creepy hippie is dragged off again, but is again released, and pays another visit to her trailer, during which she manages to trick him into going into the bedroom while she calls the cops.

The "hook" of the film is that it is possible to interpret the hippie's actions in two ways. He never actually hurts her, so we wonder, "Is he a harmless, not-too-bright guy who developed some head problems when his daughter was killed by a drunk driver, or is he threatening the woman in subtle ways?" The answer to this question hinges on the answer to another question, "Who masturbated into her underwear?" Since the film is a thriller, we can assume that there is probably more to this story that meets the eye, especially when the woman starts to find out that she has received some inaccurate information from the arresting officer - with whom she has started an affair.

The dramatic tension of the film comes from two sources (1) we wonder whether the woman is really "safe" in the arms of the cop, or whether he is the one actually responsible for the soiled underwear (2) the woman is vulnerable, because she's alone in her trailer in an isolated spot in the desert, constantly terrified of suspicious noises outside, on her roof, and so forth.

The script has some good elements. There is, for example, a fairly effective use of the creepy hippie as a decoy. We don't really suspect the cop, and therefore we can understand why the victim didn't suspect him either. Unfortunately, it is also one of those scripts which requires the victim to do the dumbest possible things at all times. There was one point where she had suffered the break-in while she was in town and had refused to press any charges against the hippie. This meant that she knew somebody was entering her home, and she knew that the primary suspect was free. I thought to myself, "What would I do if I were in her position?"  If I could have gotten the hell out of that trailer, I would have, but assuming I could not for some reason, I'd have come up with a plan. Step One - I would have gone to the nearest pound and adopted a very large dog, maybe two. (We know from the script that she's financially comfortable.) That would assure that nobody could sneak up on me, and that nobody could enter the house, whether I was there or not. Step Two -  On my way back from the animal shelter, I would stop at a Wal-Mart and buy a shotgun and some shells. Then I would get a good night's sleep with the shotgun near the bed, and both dogs in my bedroom. Bring it on, hippie boy.

I'll tell you what my LAST choice would have been. I wouldn't have just been sitting in the trailer at night waiting to be raped, which is what she chose. There were at least five times when she could have chosen other options to get away from, or protect herself against, both guys - and she just kept putting herself right back into trouble instead.

According to IMDb, writer/director Bradley Battersby had no credits for eight years after making this film (for reason or reasons unknown), then he quickly fired out two more projects as writer/director:

  1. (5.82) - The Joyriders (1999)
  2. (5.50) - Blue Desert (1991)
  3. (5.14) - Red Letters (2000)

Bottom line: a grade-B thriller with some decent touches and some tension in a few scenes, as well as some rare nudity from Courteney Cox,  but also with lots of rough edges: illogical character behavior, poor lighting, and a completely bare-bones DVD.


Courteney Cox  (Zipped .wmvs: 1, 2



Other Crap:


Always enjoy your work, Scoop, but can't resist sending in a correction to an item in Other Crap. You wrote: "The trailer from Lucky Number Slevin. Big cast: Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Gandhi, Lucy Liu, Josh Hartnett"

Shouldn't that be 'Sir Gandhi'? Surely, you've seen the news stories about him insisting on his title. Funny, no one criticized opera singer Sir Thomas Allen for being billed that way in Mrs. Henderson Presents. While at the same time, Christopher, Lord Haden-Guest, who could really pull rank on him (and has a much bigger part in that film) seems content to be billed simply as Christopher Guest. (Or, as we'd all like to be known 'the guy who married Jamie Lee Curtis' ... a/k/a Baroness Haden-Guest).

Keep up the good work.

C. in London



PARALLEL UNIVERSE DISCOVERED ... Where Bill Clinton Is A Celibate Priest!

"Donald Duck got nabbed for drunk driving in the Florida Keys."


A legendary TV moment: Harvey Pekar gets booted from Letterman


The international trailer from Big White, a new Robin Williams comedy.

  • In the film, a destitute Alaskan travel agent (Robin Williams) thinks he has found the answer to his financial problems in the form of a frozen body, which he tries to pass off as his long-lost brother (Woody Harrelson) for the insurance money. The agent's plans are thwarted by a claims adjuster (Giovanni Ribisi) and two aspiring hitmen (Earl Brown and Tim Blake Nelson)."

Bill Maher translates hip-hop into "white"


"The Tale of Marky Maypo"


Six Breakfast Cereals Argue Why They Should Replace Cheerios as the Preferred Finger Food for Babies.


The Trailer for Art School Confidential, a comedy starring John Malkovich


Box Office International Mojo: French Comedy Reigns Again

  • Les Bronzés 3 has grossed more in its first three weeks of release than any other picture in the history of French cinema.

"Man forced to 'marry' goat"

  • Analysts concluded it was the strangest creature ever married by anyone not named Tom Arnold

Showbiz Tonight looks at celebrity sex tapes


'50s and '60s Bands Aim to Stop Copycats. Their spokesman? Bowser!


Jimmy Kimmel- One Year Of Unnecessary Censorship


Lindsay Lohan Dating Olympic Champion?

  • The site reads: "I have no idea if this is true or not, but I'll choose to believe it, only because it's hard to imagine Lindsay Lohan not having sex with a new man every night. The girl smokes more meat than a Texas barbecue. It's like I was telling her the other day in bed: "Lindsay, you've gotta have some self-respect. Now hurry up and put those antlers back on."

New York eyes Governor's island for urban oasis (It's 172 acres of incredibly valuable property sitting there doing nothing.)


UTL says it all: Everyone has a blog.


How to get TIVO owners to watch ads? KFC has an idea.


Submitter wrote:  For Fanboy Spidey geeks everywhere, today will be a day that they will remember forever. Why? Because all the rumors are now confirmed. Spidey 3 may be the all time best comic book adaptation. Not because of the addition of Gwen Stacey, but because Spidey will don the infamous black costume. For those who don't know, the black costume means the Venom storyline is coming in either this movie or the next. (Many feel that the Venom story line is the third greatest story line in the Spidey world, behind the origin and Gwen Stacey.) Here's the pic, for those who have not seen it. 


GALLUP: Where Do Americans Stand on the Wiretapping Issue?

  • "Just what do Americans think about the Bush administration's wiretapping program? A review of available poll data suggests that the public is closely split on the issue, with the majority of recent polls showing a slight majority favoring the program."

"BUSH INKS IRISH FIRM TO GUARD NATIONAL WHISKEY RESERVE" (Also check the other articles beneath. Very nice bit of writing from Iowahawk). In other news, Bush has hired Kevin Federline and Tommy Chong to guard our critical supply of medical marijuana.


Jenny McCarthy Would Like to Have an Orgy

Letterman/Family Guy: "Top Ten Things I, Peter Griffin, Would Like To Say To America"


Britney Spears, Elton John, Whitney Houston - Shocking Photos

  • Spears is very overweight; Elton weighs 300+; Whitney weighs about 9 pounds


4th "Potter" film is No. 5 in all-time overseas grosses


Danish Terrorists Set Off Deadly Cartoons Across Middle East


The Howard Stern Film Festival?


Russian Ice Dancer Oksana Domnina falls out of her top


Superman, Batman Sequels?


The trailer for SORRY, HATERS, a thriller starring Robin Wright Penn

  • "Sorry, Haters" is a psychological thriller with political and social undertones set in today's New York. It begins when Ashade, a Muslim cab driver (Abdellatif Kechiche) picks up Phoebe (Robin Wright Penn), a well-heeled professional woman. Although Ashade and Phobe have nothing in common, each holds troubling urges and secret motivations. When Phoebe takes an interest in exonerating Ashade's brothers, who is in jail, a series of events are set in motion resulting in the revelation of a devastating hidden truth.


The trailer and four clips from Seven Swords, a new Hark Tsui film


Four clips from Lucky Number Slevin


A trailer shows the subtle, Wildean humor of "Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector"


Maybe the world's most famous haircut since Samson. Natalie Portman gets shorn in V for Vendetta


Three clips and a new featurette about Ultraviolet


Ill. Governor Confused by 'Daily Show' Bit

  • "Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn't realize 'The Daily Show' was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled Democratic governor."


Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.





Naked World  (2003)

"One year. Seven continents. More than 6,000 naked people--all willing to bare all in the name of art. This globally scaled follow-up to the America Undercover documentary Naked States finds the celebrated and controversial artist at work on his most ambitious project: a one-year trek to all seven continents to shoot people in the nude--individually, in groups and against various man-made and natural backdrops."









New York


Sao Paolo

St Petersburg



Divorce Law - No Beef About It (1993)

Divorce Law presents only two divorce cases.

  • A man wants to divorce Dyanne Fornier because she was a vegetarian when they married, but is now eating meat. Turns out, she also had sex with the burger joint clerk. She was disputing the distribution of property, claiming that she lost interest in being a vegetarian when she saw him having anal sex with a carrot.
  • In the second case, Christie Peralta wants an annulment from an Arab that picked her up in Vegas, and gave her a Persian aphrodisiac. The Arab sheik turned out to be a terrorist.

Again, these are stupid, clever, and keep the nudity and simulated sex scenes short enough to avoid boredom.


Dyanne Fornier (breasts)

Christie Peralta (breasts and buns)




Today we return to "Sex Spa 2" for a massage and maybe something a little extra.

Porn star Mary Carey returns and shows off her more than ample Robo-Hooters.

Then we have Kaylani Lei the star of this little opus who gives up all three B's while making it with a couple of studs(?).




Cate Blanchett in Little Fish. The first is a body double, so Blanchett did no nudity.

Paula Trickey in Maniac Cop 2