Documentary Review: Lord Lucan: My Husband, The Truth (dir by David O’Neill)

Who was Lord Lucan?

He was a British aristocrat, born not only wealthy but also with all the right connections.  His birth name was John Bingham but he eventually inherited the title of Lord Lucan when his father died in 1964.  At the time, the new Lord Lucan was 30 years and had been married for less than a year.  Lord Lucan was handsome and charming, so much so that Cubby Broccoli considered him for the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Lucan had no formal acting experience but he had the right look.  Nothing, of course, ever came of the idea of casting Lucan as Bond.  It’s rumored that he may have done a screen test but nothing can be said for sure.  Would Lord Lucan have had better luck with the role than George Lazenby?  Well, it’s hard to imagine how he possible could have had worst luck.

Like James Bond, Lord Lucan loved to gamble.  Unlike Bond, who was rarely seen to lose a hand whenever he sat down at the poker table, Lucan was not a particularly good gambler.  In fact, he lost so often that he was often broke.  Fortunately, his rich friends usually took care of him whenever he needed money or someone to testify as to his courage whenever he was accused of neglecting his wife, Lady Lucan.  When Lord and Lady Lucan separated in 1972, it forced the members of British high society to pick sides and most of them sided with Lord Lucan.  That remained true even in 1974 when Lord Lucan was accused of murdering his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett.  Rivett, who bore a superficial resemblance to Lady Lucan, was bludgeoned to death with a piece of lead pipe while making a cup of tea in Lady Lucan’s home.  Lady Lucan claimed that she came across Lord Lucan in the house and that he admitted to having attacked Sandra in a case of mistaken identity.  Meanwhile, shortly after the murder, Lord Lucan reportedly called his mother and told her that he had just happened to be driving by his old home when he saw an unidentified man fighting with his wife.

The same night that Sandra Rivett was murdered, Lord Lucan vanished.  Both the police and Lady Lucan speculated that Lord Lucan had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Thames.  However, for years after Sandra Rivett’s murder, there were regular sightings of Lord Lucan around the world.  While many of those sightings were undoubtedly due to hysteria caused by the extensive press coverage surrounding the case, there were other sightings that seemed to be a bit more credible.  There was much speculation that Lucan’s powerful friends had helped him escape from Britain and he had relocated to either southern Africa or Australia.  As late as 2012, sightings of Lord Lucan were still being investigated.  If Lucan were still alive, he would be 86 years old today.

The story of Lord Lucan and the murder of Sandra RIvett is a fascinating one and the 2017 documentary, Lord Lucan: My Husband, The Truth, is a must-see for everyone interested in the case.  Produced for British television, this documentary is essentially an hour-long interview with Lady Lucan, during which she discusses not only her abusive marriage but also her feelings about the question of whether or not Lucan was still alive.  (For the record, she felt that he committed suicide “as a nobleman would do.”)  The documentary also features video that was shot by Lucan himself in the 60s, showing himself, his wife, and their wealthy friends touring Europe and basically acting like members of the idle rich.  Lady Lucan discusses how the notoriety surrounding the case affected her own life, leading to her becoming estranged from her children.  When asked if she was a “cold” towards her children, Lady Lucan chillingly replies, “All of my relationships are cold.”  When asked why she once claimed that Lord Lucan was still alive and hiding out somewhere in either Europe or Africa, Lady Lucan replies that she was “drugged up” when she said it and, as such, had no control over anything she said.  The documentary than shares a clip of a very stoned-looking Lady Lucan being interviewed in 1981 and saying that her former husband was still alive.

It’s an interesting story and a rather sad one.  Lord Lucan: My Husband, the Truth is a documentary that should appeal to anyone who is interested in true crime, missing fugitives, and the scandals of the very rich.  Despite the rumors of him still being alive, Lord Lucan was declared dead in 2016 so that his son could inherit his title and his place in the House of Lords.  As for Lady Lucan, she committed suicide shortly after being interviewed for this documentary.

Lord Lucan: My Husband, The Truth can be viewed on Amazon Prime.


Enlist Immediately In The “Yellow Flag Intelligence Squadron”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Some comics you hate. Some you’re indifferent to. Others you like. And then there are those, all too rare it seems, that you absolutely fall in love with.

Let me introduce you to the latest object of my unbridled affection, David King’s Yellow Flag Intelligence Squadron #1.

Published under the auspices of King’s own Gentle Books imprint at the tail end of last year, this is pure cartoony “eye candy” from start to finish, expressive and engaging and inherently humorous drawings in service of an endlessly creative story that pits our trio of instantly-adorable heroes (Calorie, Brainer, and Killer Bear — even their names just make you wanna give ’em all a hug) that make up the legendary Earth-based Division 0001.0 of the titular squadron against their only real foe, namely themselves. Their mission to “protect all sentient life” seems pretty somber and serious, but when you’re not getting…

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Better Late Than Never : “Stubb & Leski’s Catsmas”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Such is the life of a jobbing freelance critic that I sometimes don’t get around to things in a timely manner, so my sincere apologies to cartoonist Kriota Willberg for not reviewing her late-2019 (and, it should be added, self-published) mini Stubb & Leski’s Catsmas during the holiday season, which would have made a lot more sense than doing so in February. In my (admittedly tepid) defense, one only has so many hours in a day and the stack of books I “owe” a review to is fairly large, but still — I feel bad for not being more “Johnny on the spot” with this one.

The good news, however, is that this is such an utterly unforced and charming little book in its own singular way that it reads well at any time of the year, and you should avail yourself of the opportunity to just that as soon…

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Smash-Up On Interstate 5 (1976, directed by John Llewellyn Moxey)

Smash-Up On Interstate 5 begins with ominous shots of a crowded California interstate.  It’s the 4th of July weekend and old people are returning home, young people are looking for a party, and Sergeant Sam Marcum (Robert Conrad) of the California Highway Patrol is looking for a killer.  When one car swerves into the next lane and hits another, it leads to a chain reaction as hundreds of cars, trucks, and one motorcycle crash into each other.  While the vehicles crash, we see the people inside of them.  There’s Buddy Ebsen!  There’s Vera Miles!  There’s Sue Lyon (of Lolita fame) on the back of a motorcycle!  In a voice-over, Sam tells us that the accident will be classified as being due to “mechanical failure” and that 14 people are going to die as a result.  He might be one of them.

Smash-Up On Interstate 5 is a 70s disaster film so, after the pile-up, the movie flashed back 48 hours and we get to know everyone whose lives are going to eventually collide on Interstate 5.  Erica (Vera Miles) is recently divorced and trying to get back into the dating scene.  Albert (Buddy Ebsen) is trying to bring some joy to his terminally ill wife’s final days.  Lee (Scott Jacoby) and Penny (Bonnie Ebsen) are the hippies who are trying to get to Big Sur without getting arrested.  Burnsey (Sue Lyon) loves her biker boyfriend.  Some of them will survive the pile-up.  Some of them will not.

Smash-Up On Interstate 5 is an above average made-for-TV movie.  It’s got a notable cast and the movie does a good job of mixing together’s everyone’s subplots.  For instance, Burnsey and a group of bikers show up in the background of several scenes and harass Erica at one point long before the crash on the interstate.  It’s only a 100-minute film so the film doesn’t go into too much detail about everyone’s past but we learn just enough to make everyone stand out.  The crash itself is intense, even when seen today.  Made before the days of CGI, this is a film where the stunt crew definitely earned their paycheck.

Tommy Lee Jones plays a patrolman who is also Sam’s brother-in-law.  I was surprised when I first saw him but as soon as I saw the strained smile and heard the accent, I knew it was him.  Jones’s role is small and probably could have been played by anyone but the mere presence of Tommy Lee Jones definitely makes this film cooler than it would have been otherwise.

One final note: This film was directed by the made-for-TV horror specialist, John Llewellyn Moxey.  Be sure to read Gary Loggins’s tribute to this often underrated director.

The Covers of Saucy Movie Tales

From 1935 to 1939, Saucy Movie Tales kept readers apprised of the glamour and danger of Hollywood.  This pulp magazine, which is eagerly sought after by collectors, told the stories of naive starlets who made their way to California and learned that the film industry was a place where dreams came true but sometimes, those dreams were nightmares.

The covers of Saucy Movie Tales were considered to be racy even by the standards of the pulps.  Below are just a few of them.

by George Quintana

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Norman Saunders

by Raymond Albert Burley

Unknown Artist

Music Video of the Day: I’ll Be The Death Of You by I Break Horses (2020, dir by Douglas Hart)

“I’ll be the death of you,” is a phrase that I enjoyed using for a period of time in 2007 so it seems appropriate to make it today’s music video of the day.