Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, George Foreman and Mark Fuhrman had one
thing in common with "Bill" Shakespeare and Mark Twain in Witch Hunt
Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, George Foreman and Mark Fuhrman had one thing in common with "Bill" Shakespeare and Mark Twain in Witch Hunt and withLouie Jeffries in Chances Are ('89 ). When they looked lie they were down for the count, they came back.
Once you see Mark Fuhrman as Mark Twain you see that Weeks remark about the Yankees as he greets Fuhrman at the train station in Connecticut is a deliberate allusion to Mark Twain. Fuhrmans best seller comment seals it. Twain wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court. Twain was a baseball fan and worked baseball into that best selling book. His real name was Samuel L. Clemons as in Roger Clemons, the baseball player who pitched for the Yankees in the World Series. It also helps to recall that the legendary Arthur ruled a magical kingdom called Camelot. Weeks calls the Kennedys American royalty.
John F. Kennedys vacation home was in Connecticut. His brother Edward was a U.S. senator. His brother Robert, who married Ethel Skakel, was his Attorney General and chief advisor. His young son John Jr. was seen as a prince and his daughter Caroline as a princess. His wife Jackie set fashion trends and millions of women regarded her as a queen. The royalty metaphor was so widely used and the image JFK projected was so idealistic that the press dubbed his administration Camelot.
You can get all of that just from Weeks train station comment about the Yankees. Mind you, it would have meant nothing if he hadnt said it in that context or you hadnt seen him a few minutes later in the movie with a purse and Fuhrman in the background reading a magazine. John Kennedy won the Presidency by beating Richard Nixon in the Electoral College vote. Kennedy lost the popular vote. His support was deep but not wide. His support for the civil rights movement cost him big in the South. The only way he could win was by appointing a Southerner as Vice President. He chose Lyndon Johnson of Texas.
Consider the Murder in Greenwich scene where Fuhrman is packing for Connecticut and you see the photo of Christopher Meloni as Fuhrman in a police uniform posing with Richard Nixon. Ill wager that the juxtaposition of the trophy and the photo symbolize Nixons astounding political resurrection and Fuhrmans. I know that it has to do with Fuhrmans resurrection and with Cybill Shepherd, Michael Downey Jr. and Christopher McDonald in Chances Are and the sword of power in Excalibur (81).
Chances Are begins on May 18, 1963 (one day shy of Nicole Brown Simpsons birthday) with the wedding of Shepherd as Corrine to McDonald as Louie Jeffries, a Washington D.C. prosecutor. Ryan ONeal is Louies best friend Phillip Train. On Louie and Corrines first wedding anniversary, Corrine awakens to a radio news broadcast about the move in Congress that assures passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Louie buys Corrine a set of diamond earrings but before he can give them to her as he spots her in the window of a restaurant across the rain-slicked street, a car hits him. He dies and goes to a waiting room in the clouds for spirits between bodies. Joe Grafasi is Omar, a clerk who gives Louie a choice of whether he wants to be reborn as a boy or a girl, an Eskimo, an African prince or the LA heir to a trust fund. Louie chooses the son of a dry cleaner in Cleveland to be closer to Corrine. Youve seen Grafasi before as the foreman on pier 32 in The Naked Gun. You will see him again in Taking the Heat (93) as a murder victim who gets whacked in the head with a golf club.
To set those fictitious events in historical context, go back to Weeks meeting Fuhrman at the train station with the white clouds of steam billowing up and the reflection of the bus in the trains window. This time note that no black people are anywhere in the crowd of people leaving the train or waiting to board it. Prior to 1964 you wouldnt have seen blacks mixed with whites on public transportation in some areas of the country because Jim Crow laws prohibited it.
Jim Crow stood for strict racial segregation in the Southern United States with posted signs for white and colored in public accommodations. In 1945 baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was a lieutenant in the United States Army. He was court-martialed for taking a seat in the white section of a bus and refusing to give it up. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt lobbied hard to end racial discrimination in the Armed Forces.
In 1946 the US Supreme Court outlawed racially segregated seating of passengers in public interstate conveyances but the ruling did not cover state and local transportation. On the first day of December 1955, black seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her Montgomery Alabama bus seat to a white man. Her act of defiance catapulted Rev. Martin Luther King to center stage in national affairs and the Montgomery boycott, which lasted over a year, sparked the modern civil rights movement.
On New Years Day 1961 a black Florida college student named Art Bacon dared to sit in the white waiting room of a train station. Klansmen attacked him with baseball bats. Later that year, black and white freedom riders from the north were pulled from their bus and beaten by Klansmen in Birmingham Alabama. The mayor had given the police the day off for Mothers Day. FBI agents looked on and did nothing.
President Kennedy was furious with the bus riders for provoking the incident and putting him in an untenable political position. As a Catholic, the Klan and much of the public had no more use for him than they had for blacks. A 1961 opinion pole showed that the majority of Americans put civil rights dead last on their list of domestic priorities. But the images of white violence against African-Americans and their white civil rights supporters crippled Kennedy internationally as it did Eisenhower before him. Like Eisenhower, Kennedy was forced to act. In the year he was assassinated he moved to put civil rights on the front burner.
When Martin Luther King was jailed during a civil rights demonstration in the Jim Crow South, Kennedy called Kings wife from the White House. The day before Medgar Evers June 12 assassination in Mississippi, he gave a televised speech forcefully condemning Jim Crow. You cant have Camelot with second-class citizens and knights of the Ku Klux Klan dehumanizing and murdering people at will. But these actions moved him lower in the public opinion poles. Only when he was killed were gestures like those widely seen as praiseworthy and necessary.
These are merely background evens in Chances Are. You see none of them but if you know American history you know they are there. You get glimpses of Louie and Corrines May 18 wedding and anniversary day. On the anniversary day you see her telling him that they are going to have a baby, sharing the news with Phillip and joining Louie as he sits at their piano playing a romantic tune. You see Louie watching Phillip and Corrine planting a cherry tree in their backyard.
You see Christopher McDonald as Louie Jeffries arguing in court, eating a hard-boiled egg in his office, taking a photo of the judge receiving a payoff from a mobster, buying diamond earrings for Corrine and getting run down in the street. You see her standing before a mirror holding up the dress she is going to wear to dinner and eating a pastry for breakfast just before Phillip Train calls Louie.
It doesnt hit you that Chances Are has anything to do with Mark Fuhrman until you look at the temporal and geographical backdrop as history and the details of that history that show up in Fuhrmans Murder in Greenwich movie.
Again, little things count. When Weeks meets Fuhrman at the train station Fuhrman calls him partner. Weeks says, As long as my Yankees are two games up Im happy. He is eating a pastry. You see the bus reflection. Fuhrman says, Nice breakfast youre having there Weeks. Fuhrman is a writer. Weeks is his editor. Brad Roberts was Fuhrmans partner on the murder investigation that Fuhrman and Weeks turned into the best selling book Murder in Brentwood. Weeks tells Fuhrman that they have two appointments. On the way to their hotel, you see flashbacks of the searchers and German shepherd dogs in the woods. Southern police used German shepherds to attack black demonstrators.
When Fuhrman and Weeks get to the police station in Greenwich, the desk sergeant behaves as if they have no business being there. This is the scene where Weeks is holding his purse and Fuhrman is standing in the background reading a magazine. Fuhrman gets the desk sergeant to move on their request by asking for an appointment with the police chief.
Fuhrmans Murder in Greenwich renames Franz Wittine, the Skakel family gardener, Alex Grafton. In his Alex Grafton incarnation, he is revealed as the key to a missing section of the record that focuses Fuhrmans attention on Michel Skakel as Martha Moxleys killer. The revelation comes outdoors where Fuhrman, Weeks and Carroll are grilling hot dogs and burgers. Fuhrman rescues a burning hotdog from the fire with a fork. You then see Grafton for the second time right after you hear the cry of bird like a raven or a crow.
With Alex Grafton there is always a tree, a bird, a woman and another man within three seconds of when you see his face or hear his name. He tells Fuhrman about a man named O’Connor – “John or Jeff – Began with J.” (John Tyler, John Kennedy, Andrew Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, Thomas Jefferson) who came to the Skakel house when Martha's body was found. In the next scene you know that Alex Grafton knew it was the name of a President when Weeks tells Furman the name that Grafton couldn’t remember. He says it’s “Jackson.”
The real name that Murder in Greenwich substituted with the fictitious Jackson OConnor is James McKenzie. James is the name of six U.S. Presidents.
In Chances Are, Ryan ONeal as Phillip Train is a writer for the Washington Post. In 1964 he has an assignment to interview Lady Bird Johnson’s gardener. He tells Corrine Jeffries about it as she is planting the cherry tree and Louie looks on from the house. Twenty-three years after Louie Jeffries has been reincarnated as Alex Finch this event is going to trigger a memory of who he was in his past life. He won’t recall everything, only fragments, like looking into the jewelry store window and seeing the earrings he bought for Corrine. When you look at that scene you will notice a woman in a red dress crossing the street, jewel necklaces on the wall beside a mirror and a bus on the street reflected in the mirror.
Phillip Train meets Alex in an elevator on his way up to meet with his boss Ben Bradley. Alex is disguised as a pastry delivery boy because he couldnt get past the lobby receptionist. Standing next to Train in the elevator he eats one of the pastries. Without knowing why, Phillip develops and immediate bond with Alex and tells Bradley that he is a good friend. Several hours later Bradley agrees to see Alex who tells him that he was the editor of the Yale Daily News. Bradley tells him to come back when he has more experience and contacts. He says, If I hire you the guys in this office would eat you for breakfast. As the train pulls away in Murder in Greenwich with Fuhrmans remark about Weeks, the editor, eating a pastry for breakfast, you get it all.
The more you know about American history between the Chances Are wedding and Louies death the more you can get out of the previous scenes from Mark Fuhrmans perspective. His personal history is linked to Martin Luther King Jr. by way of the 1986 New Years Eve incident in which Judge Lance Itos wife Margaret York accused him of defacing a poster honoring Kings birthday with KKK. The 89 New Years Day incident in which O.J. allegedly beat up Nicole started with an argument over a diamond necklace that Nicole thought O.J. bought for another woman. Fuhrman attached himself to that incident by writing his letter to the city attorney about O.J., Nicole and the baseball bat.
One theme common to several movies closely associated with Mark Fuhrman has to do with Presidents. In Murder in Brentwood Fuhrman makes a big deal out of two coins photographed on the Bundy driveway. The coroners report listed two dimes and two pennies (22 cents). The photos showed one dime (Franklin D. Roosevelt) and one penny (Abraham Lincoln). Then there was Fuhrmans role in the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal followed by the realization that he identified strongly with Adam (John Adams) Grant (Ulysses S. Grant) in Shadow Play. President Grants middle name being Simpson was the kicker.
If Fuhrman played the role of Simpson in the Bundy murders, I expected Ulysses, Simpson and Grant to come up big in movies I linked to Fuhrman that preceded the murders. They did. I expected three or four clear references to Presidents in Murder in Greenwich. I counted eight.
Murder in Greenwich gives you the first syllable of Johnson and Jefferson with Alex Grafton searching his memory of 22 years earlier for the name of a President. With Weeks you get Jackson, who succeeded Jefferson. Fuhrman displays a photo of Nixon and he drives a Ford truck. He calls the Skakel family Kennedys. Tommy Skakel drives a Lincoln. In a scene where Fuhrman tells Weeks to change the TV channel from a news story about the n-word he lied about during the Simpson trial, you get a specific reference to George Washington.
Remember the cherry tree that Phillip and Corrine plant in their backyard? Corrine says, I think Ill call it George. No explanation is necessary because everyone knows the story of George I cannot tell a lie Washington and the cherry tree.
By now I hope you see that the movie connections I made to Fuhrman before and after the Bundy murders follow simple by tightly restricted association patterns.
In Chances Are the name Train means nothing relative to Murder in Greenwich without the editor in the same frame eating a pastry. The name Alex means nothing without his fragmented memory of 23 years earlier and Phillip Trains appointment to interview Lady Bird Johnsons gardener. The first syllable of Johnson and Jefferies are significant only because they are associated with a bird, a gardener and the name Alex. Alex is the name of a gardener that Fuhrman invented.
When Fuhrman walks past a tree to interview him in his greenhouse you hear a raven or a crow. You dont see the bird so you dont know which it is unless you have a trained ear to distinguish them, but you know that its a bird. The gardeners association error with John or Jeff is the vital link to Jeffries by way of Johnson and Jefferson.
The Johnson-Jeffries combination is also an example of the Scrabble game I learned to play with the original Smoking Gun links to Fuhrman. You can cheat a little because Fuhrman did with his badge number in Murder in Brentwood to make it look like Joe Fridays badge 714 but most of the time you dont have to cheat at all. Take the i out of Jeffries, put the e after the last f and tack on the last two letters in Johnson. What do you get? You get Jefferson. You cant do any of this without Chances Are and Fuhrmans Alex Grafton.
You cant get bundles of associations consistently like the ones between Chances Are and Murder in Greenwich by coincidence. The diamond earrings, for instance, on the mannequin of Jackie Kennedy and the wig missing from the mannequin of Eleanor Roosevelt have got to connect to the mannequins in Murder in Greenwich. It doesnt matter that neither replica of the First Lady is wearing a red dress because the earrings on the First Lady of Camelot makes her the red queen the queen of diamonds.
Eleanors husband Franklin was a man in a wheelchair (Hacker). He and his Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower fought with Joseph Stalins Red Army in World War II. Nancy Reagan, whose mannequin appears in the First Lady display with Jackie and Eleanor, does wear a red dress in a background photo in a relevant scene. No, Im not saying that the red dresses on the mannequins in Murder in Greenwich came from Chances Are. Im saying that there were so many red dress/red queen connections to Fuhrman in so many movies, including Chances Are, that he couldnt keep them out of his movie.
Think of Murder in Greenwich as a gigantic, complicated, puzzle picture made up of thousands of interlocking pieces with dozens of other pictures hidden inside of it. To see each component picture (Chances Are, Witch Hunt, The House on Carroll Street, Red Letters, etc.) you have to isolate it from the big picture (Murder in Greenwich). It seems like a daunting challenge but once you know how the connections are made, you no longer have to be concerned about putting individual pieces together to identify the constituent pictures. Major sections of them are already assembled, isolated by distinctive patterns and the missing pieces are always close by. If you dont see them near the isolated picture you will see them in the big picture.
Sometimes you get a chunk of assembled pieces from one movie that is so large and coherent that it tells you why minor props or characters in many movies show up in Murder in Greenwich. In Chances Are its the piano player and the singer. This goes to the Belle Haven Club scene with black-haired Hildy Southerlyn in a black formal dress and diamond earrings making her moonlighting crack and walking into the club to stand next to the piano player. Dont forget the table lamp. And dont forget that Hildy Parks, like Cybill Shepherd, was blonde.
Hildy Southerlyn does not sing in Murder in Greenwich but Cybill Shepherd as Madeline Hays in Moonlighting does. As Corrine in Chances Are she doesnt sing when you see her in a black evening dress moving next to Alex at the piano in Louies clothes. But when you know that she is a singer in three memorable episodes of Moonlighting Hildys rhetorical moonlighting question as she moves next to the Bell Haven Club piano player falls into place.
On the day Louie died, he played a special tune for Corrine. When he is reborn as Alex Finch he convinces her that he is Louie reincarnated when he plays that tune wearing Louies white dinner jacket. She walks into the room wearing a black formal dress and the diamond earrings that looked like the ones she put on Jackie Kennedys mannequin. You see the lit table lamp behind them. They resume their romance.
Things have already been complicated by the kiss Alex shared with Miranda Jeffries before he learns that she was his daughter in his previous life. Now as he and Corinne take up where they left off 23 years earlier, she is old enough to be his mother. The first day they spend together outdoors as a couple Alex buys a hotdog for himself and Corinne while she isnt paying attention. She asks the vender how much her hotdog costs. He tells her, Your son already paid for it.
Fuhrman is the only Murder in Greenwich character associated with a hotdog. This association has more to do with John Terry in The Resurrected, Ray Wise as Alec the gene-splicing botanist in Swamp Thing and O.J. as Nordberg posing as a hotdog vendor in The Naked Gun 33 1/3. Nevertheless, the Chances Are link exists. Its a common piece of the big picture, which holds all of these pictures together.
I intended Chances Are to lead into mother-son incest links in Excalibur but I had to omit several Chances Are links to Murder in Greenwich to fit in anything about Excalibur. In the end, Stephen Weeks says most of what needed to be said about Camelot in Chances Are. Nicol Williamson as Merlin the Magician links Excalibur to Murder in Greenwich by way of his appearance with Fairuza Balk as the Gnome King in Return to Oz and Balks appearance with Robert Forster in American Perfekt.
Merlin is the power behind the throne of Uther Pendragon, the first monarch to wield Excalibur, the sword of power. He uses it ruthlessly and unwisely by betraying a powerful duke. He also uses Merlins powers ruthlessly and unwisely to satisfy his lust for the dukes wife Igrayne. Merlin whips up a fog like the steam in the Greenwich train station and Uther rides in full armor to his rivals castle. On the way his outward appearance is transformed so he looks like the duke.
Like Fuhrman returning to his ranch after getting permission from his probation officer to leave the state, Uther, magically disguised as the duke, goes past a flock of sheep and into the dukes private chambers. The dukes young daughter Morgana sees through Uthers disguise. She tells her mother Igrayne that her father is dead, which he is, but Igrayne submits to his brutish embrace thinking that Uther is her husband. The man is such a pig that doesnt even take off his armor.
Without her husband, Igrayne has only Uther to look after her and her daughter. He does. But he made a rash promise to Merlin in exchange for the sex he had with the dukes wife and when the time comes to honor his part of the bargain he cannot refuse. The deal was to give Merlin the offspring of the rape, a boy named Arthur.
Uther has abused his power so badly that nobody trusts him. His enemies destroy his army and kill him. With his dying breath he thrusts the blade of Excalibur into a stone. The sword is the symbol of power. Everyone knows that only the true hair to Uthers kingdom will be able to extract it. For years knights from far and wide compete in tournaments just for the privilege of attempting to pull the sword from the stone. Not even the strongest night can do it. But Arthur, a mere teenager and not a knight, extracts it easily and becomes the new king.
Look again at Fuhrmans trophy next to the photo of him posing with Nixon. What do you see? Look at the pattern of Fuhrmans rise to national prominence at the expense of O.J. Simpson with his bloody glove discovery at Rockingham, his inevitable fall and the restoration of his shattered image. Look again at the works of Joseph Wambaugh, the writer he said he modeled himself after. Remember that Wambaugh wrote The Blue Knight, which was turned into a movie starring William Holden and a TV series starring George Kennedy as in the title role. The Blue Knight was an LAPD beat cop like Fuhrman was in the Nixon photo. The Blue Knights armor was his LAPD badge .
Arthurs authority is challenged but he wins over enough support by drawing the sword from the stone that he is able to win his first test of battle. He demonstrates valor in combat as well as courage and wisdom in victory. When Arthur, not yet a knight and still having to prove that he is worthy to be king, has the blade of his sword to his nobleman enemys throat, he does something remarkable. He hands the sword to the nobleman, kneels before him and asks to be knighted. The man could have easily cut off his head and taken power for himself but he is so moved by the courageous gesture that he knights Arthur with a tap on each shoulder, returns the sword of power and kneels before Arthur as his new king.
Not even Merlin, who, like Fuhrman, had a remarkable ability to anticipate future events and prepare for them, foresaw these great qualities. But, like all mortals, Arthur makes a foolish mistake. He uses Excalibur unfairly in a fight against the silver knight Sr. Lancelot and breaks it against a rock, thus breaking his authority to rule. His expressions of shame and remorse move the mysterious Lady of the Lake, who gave Excalibur to his father Uther, to restore it intact to Arthur.
Nicol Williamson is Merlin. Nicholas Clay is Lancelot. When Arthur receives the restored sword of power from the Lady of the Lake, he is wearing a wet glove. The German Stiletto that I believe rendered Nicole Simpson unconscious before she was killed, had a rounded bronze heel. The gold-colored heel of Excalibur, like the crown of Fuhrmans trophy, makes it distinctive.
Here I should remind you that Mark Fuhrman begins the transformation of his image with an apology in Murder in Brentwood, He elaborates on the blade, arguing that it was not the murder weapon because it doses not fit most of the wounds in the bodies. He avoids saying anything about the heel. In his second televised interview with Dianne, the Stiletto lies unfolded on a coffee table. He reads his Murder in Brentwood apology aloud to Savage a blonde, like Nicole Simpson, Kelly McGillis, the Lady of the Lake and Helen Mirren.
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