Signs of the Devil
How do you get the Devil out of a taxi driver, a lawyer and a gardener? Murder in Greenwich does it easily. You will see it if you saw Robert DeNero as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver ('74) and as Louis Cypher in Angel Heart ('87) eating a "Deviled" egg.
Not all movie links to Murder in Greenwich have to comply with the six-minute rule because they spread from one end of Fuhrmans movie to the other and attach themselves at several points.
Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke as Brooklyn P.I. Harold Angle and Robert DeNero as his client Louis Cyphre is a case in point. Herman Winesap, an attorney from the law firm of Winesap and Macintosh acts as the intermediary. The movie begins in a wintry alley with steam rising from manhole covers. You see a shadowy figure walking briskly away with a cane. You see a cat, a womans corps and a dog sniffing her body. The scene shifts to Angel going to his office and taking a phone call. Its Winesap asking him to go to an address in Harlem to meet with a man named Louis Cyphre.
The meeting place is on the upper floor of a building where Pastor John is telling his devoted followers, If you love me and you want to give to me I should be in a Rolls Royce! Fuhrman says enough in Murder in Brentwood about Johnny Cochrans appeal to the O.J. jury to conjure an image of Pastor John fleecing his flock. However, Herman and Fuhrman sounded too much alike for me to think the connection was intentional. Fuhrman was evidently too conscious of name associations in Murder in Greenwich to have consciously linked his name to anyone in Angel Heart and the religious hypocrisy that allows Satan to feel at home in any house of worship.
In Fuhrmans Murder in Greenwich book he gives the Skakel lawyers real name, Jim McKenzie. He also sneaks in a contemptuous reference to the Catholic Church with a remark about the Skakels doing as they pleased and getting absolution from a Catholic bishop who frequently visited the Skakel (Lord of Flies) house.
In Fuhrman's movie he turns lawyers in general into disciples of Satan though his depiction of McKenzie. The movie renames him Jackson OConnor. You see a Presidential link in the invented name with John, Jeff and Jackson in Murder in Greenwich and a portrait of Booker T. Washington over Herman Winesaps shoulder in Angel Heart. The Rosary Murders gives you the Catholic sign of the cross with a woman named Washington.
President John Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. Like the shipwrecked boys in Lord of the Flies, he went to a boarding school and as a Naval officer during WW II he was shipwrecked. The boarding school he attended was in Connecticut. His brother Roberts wife Ethel was from Greenwich. She was Rushtons sister. John Kennedys son John Jr. married Greenwich native Carolyn Bessette. Murder in Greenwich uses the names Skakel and Kennedy interchangeably.
Angel Hearts Brooklyn private investigator Harry Angel is therefore not as far from President John F. Kenney and Fuhrmans version of the Skakel family as you might think at first glance. You cant make connections between Angel Heart and the Kennedys without Murder in Greenwich. With Murder in Greenwich you cant avoid them.
Take eggs, for example, and Fuhrmans fictitious Skakel familys screenplay gardener Alex Grafton .
Hard-boiled eggs are normally associated with Easter. They are colored and used as a big part of the White House Easter celebration. Like U.S. Presidents before and after him and their wives, John Kennedy and his wife sponsored Easter Egg rolls for young children on the White House lawn. A gardener is easy to associate with a mansion lawn but you have to do something extra to associate a gardener with a hard-boiled egg.
In the first third of Murder in Greenwich you see broken, brown eggshells being washed down a gutter with the spray from a garden hose and hard-boiled eggs splattered on a building. Seconds later you see the Skakels gardener Alex Grafton raking and burning a pile of leaves.
In the second third of the movie you see lit candles here and there in a crowd of partying kids. Martha is looking for Tommy but finds Michel, instead, in the Skakels kitchen drinking beer. In a cabinet behind him you see teacups. On the cluttered table in front of him you see a bottle of milk, a plate or platter piled with fruit and an empty bowl. The song that draws Martha to the house is Don McLeans American Pie. It ends where the Satan lyrics that you dont hear in the movie begin.
In the final third of Murder in Greenwich unofficial private eye Mark Fuhrman is interviewing Alex Grafton who lights a cigarette and flashes back to the day Marthas body was discovered. He is in the Skakels kitchen drinking milk and eating an egg salad sandwich when that fella from the city, shows up. You can see the teacups in the cabinet. The milk in the glass stands in nicely for the milk in the glass bottle. This is where Grafton calls the lawyer, John, Jeff started with a J. The kitchen and the milk also link the gardener to Michael in the same kitchen with Martha. Martha gives you Washington and Washington (Booker T.) plus a lawyer give you Louis Cyphre and Herman Winesap in Angel Heart interviewing official private eye Harry Angel.
Should you read Fuhrman into Mickey Roarks Harry Angel character?
Yes. You should also read a poor boys version of Lord of the Flies and Fuhrmans boyhood house in Eatonville Washington into Fuhrmans characterization of the Skakel house. You should see Mark Fuhrman as Tommy and Michael. Sometimes his brother Scott is Michael. Aspects of both his parents Ralph and Billie as well as an older brother who died of cancer come through in his depiction of Rushton and Ann Skakel.
The Sandpoint Idaho setting should be read as an idealized version of Fuhrmans Eatonville Washington home the home he wished he had, with Mark and Caroline as the parents he wished he had. Mark coming home in a pickup truck and sitting at the dinner table with his family is an idealized version of his father Ralph, a truck driver and carpenter who abandoned his family when Mark was seven and didnt come back. Caroline is an idealized version of his mother Billy who drank excessively and supported the family as a waitress. His children are idealized versions of Mark and his brother Scott. The man on the wall of his den with his face masked by the Nixon photo has to be Scott.
The Rosetta stone for making these interpretations is in The Tape chapter of Murder in Brentwood. There, Mark Fuhrman explains what he said on the Laura Hart McKinny taps and how he said it in terms of screenplay characters. Page 270: Throughout the interview I was creating fictional situations sometimes based loosely on true incidents. Characters were developed from composites of many people You cant get looser interpretations of the O.J. Simpson murder case or the Michael Skakel murder case than Mark Fuhrmans interpretations of them.
Thats where Rob Mathers comes in. Hes the long-haired blonde guy you see playing cards with his mother Hes the one who has a glass of milk and a plate of cookies in front of him as he draws a playing card from his mothers hand. The scene where you see him as an adult begins with a portion of the Brooklyn Bridge. The name Mathers is a Murder in Greenwich invention probably intended to evoke an image of Jerry Mathers as Beaver Cleaver from the 1957-1963 TV series Leave it to Beaver. Rob Mathers is also a composite character drawn from the incestuous suggestion in Mark Fuhrmans unfortunate initials and the mannerisms of Charles Dexter Wards blonde wife in The Resurrected.
You see Mrs. Ward in The Resurrected (92) fiddling with her ring and giving a little toss of her hands as assent for detective John March to record their session with a pocket tape recorder. You see James Beaumont as the adult Rob Mathers fiddling with his ring finger and giving a little toss of his hands as assent for Steve Weeks to record Mark Fuhrmans interview with him. In Leave it to Beaver, Hough Beaumont is Beavers father Ward. Mathers connection to his screenplay mother gets reinforced when Weeks knocks over her portrait on his desk.
The link to Fuhrman in his den with three copies of Murder in Brentwood stacked on his desk get reinforced when Mathers says to Fuhrman, So, youre an author now. Fuhrman replies, I wrote a book about my involvement in the Simpson case; it sold.
Naturally, there is more to link Murder in Greenwichs Rob Mathers to Charles Dexter Ward and Wards wife in The Resurrected, like a party, a murdered neighbor and a visit by police. Right now, though, were concentrating on Mathers links to the taxi driver, the lawyer and the gardener to get us back to Angel Heart. Here, the six-minute rule does apply. You get all the links you need in 18 seconds, including a simultaneous link to the taxi driver and the lawyer as the police car carrying Robert Mathers to the station passes taxi number 275 carrying the lawyer to the Skakel house.
The taxi plus the number 275 take you to Robert DeNero as Travis Bickel in Taxi Driver (76) and his passenger, a man with a dark beard and moustache much like DeNero wears in Angel Heart. The movies director Martin Scorsese is the bearded passenger. He vows to kill his wife and the nigger she is having an affair with. He is well dressed and you get a flash of his wristwatch as he directs the driver to lower the flag. The meter, which you see in close-up only once in the move, clicks over to the fare, $2.75.
That scene is most reminiscent of what Fuhrman said about niggers and what he said about his second wife. After she divorced him he learned that she had been unfaithful to him. He told a police psychologist that he would have killed her and her lover if he had caught them. A few years later he put a black man in a chokehold, called him a nigger and threatened to kill him. In a 1985 tap recorded interview with Laura Hart he bemoaned the LAPDs outlawing of the chokehold and cited the high number of niggers LAPD officers killed with it as a positive thing. He attributed his 1994 sworn testimony that he hadnt referred to black people as niggers to temporary amnesia.
Without the Murder in Greenwich movie, the only movie links between DeNero in Taxi Driver and the character played by Scorsese in Taxi Driver are in Angel Heart where DeNero wears the beard. You see other Taxi Driver reference in Angel Heart with Brooklyn, eggs, interracial sex and the manner in which a black woman who had sex with a white man is killed. The white man she has sex with and the one who kills her is her father, Johnny Favorite, the man Louis Cyphre hired Angel to find.
Murder in Greenwich gives you only one white man who has anything to do with a black woman (Rob Mather's black secretary). That man also has an implied incestuous relationship. The scene where the police car he is riding in passes the taxicab goes straight to the cab stopping next to the fountain in front of the Skakel house and OConnor, the passenger, getting out. You see only his left hand and wrist, his shirt and jacket sleeve, his gold watch and his gold ring oblong stone. The shot lasts only a second. It switches to a rapid succession of shots that include cops in the parlor with teacups, Julie on the phone and the man with the watch and ring walking past the gardener with his glass of milk and egg salad sandwich.
Angel Heart links an attorney to Louis Cyphre from the first time his name is mentioned to the time the lawyer introduces Angel to him. The connection to Murder in Greenwich is the part of his body isolated in the shot. Like the lawyer who comes to the Skakel house in the taxi, the first thing you see is Cyphres hand, his wrist, his shirt and jacket cuffs and part of his ring. The differences are you see the palm side of Cyphres right hand and he doesnt wear a watch. OConnor, the Murder in Greenwich lawyer, grasps the upper edge of the door glass frame where it bends over the top. Cyphre holds a walking stick with the handle bent like the head of a golf club or the bend in a door glass frame.
As Cyphre begins to interview Angel you see more isolated shots of the hand holding the cane. Now you see the back of the hand and you can make out the oblong shape of his ring. If you freeze the frame you can see that the design on the rings face is an inverted pentagram, a sign of the Devil. Murder in Greenwich cant give you an inverted pentagram as such anymore than it can give you an inverted cross. But it can and does give you everything you need in one frame to draw one. All you have to do is connect five points on the face of OConnors watch in twelve-minute segments, reduce the completed figure and superimpose it on his ring. The positions of the hands give you the twelve-minute segments.
You expect a fictional super-sleuth to figure out things like this from the evidence he sees while investigating a murder case. If you have read or seen enough murder mysteries you know that the writers plant the clues for their great detectives to solve as cleverly as possible. Therefore you know that the detective will see the few clues that count and disregard the many false clues the author planted to throw everybody else off.
The mystery writer wants a small percentage of people to figure out who done it or why or how, to validate his or her own cleverness in planting the vital clues and the red herrings. Its a tricky game because if you, as the author, give away too much too soon, too many people will figure it out too quickly. If you dont give away enough early enough, your audience will feel cheated and wont come back for more unless your murder mystery is actually another kind of story in disguise. The kind of story Im talking about is where the emphasis is on characters, settings and dialog. As long as you keep your audience entertained you can cheat like crazy and get away with it as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christy and Raymond Chandler did routinely.
In character driven pseudo-mysteries like Columbo and Murder, She Wrote, the mystery is not who did it or how but how the master detective will figure it out. Indeed, all Columbo stories tell you who did, how it was done and usually why it was done. The game the audience is invited to play is to determine which vital clues the killers missed.
Fuhrman cheated in his portrayal of the Moxley murder and how he solved it. He moved people, objects and time around to make his story entertaining and to make his case against Michael seem logical. He invented Michaels motive out of the recurring themes of abandonment and rage in his own life, making up incidents as he went along to support it. He did the same thing in the Simpson/Goldman murder case.
If youre wondering what any of this has to do with Angel Heart links to Murder in Greenwich, let me remind you of the printed page corollary to the six-minute rule. Not counting the foreword, the appendix or partial pages, Murder in Brentwood is roughly 300 pages long. To make Angel Heart and Murder in Greenwich connection to that book, you need so many references to key items in both movies concentrated in so few pages that they exclude all other sources.
On page 316 you get: horses, sheep and goats, a rabbet and eggs (Easter symbols), Christmas (star/angel) gifts and a bowl. On page 317 you get a Foster, a Jeff, a Simpson and an attorney. In Angel Heart the star is an inverted pentagram. The bowl is where Louis Cyphre gets one of three eggs. He rolls it fastidiously on a plate to crack the shell. He peels it delicately with his sharp, manicured fingernails and tells Angel, Some religions think the egg is a symbol of the soul. Then he bits it in half. Louis Cyphre is, of course, Lucifer. His name, of course, is a cipher.
In Murder in Greenwich, the gardener tells Fuhrman that Constance Foster came by to help out while you see him in a flashback to the Skakel (Lord of the Flies) kitchen. His egg sandwich has one bite out of it as the lawyer walks by. In Angel Heart, the gift is the file that Angels lover Connie gives him to put him on the track of a bandleader named Spider Simpson, a guitar player named Toots Sweet and a palm reader named Margaret Krusemark.
Charlotte Rampling, who shares Fuhrman's birthday, is Margaret Krusemark. The horse is the winged, red horse, Mobil Oil logo on a map in Angels desk drawer. In Murder in Greenwich, the horse also has wings. Its a white horse, the Columbia/Tri-star logo.
The goat in Murder in Greenwich can only be inferred from Marthas reference to The Lord of the Flies. The Devil is often depicted with the head and hoofs of a goat. The rabbit is in Dorothy Moxleys photo album. On one page of the album you see Maggie Grace as Martha holding one of her cats (Tiger or Junior). Below it is a toddler with a rabbit in her arms. Dorothys album also has a photo of a Christmas program with an evergreen tree, Santa Clause, elves, children and gifts.
To complete the details in Murder in Greenwich that relate directly to the Devil you need The First Power (91) with Lou Diamond Phillips, Tracy Griffith, Jeff Koeber and Elizabeth Arlen as Sister Margaret. With The First Power (resurrection) you see where, why and how to connect points to draw an inverted pentagram. You get the fight that Martha witnessed between Michael and Tommy (Michael banging Tommys head on the ground).
You get the big crucifix that Ann Skakel holds on her dying bed and you get the Masque of the Red Death link to all of Anns crosses and Prosperos daggers. The Omen III also gives you the dagger-crosses but we wont even have to go into that considering what we get from The First Power.
The First Power has numerous links to the Bundy murders and to Fuhrmans version of the murders and his part in the solution. So does Angel Heart. We are looking primarily at the movie links to Fuhrmans movie, links that follow the same pattern as the Bundy murder evidence pointing to O.J. as the killer. We get a ton of them in Murder in Greenwich. You might think that some of these connections are weak only because I cant show you everything that makes them strong.
Here again Ill give you an example of the sorts of things I left out, except, of course, for the example.
In the Murder in Greenwich segment with Grafton in the kitchen and his voiceover telling Fuhrman about John or Jeff, you see a glass milk bottle on the counter below the teacup cabinet. Weeks finds the mystery mans name and occupation in a book, and he and Fuhrman visit him with Weeks wearing a hidden tape recorder.
The lawyer says he was taken back by their call. He gives them the runaround and Fuhrman deduces that he is part of a Kennedy conspiracy to hide the killers identity. Through a string of people he meets in his search and a chance remark about the cold, he has an epiphany. He knows that Michael killed Martha in a jealous rage because she abandoned him and the six-iron was a weapon of convenience. Actor Jon Foster is Michael.
Angel Hearts Harold Angel looks up Dr. Fowler in a phone book. Above the name are several listings for Foster. Angel wears a heavy overcoat because its early January 1955 in New York. Its cold outside.
Angel breaks into Fowlers shabby house and discovers a revolver (a six-iron) in a cabinet drawer and a large stash of morphine behind a glass milk bottle in the refrigerator. He waits in the dark as Fowler comes in and opens the refrigerator. When he calls out from the darkness, Fowler is taken aback. As Angel questions Fowler about Johnny Favorites disappearance, he gets the milk bottle out of the refrigerator. He grabs a teacup off the shelf above the counter, pours milk in it and takes a drink.
Fowler gives Angel the runaround but Angel deduces that he is part of a rich familys conspiracy to hide Johnnie Favorites identity. He knows that Johnnie entered Fowlers clinic in 1943 with a major head trauma, that he had extensive facial reconstruction and that he lost his memory. Angel was also injured in World War II. He reports his findings to Winesap and Cyphre on a tape recorder not realizing that he is the man he is looking for. A string of people he contacts in his search leads him to Algiers Louisiana where he meets a 17-year-old girl named Epiphany.
In the first draft of this chapter I intended to leave out the parts in Angel Heart about the Foster listings in the phone book, the milk on the counter, the teacup and the six-iron to save room for Epiphany. Now I have to trim back on what I wanted to write about Epiphany/Martha parallels and omit two pictures .
Angel believes that the memories he stole from a man he sacrificed to the Devil for fame are his only memories. He doesnt know what to make of the disturbing flashes he gets occasionally of fans, elevators and a mans horrible scream. They make no sense. He doesnt know that he has a split personality and those flashes are the memories of Johnny who is trying to cover his tracks by killing everyone connected to him.
Angels alter ego Johnny kills Dr. Fowler, Toots Sweet, Margaret Krusemark, her father Ethan and his own daughter Epiphany. He makes one murder look like suicide, two look like ritual killings and one look like a rage killing. In all but one instance he uses a weapon of convenience; Fowlers revolver, Sweets razor, Margarets ceremonial knife and her fathers boiling pot of crab gumbo Hope you havent forgotten Rob Mathers incest link and his black secretary.
Before Johnny kills Ethan, his Harry Angle personality has sex with his half-black daughter Epiphany and Angle experiences visions of rainwater from his leaky motel roof turning into torrents of blood. The police stop by to question him about Margarets death while Epiphany is soaking in his bathtub singing a Johnny Favorite hit tune and playing with her hair. After he kills Ethan he discovers his identity and rushes back to his motel room to find that he has killed Epiphany in a way that can only send him to Louisianas electric chair. The detective tells him he is going to burn. He says, I know.
In Murder in Brentwood Fuhrman invents a scenario where O.J. pounds Nicole to the ground in a fit of rage after she rejects him, kills Ron who stumbles into the scene, then kills Nicole to cover his tracks. O.J. runs away and sees himself in a mirror while washing blood from his hands. His scenario doesnt match the evidence. It matches scenes from dozens of movies and TV shows with other links to the Bundy murders where a man with literal or figurative blood on his hands sees himself in a mirror.
In Murder in Greenwich, Fuhrman sees himself in the door mirror of his pickup tuck as he gets out to embrace his children. In Angel Heart, Harry Angle is driving a rented car in Louisiana when he looks in his inside rearview mirror and sees himself and a pickup truck following him. Throughout the movie Angel sees himself in a mirror after he has committed a bloody murder but doesnt recognize himself as a murderer until the end when Lois Cyphre reveals himself as Lucifer.
The links you see between Maggie Grace as Martha in Murder in Greenwich and Lisa Bonet as Epiphany in Angel Heart are unavoidable. Both are teenage girls. Both are murder victims. Martha is the only female in the movie who plays with her hair and the only one you see with water dripping from her hair and face. Ditto for Epiphany. Martha kisses her killer. So does Epiphany. As Martha sits before a bonfire contemplating the end of summer you hear guitar music and see her biting her fingertips. You see the same things with Epiphany when Angle introduces himself to her. Shortly thereafter you see Epiphany doing a wild dance around a bonfire with a guitar player shaking maracas as Angel spies on them from the bushes.
In another Murder in Greenwich bonfire scene with Martha you hear, Bye, bye Miss American pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee . Levees and Louisiana go together like potatoes and Idaho. But the smoking gun links are in the electric chair lyrics of Elton Johns background song as Martha climbs the stairs with Tommy and Michel boils with anger. When Martha and Tommy are alone her voiceover does the rest: You know that time in your life when you think less about the present and more about the future. You wonder less about who you are and more about who youll be. Its like an epiphany It certainly is.
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