Not all similarities you see in movies come from the same source. Most of them dont. You have to allow for coincidence because your experience tells you that coincidence is a recurring fact of life.
Now and then when I was searching for movie links to Mark Fuhrman and the Bundy murders I saw a movie that seemed to qualify until I checked the release date and found that it couldnt have. Coincidence, I thought. Later I discovered that several other movies released before the Bundy murders had the same elements as the ones I scratched from the list because they were released after the murders.
Still, the movies I thought might have inspired Fuhrman until I found out he couldnt have seen them, convinced me that he would have used them if he had seen them. Copycat and Witch Hunt were two such movies. I knew that if Fuhrman saw them after the murders they would resonate with him like a tuning fork in an earthquake but there was no way to prove it until he produced Murder in Greenwich.
I began with the photo in Murder in Brentwood of the poem that struck me as a symbolic tombstone and the Mexican worry doll that turned out to be a mirror image of Nicoles body. By the time the book was published in 1997 I had already seen The Rosary Murders, Total Recall, Witch Hunt, Copycat, Scissors, Cat People and The House on Carroll Street. In retrospect I could trace why the photo hit me the way it did over and above the things Fuhrman wrote that connected to the doll and the symbolism.
In Fuhrmans scenario of O.J. returning to Rockingham after killing Ron and Nicole on Bundy, O.J. goes to the maids room to wash his bloody hands and sees his reflection in the mirror (Total Recall 92). The doll connects to the maids room because it was once Maria Baurs room and Fuhrman said he found a bloodstain there on the light switch.
The doll is called a worry doll because it is supposed to have the magical power of making a childs worries go away when the child whispers them to the doll. Mark Fuhrman was big on magic.
Looking at the evidence of the Bundy murders, it occurred to me that the killer thought of himself as a magician. He was certainly an illusionist. He created the illusion of a fight between Ron Goldman and his attacker in which the killer lost a glove and a cap. He created an illusion of rare shoeprints, a bleeding killer and a blood trail leading from Bundy to Rockingham. The man who made most of those illusions work with his timely observations, discoveries and theories was Det. Mark Fuhrman.
Harry Houdini, one of the greatest illusions, showmen and self-promoters of all time pulled off his escape from a London jail with the help of two London cops. He created a myth of nearly drowning below the ice of the Detroit River doing an escape act then changed the location to Pittsburgh. A combination of those stories went into the 1954 movie Houdini with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. The movie added a new myth; that Houdini died on stage in New York performing a water torture trick. The real Houdini collapsed on stage in Detroit and died a few days later in Detroits Grace Hospital shortly after noon on Halloween, 1926. His widow took his body by train to New York City where he is buried.
Houdini called his wife Bess but her first name was Wilhelmina. That was the name of O.J.s screen wife in The Naked Gun Wilhelmina, as in Billie, as in Mark Fuhrmans mother Billie Fuhrman.
I mentioned some of the threads I followed for movie links to Fuhrman. Magic is one I havent mentioned here, although I wrote about it in the previous Smoking Gun books. I followed this string on the primus that Fuhrman got many of his ideas for the murders, the frame-up and the investigation from movies about illusion, ESP and witchcraft.
I checked out movies with those themes and hit upon British actor Julian Sands as common to two of them with the most links to Fuhrman. When I saw his name in the synopsis for Witch Hunt I checked it out. The links to Fuhrman in his role did not surprise me. The links to Fuhrman in Sheryl Lee Ralphs role did. When I saw the worry doll execution clothes she wore as a witch that Sen. Crockett sentenced to burn at the stake I knew I had something. But I didnt get the full import until I saw Murder in Greenwich and then learned that Sheryl Lee Ralph was born and raised in Connecticut.
Murder in Greenwich begins with a cloud-swept birds eye view of a pleasant looking community on a shoreline and Martha Moxleys ghost introducing herself over short visuals dissolving into each other:
My name is Martha Moxley. My friends call me Mox. In 1974 my family moved to Belle Haven [pleasure boats on the water], which is in Greenwich, which is in Connecticut. It was the richest neighborhood [mansion] in the richest town [blonde woman with sunglasses and spotted scarf tied around her neck] in the richest country in the world [Two parked luxury cars, five female pedestrians crossing street].
This is my house on Walsh Lane [big house open iron gate]. And across the street on Otter Rock Drive [men raking and burning fall leaves in front of house], thats where the Skakels lived. They were our neighbors. They were rich. [Marthas ghost] And they were Kennedys [Overhead shot of street with pedestrian island, cars, shops, tree leaves, orange and black balloons close-up of broken egg shells in gutter, eggs splattered on building, water raining down, mailbox in background].
This was the morning after Mischief Night [man with garden hose spraying egg shells in gutter, police office, mailbox, pedestrian]. We called it Hacker Night [dress shop, mannequins in red, blonde bedroom furniture, two porcelain dogs, man cleaning off HACKER soap graffiti, man and woman passing by], the eve of Halloween a night of parties [tennis court, plastic trash bags, toilet paper in trees] and innocent pranks [burning Jack O Lantern]. But the thing that happened between my house and the Skakels ruined this town [men picking and burning leaves]. Belle Haven was supposed to be a safe place. [Marthas ghost] It was my home. It will always be my home [scream, cry of a crow or raven, blonde girl standing over Marthas body].
Sheila Leguire found me shortly after noon on Halloween
You get all of this in 79 seconds.
The Dominique Dunne and Harry Houdini connections are obvious when you know their stories. You wont notice any movie reference in those 79 seconds unless you have walked around in Fuhrmans mind for a long time, picked up on his creativity patterns and seen The House on Carroll Street and Witch Hunt.
The House on Carroll Street (88) stars Kelly McGillis as Emily Crane, an assistant photo editor for Life magazine. Jeff Daniels, who appears with Julian Sand in Arachnophobia (91), is FBI Special Agent Cochran. Kenneth Welsh is his partner Hackett. Mandy Patinkin is Ray Salwen, a powerful aid to a US senator who expects to become the next President of the United States. The year is 1951. Salwen, a character much like the real Sen. Joe McCarthys Senate prosecutor Roy Cohn in the 1950s Communist witch-hunt, brings Emily up before a Senate committee. She refuses to name people she knows the committee wants only to smear. The nature of the hearing is symbolized by the cavalier ruination of Emilys career followed immediately by Salwen giving a senator a birthday celebration and lighting a candle on the cake.
Emily loses her job and stumbles into a Salwen conspiracy to smuggle Nazi war criminals into the United States using the names of dead Jews that a young German pawn takes from cemetery grave markers. The nameless pawn in this scheme, which results in his murder, is a translator who practices English by reading poems from The Raven Edition of The Writings of Edgar Allen Poe.
Witch Hunt (94) borrows freely from The House on Carroll Street with vastly improved direction and production values and an accent on satire. It splices in a scene from a Richard Conti film and newsreel footage of Ronald Regan before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Its set in 1953 greater Los Angeles where everyone except Phil Lovecraft uses magic. A crusading senator is out to rid Hollywood of its influence.
Dennis Hopper is H. Phillip Lovecraft, a name taken from the occult fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft. In Witch Hunt he is a private detective who shares office space with Sheryl Lee Ralph as Hypolyta Kropotkin, a licensed witch. Penelope Ann Miller is Kim Hudson a glamorous movie star married to a powerful movie producer named N.J. Gotlieb. The N stands for Nicky.
Kim Hudson comes to Lovecrafts office to hire him. She knows that her husband is cheating on her with a young starlet named Tracy Pinkem that he hired as a walk-on in Kims latest movie because Tracys part keeps expanding. She wants Lovecraft to follow Nicky to get something on him that she can take to her lawyer. Lovecraft recalls a movie she did where she was sitting in a bathtub covered in bubbles with her big toe stuck in the faucet. He says that his favorite part is where the fat plumber comes in. He cant recall the name of the movie. Kim tells him the name is Lets Do It and adds, It was a sophisticated comedy.
Youll get the joke if you recall a similar scene in a Marx Brothers film with Harpo Marx rises up from below the suds fully clothed grinning in the astonished bather's face. Pure slapstick. Its easy to see that the allusion to that scene in Witch Hunt is intentional. Thats what makes it funny.
On the other hand, it is surely coincidental that Copycat (95) with a character named Hudson and Holly Hunter as M.J. have anything in common with Witchs Hunts N.J. and Fuhrmans involvement with O.J.
Fuhrman recorded his sensitivity to his initials M.F. (short for motherfucker) on a Laura Hart McKinney tape. Considering M.F.s involvement with O.J. Simpson, it seemed likely to me that he was sensitive to two-initial names in general. I thought that he would have noticed the alphabetical progression in M.J., N.J. and O.J. The names he invented for Greg Coleman (Batman) in his Murder in Greenwich book and Ken Littleton (Morris Banks) in the movie tell me that he did.
G.C. and K.L. mean nothing. BM and MB conjure images of bloody shoeprints, Nicole cringing in terror and O.J. smashing the windshield of a Mercedes-Benz with a baseball bat. This is word magic. And it works. Fuhrman probably didnt intend to do the same thing with the names Christopher, Joanna, Theresa, Banks, Maggie, Elizabeth, Hildy, Stephen, Alex, Grafton and Carroll but the images come with the territory.
You know the difference between coincidental similarities and intentional ones by the people involved in the later production, the discretionary changes and the payoff. Holly Hunter was an established movie star a decade before Witch Hunt was produced. Hollywood existed long before she did. The decision to cast her as M.J. for Copycat is entirely justifiable by her acting ability, her screen presence and the particular demands of the role. M.J. could have come from anywhere. The fictitious name Kim Hunter in Witch Hunt, however, is wholly discretionary. Its supposed to sound like the name of a 1950s movie star and it does for good reasons.
Take a lesson from Sen. Larson Crockett at the beginning of Witch Hunt when he appears on TV to denounce magic in Hollywood: Magic. Magic. The word conjures images of sloth, degeneracy and corruption. I brought my committee to Los Angeles where this plague began Witch Hunt uses word magic on its viewers with Kim Novak, Kim Hunter and Rock Hudson. These names are closely associated with movie stars of the 1950s. By combining Kim with Hudson you get an automatic sense of familiarity.
In Mark Fuhrmans Bundy crime scene notes he used letters of the alphabet as abbreviations for common LAPD expressions. Radio call was R/C. Gunshot wound was GSW. Southbound was S/B. Westbound was W/B. What do you want to bet that in his mental notes he used BM (as in Bruno Magli) and MB (as in Mercedes-Benz) for black male and male/black? I wouldnt bet against it.
Fuhrmans 1989 letter to the city attorney begins with Fuhrman saying that he answered a family dispute call at 360 North Rockingham and saw a black male pacing and a white female sitting on a vehicle . Good so far. He has given a basic description of where he was, why he was there, the people he saw and what they were doing. What he says next and what he never says in the letter put you into his head.
Fuhrman uses black male superfluously two more times. One of those times is after he quotes the black male as saying, Im O.J. Simpson! He then refers to O.J. two more times as Simpson with full knowledge that the male and female were both Simpsons. He refers to the female five more times, after identifying her as white, only as the female. He quotes her as saying, He broke the windshield with a baseball bat.
Fuhrman never says that he recognized O.J. He never mentions Nicoles name although he knew it when he wrote the letter. He leaves the impression that he wrote a report on the incident before he knew her name. He wiggles out of any charge that he intended to mislead anyone by concluding, It seems odd to remember such an event, but it is not every day that you respond to a celebritys home for a family dispute. For this reason the incident was indelibly pressed in my memory.
Somehow Fuhrman forgot the date of this unforgettable event. He forgot the month, he wasnt sure of the season and he got the year wrong. Mark Fuhrman is very flexible with time. Not even the crucial timeline he established in his Murder in Greenwich book for labeling Michael Skakel a murderer correspond to the timeline he establishes in his movie. If you can bend time you can do almost anything.
See how much of these scenes in Witch Hunt pluck your memory strings:
Hypolyta Kropotkin has been hired to do a job for N.J. Gotlieb. Lovecraft offers her a ride. The scene shifts to seven attractive black women in identical red and black outfits walking sensuously in tandem from one soundstage to another. In the next scene shift Lovecraft and Kropotkin are alone in an empty soundstage where Kropotkin is preparing to do some conjuring from 17th century Greenwich England to Hollywood USA. N.J. arrives with Tracy Pinkem and his writing, directing, casting entourage in two Cadillacs. Kropotkin performs the ceremony with a circle of magic golden dust, a few old bones and a powerful incantation. She brings William Shakespeare back from the dead to write extra lines for Tracy Pinkem.
N.J. welcomes Bill to Hollywood, introduces him to Tracy and his production chiefs and takes a minute out to talk to Lovecrafts nemesis Fenn Mocha (pronounced Mox-a). Lovecrafts previous encounter with Mocha is why he doesnt use magic. He used it once to recover a conversation between Mocha and his partner in crime aboard a boat. Mocha thought that a girl on the boat went to the police and he killed her. You dont know this when you see Mocha throw a cigarette on the ground and it turns to a pool of water at Lovecrafts feet with a snake swimming through it. All you know is what Lovecraft observes before his showdown with Mocha. Water everywhere he turns, rain swimming, pools, the ocean .
You see much of Witch Hunt in the first 79 seconds of Murder in Greenwich and connections to the water and the raven in other parts of Fuhrmans movie. For instance, he solves the crime after speaking to a man from Maryland (Edgar Allen Poe, the author of The Raven lived in Baltimore Maryland) who gets him out of the rain into his convertible.
Lovecraft follows N.J.s Lincoln at night to a high-class brothel out of town. Its raining. A zombie is walking guard with an umbrella magically suspended over his head. Lovecraft hears the cry of a crow or a raven. He sees a flutter of black feathers and a raven lands on the hood of his car with a snake in its beak. Lovecraft passes out. The next thing he knows, its morning. The Lincoln is gone. Someone has slipped him a magic Mickey.
If youre wondering about the snake you should know that Michels alibi was that he was with two of his brothers and his cousin Jim Terrien at the Terrien home drinking beer and watching Monty Python. They drove there in a Lincoln. In the Murder in Greenwich movie Fuhrman changes Jim Terriens name to Larry Morgan a combination of Larry Bird and a breed of horses. He leaves out Andrea Shakespeare who saw Michael get into the Lincoln with his cousin and brothers. In the moonlighting scene where Fuhrman orders a beer, you get a close-up of his snakeskin boots. Remember this the next time you see the name Pegasus (chap 13).
The Shakespeare conjuring scene in Witch Hunt might help explain Andrea Shakespeares absence from the Murder in Greenwich movie. Even if Fuhrman had given her another name and dressed her in green, the red dresses on the mannequins in the 79-second sequence would have told you who she was if you saw Witch Hunt.
In Witch Hunt Tracy Pinkem and William Shakespeare are dressed in red. Like the mannequin on the left in Murder in Greenwich, Tracy Pinkem has dark hair. Like the mannequin on the right, the top of Shakespeares head is bald. But the kicker is when you see Shakespeare being driven away in the back seat of the car with his face pressed against the door glass. How could you not think of Andrea Shakespeare in that context?
The next scene in Witch Hunt is where Lovecraft follows the Lincoln to the brothel on Glendower Street in the rain and the raven Mickey lands on the hood of his car. The scene switches from Lovecraft waking up from his Mickey to Kim Hudson pulling past the big, iron gate of her husbands studio in her car. She is wearing sunglasses and a spotted scarf over her blonde hair. The scarf loops around her neck like the blonde with the sunglasses in Murder in Greenwich. She turns around and sees Tracy Pinkem standing in the door of her dressing room being fitted into Kims costume.
Kim has it out with N.J. in his office while Mark Twain and Kropotkin wait in the outer office. A female receptionist is sitting behind a desk. Kropotkin is holding her purse. Mark Twain is reading a magazine. The spousal argument spills into the waiting room when Kim storms out, stomps her foot and shouts, This isnt the first time Ive been fucked in the producers office! She leaves in a huff. N.J. comes out and calls for the witch not Dickens, as he calls Mark Twain. Keep in mind Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol featuring a ghost named Morley and Mark Fuhrman produced Murder in Greenwich, a movie featuring a ghost named Moxley whose friends call her Mox.
Go back to Murder in Greenwich Fuhrman and Weeks are in a Greenwich Connecticut police station trying to get Martha Moxleys case records from Lancaster the desk sergeant. Weeks is in the foreground clutching a shoulder bag (a purse) and telling Lancaster, Were the guys who are writing a book. Fuhrman is in the background reading a magazine. You see the same thing in Witch Hunt with Sheryl Lee Ralph as Kropotkin standing in for Stephan Weeks, and Mark Twain standing in for Mark Fuhrman.
Mark Fuhrman defended his use of the word nigger by comparing it to the way Mark Twain used it in Huckleberry Finn and that he hated his father Ralph. Sheryl Lee Ralph is from Connecticut and she is black. The person who gave Fuhrman and Weeks the Martha Moxley files in his actual investigation was a woman. In the movie, he turns her into a man named Lancaster.
You saw the Moonlighting link to Lancaster with Hildy Southerlyn. It doesnt take much to get Sheryl and Lee out of Southerlyn. But the closet Sheryl Lee Ralph links to Fuhrman may be in the name Kropotkin and the 89 Take My Wife, For Example episode of Moonlighting with 65-year-old Colleen Dewhurst. A year later in The Exorcist III she is the voice of Satan. In 1967 she starred in a TV adaptation of Arthur Millers play The Crucible about the Salem witch-hunt of 1699. She is accused witch Elizabeth Proctor. I couldnt find that movie, so to see what she looked like close to that time I saw her in A Fine Madness (66) as Dr. Vera Kropotkin.
The name Kropotkin wasnt what put me on to Dewhurst. I was startled to see it. Seeing Carolyn Bock as Caroline Fuhrman in Murder in Greenwich I felt that I knew her from other acting roles until I saw Dewhurst as the Castle Rock killers mother in The Dead Zone (83). Bock is a New Zealander at least 35 years younger than Dewhurst and none of the movies or TV shows she appeared in before Murder in Greenwich was ever shown in the States. The age difference threw me.
Dont let age differences throw you. They are as flexible with Fuhrman as race and sex. If he framed O.J., he had to put himself in a black mans shoes. If he was writing about a female cop from her perspective he had to put himself in her shoes. If he had to establish an alibi for himself and take one away from O.J., he had to monkey with time. To get Michael Skakel tried for murder he had to do the same thing. In Murder in Greenwich he makes frequent use of aging and regressing characters 22 years. Thats why Carolyn Bock reminded me of Cathleen Dewhurst. Dewhurst looked the way I thought Bock would look at her age.
Bock and Dewhurst looked so much alike in some views that I had to check their biographies to learn that they werent related. In one view the shape of the face is the same. In another view the shape of the face is different but you get the same chin, the came cheekbones, the same nose and mouth. In The Dead Zone with Christopher Walken, Dewhurst wears her hair in a similar style that Bock wears hers in Murder in Greenwich. They both wear a sweater that could be the same color in the same light and the pattern of Dewhursts sweater matches the pattern of the little blonde girl playing Bachs stage daughter (and Christopher Melonis) in the same scene. That scene dissolves into the ghost of the murdered 15-year-old Martha Moxley.
Remind you of a Dickens Christmas story with a ghost name Marley? Does that remind you of M.J. Gotlieb calling Mark Twain Dickens? Does that remind you of anything else? It reminded me of Hypolyta Kropotkin, which reminded me of The House on Carroll Street with Kelly McGillis as Emily Crane who was named after Emily Dickinson.
Two characters in Witch Hunt sprouted from one in The House on Carroll Street. Penelope Ann Miller as Kim Hunter looks the most like Kelly McGillis sitting before the witch-hunting senate committee but if you see both movies back to back you know that Hunter and Kropotkin are based on the same character. If you dont see the link now, you will see it in the next chapter. And dont forget Steve Carroll in Murder in Greenwich, the cop who searched the house on Otter Rock Drive in 1975 and worked with Fuhrman 22 years later.
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