Wednesday, August 5, 2020


Current watch. As someone who has watched and read quite a bit on the case of Peter Sutcliffe, the infamous Yorkshire Ripper, I'm surprised I hadn't already seen this two-part UK TV mini-series from 2000. Focusing on the years-long hunt to catch the Ripper and told primarily from the view of George Oldfield, the police chief assigned with leading the task force to track down the killer, this really is a quite engrossing watch. Alun Armstrong is terrific as Oldfield, who took the case personally and eventually let it completely destroy his health and career. He also let himself become sidetracked by the infamous Ripper hoax letters and tape recordings, which took the investigation into a false direction and let Sutcliffe get away with several more murders before he was finally caught in early 1981. Chillingly, the authentic tape recordings sent by the phony ripper are used in this production (at the time, the sender of those fake letters and tape recording were still unknown - DNA left on one of the letters eventually led to the arrest of John Samuel Humble in 2005, who admitted to being the hoaxer).


Last night's movie. One of my favorite Hollywood biopics, examining the life and sordid pastimes of popular HOGAN'S HEROES star Bob Crane (wonderfully played by Greg Kinnear), a life which culminated of course with his grisly, and still technically unsolved, murder inside an Arizona motel room in 1978. Directed by Paul Schrader and based on the 1993 book THE MURDER OF BOB CRANE by Robert Graysmith, who also wrote the two books on which David Fincher's classic ZODIAC (2007) was based on. As well as being an excellent showbiz bio, it's darker elements also make it a gripping character piece, while visually the movie has one of the most sumptuous recreations of Hollywood and L.A. in the 1960s & 70s that I have ever seen. Willem Dafoe is also excellent as John Carpenter, Crane's oily friend and hanger-on who is widely accepted to have been the killer. Graysmith's book is also an engrossing read and a perfect companion piece to the film. Many DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film also contain the interesting two-part documentary MURDER IN SCOTTSDALE, which examines the case and the attempts to bring Carpenter to justice over the years, before he passed away in 1998.