Forget the Alamo
At the aptly named Jackson Theater
when you were twelve
you saw John Wayne’s visually ambitious
version of The Alamo
— yet another story already told to you through TV
— and so of course yet another lie.
The movie’s coonskin-cap propaganda
about stoic heroic white male pioneers
and faceless soulless unworthy Mexicans
of course it all felt comfortably if vaguely familiar
thanks to having seen
along with millions of other Baby Boomers
the Fess Parker-as-Davy-Crockett Disney TV miniseries
just a year or two or three earlier ...
but still ...
It’s the small screen’s
gently grinning Fess Parker
who lives in memory
as a much more amiable
than the solid stolid wooden Wayne
— Hollywood’s big-screen Duke
... of deception.
Eliot Ness Noir
The melted butter-scented Boulevard Theater
is where at age 11
you saw Rod Steiger in the title role of Al Capone.
This was when you were among millions
watching The Untouchables on TV every week
and so the Al Capone movie confused you
because in it there was no Prohibition Era
brewery-busting G-man named Eliot Ness.
This was long before you learned The Untouchables
was largely a producer’s and writer’s wet-dream fiction
although there was a real-life crime-fighting Eliot Ness
— he just wasn’t the great Capone catcher
nor did he catch any other mega-mobster
... and he was an alcoholic
— facts that would’ve made The Untouchables touchingly ironic
and with its already constant creeping
black & white shadowy sense
of threat and dread ...
far more noir.
He’s no Dirty Harry
gunplay or muscle almost absent from this cop’s repertoire.
He’s Brainy Bobby — TV Detective Robert Goren
of Law and Order Criminal Intent’s Major Case Squad
(whose mother — get this! — had an affair with a serial killer
— when? — oh, about nine months before giving birth to Bobby).
Law and Order Criminal Intent?
How about Law and Order Oedipal Intent?
to the narcotizing pleasure
of staring at soaking up spongelike
the next cable station binge-able Brainy Bobby marathon.
to a major man-crush
on this Detective Goren this acutely observant obsessive know-it-all
of all things esoteric and arcane
this Sherlockian avatar
as performed by deep-dive Method actor Vincent D’Onofrio.
fan-boy admiration to the point of envy
for Goren/D’Onofrio’s patient superior insightful empathic intelligence
admiration/envy for his chess grandmaster-type powers of concentration
admiration/envy for his going eye-to-eye face-to-face in-your-face
when confronting — as the show’s intro intones — “the worst criminal offenders.”
to lapsed-Catholic catharsis
remembering confession’s conscience-cleansing
as those high I.Q. homicidal hypocrites
all those mortal sinners
finally confess their guilt
all their dirt-stained & stinking shame
no longer blaming
to what Goren/D’Onofrio has painstakingly elicited
over the previous commercials-interruptus hour
— the unspeakable truth ... spoken at last.