Framing John DeLorean 2019 ****

FramingJohnDeLorean

The title is an interesting one; we know who John DeLorean was, or at least we may have some ideas. Don Argott and Sheena M Joyce have constructed a documentary that aims to ‘frame’ him; are they suggesting that the various crimes that John DeLorean was accused of constituted a frame job? That’s not what their film is about; there’s very little in the way of conspiracy theory or speculation here, just a journey through the key facts of the car moguls rise and fall from grace. This well-constructed doc also has a narrative frame in that it features reconstructions featuring Alec Baldwin as DeLorean, and we also get to see off-cuts showing rehearsals and the actor in make-up, discussing his role. With Back to the Future’s Bob Gale amongst those testifying to the number of potential films which might be made about the subject, Framing John DeLorean is one of the the first out of the gate, but unlikely to be the last.

Like Preston Tucker, DeLorean was a man with a dream, to innovate in the expensive world of car production, and to take on the big boys in the corporate world. Setting up a huge plant in Ireland in the 1980’s, DeLorean was not short of enemies; the key moment comes when he stops dealing with Margaret Thatcher and Jim Prior (the latter interviewed here) and started dealing with Colombian cocaine traffikers. DeLorean managed to move a massive consignment of coke in order to provide finance for his company, and jobs for many workers who had no other options, and he brazenly paid for it in worthless share certificates. If he’d pulled that deception off, it would have been one for the memoirs, a Danny Ocean-style masterstroke that beat the system, but the deal had been set up by a narc and public ignominy followed. Even after DeLorean was found innocent of drug-dealing in the courts, it took a separate scandal to bring him down involving the embezzling of funds. Other public figures have got away with far more; it’s clear that someone had it in for DeLorean. In retrospect, DeLorean’s mistake seems to be not that he stole money or dealt with drugs cartels, but that he accepted public ie government rather than private money; that lack of business savvy seems to have been the real reason for the scrutiny that led to his downfall. Americans often imaging UK government funding to be free money, when the truth is that it’s often the most expensive kind, as DeLorean found to his cost.

Framing John DeLorean is an entertaining, informative documentary with strong source material and plenty to draw the viewer in, not least the sight of the car immortalised by Back To The Future. The sight of thousands of the cars lying unsold in Irish car-parks, or driven en masse to ferries for US import is surreal, as is a glimpse of a red DeLorean; even if it didn’t actually drive terribly well, the car was beautiful to look at. Like the man who created it, the DeLorean had style to burn, and this artful documentary captures the essence of the man and the machine.

Framing John DeLorean, available on Amazon Video and ITunes in the UK from 29th July

In the US…

https://www.amazon.com/Framing-John-DeLorean-Alec-Baldwin/dp/B07SN62Y5K

 

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Biggles 1986 ***

One name on a cast list that always makes us click is Peter Cushing; the perennially ancient leading man of many British horror films, and notably the Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. His final film was 1986’s Biggles, an attempt to build an Indiana Jones-style franchise from WE Johns’ classic character. Such efforts had gone on for decades before Back to The Future came out, and sent the team behind Biggles scuttling off in quite the wrong direction. Thus, somehow, Biggles (Neil Dickson) isn’t the main character in his own film; Alex Hyde White plays a catering salesman who is sent back in time to join forces with the WWI flying hero and stop the German army developing a deadly machine that kills using sound. Biggles; The Movie is something of a mess, never marrying the 1980’s story with the First Would War action. But director John Hough really knew how to stage action, and the helicopter vs biplane scenarios are physically impressive.  Worth seeing if only to answer the trivia question of which film features Cushing and Freddie Mercury; Another One Bites the Dust features here alongside a truly hideous score by Yes’s Jon Anderson. Dickson later reprised the role of Biggles, not for a sequel, but in Jack Bond’s musical It Couldn’t Happen Here for the Pet Shop Boys.