In which we entertain brief thoughts on The Haunting of Bly Manor, the British mini-thriller Cobra, and Christina Lane’s biography of Hitchcock collaborator Joan Harrison. Only one of the three really succeeds.

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cbr.com

I grew increasingly irritated with The Haunting of Bly Manor before hitting the off-button at episode four, following the terrible episode three. The series has some eerie brushes, but in revealing and explaining every character and their every motivation it drains away and hollows out the magic found in the durable originals: Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw and Jack Clayton’s 1961 black-and-white classic The Innocents


An entertaining, sometimes hilarious, French police procedural featuring an eccentric, egotistical forensic medical examiner, a humorless cop, and chatty murder victims. What more could you want?

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Balthazar: For some, the scenery will be fabulous

If you ask me, there’s so many crime shows streaming right now that it constitutes a crime all its own.

No, I know you didn’t ask, but, really, who’s got the time for all this mayhem and mystery? Not me, by decades. But does anyone listen? No. Crime shows stream on in a bloody blur, packed with cliches and tropes that are as familiar as buttered toast.

There’s some tweedy comfort and wit to…


In which your correspondent recommends, with few reservations, yet another new film on Netflix.

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The Dig

In which, your correspondent recommends, with few reservations, a new film on Netflix.

When I first heard about The Dig, a new Netflix film, I initially anticipated a ghost story, one inspired by the great M. R. James. But The Dig isn’t about ghosts and their shadows but about the light that’s revealed through passionate excavation into human history. It’s a film about those who love history for history’s sake. At its best, and in a quiet way, it also tries to deal with time both…


A look at the excellent, razor-sharp Indian film, The White Tiger, where a young man’s plays a long and treacherous game to outfox modern India’s rigid caste system, grinding poverty, and the intrusion of global capitalism.

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While you’re swiping through Netflix’s top-ten list, remember to look a little further toward the back. There you’ll come across The White Tiger, a dark and snappy picaresque tale of rags, riches and how they intertwine. The film’s setting is not America, where such stories (ranging from Horatio Alger to What Makes Sammy Run?) …


In which I try to answer the question, “Should I watch Mank?”

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Citizen Kane: The Real Thing, a Great Work of Art

So, there you are, feet up, thumbing through the Netflix menu one evening, when up pops a movie called Mank. You read the capsule — the fictionalized story about the writing of an old black-and-white movie called Citizen Kane — and then see the names David Fincher and Gary Oldman, reputable names for sure. Your thumb crawls toward the OK button — but wait! First, I have an important question!

Have you ever seen Citizen Kane? If you haven’t, I absolutely urge you to not watch Mank. If you do, I guarantee you’ll find it baffling, irrelevant, and dull. If…


A brilliant look at how Archie Leach from Bristol England, created the brilliant disguise we know and love as Cary Grant.

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Cary Grant: Illegally handsome

Nearly sixty years after his last movie in 1965 and thirty-four years after his death in 1986, Cary Grant remains the Man, the One. His appeal to both men and women remains intense and universal and his image genuinely irreplaceable. (Only George Clooney comes close . . . but not that close.)

I knew nothing of this early in my life. I needed to be in the right spot to be captured by Cary Grant.

When I was a…


To draw theccurtain on this Halloween season, a piece from my old webpage about the greatest, most influential Dracula of all.

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The Universal DVD — highly recommended

I’ve written before about the effect on me of seeing Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Dracula for the first time — creeping through ancient shadows down that cobwebbed staircase, his cape gleaming with starlight, he profoundly enchanted a fatherless eight-year-old.

I was transfixed by Lugosi’s piercing stare, his aquiline nose and strong but softly sculpted face, like an Undead Roman(ian) emperor. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula imprinted his thumb on this abandoned larva, the mark of a sinister and powerful outlaw…


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Official Christopher Lee website

[For Halloween, another piece posted on my old page some years back; about my second favorite Dracula, Christopher Lee.]

Hammer Films’ Dracula (produced Britain in 1957 and released in the United States as The Horror of Dracula) stars an actor I believe is the last great screen Dracula in that curiously small assemblage: Sir ChristopherLee.

Along with Bela Lugosi, Lee comes closest to the Dracula that wheels about my moonlit mind. Bela Lugosi captures my Dracula’s fierce deadly magic and parasitic otherness. Christopher Lee embodies his icy ruthlessness and thundering drive, his single-minded self-absorption, his arrogant determination to dominate. The…


With Halloween creeping up, a reposting from my old webpage of the first of three articles on screen Draculas, published in celerbration of my 2012 Dracula novel Dragon’s Ark.

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(pelicanist.blogspot)

Some think of me a Dracula-movie fanboy: One who lies for endless hours in his coffin, a TV nailed to the inside lid, eyes painted and embossed with every shadowy frame of the hundred-plus adaptations and variations on the story that have unreeled across TV and movie screens in the last century.

Then, I rise from my coffin at sunset and casually clamber into your house, suck your blood, sow cruel…


With the author’s latest spy history Agent Sonya now out, my earlier review of one of his earlier works, the authoritative and utterly thrilling story of master spy and betrayer Kim Philby.

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“The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it? — “ Jeremiah, 17:9

“. . . if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country” — E.M. Forster

“Betrayal is a repetitious trade . . . “ — John le Carré, A Perfect Spy.

We’re all Monday-morning…

Thomas Burchfield

The author of BUTCHERTOWN, a 1920s gangster thriller and DRAGON’S ARK, a contemporary Dracula tale, both published through Ambler House Publishing.

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