Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The American Trap

 

The American Trap Review


The American Trap is interesting and amazing oddity of a movie. It might be better titled The French-Canadian Connection.  The movie’s characters speak in French, English and sometimes Spanish. The only version I could find had Dutch Sub-titles.

JFK assassination researchers are well aware of one French Canadian connection; Montrealer Louis Mortimer Bloomfield who has been linked to the shadowy corporation Permindex. If you believe sources such as Italian newspaper Il Pease Sera and the samizdat publication The Torbit Document,  Permidex was a cover for a crime network that funded and coordinated assassinations world-wide; a real life version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s SPECTRE. But Bloomfield makes no appearance in The American Trap.
The main character is Luicien Rivard, a name little known to American researchers but well known to Canadians for his part in a huge heroin bust in 1964 and his escape from Bordeaux prison. Rivard was part of the Montreal Cotroni crime family which itself was an arm of the New York Bonanno crime organization. The story is told from his perspective.
The other major player in the movie is Paul Mondolini, who in the both reel life and real life was a Corsican drug trafficker who was an associated with Michel-Victor Mertz, another French National who, among other things, was an assassin and a major suspect for second gunman in the JFK assassination.
Before we are five minute into the opening scene, set Club 1956 at El Morocco in Havana, Cuba Mondonlini introduces Rivard to “Jacob Rubenstein” who tells him “I own clubs in Dallas. I’ve got a job like yours; and I’m connected. I’ve got friends, cop friends… and they like me.” Ruby is accompanied by Rose Cheramie, another key character in the movie.
...meanwhile, back in Dallas...
In real life Rosella Renne Cheramie, AKA Melba Christine Marcades AKA Rozella Clinkscales AKA about 30 other names - was drug runner, prostitute, arsonist, drug addict and maybe dancer for Jack Ruby. She is known as the source of a now legendary tale of pre-knowledge of the JFK assassination.
Rose Cheramie and Paul Mondolini share a tender moment outside The Carousel Club
In the movie Cheramie is romantically connected with French connection Paul Mondolini and a few other people. Jack Ruby is show to be romantically involved with his dachshund dogs, something that the Warren Commission was very interested in.
What follows is an interesting tale that ties the Kennedy assassination in with group of French and French Canadian drug smugglers who are intertwined with American and French organized crime figures and elements of the CIA who are all involved in funneling weapons to Cuban anti-Castro groups. From this mixture of shady characters with different objectives but common interests the plot to assassinate JFK ferments and pops its cork on Nov. 22, 1963.
Along the way will meet CIA agent Maurice Bishop, a real fictitious name; and by that I mean a real cover name for a real-life CIA agent who was connected with anti-Castro operations. He was also seen in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald. Most researchers believe that “Bishop” was a cover for David Atlee Phillips.
JFK assassination trading cards, collect them all...
Some of the players and connections are being unraveled by “Jeffery Cohen,” a New Orleans drug enforcement agent  who I assume is a made up character to help move the story and explain the plot. Cohen is being monitored by a CIA connected agent, who seems to be based on E. Howard Hunt. Hunt tells Cohen to lay off some of the drug traffickers who he has under surveillance. Cohen has figured out that this is because some his drug suspects are involved in a plan to invade Cuba and assassinate Castro. “This guy, Oswald, if he’s the one who’s supposed to kill Castro; how come he’s so exposed everywhere? You’d think he was performing on the Ed Sullivan Show.” Cohen says to Hunt.
You can't keep track of the players with out a play sheet
You can’t tell one player from another without a program, and Cohen has a diagram he is working on his trying to tie them all together.
In Dallas the plan to assassinate Kennedy moves on.  Spoiler alert! In this version of history Oswald is in on the plot but does not know an assassination is planned. He is instructed to shoot at the motorcade but not to hit anyone, just hit a tire or a bumper. The failed assassination attempt will make Kennedy a hero, Oswald is told.  Afterwards he is to meet one of his co-conspirators at The Texas Theater where he will be given a false passport and tickets out of the USA. As we all know, things do not work out very well for Oswald.
The best laid plans....
Rose Cheramie almost blows the whole deal when she overhears the assassination plans when she is shooting heroin in the dressing room of Ruby’s Carousel Club. Her wrong place, wrong time eavesdropping gets her thrown from a moving car and left for dead. This same incident is in the opening minutes of Oliver Stone’s JFK.
Dazed and confused in Dallas
While recovering in a hospital the real life Rose Cheramie is said to have told people of the assassination plans and stated that a man  named Ruby was involved.  She also told people that Ruby and Oswald knew each other.
Left for dead
Kennedy is killed less than an hour into the movie. The real assassin is Michel Mertz, a long time suspect. In real life CIA agent E. Howard Hunt gave a death bed tape recorded account of the assassination plot and his involvement and knowledge of it. He said that a French assassin was involved.
The rest of the movie follows Rivard, who has been imprisoned by the US after having being betrayed by his co-conspirators, apparently as away appease any investigation. Cohen interviews Rivard in prison as part of his private investigation into the links of the drug runners and the JFK assassination, with disastrous consequences, at least for him.
CIA man Maurice Bishop continues to direct people like chess pieces, bringing drug runner Paul Mondolini into Indonesia and arranging the deaths of those who are too inquisitive or too talkative.
In the end only a few are left alive and a twenty year prison term seems to have been good luck for Rivard.
Some parts of The American Trap seem to be fictionalized versions of real events, compressed to help with the movie’s flow, and some SEEM to fumble facts, most notably a scene of Oswald handing out pro-Cuba pamphlets in Montreal. Every JFK assassination researcher knows that this happened in New Orleans, right? Right… and wrong.  It seems that there ARE reports of Oswald doing just this in Montreal, it’s just that not many researchers focus on the Montreal connections.
Oswald in Montreal
Much of The American Trap seem to parallel, and may be based on, the research of Québécois Maurice Philipps and his book De Dallas a Montreal, which covers all of the people and subjects in the movie and more. Like The American Trap, De Dallas a Montreal has not gotten much notice in the USA and is available only in French.
There is word that The American Trap was released in the UK completely in English as a region 2 DVD, so there may hope for Anglophiles yet.
All being said, The American Trap is an incredible movie that creates the atmosphere of the times it is set in and manages to convey a lot of factual information while still making for an interesting and entertaining story. This is something that very few fiction films based on the JFK assassination have achieved.  It could be one of the best JFK assassination films ever, but then I have not seem Farewell America, which is based a book by French Intelligence agents.

 More Info on the JKF Assassination - French Canadian Connection:
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Clubs: Athens Strip

Strip Club:  Athens Strip (mid-60s thru mid-70s).

photos: frame grabs from Mars Needs Women. 

Athens Strip was a strip club located at 2121 Greenville Ave in Dallas. 

The club opened in 1966 and closed in 1977, reportedly because of damage from an arson fire.
Athens' Strip danced into infamy when it was the featured in grade-Z filmmaker Larry Buchanan’s most memorable movie, Mars Needs Women, filmed in 1967.

 In one scene a Martian ogles stripper Bubbles Cash as she dances on the Athens Strip stage, selecting her as a candidate for alien abduction in an attempt to increases the female population of his home planet.  This scene preserved images of Athens Strip’s exterior and interior for all eternity, and hopefully saved the Martian race.

 Previous to this the Athens Strip made some ink in the Dallas press when a lion named Blondie, who was part of an act by an Athens Strip dancer who used the name Patty Pleasure. The city claimed that the lion was improperly caged and in violation of a new Dallas wild animal ordinance. The defense was that the lion was too fat and lazy to harm anyone.  Ms. Pleasure is quoted as saying “Blondie is gentle but not quite as gentle as a pussy-cat…”

  Athens’ Strip was in the news again in the 1975, although only in passing. Diana King, one of the clubs dancers, did a show and tell strip-tease at the Richardson Unitarian Church in front of a congregation that included children. This made national headlines but the event’s most lasting effect was being referenced in church newsletters as an example of a typical Unitarian service.

The former site of Athens’ Strip is presently occupied by a Chinese restaurant with the unintentionally humorous name New Big Wong.

  Coming in part 2: The facts about the arson fire.


 Sources:

Post by Joel Parks on the Dallas Historical Society web page “phorum” http://dallashistory.org

How Bad Were They?  - Smith Douglas St. Clair (Ivan Stang) - Texas Monthly May 1986

Mars Needs Women movie directed by Larry Buchananhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060672/

Metro Past - The Dallas Morning News - May 15, 1985
Animal Ordinance by James Ewell - The Dallas Morning News – Oct 05, 1966
New Big Wong - The Dallas Morning News - May 22, 1987
 Please visit this blog’s sponsor www.DFWNites.com for the lowdown on present day decadent Dallas and Fort Worth.

 Buy Mars Needs Women for next to nothing on Amazon.







Thursday, November 28, 2013

Was Oswald a Burlesque Buff?

There is much speculation that Lee Harvey Oswald may have known Jack Ruby and spent time at Ruby’s Carousel Club, but what if Oswald was just a fan of girl shows?

Buried among the documents collected by The Warren Commission is an account of Oswald trolling burlesque clubs in downtown Dallas.
An image of The Baker Hotel in Dallas, TX from a postcard from the 1930s
An FBI document dated Nov. 30, 1963 states that Ecuadorian foreign exchange student name Cristobal Espinosa Landivar traveled from Austin to Dallas to see a football game. On Oct. 10th 1963, the day after the game, he met Lee Harvey Oswald on the street outside his hotel. He had Oswald write his name down on a piece of paper to make sure that he got his name correct, as English was his second language and he still had difficulty with it.

Oswald talked to him for a while, mostly asking questions about Equator.  As they walked and talked the FBI document states that “ESPINOSA recalls that his  contact with OSWALD lasted from 15 to 20 minutes in duration and that during their conversation they were walking around in the vicinity of the Baker Hotel and covered an area of perhaps four or five blocks in that vicinity. During the course of this walk, they observed a burlesque type show across the street from the Baker Hotel and engaged in a conversation concerning the burlesque shows in that vicinity and ESPINOSA recalls that they passed by the entrance to at least three burlesque  type shows and that OSWALD commented concerning these shows and advised ESPINOSA that certain of the shows were better than the others and OSWALD seemed to be well acquainted with the shows in each of the three or possibly four burlesque shows which they passed…“ but that “…ESPINOSA is sure that neither of the burlesque shows that were discussed by he and OSWALD was known as the Carousel or the Vegas Club.”
The Carousel and The Vegas Club were both connected to Jack Ruby.
Cristobal contacted the FBI after recognizing Oswald on TV after the Kennedy’s assassination. He looked for the paper with Oswald’s name written on it but was unable to find it, so this tale of Oswald the girl-show connoisseur remains a phantom of history.

Update:


Although the FBI document seems to go out of its way to point out that Oswald said nothing about any of Jack Ruby’s clubs it seems highly improbable that Oswald and his new friend could have passed three burlesque clubs near the Baker Hotel without one of them being The Carousel Club. In the book Jack Ruby’s Girls by Carousel champagne girl Alice Anderson and Diana Hunter (aka Diana The Huntress) they describe the neighborhood around the club and specifically mention two hotels, the Adolphus Hotel across the street and Baker Hotel which they describe as “adjacent” on Commerce Street. “We thought you’d like to know this…” say the girls, “…because these two hotels were where so many of our out-of-town customers, and some local ones, too, spent the night after we’d fleeced them right out of their socks.”
References:

Jack Ruby's Girls by Diana Hunter and Alice Anderson, 1970