August 31, 2011

The Last Stand of Francis X. Bushman

The Phantom Planet (1961)
Directed by William Marshall
Dean Fredericks as Capt. Frank Chapman
Francis X. Bushman as Sesom
Coleen Gray as Liara
Anthony Dexter as Herron
Delores Faith as Zetha

To paraphrase Browning, a film's reach should exceed its grasp, or what are the Oscar ceremonies for?1 That is to say, no great film was ever made by playing it safe or going with a proven recipe (although that route has produced countless profitable and very good films). No, if a film is to climb above the vast plateau of average and ascend to a loftier atmosphere, a risk must be taken.

Yet, legion are the films which seek to fly on the wings of dreams alone and, like Icuras, come crashing back down to earth. The Phantom Planet is one of these admirable failures, but perhaps one less dramatic: Instead of plunging back to earth in flaming glory, Planet cannot attain liftoff. The earnest gravity of its intentions keep it chained to the ground.

Captain Frank Chapman (Dean Fredericks) awakens - (The Phantom Planet, 1961)

Yet, at least its gaze is heavenward, its wings straining - aware of some finer strata.

The movie, released in 1961, takes place in the distant future of 1980; and I admit to a weakness for films that are set in a future that is already the past and, like all such atomic age sci-fi, the imagined future is full of technological wonders never realized (talk about reach exceeding grasp). In this imagined 1980, we have begun to colonize the moon and have a sustained rocket fleet buzzing around the satellite, monitoring space. Our story opens with an introductory scene before credits: A pair of space pilots are doing some "space reconnaissance" for a lost ship. As the two pilots click switches and check gauges, the Captain (Earl McDaniels) makes a recorded report for Lunar Base One. As he records the uneventful specifics of the flight, the copilot suddenly notices their ship has gone wildly off course. A huge asteroid appears in the forward viewfinder, and the craft is pulled helplessly into its impossibly strong field of gravity. As the asteroid looms larger, filing the viewfinder, the ship begins to vibrate terribly. The men finally shield their eyes and scream as their ship explodes into the immense, floating rock.

By the end of this first scene we already begin to sense a problem with weight. Even now, before the opening credits roll, the movie has shown how its strengths are twined in a death grip with its failings: The attention to detail - the sets and effects - in this introductory scene is quite good. The interior of the spaceship looks real - leagues beyond the standard, low-budget, sci-fi of the era. Likewise, the spacesuits look absolutely genuine as does the crew's military/space blabber.

Yet, the film is too self-conscious of its achievements - too eager to show off these hole cards. In the first scene, for example, the doomed captain and copilot recite sentence after sentence of navigational detail into the report recorder; i.e.; "Log entry, Pegasus 3, March 6th, 1980. Captain Leonard, pilot. Lt. Webb, navigator. This is the seventh and last day of space reconnaissance research for flight 681, for United States Lunar Base One. We are at 21,000 miles from base, bearing 270 degrees, 23 minutes, azimuth at plus 46 degrees, 50 minutes ecliptic. On routine successive approximation by trajectory computer using data from the space position recorder." As the captain speaks into the recorder, we are shown close shots of the various pieces of technical equipment referred to, each marked appropriately: "Azimuth," "Recorder," "Aft Viewer," etc; and all of it looks genuine and functional. Perhaps a bit too functional. Deadly dull, more like.

After this second ship goes missing, the panic button gets pushed an Lunar Base One. Col. Lansfield (Dick Haynes) struts the floor of mission control: "It's just incredible," he says to a lieutenant. "Two ships missing in less than a month. Nothing in miles of their position, and suddenly they crash into something that appears on our radar big enough to be a planet. And then in the next instant it disappears!" When a general calls, Lansfield gets testy when the four-star bastard suggests bluntly that pilot fuck up my be at fault instead of some killer "phantom planet."

"This is a capable base, run by capable men!" barks Lansfield into the radio mike, his nerves clearly frayed to tatters. "Now there's something out there that isn't supposed to be!"2

It is decided to kick things up a notch and stop screwing the pooch. The top pilot at Lunar Base One, Captain Frank Chapman (Dean Fredricks), is sent up to settle this troublesome bullshit once and for all (actor Fredricks makes a tall, satanically Aryan spaceman - as if bred in a space tube for space leadership - he would simply look terrifying on Earth as, say, a mailman or - an even more horrifying vision - a shoe salesman). Lunar Base top dogs Chapman and copilot Lt. Ray Makonnen (Richard Weber), however, don't do any better than have the previous crews of garden variety spacemen. After a few long minutes of perfunctory gadget buffing and technical jabber, super captain and copilot are pulled off course inexplicably and drift into a meteor storm, which damages the ship's propulsion units (we learn this after a very authentic sounding and gruelingly tedious equipment check). The men snap their space helmets into place and exit the ship to effect repairs.

"Our Father, Who Art in Heaven . . ." Lt. Makonnen (Richard Webber) adrift.

While working on the outside of the ship in space, another meteor shower drifts passed and a rocky fragment severs Captain Chapman's air line (it oddly makes a sound like a bullet's ricochet). He passes out, and copilot Makonnen heroically struggles to get him back into the ship. Just as he pushes Chapman's unconscious body to safety through the hatch, he is struck by a meteor and knocked away from the ship (in a bit of amazing stupidity, neither ace space jockey as a safety line). The hatch closes automatically as Makonnen falls weightlessly away. Realizing his doom as he drifts helplessly away from the ship, the copilot reaches behind himself almost absently and feels his disconnected air hose. As he floats, he watches with resignation as the ship grows smaller and smaller. We can hear his thoughts, which have a bit of reverb as interior movie thoughts often do: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name . . ."

Back on ship, Chapman regains woozy consciousness and bumbles about the craft, calling for his copilot. Finally realizing Lt. Makonnen is lost, he plops himself into his command chair and notices in the forward view screen the killer asteroid that has somehow pulled them off course - the same "phantom planet" that has caused the loss of previous fights and crews. It looms closer like some predatory animal. After making yet another record log (this one mercifully succinct) the drifting craft is suddenly captured in a cone-shaped beam and brought safely to the asteroid's surface.

Chapman puts his helmet back on and tries to exit the spaceship, but he is still dazed from the previous lack of oxygen. He staggers and falls from the short wing of his craft to the asteroid's surface like a sack of laundry.

As he lies unconscious, like Gulliver on the shores of Lilliput, we see a small gang of tiny men about five inches high gather around. They hesitantly approach Chapman's helmet and gaze in at his enormous face. One of them thumps on the glass faceplate. Chapman regains consciousness, jumps to his feet in horror and confusion, and promptly passes out again; this time knocking his faceplate open as he falls to the ground. As he lies on the ground, he enters a foggy, semi-conscious state (we see mist and memory fragments swirling around his head). He begins to shrink and becomes lost inside his spacesuit, which is crumbling around him like a deflated balloon. After a moment, he comes to stand at the corner of the helmet's open faceplate like a naked caveman standing at the entrance of some enormous cave. The little tribe of men rush the now-likewise tiny Earthman and drag him off to their aged leader, Sesom - that is, "Moses" spelled backward (silent screen legend, Francis X. Bushman).

Upon capture he is immediately brought to trail (where he is mercifully given some clothing), found guilty of some extremely vague charge, and sentenced to live the remainder of his life as a "free subject of Rehton" (Chapman's sentence produces a real "huh?" moment. He's guilty so must live his life as a free citizen? Yet, his sentence means that he will not be allowed to leave Rehton). During this trail, Sesom patronizingly explains to Chapman, who is naturally amazed that the inhabitants of Rehton speak perfect English, that Rehtonians have learned to speak all the languages of the universe through the understanding of "tone waves."

We soon learn that Captain Chapman has been forcibly adopted by a civilization that live on the huge asteroid (for them, it's the planet Rehton) - his body reduced to puny size by the Rehtonian atmosphere and its "accelerated gravity." The Rehtonians have a sparse, simple society, dwelling in the nooks and crannies of the asteroid which, for the shrimpy Rehtonians are caves within mountains. The women of Rehton dress, as do so many alien women in atomic age sci-fi cultures, in toga wraps and sandals. The men favor the equally traditional shapeless jump suits. Their culture is vaguely Roman. It is explained (in yet another lengthy bit of concrete-stiff dialogue) that, despite their seemingly primitive culture, the Rehtonians were once a highly advanced race all but destroyed because of an over-reliance on technology and machines. "We had machines to do all our work," explains leader Sesom ponderously. "People on Rehton became completely free of all labor. Practically of all responsibilities. Our people became soft and lazy. They did not know how to cope with their free time and began to fight amongst themselves."

"That's very interesting," concedes Chapman. "On Earth we face a similar problem: To much free time, not enough work."3

In truth, Chapman is simply being held captive by Sesom so that he can assist the Rehtonians in keeping other Earth ships from landing on their home world; as the arrival of the lazy, machine-centric Earthers can only disrupt the simple balance of their lives. Chapman protests his captivity vigorously, but Sesom has sent his spacecraft drifting around the asteroid/planet, held in orbit by Rehton's mighty "gravity machine." Eventually, Chapman begins to assimilate into Rehtonian society.

The Rehtonian gravity machine, which resembles a collection of translucent, broken globes on glass stalks; is the sole remnant from the Rehtonian's great technological past. It allows them to move their planet asteroid around the void like a space ship, and it is their single weapon against their interplanetary enemies, the Solarites; who come from a "sun planet." That is, one of those poorer planets that cannot move around freely in the Universe but are trapped forever by the gravity of a sun. The Rehtonians have a Solarite (the huge Richard Kiel in a massive, cumbersome costume) imprisoned in a cave sealed by an invisible gravity barrier; and it is this lone Solarite that must pass for the movie's monster. Though the Solarite costume is ornate, even complex, it is not even remotely frightening. Quite the reverse. The Solarite resembles a large, sad hound with heavy jowls and huge, mournful eyes. The creature, clearly meant to produce gasps, seems only piteous and nearly comic.

Dean Fredericks, Coleen Gray, Anthony Dexter, Francis X. Bushman, and Dolores Faith

Other players in our drama are 1) Liara (Coleen Gray), the regal daughter of Sesom, who is privileged and more that a bit bratty. Naturally, she has her gorgeous, royal eyes on our Earth Captain. 2) Zetha (Dolores Faith), a member of royal society made mute by a previous, horrifying Solarite attack. Zetha, too, has her sites on Chapman, but can only gaze longingly. Being mute, she is, of course, pure of heart, beautiful and soulful. And, finally, 3) Herron (Anthony Dexter); the alpha male of Rehtonian society. He was betrothed to wed Liara, and thus was considered Sesom's heir apparent, until the dashing Earth captain came blundering in to fuck things up. These three along with Captain Chambers form a listless love quadrangle, giving the picture its pre-requisite flutter of romance as well as providing just enough fuel in the plot to keep things sputtering toward the end-credits.

Eventually, after many stiff scenes discussing the wonders of Rehtonian science (all food is somehow produced chemically, as nothing grows on the rocky planet); romance and love (during the course of the picture Zetha, unfortunately, has her powers of speech restored and immediately explains in numbing detail her love for Chambers, who has no choice, really, but to return her devotion); and the quality of manly friendship (Although at one point Herron and Chambers do battle for the fair Liara, the two eventually find common ground: Both want Chambers to return to Earth post-haste. Once the two discover mutual respect - and it is clear Chambers prefers the brunette anyway - suddenly Herron can't shut up and rambles often about his honor and feelings and whatever else pops into his pompous head).

To wrap up: The Solarites finally attack in force and, oddly, are defeated with relative ease. The Solarite ships appear like small, flaming comets fluttering through space (although the opening special effects are quite good - things deteriorate quickly. The Solarite ships are clearly being jostled along by invisible wires).

Waving their hands over the gravity controls, Sesom and Herron activate the "gravity curtain" which simply blows away the Solarite fleet en masse (despite much yammering about how fearsome the Solarite fleet is). Many doleful-faced Solarites as seen in their small cockpits, screaming and burning to death. After the Solarite defeat, the lone Solarite prisoner manages to escape his gravity prison as a random Solarite shot has by chance struck the prison's gravity field. The Solarite begins lumbering about, eventually briefly capturing Zetha, beating a bit on Sesom, and finally being killed by Herron and Chambers (they push the thing onto a "gravity plate" which somehow dissolves it. Yes, "gravity" is the picture's deus ex machina).

Sesom at the gravity controls (Francis X. Bushman)

After a string of goodbye scenes, which uncomfortably reminded me of the way time stretches when trying to persuade a girlfriend to leave a party, Chambers clambers into his spacesuit, is returned to normal size (which renders him unconscious), and is discovered by a search party from the moon base (Herron was aware of their approach). In the final scene Chambers, being flown back to the moon, is left wondering if it was all some space dream. In the final shot, he discovers a tiny rock in his pocket, which is a small gem Zetha had given him as a keepsake (how it has not changed relative size from world to world is a mystery). As Chapman fondles the rock between his fingers, the memories come back. "She had such an adorable, little face," he says a bit oddly (it's like he's remembering some precious Disneykin).

"I know they'll never believe me," says Chapman wistfully to himself as he watches the asteroid planet Rehton growing smaller in the aft viewer. He makes a fist around the small pebble. "Even with this, they'll never believe me." One has to ask: Would a small pebble, produced from the pocket of his space suit, normally constitute convincing evidence for the existence of a miniature culture controlling space by a gravity machine?

The picture ends with dramatic voiceover: "What then will the future reveal if this story is only the beginning?" The word "beginning" is allowed to echo several times, while the words "THE BEGINNING" are used in place of "THE END" on the screen. It is only fitting that now, even in its final moments, the movie uses a sledgehammer when a glass cutter's delicate touch would have been better.

The film's faults are major and many. The proceedings are severely hampered by a script bloated and buried by endless words where action, any action, would have been better. In addition, the direction of the picture (William Marshall) simply moves actors around like wooden Indians in a string of medium shots and, bear in mind, these are actors one and all that were practically begging on their knees for direction. The special effects, which begin well but peter out quickly, are not overall very effective; particularly considering the central hook of the film - the reduction of size - is not utilized in any way. After the Captain shrinks in his spacesuit, which is the film's last pleasing effect, there is absolutely no reason for the cast to be in a small world. We never see the Rehtonians in relation to anything but themselves again, save the Solarite captive, who is only marginally larger than the Rehtonians. The dramatic potential of diminutive size, so brilliantly explored in Jack Arnold's 1957, The Incredible Shrinking Man, is completely unrealized.

Yet, the film is worth watching, even if one isn't a genre completist. It deserves a sympathetic viewing simply because it tries so hard. The fact that it fails so badly shouldn't make one completely cold it its efforts. It really, really wants to be an important film. It just carries far too much cargo and not enough firepower to get up that hill no matter how many times it repeats to itself, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

Yet, what little magic it has comes from its sincere heart. It really does think it can. Hell, Francis X Bushman, once the most important film actor in the world, is on board as a sign of the movie's earnest belief in itself ("He's agreed to appear!" We got Francis X. Bushman!" - you can almost hear someone say).

Which brings us to the noble, fading glory that was Francis X. Bushman in the year 1961. If one is not sympathetic to the film's sincere intentions, as many surely aren't, the film is worth watching for the presence of this once monarch of Hollywood.

The Good Stuff, Part I (of I): "The Handsomest Man In The World"

Should one want confirmation that both life and fame are as brief candles, one need look no further than the case of Francis X. Bushman.4

Bushman was cinema's first male superstar; a romantic heartthrob preceding either Lionel or John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, or Rudolph Valentino - and Bushman's appeal was based more essentially in a lust for raw, physical, male power than any of those other johnny-come-latelies: Not only did his profile seem chiseled from the finest Roman marble, his six-foot frame was draped with ripped muscles.

A turn of the century stage actor, Bushman supplemented his meager theater income by posing for sculptors and photographers. Photographic images taken of Bushman in heroic or romantic poses began appearing in nickelodeons as "song slides" (in between reels, early nickelodeon operators projected lantern slides on the screen, often featuring lyrics to popular songs. These slides were illustrated by photographs of models in poses depicting the song's theme). In addition, shots of Bushman's stone-hard body, in he-man poses, began turning up on postcards. Before long, someone from the inchoate film industry (Richard Foster Baker from the freshly minted Essany Studios) recognized beefcake gold when they saw it. Bushman was signed to a contract and made his first film, His Friend's Wife, in 1911. By 1914, he had made 135 films.

"We averaged a picture a week. This is inconceivable today," Bushman revealed in later interviews. "They didn't even turn off the studio lights between pictures. I would just change my costume and go right into a new role."

Hitting super stardom, Bushman signed with Metro in 1915, the year he became the largest, male box office draw in the world. Photoplay Magazine dubbed him "The Handsomest Man in the World" and "The King of Motion Pictures."

Bushman was one of Hollywood's first millionaire movie stars, and he lived like it. He tipped waiters with one hundred-dollar bills. He had a lavender limousine and smoked custom made lavender cigarettes - each with his name imprinted on the side. He lived on a 250 acre estate near Baltimore, where he raised Great Danes and racehorses. In his day, he required 18 private secretaries, working full time, to answer his fan mail.

When the end came, it came hard and rang clear. For years, Bushman had concealed his real-life marriage as terms stipulated in his contract when he signed at Metro (the powers at Metro thought it unwise to announce to the legion of female fans that he was unavailable). When Bushman finally spilled the beans he did it good and proper: In 1918, he announced that he would soon be marrying his frequent co-star, Beverly Bayne. This would mean, naturally, that he would be (ahem) divorcing his secret wife of sixteen years, Josephine Fladune. The ladies, sitting in all those dark and steamy theaters, felt betrayed. Bushman's popularity plummeted like a led sinker, proving that Hell hath no fury like a loving fan scorned. In 1923, Bushman made a comeback of sorts, appearing as the villain, Massala, in Fred Niblo's glorious production of Ben Hur, but it didn't take. Bushman went crossways with Louis B. Mayer, who extinguished the glowing coals needed for a re-lit career.5 What remained of his money was cleaned out by the crash in 1932.

Francis X. Bushman (Ben Hur, 1923)

The Phantom Planet was Bushman's last major role in a motion picture. It was, in brutal honesty, a melancholic farewell. He appears an often exhausted, poorly focused, seventy-six year old man in a costume sadly reminiscent of his most famous role (Massala). He can be seen frequently reading his lines from cue cards, his eyes moving back and forth. He seems terribly weary but game in hitting his mark - a veteran of the Klieg light wars, doing his best to lift the plane of his face into the glare one more time.

When you watch this film, do come correct. When you see the aging actor's weary eyes scanning over a co-star's shoulder for his lines, remember the manly beauty that once strode through a Hollywood party like a demigod descending to play with the mortals; a powerful arrangement of muscle under his expensive tux and tails with a face like a conquering tribune - a man who made chills brush up the backs of women's legs a century ago.

My favorite bit of Bushman trivia was recalled by Essany stalemate, Gloria Swanson: "Mr. Bushman wore a large violet amethyst ring on his finger and he had a spotlight inside his lavender car that illuminated his famous profile when he drove after dark."6

So imagine: A rather warm night in Hollywood, circa 1915. It is late in the evening, perhaps even long past midnight. It has been an evening of too many cigarettes - too much barroom buzz and stale talk. Outside, it's misting a rain. You feel moisture in your hair, on your cheeks - it makes you feel, for a moment, clean. The air smells like wet concrete with a trace of moist green descending from the nearby hills. A nightclub here or there throws streaks of shimmering light on the sidewalks. You are nearly alone, walking along in this sacred time between night and morning.

You hear the gentle hissing of automobile tires over the wet road, gliding gracefully along, coming up the boulevard. It's a big, pale purple limousine, glistening wet; its beams capturing the drifting mist. As it passes, you see him.

Francis X. Bushman, his magnificent head illuminated in a globe of soft light - his image noble and ghostly, drifting through the velvet air of the night. You crouch a bit to better see him. As his limousine floats by, his gaze remains forever forward; his profile a brave prow searching the vista ahead and destinies unknown.


1: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a Heaven for?" Robert Browning, Andrea Del Sarto, 1.244

2: Dick Haynes is best remembered as a country/western radio personality. He hosted the popular "Haynes at the Reins" radio program for various stations around Los Angeles until his death from Cancer in 1980. His contribution to Country & Western Music was significant enough to earn Haynes induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

3: Both these fellows should live on Earth America now; as they would find a society that has completely licked the troublesome problem of too much leisure time. The elderly Sesom would find his devotion to the spiritual benefits of honest toil completely gratified as a bagger at the local supermarket, or perhaps with his post as a Wal-Mart greeter; jobs taken to compensate for a retirement package that was wiped out by the black hole formerly known as the "stock market" and a Social Security check (my mistake, an "entitlement program" check) that has proven inadequate to pay the rent on his trailer or keep him in Spam sandwiches. Captain Chapman? Due to government cutbacks in the space program, the projected lunar base is abandoned, and eventually Chapman is mustered out of the service. He now drives a Fed-Ex truck part time (the PR person had a soft spot for veterans) while moonlighting evenings as a security guard for a Super Target.

4: For all information about Francis X Bushman, I have used two sources: A: Manafee, David W., The First Male Stars (Kindle Locations (1321-1324); BearManor Media. Kindle Edition. B: Len and Debra Davis, King of the Movies: Francis X Bushman; BearManor Media (2009).

5: The story is as follows: Bushman was appearing in a Los Angeles theater production of Midsummer Masquerade, and Mayer requested to come backstage to see him. A butler, newly hired by Bushman, didn't recognize the movie titan, and denied him passage. Mayer never, ever forgot the unintended snub. Bushman would later recall: "I was there receiving people and Louie at that time was one of my dearest friends. Later, he told me, amid obscenities, that I would never work in Hollywood again." Manafee, David W., The First Male Stars. Considering what a vengeful, little prick Mayer was known to be (while at the same time being one of the primal forces of nature that created and defined American movie making), the story is completely believable.

6: Swanson, Gloria, Swanson on Swanson, (Random House, October 1980)

Want it printable? Download the all-text .pdf of this post for portable reading.


  1. Mykal,
    Nice choice.
    One I've never seen (at least I don't remember seeing it) Will have to now.
    Also, nice to see you back among the living (blogs).
    Keep in touch, buddy.

  2. Another wonderful, thought-provoking piece.
    Sort of a good showcase for Bushman, by the looks of things, not quite Karloff in Targets, but a long way from Lugosi in Plan 9. I knew that DeMille was still using him right up to the 10 Commandments, but only in bits, which is sort of good, sort of bad for him. I had no idea he had a role this meaty this late in his career, and one what's more that trades on his gravitas and reputation. Good for him. It looks interesting.

    Like you, I love films set in the long-past future. I also totally get that comment about how time slows when you're trying to get your girlfriend to leave a party.

  3. The end of this post is sheer poetry ! I feel like I was there, and saw the ghostly profile of Francis X !

  4. Thea: Thank you, my dear.

    Basta: I am alive an well, amigo!

    Matthew: Bushman can't match Lugosi's, searing, bitter performances in the Wood classics, but few can. He does manage a kind of grandeur, though - albeit a sad one. When trying to leave a party with a social-loving girl, time stands still.

    Lysdexicuss: Thanks, buddy!

  5. I haven't yet to see this one Mykal, but I really enjoyed reading your review...great work!

  6. Cool piece about a superstar of his era, but, sadly, all-but forgotten today.
    Wonder what happened to his lavender car?

    Bushman's next-to-last appearance (albeit a minor role) was as a rich collector of silent movies on Batman (1966) "Death in Slow Motion"/"The Riddler's False Notion".
    I didn't find out about the irony of the role until years later...

    1. Thank you for the Batman trivia info good Sir....

  7. Thanks, Britt. Bushman's last role in a movie (a small part) was in How To Stuff a Wild Bikini in 1965, a year before his death in 1966. I didn't know about that Batman part. That's some sad, sweet irony all right. Ah, the sands of time, eh?

  8. Shaun: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Next up: Robinson Crusoe on Mars!

  9. Nice review and great info on Bushman.

    This movie is as you suggest, one I think I want to like more than I actually do like. It's got the elements, but clearly either doesn't quite know what to do with them, or is unable to get it done.

    I find the mute girl tiresome before it gets done and the hero is a bit of a lout.

    Rip Off

  10. Hey, Rip. Nice to hear from you. I agree. I'm afraid Dean Fredericks is as the movie: You want to like him, but he doesn't give you much to work with.

  11. this is great. I love the sounds tracks. do you think Wally Wood was watching these drooling??

  12. "a man who made chills brush up the backs of women's legs a century ago."
    And the legs of a few rather happy young men, too, no doubt.
    Ms Swanson, with her descriptions of the lilac end of the spectrum evident in signet ring and car (and cigaerettes), was telling us that Bushman was possessed of an ambivalent sexuality.