But wait! There’s also Blake Edwards’ largely forgotten Hollywood mystery film “Sunset,” which starred James Garner as Wyatt Earp and Bruce Willis as famous movie cowboy Tom Mix. It’s true that Earp worked in Hollywood in his later years, as a technical consultant on westerns, but he probably never teamed up with a movie star to solve a murder, which is exactly what happens in “Sunset.”
And who can forget “Time After Time,” the film in which “The Time Machine” author H.G. Wells builds a real-life time machine, only to have it stolen by Jack the Ripper, who escapes into the 1970s? Directed by future “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” filmmaker Nicholas Meyer, the film stars Malcolm McDowell as Wells and David Warner as Jack the Ripper, in a clever but very odd piece of historical fan fiction. And then, of course, Elvis Presley faked his death and fought a mummy in a retirement home alongside a man who had John F. Kennedy’s brain transplanted into his body in Don Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-Tep,” which stars Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis and has to be seen to be believed.
Speaking of monster fighting, Abraham Lincoln himself hunted vampires in the would-be blockbuster release, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” which is actually pretty funny because Abraham Lincoln literally did help solve crimes when he was a lawyer, prior to becoming a politician. (Those events were dramatized in John Ford’s Oscar-nominated 1939 biopic “Young Mr. Lincoln,” starring Henry Fonda.) The urge to fictionalize a real person’s life to become more like a pulpy movie was so overwhelming, it overpowered the actual parts of that person’s life which were like a pulpy movie.