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The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp
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One of my all-time favorite movies is The Red Shoes, Michael Powell’s 1948 Technicolor feast about a ballet impresario played by the great Anton Walbrook and his ecstatic, obsessive, and ultimately destructive relationship with his art—and one artist in particular. So you can imagine how eagerly I sought out Powell’s first foray into Technicolor, 1943’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, also starring Walbrook.

My interest was further sharpened when I read some of the critical notices. No less than Martin Scorsese praised Blimp as a masterpiece. Andrew Sarris called Blimp “England’s answer to Citizen Kane”—an over-praised movie, to be sure, but still intriguing. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker said Blimp “may be the greatest English film ever made,” which is high praise indeed when one considers that Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean were in the running. Empire magazine ranked Blimp #80 in its list of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, and it is #45 in the British Film Institute list of the Top 100 British Films.

I am sad to report, however, that Blimp is the worst “great” movie I have ever seen—worse even than Casablanca, which it displaced at the bottom of my ranking. To be clear, there are many films that are worse than Blimp, but they are seldom heaped with praise by directors and critics. Blimp is so bad, in fact, that I long hesitated to give it even a negative review, for two main reasons. First, I didn’t want to watch it again. Second, I don’t want to encourage anyone else to watch it, and negative reviews often have that perverse effect, because people wonder if it is “really that bad.” Well, it really is. Take my word for it. Blimp isn’t even entertainingly bad, like many midnight movies. But it is at least interestingly bad, hence this review.

The idea for the story of Blimp came from Powell’s previous film, One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942). Then-editor David Lean thought a scene should be cut because it did not advance the plot, but he did remark that it contained the dramatic seed of a whole new film about the conflict between youth and old-age, specifically in a military setting.

This idea grew into the story of a British officer, Clive Wynne-Candy, who fought in three wars, fell in love three times with beautiful women all played by the same actress, and at the end of his career clashes with the younger generation, who could use his wisdom and experience, although they can also teach him a thing or two.

As an elevator pitch, it is intriguing idea for a serious film, with plenty of opportunity for dramatic conflict and romance centering on deep, archetypal symbolism: the adventure and horror of war, youth versus old age, the eternal feminine, and those intriguing threes.

Unfortunately, during the “development” process, Clive Wynne-Candy was amalgamated with the cartoon character of Colonel Blimp, created by David Low. Low’s Blimp is a dim-witted, jingoistic, reactionary blowhard who speaks in hilarious clichés, vacuities, and contradictions: “Gad sir! Mr. Lansbury is right. The League of Nations should insist on peace—except, of course, in the case of war.”

But Clive Wynne-Candy is neither a colonel nor named Blimp. Nor does he die, for that matter. And although his opinions are old-fashioned, he is neither stupid nor contemptible. Which makes the Blimp makeover seem rather dumb and dishonest: a cynical attempt to boost the movie by name-checking a rather different cartoon character. But the cynicism does not stop there.

Powell’s creative partner, screenwriter Emeric Pressburger, was a Hungarian Jewish refugee who hated the Nazis—and apparently all Germans, whom he regarded as mere stand-ins for Nazis—and wished to put his talents to work stirring up and sustaining another World War.

Thus Powell and Pressburger teamed up to make a whole series of anti-Nazi or just anti-German propaganda films: The Spy in Black (1939), Contraband (1940), 49th Parallel (1941), One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942), Blimp (1943), The Volunteer (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), and A Matter of Life and Death (1946).

According to Powell, Pressburger fancied himself the “British” answer to Dr. Goebbels. He also thought Blimp was his finest work. He was delusional on both counts, for Blimp is very clumsy propaganda, which is fortunate, because its intended message is pure evil.

The only thing “Blimpian” about Colonel Blimp is the script, which is bloated with undramatic flab, padding, and hot air, yielding a running time of nearly three hours. Of course, if the original story idea had been developed into a compelling drama, it could have run three hours with no complaints.

My hypothesis is that once the original idea—with its span of four decades, triple romance, and struggle between youth and experience—was fused with a cartoon buffoon, Pressburger felt relieved of the necessity of any serious dramatic character development or storytelling. Hence the characters become mere caricatures and the plot becomes as thin as a clothesline on which Pressburger strings his messages.

Usually, these messages are conveyed by a cast member making a speech, often looking straight into the camera. It is flat, undramatic, and often deadly dull. Since Pressburger was pretty much indifferent to what came between, the story is cluttered with pointless characters, childish and cutesy dialogue, scenes contrived merely for superficial color and charm, and bizarre, psychologically implausible changes of character.

For instance, the central relationship of the movie is the forty-year friendship of Clive Wynne-Candy, played by Roger Livesey, and Prussian officer Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorf, played by Anton Walbrook. When they first meet in Berlin in 1902, they are fighting a duel with sabers because Clive has insulted the honor of the German military.

The preparations for the duel take up a great deal of screen time because Pressburger had developed a pedantic fixation on a Prussian dueling manual. But when the duel actually starts—at last, some action!—the camera cuts to the exterior of the building, which renders the rehearsal of the rules pointless and makes a complete mockery of the duel’s dramatic buildup, such as it is. It is practically a textbook example of an anticlimax. Amazingly, Scorsese praises this perverse stunt as brilliant and even imitated it in Raging Bull.

Clive’s love for three women of three different generations, all played by Deborah Kerr, could have been developed into a great romance. But Clive’s feelings for all three women are more narrated than shown. Indeed, I was completely taken by surprise when Clive announced his love for the first of them, Edith.

There is a bit more feeling in Clive’s relationship with the second woman, Barbara, whom he marries. But when she dies, we learn of it only from a newspaper clipping flashed on the screen. Would it have killed Pressburger to have actually written a scene?

When Clive’s loyal servant Murdoch dies in the blitz, we learn about it the same way. Why not just flash the whole script up and dispense with the cast entirely? Why treat these opportunities for drama and genuine feeling in such a cold and perfunctory way while cluttering up the script with pointless inanities?

Unfortunately for Pressburger, drama, characterization, and the rest are necessary to sell propaganda. Generally, the worse the propaganda, the better the story has to be. If Pressburger had been a better storyteller, the world would have been a much worse place.

So what was Pressburger’s message?

The story begins in 1902. Clive Wynne-Candy has won the Victoria Cross in the Second Boer War. He dashes off to Berlin when he learns that the Germans are spreading dastardly lies that the British interned innocent Boer civilians in concentration camps, where many of them died. Of course this dastardly lie is true. Why is Pressburger eager to hide that fact? Because real British concentration camps for civilians would be a real moral equivalency between the British and the Third Reich.

Pressburger is keen on selling the idea that the British establishment consisted of innocent, overgrown children, complete with silly nicknames and schoolboy pranks, given to sports and hunting. They fight wars the same way: as gentlemen, loath to do anything dishonorable, unsporting, or not “cricket.” They are also quick to forgive their enemies, no matter how dastardly.

After World War I, Clive finds Theo in a British prisoner of war camp, listening to an orchestra concert, because although the Germans are butchers, they are cultured butchers. Once Theo is released, Clive invites him to dinner at his London mansion. His fellow guests are top military brass and important civil servants who assure Theo that they want nothing more than to get Germany up on her feet in no time. Nothing about lost territories starvation blockades, or onerous reparations. Message: Germany had no reason for resentment against England.

Theo interprets this magnanimity as weakness and reports it to his fellow German officers. He’s so villainous that you expect him to click his heels and twirl the tip of his moustache.

We also learn that England has fought a clean war, Germany a dirty one. But England won because “right is might.” This too is interpreted by the Krauts as weakness.

Pressburger’s message is that the Second World War happened not because the Allies were too cruel to the Germans but because they were far too kind. In the current war, the British need to renounce their alleged high-mindedness and mercy. Next time, no more Mr. Nice Guy. When Germany goes down again, the Brits need to keep her down, forever.

By the time World War II breaks out, however, Theo has had a mysterious change of heart, which he talks about endlessly without making it psychologically plausible. He is no longer a dastardly, resentful Kraut. He is now an anti-Nazi who has taken refuge in England. A talented storyteller could make this transformation plausible, even inevitable, but the only reason it happens in Blimp is because Pressburger now wants Theo to make anti-Nazi propaganda speeches.

Theo and Clive are reunited. Clive is about to make a propaganda speech on the radio, but at the last minute, it is nixed by the government. Theo has read the speech and explains why. Clive had planned to expatiate on what a dirty war the Germans were fighting, yet again. This was fine. But then Clive mentioned that he would prefer to lose than to stoop to German methods. Theo makes an impassioned appeal to Clive to drop the English gentleman routine, because Nazism is the most dastardly idea in human history, which must be defeated by any means necessary, including war crimes.

At the end of the movie, Clive has been retired from the regular army and has gone to work for the Home Guard (the British Militia). But he still has a few lessons to learn. The Home Guard is having an exercise, which begins at midnight. The Old Guard like Clive follow the rules, but the New Guard decide to launch the war a little early, storming Clive’s club—a symbol of the British establishment—and taking him prisoner. After all, it’s what the Germans would do. Suitably humiliated, Clive stands in front of his bombed-out mansion—another symbol of the destruction of the old order—and salutes the young whippersnappers in their victory parade. The end.

The younger generation is portrayed as brash, fast-talking, and vulgar. They all seem to be proles. Women wear uniforms. Big band music blasts from jukeboxes. Engines throb and roar. In short, they are portrayed as Americans. It would be laughable if it weren’t so repulsive. These barbarians would probably claim they didn’t trust anyone over thirty, but they believed everything they heard from the Pressburgers of the world and happily incinerated whole German cities at their behest.

I don’t know what’s more obscene: Pressburger egging the Brits on to commit war crimes—or the pretense that they needed to be egged on in the first place. Britain’s Blimps never hesitated to fight dirty—and they never lost any sleep over it either.

Churchill did everything he could to sabotage Blimp, flattering himself that the overly scrupulous Clive Wynne-Candy was meant to be a parody of him. Churchill certainly showed the world that was untrue.

ORDER IT NOW

The movie opened to largely negative reviews. Critics were absolutely right to complain about the long running time, which really means they found it dramatically empty and boring. But they were rightly impressed by the film’s technical qualities. The sets, costumes, art design, and Technicolor cinematography are dazzling. But they simply underscore the fact that everything that makes Blimp bad comes down to Pressburger’s script.

Blimp was, however, a success with the British public, although some criticized it for being insufficiently bellicose because it had one good German in it. These imbeciles were too sleepy, it seems, to notice that the purpose of the one good German was to justify anti-German war crimes.

Pressburger’s target audience was the British upper class. He acknowledged what they all knew: that there are good Germans and that the English and Germans are kindred peoples sharing a common culture. He acknowledged all that, then argued that the British should still stop at nothing to defeat the Germans, then crush them forever.

Blimp was not seen in America until after the war, and then only with increasingly drastic cuts. A restored version was released in theatres in 1983. The movie’s unfathomably inflated critical reputation began then. I hope this review will contribute to the Hindenburg-like revision it so richly deserves.

 
• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: Movies 
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  1. Trinity says:

    If this movie is worse than “Citizen Kane” than it is indeed a bomb. “Citizen Kane” is one of the worst movies that I have ever TRIED to watch. How this movie ranks so high is a mystery to me.

    Those saintly Brits or is it those Brits who were lackeys for Jews and the things they might have done. Concentration camps for the Boers, Irish Potato Famine, the Bengal Famine, etc. Jolly ole England instead of Germany should be the most vilified nation in Europe. England was and is an opportunist nation, full of greed, sneaky and backstabbing, underhanded dealings, no loyalty, ( sounds remarkably like another tribe of people doesn’t it. )

    • Agree: GomezAdddams, Rurik
    • Replies: @Right_On
    , @notbe
  2. BLIMP is the Powell film I like most but I didn’t care for the anti-Germanism(though illuminating of Anglo attitudes).

    Still, not a fan of Powell. Too muchness, esp of artifice.

  3. Thanks. I enjoy and learn from each of your reviews.

    “Blimp” is not only tendentious and boring. It is also exhibits that ultimate sign propaganda/entertainment failure. It is completely forgettable.

    I was well into your review, the paragraph beginning “For instance, the central relationship of the movie is the forty-year friendship…”, before I remembered watching this movie on cable, or at least the bits which I didn’t fast-forward over because they were intolerably boring. Everything you have written about this epic failure is spot on.

    Your information about the Hungarian Jew, Pressburger, clears up one point for me. The anti-German vitriol in this movie surprised me. The British are obnoxiously self-righteous when eliding their many atrocities, e.g. inventing the term “concentration camp” to describe the death camps they created for Boer women, children and old men. However, the British are usually far more courteous when portraying their erstwhile enemies than was the case in the parts of this movie which I viewed. The depictions of Germans in this movie went beyond vile propaganda and crossed over into the kind of German baiting not seen since WW I propaganda.

  4. Right_On says:
    @Trinity

    “Citizen Kane” is one of the worst movies that I have ever TRIED to watch. How this movie ranks so high is a mystery to me.

    Completely agree. Can’t stand Kane and could never watch it all the way through.
    And – now I’ve read Trevor’s acerbic takedown – I shall definitely be giving The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp a miss. Sounds dire.

    England was and is an opportunist nation, full of greed, sneaky and backstabbing, underhanded dealings, no loyalty, . . .

    “Perfidious Albion”, as the French say.

  5. Completely agree. Can’t stand Kane and could never watch it all the way through.

    I guess this explains why the Right sucks at art.

  6. Anonymous[317] • Disclaimer says:

    Blimp is a propaganda film with clear cut lessons to be imparted. But I think you miss the point. It is very entertaining in itself and even more so for students of propaganda. The duel pre-scene is highly instructive, what with the Swedish officer officating at a British-German affair. What actually happens with the sword play after the introduction is irrelevent. Walbrook plays his role well. You may not like the propaganda message, but for connoisseurs of the genre, Blimp, like Casablanca, is very enjoyable. You cannot compare it to Citizen Kane which is insipid. The Powell-Pressburger Citizen Kane monstrosity is “Black Narcissus.”

  7. Currahee says:

    Yeah, I watched it several years ago because I had heard the name Blimp used in various British narratives. Later discovered that the movie Blimp had little to do with the cartoon Blimp (the cartoon being the actual reference for the general use of the term)
    The ending in which the hardy youngsters steal a march on old Blimp was symbolic of what: the Bridge too Far, Dieppe?
    Kerr, a recurring pleasure.

  8. @Jus' Sayin'...

    The British started and lost two world wars.

    They also ruined Germany in the process.

    To forget the former, they keep on harping about the latter.

  9. I disagree with some of the anti-British vitriol in the review, but Life and Death is indeed an awful film.

  10. @Priss Factor

    ‘I guess this explains why the Right sucks at art.’

    Degas?

  11. @Anonymous

    Blimp is a propaganda film with clear cut lessons to be imparted. But I think you miss the point.

    Right. It has to be seen for what it is. It was made in UK during wartime. It has a Jewish writer who was understandably frightened of Nazi Germany. Those are givens. Likewise, German movies of the Third Reich have to be seen for what they are. Expecting otherwise would be foolish.
    All these works are biased in one way or another. And speaking of cinematic artistry, Goebbels’ impact on film was far more dire. Precious few great films were made in the Third Reich… though there were some good ones.

    So, to fixate on the politics of BLIMP doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s like one will not appreciate the genius of Eisenstein by focusing on the politics of films like OCTOBER and ALEXANDER NEVSKY. And much the same goes for THE BIRTH OF A NATION. Yes, it’s a very slanted movie.

    BLIMP is a wonderfully told tale. Not my cup o tea but splendidly done.

    It seems like Lynch is overly harsh on the film for its politics or was blind to its virtues because he just couldn’t shake the fact that some awful Jew wrote the script. But Pressburger’s Jewish biases were as natural as Margaret Mitchell and D.W. Griffith’s sympathies for the South. A Jew favoring Jewish interests against the arch-enemy of Jews, the Nazis. Why should that be so surprising?

    If Pressburger were Aryan and wrote a pro-German movie, I suspect Lynch would love the movie even if the treatment, pacing, and tone would have been the same. After all, he praised trash like JURASSIC WORLD simply because it had wholesome white characters. But it is a stinking bad movie… whereas BLIMP is full of wonders as storytelling and film style.

    That Pressburger’s had his ethnic biases doesn’t bother me in the least. Every people have them. What bothers me about Jewish biases is Jews now have the power to suppress and/or criminalize all opposing points of views. Consider the fate of BDS in the US.

    But if the Nazi Germans had won the war, would they have been any different? They would have shoved their Narrative down the throat and up the arses of all the Germans and all the conquered alike.

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
    , @Pericles
  12. @Anonymous

    It is very entertaining in itself and even more so for students of propaganda. The duel pre-scene is highly instructive, what with the Swedish officer officiating at a British-German affair. What actually happens with the sword play after the introduction is irrelevent.

    It is instructive only if you are a pedant and irrelevant only if you have no sense for drama.

    You may not like the propaganda message, but for connoisseurs of the genre, Blimp, like Casablanca, is very enjoyable.

    Blimp isn’t enjoyable, and because of that, it isn’t good propaganda either.

    Casablanca is at least enjoyable and quite well-written, which made it effective propaganda. My favorite lesson in Casablanca is that presumably Jewish bankers who flee from Holland are just like grandma and grandpa: sweet as sugar cookies and cute as cuckoo clocks. Who could possibly dislike such people?

    • Agree: Pheasant
    • Replies: @Angharad
  13. notbe says:
    @Trinity

    the script for citizen kane is indeed good, pauline kael noticed the blindingly obvious and wrote an essay about this jewish connections being jewish connections that solidified her career as an influencial critic

    orson welles made a bad movie out of a good script by using razzle dazzle shots that were meant to show off his technical brilliance but actually showed his inexperience as a storyteller

    blimp is indeed a terrible and slow film but it has a certain fascination-from the very beginning when it minimizes boer concentration camps to the very end when its decided that the brits will fight dirty…as if the brits ever fought cleanly in the last thousand years…it is an unusual glimpse into the soul of human denial-look clive candy is an imperial officer, obviously the empire was gained by stealth, cunning and evil acts yet the central idea is that clive candy and his ilk are gentlemen and that has to go

  14. WigWig says:

    Have you seen A Matter of Life and Death?

    That one came out just after the war and has one of the (unintentionally) funniest scenes I have ever seen. Britain is put before a heavenly jury of other nations (Ireland, France, China) who air their grievances, but then they are transformed (even the Chinese) into deracinated Americans, who love Britain. The prosecutor is the spirit of a Revolutionary patriot.

  15. @Priss Factor

    “All these works are biased in one way or another. And speaking of cinematic artistry, Goebbels’ impact on film was far more dire. Precious few great films were made in the Third Reich… though there were some good ones.”

    Doubleplusgood duckspeak, as Orwell would say, Comrade. That is indeed the party line.

    You and some others need to read through Derek Hawthorne’s series of articles on NS films. Nazi LARPers looking for “nazi films” will be sorely disappointed, as few were made; yes, Jew Suess, and The Eternal Jew, Hitler Youth Quex, but few others.

    NS filmmakers simply made movies without Jewish input. Removing Jewish bias from the film industry hardly makes it “biased”, more like “normal.”

    “Some good ones”? Check out Opfergang, one of Slavoj Žižek’s three favorite films (along with The Fountainhead and Ivan the Terrible by your boy Eisenstein). It’s hardly a “kill all the Jews and of course we’re winning the war any day now” film.

    https://counter-currents.com/2011/12/opfergang-masterpiece-of-national-socialist-cinema/

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  16. This has to be one of Lynch’s worst reviews. I don’t see anything that indicates this is “from the Right”. It could be written by any liberal/left film critic under 45. Oh, “its worse than Casablanca” which indicates that lynch isn’t “on the right”, he’s just a dull contrarian.

  17. @James J O'Meara

    German Cinema was one of the wonders of the world before National Socialists came to power. Though Hitler and Goebbels loved cinema, the overall censoriousness didn’t do any favor for creativity. Many talents simply left Germany. Some of the biggest talents were Jewish, but not everyone who left was Jewish. The great author Thomas Mann and others like him also left.

    Something similar happened in the USSR. Early Soviet Cinema was one of the most experimental, original, and amazing, but eventually socialist realism became dogma. Granted, socialist realism has its virtues but Stalinism suppressed much that was personal and original. On the other hand, as some of the best talents supported radical politics, they ended up getting a taste of their own medicine. Radicals later persecuted by Stalin had been vocal supporters of political violence against ‘reactionaries’. History is funny that way.

    Though the US was a lot freer than National Socialist Germany and Soviet Union, it too had a way of suppressing originality. As movies were mostly formulaic commerce based on what Jewish moguls thought the masses wanted(or should want), people like Orson Welles had a hard time getting anything made. CITIZEN KANE and MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS are really outliers, and the latter was butchered.

    NS filmmakers simply made movies without Jewish input. Removing Jewish bias from the film industry hardly makes it “biased”, more like “normal.”

    It all depends. Most films of the National Socialist era were not political. They were really like second-rate knockoffs of the Hollywood product. Mostly kitschy musicals, soapy dramas, costume movies, and etc. It’s like most movies made in Fascist Italy were non-political fluff, like White Telephone movies. I once attended a festival of Nazi Era films and watched several. They weren’t terrible. They were okay, some were good but not outstanding. But same could be said of 99% of Hollywood movies of the same era. Still, because Hollywood made many more movies with better production budgets and allowed more freedom(relatively speaking), there were more miracles.

    Jewish input isn’t the same thing as Jewish bias. Hollywood moguls telling people to make anti-German or Jew-sympathetic movies is bias. But Jewish Talent wanting to make movies isn’t necessarily Jewish bias, even though one could argue that bias is implicit in any expression.

    Also, what is normal in the creative fields isn’t the same was what is normal in society. Most artists are not ‘normal’, and this even truer of the great artists. Orson Welles, Sam Peckinpah, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and etc. were not normal. Many great painters of the Renaissance were not normal. Van Gogh was certainly not normal. The fact that there have been a disproportionate number of homos in the arts and letters isn’t normal.
    Creativity is a kind of eccentricity and tends to favor the strange and weird. Beethoven was an obsessive personality. David Lynch, one of a kind.
    So, the National Socialist policy of removing Jews from the arts wasn’t normal within the realm of creativity. Jews are high on neuroticism, intelligence, and big-think, all of which tend to fuel creativity. National Socialist policy was normal in the volkish sense and its animus toward Jews — Jews were great crooks, subversives, radicals, and corrupters — , but it wasn’t normal in the creative context because energies associated with art are often unstable and unexpected. Mahler was a great composer, but the National Socialists banned his music(like idiots in Israel have banned the music of certain German composers).

    [MORE]

    Now, genuine Jewish talent and Jewish bias could come in one package. This is true of any group. Zhang Yimou is a talented film-maker but also a Chinese patriot. John Ford was a great director and profoundly Irish. People who love art and appreciate creativity want them from all over. Also, creativity is a matter of borrowing. Northern Europeans, who were once barbarians, taking the achievements of Southern Europeans. Germans taking opera from Italy. Greek also took from other cultures, and heaven knows Jews borrowed tons from their neighbors. There is no Kurosawa or Mishima without Western influence, and they in turn influenced artists in the West.
    Jews contributed a great deal to Western Civilization in many areas. And following Emancipation, Jews played a key role in the development of many European cultures. So, it wasn’t easy to find a clear boundary between the ‘Aryan’ and ‘Semite’. The half-Jewish Fritz Lang was a testament to this. He left National Socialist Germany, but Hitler and Goebbels were great admirers of his works.

    Still, there is a distinction between Aryan and Semite, and Jews has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impact on the modern West. Contributing so much to science, letters, arts, and culture but also spreading so many crazy political ideas, subverting healthy norms, and desecrating so much that was dear to non-Jews. Something had to be done about the crazy Jews. But was it right for the National Socialists to throw out the baby with the bathwater? It sure didn’t do wonders for German Art. Not that lotsa Jews automatically guarantees creativity. Israel is full of Jews but hardly a mecca of the arts. Maybe Jews need to be around non-Jews for their creative neurosis to kick in. But of late, Jews haven’t been very creative in the goy West either. Maybe once Jews got all their power, their energies are mostly expended on preserving their position and privilege than on being provocative and original. Jews push something like globo-homo and tranny-wanny but not so much to expand freedoms but to compel the majority into bending over for the Jewish-owned rainbow dildo. Both Jews and Homos used to stand for defiance and rebellion against repressive normality. They once stood for freedom. Now, they stand for repressive abnormality. Abnormality, once an instrument for more freedom, has become a weapon of more tyranny.

    Also, the absence of something can be a bias. For the longest time, Disney only made G-rated family movies. One could argue that those ‘wholesome’ movies were not biased but merely without the bias inherent in expressions of violence, sexuality, and other dark matters. But the effect was to bias expression in favor the Family Movie. In maintaining such a ‘wholesome’ illusion, it blocked out so much about reality that is indeed dark and ugly.
    In Mao’s China, most movies were about virtuous, heroic, and self-sacrificing proletarians. Based on those works, one would have thought China was a Maoist utopia of the brotherhood of man and woman. But by leaving out the dark truths about a system rife with repression, violence, and terror, it was a false illusion. Utopianism is biased against reality. Hollywood almost never made a Vietnam movie during the Vietnam War. The very absence of an event that was tearing the nation apart was a kind of bias.

    Likewise, some Jews could argue that Hollywood isn’t biased. It is an expression of the New Normal minus the bias of ‘white supremacists’ and ‘Palestinian terrorists’. But in leaving out all the valid considerations of white Americans and Arabs who have reasons to be angry with Zionism, Jewish-produced Hollywood movies have their own bias. BIAS is always relative to whose perspective and whose interests. How the British Imperialist minority and the Hindu Nationalist majority regarded the situation in India both had their own biases. Also, what is the Norm for Hong Kong? As a city built by the British and developed as a Western outpost, one could argue the Normal is pro-Western cosmopolitanism. But from the Mainland POV, Hong Kong must return to the Motherland after nearly two centuries of foreign imperialism.

    Suppose a political order favored by Trevor Lynch prevented someone like Stanley Kubrick and Francois Truffaut from making movies on account of their Jewishness. Would that be going too far? Wouldn’t it be better to ban untalented Jewish hacks who only push the message while sparing the Jews with genuine talent? But then, one could argue talent + Jewish bias = far more dangerous. And Jews would agree too, which is why they now push Censchwarzship to shut down and cancel ANYONE, no matter how talented, who may be problematic to Jewish Power. Even though many Jewish composers borrowed from Wagner, Jewish Power will surely do everything in its power to censor today’s equivalent of Wagner, an ‘anti-semite’ of great talent.

    Whether Nazis or Jews rule society, there is also the issue of statist suppression of creativity. Even with the best intentions, can we trust the State to decide correctly on artistic matters? Do we want Chinese-style statist censorship? China does it in the name of public morality, patriotism, and social well-being, but statist censors usually don’t get art and creativity. Moral censorship may ban much that is foul but will also target something like MULHOLLAND DR. which is perverse but great(and moral in its own twisted way). And then, what about works that are genuinely dangerous, perverted, and/or demented but have genuine artistic value? In trying to censor the bad, something that is good and some that is good/bad are caught up in the dragnet. (But then, the Soviet state funded ANDREI RUBLEV, and the golden age of Czech Cinema — with considerable Jewish input — owed to state funding.) On the other hand, unfettered permissiveness leads to a situation where, for every great work owing to artistic freedom, a hundred are utterly rotten and spread poison.
    The ending of the Hayes Code was both blessing and curse. It allowed more personal freedom in the arts, resulting in works like MCCABE AND MRS MILLER and TAXI DRIVER, but for every M&M and TD, there were many more trash that merely exploited gross violence and sexuality. And now, porn is easily accessible to kiddies.

    “Some good ones”? Check out Opfergang, one of Slavoj Žižek’s three favorite films (along with The Fountainhead and Ivan the Terrible by your boy Eisenstein). It’s hardly a “kill all the Jews and of course we’re winning the war any day now” film.

    Odd that someone who endorses censorship in favor of national normality would invoke Zizek the freak of all people as an expert.
    Also, it’s well known that most German movies of the National Socialist period weren’t political, at least not explicitly. And few, if any, were into ‘kill all Jews’. Likewise, most movies of the Soviet period weren’t all that political. The state promoted escapism to lighten the lives of the proles. Also, most people didn’t want to see political movies, not in the US, Russia, or Germany. Eisenstein’s films were more appreciated abroad by intellectuals. The most popular movie star in Russia in the 20s and 3os was Charlie Chaplin. And why would Eisenstein be ‘my boy’? I didn’t make his reputation. He is one of the few true geniuses of cinema. It’s frightening what he could do with composition and montage, and there isn’t a film-maker who wasn’t influenced by him directly or indirectly. If Griffith is the father of cinema, Eisenstein is the prodigal son, the enfant terrible, the man who did what no one even dreamed possible. Even today, OCTOBER and IVAN THE TERRIBLE are way beyond the imagination and scope of most film-makers. Of course, the political message of OCTOBER is cartoonish, and IVAN isn’t accurate history, but they are film-making wonders.

    (All these people who knock Welles CITIZEN KANE… do they even understand film language and expression? What do they watch movies for? Mere story and message? That’s like listening to opera only for the libretto.)

    I haven’t seen OPFERGANG but have seen JEW SUSS by Harlan. Though there are moments of brazen politicizing, it is actually a far subtler and illuminating work than its reputation would have people believe. We’ve been told it’s that ‘notorious antisemitic’ work, but even though it is damning of Jewish influence, it is also empathetic and peers into the Jewish soul with a degree of understanding.

    If, by and large, democratic-capitalist countries created more good movies, it probably has to do with a more permissive attitude toward eccentricity, personality, and perversity. In more repressive and moralistic systems, eccentricity is frowned upon. Personal expression is considered solipsist and self-indulgent. The Bergman of PERSONA wouldn’t have been welcome in National Socialist Germany or Soviet Union. Not that Hollywood would have embraced such an artist either. Perhaps, it had to do Sweden’s mix of socialism and capitalism that made artists like him possible. Also, while perversity can be stinking rot in excess, it is the fuel of so many tantalizing works. Not only something like MULHOLLAND DR(and BLUE VELVET) but the dark murder mysteries of Alfred Hitchcock, the Noir fever-dreams, and crazy comedies. LAURA by Preminger is deliciously perverse. Perversity threatens to corrupt society when unchecked but it is the spice that brings creativity to another level. Hard to imagine any order but a capitalist one producing works like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, LAST TANGO IN PARIS, HAROLD AND MAUDE, PURPLE NOON, LE SAMOURAI, BLOW-UP, THE WILD BUNCH, and etc.

    • Thanks: Dumbo
  18. The idea that Nazi Germany Culture thrived or withered due to the lack of Jewish artists can’t be proven one way or the other. Jews were only excluded for 11 years, and most of that was during WW2 when the Germans had more important things to worry about.

  19. Angharad says:

    I’ll watch ANYTHING with Roger Livesey in [it]. He was Welsh (The real Master Race), heart stoppingly jaw droppingly drooling all over the floor GORGEOUS, and oh that voice!

    He’s long dead and I’ve missed my chance with him by many decades, alas. Were we in the same time and space, I’d have thrown a net over him, had him washed and oiled, and held him captive in my lair.

    I think Blimp is a great film because it’s almost non-stop Livesey.

    • Replies: @Trevor Lynch
  20. Right_On says:

    I wonder if the day will ever come when TCM shows movies like Battle of the Bulge (1965) or Where Eagles Dare (1968) preceded by the warning:
    “This film contains depictions of Nazi officers that are now considered outdated and offensive stereotypes.”

    • Replies: @Angharad
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  21. @Priss Factor

    ‘…but the National Socialists banned his music(like idiots in Israel have banned the music of certain German composers).’

    Israel is welcome to seal itself off entirely from Western Civilization, if it sees fit. You go, girl!

  22. Angharad says:
    @Trevor Lynch

    “Casablanca” is a very effective propaganda film, and extremely well done and involving simply as a FILM.

    I first saw it many years ago, on a full screen, in Philadelphia’s Theater of the Living Arts. I went with a very snarky pal. We were very young. For those of you who have only viewed the film on a small screen, watching it on a full sized movie theater screen is OVERWHELMING. “Casablanca” is unbelievably romantic. It’s glamorous in the original sense of the word. The film is in Black and White – but on a full sized screen it seems to made of diamonds and starlight….we were swept away and almost awed by the experience. As very snarky, “cynical” pseudo sophisticated kids.

    My friend and I were not into politics nor history at all, when we viewed that film, but I’ve seen “Casablanca” a number of times since. It’s always bittersweet. The scene that always feels like a kick in the guts is the scene where-in the “Resistance Hero Victor Laszlo” played by Race Traitor Paul Henreid, leads the patrons of “Rick’s” in song, “La Marseillaise” against the Germans soldiers singing the “Nazi” song “Die Wacht am Rhein”. It’s a brilliant scene; it’s a textbook instruction on how to USE culture (song) AS propaganda, and it’s stirring and inspiring. Alas I know the film-makers created this scene, and the entire film, to appeal to the audience and win them for the (((Allies))) – but I now know that the Germans were the Good Guys. “Casablanca” always breaks my heart, just a little piece at a time, every time I view it.

    • Replies: @Trevor Lynch
  23. Angharad says:
    @Right_On

    Don’t hold your breath, my dear.

    • Replies: @Right_On
  24. Right_On says:
    @Angharad

    I was just being cute.

    Actually, Robert Shaw’s over-the-top performance as the cartoon Nazi, Col. Hessler, is the only possible reason for watching Battle of the Bulge.

    A quite interesting fact: until recently, when the film was shown on British TV, the scene where the boys sing the Panzerlied was always cut. True, that was always a bit awkward, as, until then, the Krauts obligingly spoke English, but suddenly switched to German when singing. However, I suspect the main reason the scene was omitted is that the self-sacrificing idealism of the young was too unnerving for soft liberals.

    • Replies: @BorisMay
  25. WigWig says:
    @Priss Factor

    The great author Thomas Mann

    Whatever would Germany do without this pederast writing his odes to man-boy love?

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  26. Excal says:

    Well .. I did enjoy Colonel Blimp. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but there it is.

    Pressburger is keen on selling the idea that the British establishment consisted of innocent, overgrown children, complete with silly nicknames and schoolboy pranks, given to sports and hunting.

    Awful as it may seem, I think Pressburger saw this clearly. I’m not sure why this would be shocking, though. Young people in the Establishment have always been innocent overgrown children.

    .. Except, that is, for the ones of today. They are still overgrown children, but not at all innocent, and likely never to grow into adults.

    They fight wars the same way: as gentlemen, loath to do anything dishonorable, unsporting, or not “cricket.” They are also quick to forgive their enemies, no matter how dastardly.

    Shocking, but that really is how the English officer once conducted himself. He may still do. I certainly hope so.

    Me, I was very impressed by the way they simultaneously handled two delicate topics, using one to enhance the other: German-English relations during the time of the wars, and growing old. It made for a rich movie, I thought. And I found it much more anti-Nazi, than anti-German — what else was Theo for?

    But I wasn’t looking around for anti-German hatred and what-not. Maybe I’d acquire the proper loathing for this movie if I did.

  27. @Angharad

    Livesey was a fine actor with a great voice who was wasted on this film.

    • Agree: notbe
    • Replies: @Angharad
  28. @Angharad

    Race Traitor Paul Henreid

    Henreid was half-Jewish and married a Jewish woman.

    • Replies: @Angharad
  29. Pericles says:
    @Priss Factor

    It seems like Lynch is overly harsh on the film for its politics or was blind to its virtues because he just couldn’t shake the fact that some awful Jew wrote the script. But Pressburger’s Jewish biases were as natural as Margaret Mitchell and D.W. Griffith’s sympathies for the South. A Jew favoring Jewish interests against the arch-enemy of Jews, the Nazis. Why should that be so surprising?

    So the film can reasonably be called a Jewish period piece of the war propaganda genre. Adding a bit of fact checking doesn’t sound so bad.

  30. Anyone that thinks Casablanca is a bad film shouldn’t be listened to.

    It’s my all time favorite film and I view it often just for the witty lines.

    • Replies: @Trinity
    , @Trevor Lynch
  31. Trinity says:
    @RoatanBill

    Different strokes for different folks. I would say the same for anyone who likes Humphrey Bogart in general. The only Bogart movie I liked was, “The Harder They Fall” and that is only because I like boxing. Primo Carnera had a legit case for suing Jew Schulberg. Carnera wasn’t nearly as bad as that movie portrayed him to be, the main character was based loosely on Primo Carnera.

    Anyhow, opinions vary on everything.

  32. @RoatanBill

    Anyone that thinks Casablanca is a bad film shouldn’t be listened to.

    Your reading skills leave a lot to be desired. I acknowledged that it is a classic, well-written, and entertaining. But it is also deeply dishonest and manipulative, and it was massively overpraised, largely because it is Jewish war propaganda.

    • Replies: @RoatanBill
  33. @Trevor Lynch

    Show me precisely where you acknowledged that it is a classic, well-written, and entertaining in your article. I see you’ve admitted as much in comments, but your article has no such praise and therefore my reading skills are not in question. I expect an apology for your condescension.

    Casablanca is a movie. It is fiction. If you want to read all sorts of propaganda into it that’s your business, but for me it was entertainment.

  34. Angharad says:
    @Trevor Lynch

    Yes. That’s correct. I wrote that comment after along day, and confused Henreid with Conrad Veidt

  35. What’s odd about Casablanca is that ‘Rick Blaine’ is an obvious communist. He ran guns in Ethiopia and fought for the Communist Controlled “Loyalists” in Spain. During the first part of WW2, he becomes neutral. Which was the “Party line” from Sept 1939 to the fall of France. “i stick my neck out for nobody”

    In the movie, we’re told its December 6th, and Rick decides to join the fight again “This time our side will win”. But the more logical date would be June 22, 1941 – the date Commies like Rick changed from neutrals who didn’t care about the “Bougoiuse War” between Germany and the UK to full blooded combatants against the Hitlerites.

    And its never made clear, what Victor Lazlo is either. The “Underground” got him out of a Concentration Camp and all the way to Casablanca. That’s quit a trick, unless Lazlo was a Communist let out by the Nazis as a favor to the USSR.

  36. Didn’t Churchill thik Life & Death of Blimp was too anti-British and pro-German?

  37. @RoatanBill

    ‘…Casablanca is a movie. It is fiction. If you want to read all sorts of propaganda into it that’s your business, but for me it was entertainment.’

    ‘Propaganda’ and ‘entertainment’ aren’t mutually exclusive. Most great movies are propaganda for something, but among the films I like very much that are obviously propaganda in the usual sense, I would list Alexander Nevsky, Battle of Algiers, and Gandhi. (that last gets my goat, because everyone believes the propaganda, but objectively, it is a fine film.)

    Propaganda is ideology. What film isn’t purveying ideology, whether it’s Chushingura, The Wild Bunch or It’s a Wonderful Life?

    Usually, all people mean by propaganda is propaganda they disagree with.

  38. Angharad says:
    @Trevor Lynch

    I know he was wasted in “Blimp” – but I’ll watch it anyways, for him. I haven’t seen everything he’s appeared in, but my favorite film that he starred in is “I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)”. It’s a really fun romance! I wanted to run away to the Outer Hebrides when I saw this film. I may do this, one day.

  39. @Colin Wright

    CASABLANCA has a great opening and wonderful ending. Middle is a big muddled. At any rate, it’s easy to understand why it’s a classic.

    But some here are sourgrapes about it because it was anti-Nazi. Had it been made in National Socialist Germany and had pro-German heroes, I suspect the crypto-Nazis would love it.

    Curtiz’s crime against both entertainment and humanity was the loathsome MISSION TO MOSCOW which fails as both truth and art.

    The political/moral message of CASBLANCA, whether one agrees or disagrees, is interwoven into a beautiful story about love, bitterness, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. Themes of virtue, regardless of politics, has universal appeal. It’s like even the most ardent anti-Nazis will have to admit DAS BOOT is a great film about courage under duress, teamwork, and expertise. And DOWNFALL’s display of loyalty and honor is moving even to those who loathe Hitler and his henchmen.

    • Agree: Colin Wright
  40. @jerrydeanhalleck

    During the first part of WW2, he becomes neutral. Which was the “Party line” from Sept 1939 to the fall of France. “i stick my neck out for nobody”

    More likely he became jaded because of the betrayals and defeat in Spain. Also, when the woman of his life left him, he just lost interest in life. He feels betrayed not only politically but personally.

    But when he realizes that she ‘betrayed’ him not out of harlotry but for a great cause, he comes around to seeing to appreciating her heroism and comes to believe in humanity again.

    It may have borrowed a few things from TALE OF TWO CITIES where a cynic ultimately sacrifices his life for something(or someone) he finally believes in.

    But while the magic between the Rick and the woman makes the opening part of the movie, what really seals the movie is a strange kind of love between Rick and the Frenchman. It is a strange kind of ‘beautiful friendship’.

    CASABLANCA, like GONE WITH THE WIND, is proof that the best kind of propaganda is woven through colorful characters, clever plotting, and universal themes. GONE did wonders for Southern romanticism.

  41. @WigWig

    Tommy was all for the Conservative Revolution and anti-democracy (see his Essays of a Nonpolitical Man, the first, un-“revised” edition), then changed his tune when Hitler came to power. He “escaped” to a soft life in So. Cal, hanging out at the pool with Adorno and Schoenberg, and writing anti-German propaganda (including novels like Dr. Faustus). He expected to return after the war as some kind of wise, elder guru (not unjustified, as reliable anti-nazi types were being promoted) but actual Germans considered him a traitor, and he soon “escaped” again, this time to Switzerland. I assume the Germans have been forced to treat him with respect, as part of the postwar “re-education.”

  42. @jerrydeanhalleck

    I always thought it was aimed at American “isolationists” (“I stick my neck out” etc.) but you’re right, it does make (more) sense if Rick is a Commie.

    It’s ironic, because Bogart was not at all a Commie. He was suckered into supporting the “Hollywood Ten” ; as a biographer says, after witnessing their performance at the hearings, and making a few inquiries of his own, “Bogart was furious” one blacklistee recalled, “shouting at Danny Kaye, ‘You fuckers sold me out’” (Kanfer p. 127).

    Alistair Cooke later recalled:

    “Bogart was aghast” to discover how many of the protestors “were down-the-line Communists coolly exploiting the protection of the First and Fifth Amendments… He had thought they were just freewheeling anarchists, like himself. (Kanfer p. 127)

    I review Kanfer’s book on Bogie here:

    https://counter-currents.com/2011/05/bogart/

    In a further irony, Amazon has banned the book it’s reprinted in, but you can buy it here, thanks to R. Unz.

    • Thanks: Angharad, jerrydeanhalleck
    • Replies: @jerrydeanhalleck
  43. @RoatanBill

    Lynch and others tend to be churlish about movies with the wrong message, much like SJW types love to cancel everything on account of its political incorrectness. General rule of thumb is to prioritize art/talent over message. So, while a conservative journal will have a right-leaning critic while a liberal journal will have a left-leaning critic, they’d do well to first consider the talent before(or with) passing political judgement. Give credit where it’s due. Now, there are two kinds of talent in art. One that seeks the truth. So, whether an artist is ‘rightist’ or ‘leftist’, he has enough empathy, curiosity, and understanding to tell the story in what he believes to be most truthful manner. This truth isn’t a matter of balancing ‘left’ and ‘right’ but going beyond both to look deeper into the human heart in the context of a complex and chaotic history.
    But there’s another kind of talent in art, and some would question as to whether this kind of talent is genuinely artistic. It is less interested in the truth(or even opposed to it) and mostly invested in pushing propaganda in the most effective manner, as entertainment or in art-clothing. SOCIAL NETWORK does both. It was conceived of Hollywood entertainment and as ‘serious’ exploration of the Zuckerberg phenom. I suppose it’s entertaining enough in middebrow fashion and, if you knew nothing about Sorkin the jerk and Zuckerberg’s real story, you might even mistake for an art film. But it’s utterly bogus and manipulative. Precisely because of the pretense of truth, it strikes me as bogus and utterly worthless DESPITE Sorkin’s storytelling skills and Fincher’s directorial prowess. So, does that mean talent has value only in service of truth-seeking and never in service of propaganda? If the talent is only proficient and skillful, that’s usually the case. SOCIAL NETWORK is well-made but hardly groundbreaking as cinema.
    But when propaganda is presented in a way that is overpowering in originality and brilliance, like the early Soviet films of Sergei Eisenstein and Pudovkin, there is the overwhelming power of expression. So, BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN is mostly propaganda-fiction but what a work of genius it is. Genius on that level compensates for lack of truth. (And of course, earnest truth-seeking minus the talent is as bad as lie-pushing with a modicum of talent.)

    The success of CASABLANCA has far less to do with its politics than Lynch assumes. After all, most movies about WWII and bad nazis have been forgotten, even though successful in its day. CASABLANCA, like GONE WITH THE WIND, stood the test of time(though I don’t really care for either and must admit I only saw both in parts) and have timeless appeal because of its personalities, plot twists, mood, and balance of cynicism/egotism and idealism(or romanticism)/sacrifice. Scarlett is a selfish bitch but also a tragic heroine who, through her own faults and no fault of her own(History), loses everything.
    What Scarlett is for women, Rick is for men. Women are naturally vain and selfish but see themselves as the perpetual victim. Men want the chance to play the hero, and though Rick loses the girl, he does with style and with her respect. He saves the day and, in part, the world.

    Woman want to be saved. Men want to save. Scarlett is the great flawed damsel, and Rick is the marred but redemptive knight.

  44. Percival says:

    I can’t help thinking Greg disliked this film because he bats for the other team and the love interest flew well over his head. The clear giveaway is that he admitted to being

    completely taken by surprise when Clive announced his love for the first of them, Edith.

    , even though
    the relevant scene is cinema at its finest, able in a split-second to convey profound and ineffable sentiments unambiguously (as long as you are receptive to it and at least paying attention). If you don’t understand what I’m on about, let me be specific: the final farewell between Clive and Edith; Clive kisses Edith and the close-up lingers on his face, cue the sentimental music and a speech tinged with sadness — actually, it’s pretty damn obvious that he’s in love with her and that she clearly also has feelings for him, even if they both only realise it at that very moment, while saying goodbye to each other.

    • Replies: @jerrydeanhalleck
  45. @James J O'Meara

    Thanks for the book link, I’ll give it a try. Yes, Bogart wasn’t a commie, but Betty bacall was, at least for a while during WW2.

    It’d be interesting to know how many of the actors, outside of Rains and Bergman were either Communists or married to Communists or were Communist sympathizers.

    But I suppose if you can’t call Casablanca “Communist” you can certainly call it European, since the director and all the actors (except Bogart and Dooley wilson aka “Sam”) were either British or European.

    Fun Fact: One of the Epstein brothers was married to Ann Laszlo.

  46. @James J O'Meara

    The enthusiasm for Thomas Mann is a puzzle to me. I like Death in Venice but everything else, including Magic Mountain and Buddenbrooks left me cold. maybe he’s much better in German.

  47. @Percival

    I’ve found that many people born after a certain date, say 1980 have trouble picking up obvious clues in old movies governed by the code. They’ll wonder if so and so went to bed when a scene is obviously set after they’ve had a roll in the hay. Or they can’t tell why so and so isn’t ripping her clothes off. They also have difficulty identifying Gay characters or Prostitutes even thought the characters practicially have a lighted sign over their heads saying GAY or HOOKER.

    • Agree: BorisMay
    • LOL: Angharad
    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  48. jvpr says:

    As a member of the unenlightened masses, please if you have time, explain what’s wrong with “Casablanca,” which I’ve enjoyed at least three times and recommended. I don’t get what’s wrong – great dialog, fine acting, fine cinematography, engaging story that carries one along to a satisfying finish. This “white only” thing can cause artistic blindness maybe? It’s a movie, not the Bible.

  49. BorisMay says:

    Lack of cultural understanding is all this article represents.

    The language, calling Germans ‘krauts’ or cabbages shows that this writer understands nothing about the two world wars from a British perspective.

    British propaganda, just like the British (and US) army, was pathetic. Just as anyone who today believes a war criminal, gambling alcoholic named Churchill did anything positive to win a war, this writer is so out of touch with 1940s actuality that it is cringeworthy in the extreme.

    Please stick to reviewing saccharine Disney movies. This is all this writer is fit for.

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  50. BorisMay says:
    @Right_On

    Self sacrificing was the National Socialist modus operandi. They sacrificed themselves to protect Europe from Communism.

    This is what really scares the shit out of the left these days, because leftists are spineless yellow bastards more interested in each other’s backsides than anything else.

    And they know that should National Socialism ever rise again they are all dead…no adherence to any Geneva Conventions next time.

    • Thanks: Angharad
    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  51. Fr. John says:

    1) The review is correct.

    But,

    2) It’s a fun period piece, and at least, causes people to want to investigate the Boer War, and thereby learn of the English folly in thinking the Afrikaaners were wrong in their treatment of the Darkie.
    Of course, we ALL know, post Apartheid, how right the Dutch were…..

    3) I like most P&P movies: Red Shoes, Tales of Hoffmann, Canterbury Tale, etc.

    Why? Because they capture the last gasp of WHITE, ANGLO Culture- with all of her hubris, self-satisfaction, but also the simple beauty of home, hearth, ‘There will always be an England,” etc.

    A world I would gladly trade for the ‘mess of potage’ we live in, today.

  52. @jerrydeanhalleck

    You’d like Nabokov, who despised Mann. I think he was upset about the whole Death in Venice pederasty thing, but of course Nabokov had his own perverse themes (and I’m not even counting Lolita). I think he says somewhere that Mann didn’t write novels but sermons.

    I like MM for all the steampunk elements which seem so weird today: the coconut matting on the floors, dandies wearing yellow shoes, German’s buying suits in England, and of course the quack medical treatments (relevant today, with it’s “vaccine that requires 5 boosters” mania).

    I like Dr Faustus for its evocation of pre-war Munich nuttiness (the stew that produced National Socialism and its “reactionary modernism” as folks today call it; he called it “diabolism”)

    • Replies: @Right_On
  53. @jerrydeanhalleck

    The two original versions of The Maltese Falcon are interesting that way. The first is pre-code, and retains the sleazy elements from the novel (Spade makes out with his secretary, for example).

    The second, retitled Satan Met a Lady (title from a kid working at the studio who won the contest for new title) is another trip; rewritten as a “comedy” starring Warren Williams (forgotten today but a big star then) and Bette Davis (who hated it so much she walked out on her contract, setting a Hollywood precedent). They change all the names and some genders (Gutman is a big Gertrude Stein lesbian, with a “gunsel” who looks like John Candy), apparently that was more acceptable than the book or the John Huston version); Arthur Treacher has Peter Lorre’s role.

  54. @BorisMay

    Welcome, Franz Liebkind! How’s tricks?

  55. @BorisMay

    “Self sacrificing was the National Socialist modus operandi. They sacrificed themselves to protect Euro;pe from Communism.”

    See the comment above, recommending Opfergang (“Sacrifice”), hardly the “feel good” propaganda we’ve been led to believe the NS film industry churned out.

    That and The Fountainhead are two of Slavoj Žižek’s three favorite films.

  56. @Priss Factor

    “why the Right sucks at art.”

    This has been true in American culture since the postwar period. The Right was the Establishment, dedicated to the expansion of Empire and the credo of Christianity. Preserving power does not lend itself to the flights of fancy it takes to craft a really good story. Things have changed, obviously, although neoliberalism remains in place in terms of economic and foreign policy. Culture has been completely captured by politics of the same bent. The past few years has seen a mechanistic adherence to left-wing politics in all sectors of media. Hollywood is the absolute shits. So now we can say with some assurance that the Left sucks at art. Attention righties: all great art usually begins with a seed of rebellion.

    • Thanks: Right_On
  57. @Colin Wright

    “What film isn’t purveying ideology … The Wild Bunch”

    What is purveyed in The Wild Bunch is more creed than ideology. Brittle and shallow, ideology is for pencil-necks with dust in their gonads. Creed is for men: the amerikansk adventurers who died in a hail of Mexican bullets were the last of their kind, according to the often intoxicated Sam Peckinpah. And those that came after, us, are mostly dissociated soft boys addicted to technology.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  58. @Right_On

    “I wonder if the day will ever come when TCM shows movies … preceded by the warning”

    Mankiewicz recently lapsed into a moment of shame when he warned his mostly white and liberal viewers that the film he was introducing, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a story about low-level white crooks in Boston, contained a few “niggers.”

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    , @Right_On
  59. Why the hate for Casablanca?

    Yes, the movie is half bad agitprop, and yes, it has some screaming plotholes and bad continuity, and yes, Bogart has B-movie talent — but the other half of the film is wonderful and moving. Trying to watch the “La Marseillaise” scene without feeling tears or emotion — even if you’re not French — is a hopeless thing.

    I agree its overrated — and likely because Jewish filmies of the 1960s and 70s loved its reruns (Woody Allen worshiped Bogart)– but Casablanca is still very watchable and good.

  60. Right_On says:
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Mankiewicz recently lapsed into a moment of shame . . . introducing, The Friends of Eddie Coyle . . . contained a few “niggers.”

    I thought you were pulling my leg, but just watched the intro on YouTube. I wonder how the Boston Irish referred to Jews back in the seventies . . .

    Peter Yates made some great movies. Even ones that I just saw as decent-enough entertainment at the time – like Murphy’s War (1971) and The Deep (1977) – seem like classics compared to modern garbage.

  61. Right_On says:
    @James J O'Meara

    A just-released documentary, The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, is the story of the subsequent career of Björn Andrésen, who played the “pretty boy” in Death in Venice.

    Actually, I can’t abide people who whine about what a hard time they had adjusting after the sex, drugs and celebrity lifestyle they had had to ‘endure’ ended. It’s not exactly like the hardships of a chimney sweep in Victorian Britain.

    Not a bad movie. And it led me to read Thomas Mann’s novella, which is first rate.

    • LOL: Happy Tapir
    • Replies: @Angharad
  62. @SunBakedSuburb

    What is purveyed in The Wild Bunch is more creed than ideology.

    Good point. But THE WILD BUNCH, even if not ideological in the strict sense, was made within a certain ideological context.

    After all, could a film like that have been made in the Soviet Union?
    No, Soviet Communism tended to be moralistic and humanist. The concept of THE WILD BUNCH would have been deemed too individualistic and nihilistic for Soviet film industry. And its romanticism of outlaws wouldn’t have been acceptable.
    Likewise, THE GODFATHER couldn’t have been made 10 yrs earlier. Too violent and too cynical. Also, too romantic of the gangster world. Cultural sensibility and politics had to change for such a work to be allowed.

    Also, could THE WILD BUNCH have been made a decade earlier in the US? Or even 5 yrs earlier? No.
    American ideology has to change and become more tolerant, permissive, and rebellious for works like THE WILD BUNCH to be made. The Counterculture and the new sensibility allowed new expressions, everything from graphic violence to more sexuality, even culminating in legalization of filmed pornography.

    So, even works that aren’t intrinsically ideological exist within certain ideological frameworks.

    Suppose someone wanted to make a honest movie about the plight of Palestinians. Suppose he has no axe to grind. He doesn’t feature all Palestinians as good and doesn’t feature all Israelis as bad. But it’s a movie that features Palestinians in West Bank with some sympathy. Hardly ideological but could such film be made within the ideological settting of Hollywood? Unlikely.

    • Thanks: Angharad
  63. Angharad says:
    @Right_On

    Get over yourself, Right Off. Andresen was a kid, thrust into the lunatic world of (((film-making))) and the (((exploitation of youth))) for shekel-making. He didn’t have any one to guide him or protect him. He was USED, and then thrown away. He didn’t SEEK that deranged world. His idiotic, selfish grandmother used him to gain fame and reflected glory for herself. Andresen is not the only young person that’s been used and tossed away, left to make sense of the madness. The ephebic beauty of his youth gained global attention for a brief moment – and then? Apres le deluge – WTF?

    Andresen seems to be of ordinary intelligence. He’s not particularly insightful, from the few glimpses I caught of the film. It’s apparently taken him his entire life to begin to understand what happened to him – and it happened TO him – as a teenager. He seems like a decent, kind man. Not cruel and selfish enough to try to hang on to “Fame Inc”. Your comparison to his life, as a teenaged momentary Pop Idol to English Victorian chimney sweeps is shallow and NASTY. Entire social movements were formed by genuinely concerned, MORAL people, trying to improve the lives of the abuses and exploitation of the DESPERATELY poor. Nowadays, the monsters in power want to abuse the powerless in every vile way they can concoct. The Powers That Be are vicious, and regard Human Beings as their RESOURCES. Their RESOURCES. Their THINGS.

    The scene that caught my notice, in the trailer, is the moment when Visconti, during a casting call, tell Andresen that he’s very beautiful, and asks him to bare his torso – take off his clothes – in a roomful of strangers. Andresen’s immediate reaction was an astonished, disbelieving “what”? That’s APPALLING. Were Victorian chimney sweeps asked to take off their clothes in front of strangers? There were loads of child prostitutes, in Victorian England (and there are and have been everywhere else) – but good, moral adults tried to STOP that. Now the abuse of children is being PROMOTED.

    Shame on you.

    There’s a brief moment, in the trailer, that shows the aged film director telling Andresen that he

    • Agree: WigWig
  64. @jerrydeanhalleck

    Evidently, the real life inspiration for the young boy of Mann’s Death in Venice was not 14 but 10.

    My source being Jonathan Dollimore’s Death, Desire, and Loss in Western Culture. Even he admits homosexuals carry the burden of pederasty. Not to say I disliked reading Mann’s novella. All the same, it raises many uncomfortable questions, as literature should. His letters are also worth reading for their honesty.

  65. @Priss Factor

    Thanks again priss, for such a tour de force! What would you consider to be the key works of the Czech golden age, may I ask?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  66. @Colin Wright

    Good point. The late 90s movie Three Kings is pretty good, but little more than a neocon advertisement for the reinvasion of Iraq, so far as I can tell. Another great movie is African Queen, which has obnoxious post ww1 British anti German propaganda, but remains a great movie.

  67. In response to various excellent commenters above, I would assert that film is inherently a second class medium, and that we are asking too much of it in terms character depth and verisimilitude. There is simply a limit to what can be expressed in two hours and without any glimpse into the characters’ internal monologues. I don’t say this to knock film, it’s my favorite art, but there is only a certain ceiling to how high on the greatness of art any film can really rise. The greatness of a film is in its plot, mood, and optical beauty, and music, rather than those things we judge a novel upon. That’s why so many “great” films, such as The Godfather and LA Confidential, are based on second rate pot boiler type novels, whereas truly great novels seldom make great movies, as so much that makes the novel great must be jettisoned to shoehorn it into a movie. That’s why lord of the rings was such a comical failure as a movie.

  68. @Happy Tapir

    key works of the Czech golden age,

    It as short-lived but almost on par with the French New Wave in terms of talent and excitement.

    MARKETA LAZAROVA is tops, one of the supreme masterpieces. Some are fairly well-known, like CLOSELY WATCHED TRAIN and LOVES OF A BLONDE.

    Here’s a overview.

    http://www.newwavefilm.com/international/czech-new-wave.shtml

    This is terrific:

    A mid-80s Yugoslavian movie that is among my favorite is HEY BABU RIBA(DANCING ON WATER). Before the war that tore the nation apart. But the social tensions in the movie(set in the 50s) suggests a powderkeg nation. Not a great movie but heartfelt, on par with MYSTIC PIZZA.

    • Thanks: Happy Tapir
  69. @James J O'Meara

    He “escaped” to a soft life in So. Cal, hanging out at the pool with Adorno and Schoenberg

    Schoenberg was a monarchist. Hitler was far to his left.

    He was right, too. We should have left the Kaisers in place. Worked with the Chrysanthemum Throne.

  70. @Priss Factor

    Re “Magnificent Ambersons”. Having seen the butchered movie version I later came across the book. Yes, it won the Pulitzer Prize–but one wonders why. The movie turned out to be the book filmed and the movie’s “problems” are the faults of the book. The book’s tone is dull; the plot concept a bit unlikely that it would revolve around a spoiled son’s wanting to keep his widowed mother away from a potential suitor. One watches it for the story that could have been told better; yes, if you look at the book and then the movie you realize that the story is how the society changes around a set of forgettable characters. Reading the book you find out what “the headlight company” was. I’ve gotten an overview of theatrical history from the movie’s so I understand mention of The Black Crook at the Amberson Opera House and the program to ‘Wang’..” but for most people today readers would need footnotes. Finally, that opening bit about changes in clothing and other cultural practices that chews up almost 10 minutes–that is “The Magnificent Ambersons” the novel’s first chapter almost entire verbatim.
    With this movie Welles demonstrated that he had only one “Citizen Kane” in him. For his future films he had to think of something else.

  71. @Priss Factor

    Completely agree. Can’t stand Kane and could never watch it all the way through.

    I guess this explains why the Right sucks at art.

    Orson Welles was Right Wing? Hardly.

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