Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

The Teabag Party

Maybe the way to defeat a stupid idea is with a stupider idea.

That’s what the Tea Party seems like to me. Hey, I’m no fan of lame politicians who get free lifetime health care benefits yet can’t seem to understand that affordable healthcare for the rest of us is an important issue. Or the radio zealots who twist and turn everything into an urgent problem because that’s what gets ratings and lines their pockets. I’m an Independent; I think the function of the Republican and Democrat parties has devolved to the point where they exist just to battle each other. Both have forgotten who they work for – you and me.

So the premise of flushing out lazy incumbents is a good one, but unfortunately the Tea Party is not ambivalent in their cause; they’re simply focused upon a hardcore right-wing agenda. These are the people who think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President in American history rather than an emasculated B-movie actor who consulted psychics but succeeded only because he was an actor who could read the cue cards.  (The Republicans apparently forgot the value of this gimmick in recent years.)

I just can’t believe so many people take the drivel they’re given and follow it like sheep. But no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

America has a long legacy of brilliant, inventive women leaders, yet the first female presidential candidate might be one of the most ill-informed pinheads ever to walk the Earth. And I’m not sure what’s more frightening – the fact that she could actually win or that a large percentage of the population doesn’t realize that she is as dumb as a rock when it comes to foreign policy, economics, world culture or any critical issue facing our country.

So if I’m going to wallow in political hysteria, at least I’m going to get some laughs out of it. Enter Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who (along with a staff or crack writers and performers) probably bring more sanity to the whole damned thing despite the comedy than Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann do with their passionate yet slanted perspectives.

So I’m going to side with what I will refer to as the Teabag Party. See you on October 30th in Washington DC! If all else fails, and we don’t restore sanity to the masses, at least the day after the rally is Halloween. Then we’ll have two reasons to have the shit scared out of us.

And as for America and the elections? We’ll get what we deserve. To paraphrase Tiny Tim…”God help us, every one“.

Jon Stewart’s Rally To Restore Sanity

Stephen Colbert’s  March To Keep Fear Alive

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The Wall

Germany Wall Anniversary

And the wall...come tum-ba-lin down

The futher away we get from this, the more it will be taken for granted. As one of the generation who had daily air-raid drills I can attest to the weirdness that was the Cold War (Why we were any safer in the fetal position under our school desks, I dunno, but whatever…).

To witness this twenty years ago was astounding.

Orson Welles 3rd Man

So maybe you get that Pink Floyd album out today. Maybe you watch The Third Man. Maybe you go really out there and blast Hedwig and the Angry Inch out your windows (highly recommended, by the way). Or maybe you simply call your Dad or Grandpa and thank him for doing the same thing that our brave men and women do today – putting their lives on the line. Celebrate liberation…in whatever form you can savor it.

Hedwig Yankee go home

But if you think we learn from history, think again.

(This isn’t about political party lines – it’s about humanity. And tomorrow’s anniversary will be as well, albeit in a totally different way.)

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I Know Noir, But What Am I?

Who is cooler than Lee Marvin, anyway?

Who is cooler than Lee Marvin, anyway?

I was thinking about how it’s been a year since we lost Jules Dassin and Richard Widmark, both of whom lived into their nineties and died within a week of each other. Dassin, of course, was blacklisted in the famous McCarthy-influenced purge in Hollywood but moved to France and had a tremendous career. Widmark is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen, from his debut as psychotic killer Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death through a litany of westerns, war films and crime movies. In 1950, they collaborated on Night and The City, about a street hustler who tries to gain control of the wrestling racket in London, but of course is way over his head. It was a brilliant film, and like most noir features less-than-savory characters trying to make a move, and getting tantalizingly close before everything starts to fall apart. In a way, these are twisted morality plays, but I was first attracted to the genre because the stories seemed to be far more realistic than the typical Hollywood happy ending.

The noir era was before my time, but as an avid reader I devoured books by Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, and when lucky enough to catch them on pre-cable TV I would be mesmerized by Double Indemnity and D.O.A. and Out Of The Past. Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a masterpiece, and one of the first instances of retelling of the plot from each character’s perspective. Now, thanks to cable channels like TCM and AMC, many of these films found a whole new audience, and the advent of DVD made most available for fans like me. With few exceptions, these aren’t going to be at Blockbuster, but I’m thrilled to be able to buy and enjoy them in my own home. Recently both Fox and Warner Brothers issued film noir series, and apparently sales are good, because more surface every day. The Criterion Collection also releases many noir titles and they’re meticulous about print quality, bonus features and whatever extras (booklets, interviews, etc.) they can assemble to present as complete an experience as possible. Their releases can be a bit pricey, but you can find many of them at decent used rates, and better library systems will probably carry quite a few.

One of my favorites, and a steal even at the retail price, is The Killers, with both the 1946 film starring Burt Lancaster and the 1964 TV movie directed by Don Siegel and starring John Cassavetes and Lee Marvin, the latter having one of the greatest closing lines in movie history. Oh yeah, and there was this Ronald Reagan guy playing a bad man, which some Americans swear he did again years later in real life. And today – the event that led up to all those thoughts about noir and Widmark and Dassin – Criterion announced the April release of one of the best post-noir classics, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle. I am geeked!

I could list dozens of great films and probably fill a book about my love of film noir…and perhaps I will someday. But I wanted to use today’s blog feature to pay tribute to some of my film heroes like Widmark, Mitchum, Marvin, Lancaster and Cassavetes, as well as directors like Dassin, Sam Fuller, Don Siegel and Jean-Pierre Melville. I am so thankful that they were inspired to create such wonderfully vivid stories that are as thrilling to watch today as they must have been at the time. So if you are one who can appreciate that a great film is a transcendent journey, I encourage you to make the time to immerse yourself on the dark side of the street.

A series of noir and neo-noir films are being featured by Criterion  right now.

FOX studios has a noir series.

Warner Brothers does too.

***

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