Quotes Suitable for Framing: Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

Thursday, June 9, AD 2016

There are no great men, there are only great challenges, which ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.

Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

Earlier this week I was watching the movie The Gallant Hours (1960), starring James Cagney as Admiral William Halsey, Jr.  (Halsey hated the nickname “Bull” that the press fastened upon him during the War.)  The film focuses on the time in late 1942 to 1943 when Halsey was theater commander during the Guadalcanal campaign.  This was in tandem with my reading of the latest bio of Halsey, Admiral Bill Halsey:  A Naval Life, by Thomas Alexander Hughes.

Halsey is an interesting figure partially because his public image is so at odds with the reality.  During World War II Halsey was the “Patton of the Pacific”, a fighting Admiral who swore as he viewed the carnage of Pearl Harbor on December 7,  that by the time the US was done the only place that Japanese would be spoken was in Hell.  Halsey in the popular perception was a rampaging bull in a Japanese china shop.

The reality was different.  Halsey, who got his wings at the advanced age of 52, was an inspired commander of carriers.  Strike quick and run was his method in the early days of the War, when his daring carrier raids on Japanese held islands in the Pacific gave a very badly needed boost to national morale.  (“I hauled ass with Halsey” was a fond remembrance of veterans of those raids for decades after the War.)   However, unlike his unwelcome “Bull” image, Halsey was a thoughtful and careful planner, who paid close attention to such un-glamorous, but essential, topics as logistics and intelligence as he plotted every move his forces made.  He was also an officer beloved of his men because of his reputation of making sure that they were taken care of regarding food, leave and mail.  Throughout his career Halsey was known as a sailor’s officer who always looked out for the enlisted men under his command.  (A typical story told about Halsey by his sailors.  On board a carrier sailors were waiting in line for some prized ice cream.  An Ensign decides to cut to the head of his line.  He suddenly hears a stream of profanity directed at him.  He turns around to chew out the sailor cussing him.  He finds out that the man yelling at him is four star Admiral Halsey who has been patiently waiting his turn in the line with his men.)

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One Response to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

  • I saw that gerdunk story in a Naval Institute publication. In that account it was two Ensigns, and they only saw Halsey when they demanded “Who said that?” and the Admiral stepped out of line and said “I did!”. The two then ran off.

Risen: A Day Without Death

Monday, February 22, AD 2016

 

 

My bride and I saw the movie Risen in Kankakee, Illinois on Sunday at the Paramount Theater in downtown Kankakee.  The Paramount Theater is a well maintained movie palace that was built in 1931.  Sitting in its wide seats and viewing its art deco adornments, one is transported back to the Golden Age of Hollywood when attending movies was an event, and people did not expect to see films in cramped, one size fits all characterless shoeboxes.  By popular request, this review of the movie Risen will contain only minor spoilers, below the fold.  I highly recommend the film, and I thought that I would give the film some historical background that may enhance the enjoyment of viewers.

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7 Responses to Risen: A Day Without Death

  • My husband and I were blessed by this movie – the residual impression being that of the real mystery of Jesus ! The greatness of the film was not in the “who done it” type of mystery, but in the Mystery and Hope that is Jesus. Elusive, known by His effects on people’s lives, showing up unexpectedly though He was expected. His appearance not accompanied by heavenly drum rolls, but quiet.

  • That’s kind of why I want to see it. Oh not that there’s no place for the grand, sweeping epic, but because there’s ordinary, quiet lives most of time and in telling the stories we can forget that back then, they were all people too.

    Though something impossible happened back then and I was kind of hoping this movie would be an examination of that article. But I’ve heard the spoiler from another reviewer so I know I’ll have to temper my enthusiasm a little it may end up one of my film faves.

  • On your other thread, I noticed somebody had said Metacritic only gave it a 53. I have noticed that Christian movies seldom get good reviews. I thought Cristeros was excellent but it was mostly panned. Roger Ebert had to give it credit, but said that it was too focused on Christians. I thought that was hilarious because of the plethora of movies in the past few decades that focused on other mistreated religious groups. So I take reviews of Christian movies with a grain of salt.

  • “So I take reviews of Christian movies with a grain of salt.” Indeed:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/06/01/roger-ebert-pans-no-greater-glory-for-being-too-catholic/

    Roger Ebert is dead now and I hope that in his last moments he came back to the Catholic Faith in which he was raised.

  • I was moved by this different angle on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The acting was superb, and the expressiveness of Clavius spoke volumes. A must see easter treat!

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  • This is one film that can not be described as heavy handed and preachy. Although dramatic, it simply tells a story. You can believe in the faith that came from these events or not. An honest unbeliever can view the film and simply say that it was well set forth but still come to no conclusion. This is no different that the film made about Mohammed almost 40 years ago and would be little different if a film was made about Buddha.

Hail Caesar!

Saturday, February 13, AD 2016

 

My bride and I saw this film yesterday and vastly enjoyed it.  I often appreciate “quirky” and no film makers today are quirkier than the Coen brothers.  This film is an homage-spoof of filmmaking in Hollywood circa 1951.  The main character is a devout Catholic, a good family man, and, wonders of wonders, he is not depicted either as a hypocrite or a bigot, the de rigueur depictions of faithful Catholics in most films these days.  We found the film endlessly hilarious.  Some knowledge of the Golden Age of Hollywood is helpful but not essential to the enjoyment of the film.  Those of you who have seen the film let me know what you think in the comboxes.  I am not going to do a full review, because I think spoilers would really spoil this film.

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One Response to Hail Caesar!

Chain of Memory

Wednesday, October 14, AD 2015

 

My wife and I were watching the movie The Way Ahead (1944), shown as Immortal Battalion in a truncated version in the US, last night, the story of the transformation of a grumbling group of British civilians into soldiers, and I was struck by this speech given by the platoon commander after his unit intentionally messed up on maneuvers:

 

“When this regiment was formed our country was doing pretty badly. Napoleon’s armies were just across the channel getting ready to invade us, we’d had defeat after defeat, and a great many people thought we were finished. We weren’t… But, not because we were lucky.

When the first battalion of this regiment marched it was against Napoleon… Talavera, eighteen hundred and nine, that was the first battle they made their own, and they marched 42 miles in 24 hours of a Spanish Summer, and every man jack of ’em carried a sixty pound pack. Talavera, look at your cap badges, you’ll see the name on it, and the other battles too… Barrosa, Sabugal… At Sabugal, together with four companies of riflemen, they defeated five times the number of Napoleon’s troops… Salamanca, Orthez, Waterloo, Alma, Sebastopol, Tel el-Kebir, Mons, Ypres, Somme… Those are battle honours!

You’re allowed to wear that badge with those names on it to show that you belong the the regiment that won them, and that when the time comes you’ll do as well as they did. Last year that badge was in France, this year, in Libya. It hasn’t been disgraced yet… Now you’re wearing it.

I know what went wrong today, it so happens that Captain Edwards doesn’t. You needn’t worry, I’m not going to tell him, he’s quite depressed enough as it is to think that it was his company that let the whole battalion down. But, I just want to tell you this… If you ever get near any real fighting… I don’t suppose you’ll ever be good enough, but, if you do… You’ll find that you’re looking to other men not to let you down. If you’re lucky, you’ll have soldiers like Captain Edwards and Sergeant  Fletcher to look to. If they’re lucky, they’ll be with another company!”

The actor delivering the speech was the late David Niven.  It is a brilliant evocation of history to remind members of a unit that they are part of a chain stretching through time and it is up to them not to dishonor by their actions those who came before in that chain.   As we make our way through this Vale of Tears it is something to remember since we all belong to such chains:  family, church, nation, fraternal organizations, bands of friends, etc.   Our actions do not impact only ourselves.

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2 Responses to Chain of Memory

  • One of the many reasons your blog is my first read every morning. Thank you Donald. I have a son at the Air Force Academy and, while there, he has heard much about his responsibility to those who have gone before. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard this. He was raised to understand he was part of something bigger than himself and he owed his best, at all times, to others who were counting on him.

  • Agreed. Great post Donald.
    Life chain was two weekends ago.
    Our chain of silent soldiers stretched form the west end of our town to the eastern side.
    As long as the battle for the unborn is still being fought, we have 56 million reasons to speak up and defeat the barbarians of liberal thought. Until they respect life, the sanctity of life, we will be present and accounted for.
    Thank you for the reminder that nothing is lost as long as we stay together and March forward with the banner of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, indeed, have mercy on us.

Angels With Dirty Faces: Fake Cowardice, Real Courage and Redemption

Sunday, October 11, AD 2015

 

A profoundly Catholic movie, Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) is usually not perceived as such.  The tale of two slum kids, Jerry Connolly, Pat O’Brien, and Rocky Sullivan, James Cagney, who attempt to steal fountain pens from a train.  Sullivan, who can’t run as fast as his friend, is caught after the robbery.  Connolly wants to share in the blame for the theft, but Sullivan tells him not to be a sucker and takes all the blame.  Sentenced to a brutal reform school he embarks on a life of crime while his friend becomes a priest, assigned to the same slum parish which he and Sullivan attended as boys.

 

The priest and the gangster renew their friendship with Sullivan quickly becoming the idol of the slum boys that Connolly is trying to keep from a life of crime.  Connolly embarks on a crusade against the local gangsters, including Sullivan.  Sullivan murders his partner Jim Frazier, Humphrey Bogart, and Mac Keefer, George Bancroft, to save Connelly who they were planning to have killed to stop his anti-crime crusade.

 

Sullivan, who tells the authorities all he knows about the local criminal operations, is tried for these murders and sentenced to death.

The ending of the film is a powerful look at courage and redemption:

 

Father Jerry:  We haven’t got a lot of time.
I want to ask one last favor.
Rocky:   There’s not much left that I can do, kid.
Father Jerry:  Yes, there is, Rocky.
Perhaps more than you could do
under any other circumstances.
If you have the courage for it,
and I know you have.
Rocky:  Walking in there?
That’s not gonna take much.
Father Jerry:  I know that, Rocky.
Rocky:  It’s like a barber chair.
They’re gonna ask, “Anything to say?”
I’ll say, “Sure, give me a haircut, a shave
and one of those new electric massages.”
Father Jerry:  But you’re not afraid, Rocky?
Rocky:   No. They’d like me to be.
But I’m afraid I can’t oblige them, kid.
You know, Jerry, I think to be afraid,
you gotta have a heart.
I don’t think I got one.
I had that cut out of me a long time ago.
Rocky:  Suppose I asked you to have the heart, huh?
To be scared.
Rocky:  What do you mean?
Father Jerry:  Suppose the guards dragged you out of here
screaming for mercy.  Suppose you went to the chair yellow.

 

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19 Responses to Angels With Dirty Faces: Fake Cowardice, Real Courage and Redemption

  • Good post. As a kid in the late 1950’s in NYC we would watch these old movies and see it live in the streets. Thankfully, I could run just fast enough.
    .

    I think this is an example of the “grace” we may choose to find in everything we encounter/experience,

    .
    I don’t know if it was a written or unwritten rule. In the “good old days” Hollywood movies the bad guys had to be unattractive and had to lose and the heroic, good guys always won. Today, not so much.

  • T Shaw.

    Just goes to show what types of guys run Hollywood…. Bad guys or good guys?
    Money v. Virtue.

  • Just had a thought about Catechism or CCD curricula of these past few decades having not much influence over corruption of innocents. Lying, cheating, and selfishness running rampant could be better prevented by watching, for example, this movie so giving catechists a boost. For quite a time, as a sub for some of this inner city’s reprobates, showing movies was a path to communication – ‘Moonstruck’ being their favorite by the miles and it was , it seems, the family dynamics that won the day.

  • Not so teensy little problem here. Does it dawn on anybody that the priest asked the Cagney character to lie, that is, to commit sin against the Eighth Commandment? One may not do evil that good may come from it. The ends don’t justify the means. That has always been a tenet of Catholic moral theology. WIth movies like this (and the Crosby priest movies, too) Catholic understanding of moral theology is corroded, all in the name of “entertainment”.

  • I just knew that someone would bring that up. No Janet, I do not think that a lie under this circumstance was in any way evil, even assuming that pretending to be afraid when you are not is a lie, which I think is debatable. (How would we then deal with someone pretending to be brave when they are secretly afraid in a wartime situation? Rather than a lie and a sin is that not the epitome of courage and a great virtue?) I think it was a great good deed, attempting to spare boys that admired him from walking their own last miles, that would probably have saved the fictional Rocky Sullivan’s soul from eternal damnation. To understand the complexity of this area when it comes to morality read the post linked below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/02/27/cardinal-newman-on-lying-and-equivation/

  • Bad analogy. Courage truly exists in the face of the natural self-preservation instinct. It’s an act of will not emotion. A person is courageous because he/she decides to be, often in contradiction to their emotions.

    The portrayal of a priest lying, and even asking another to lie, is beyond the pale. I will say this for the Crosby “Fr O’Malley” movies; they did depict the lies backfiring in his face.

  • “Courage truly exists in the face of the natural self-preservation instinct. It’s an act of will not emotion.”

    Will controlling emotion is precisely what Cagney’s character did. Is it any less deceptive to say to an opponent that you will beat him to within an inch of his life if he does not surrender, when you know that if he attacks that you will run, than what Rocky Sullivan did? This type of pettifogging, “I would sooner give Jews up to the SS than tell a lie!”, something no morally sane person would even contemplate, only makes Catholicism look ludicrous. Thank heavens when push came to shove during the War tens of thousands of priests and nuns did engage in deception to save innocent lives.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=VEfapZnRm9AC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=fake+baptismal+certificates+jews&source=bl&ots=pbVtC1LZ6v&sig=sYYZcwaMVz5yrCsI_6gLQ6bR90w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CFYQ6AEwCWoVChMI1uv8pqa7yAIVTDM-Ch1MNwsf#v=onepage&q=fake%20baptismal%20certificates%20jews&f=false

    During the War many deception operations were engaged in to make the Nazis think that the Allies would land in Calais instead of Normandy. Anyone who says this was morally wrong, or lying to protect people who would be unjustly slain if discovered, I simply refuse to take seriously when it comes to examining moral questions.

    A good examination of the knots this question has produced over the ages due to Augustine and Aquinas:

    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/is-lying-ever-right

  • Oh. I loved this movie. I thought the priest knew the inner fear that Cagney’s character felt, and which he had In fact been battling all his life with his bravado.
    That character knew good from evil in his last act. He was afraid although. He denied it. And in kindness the priest helped him find a way to seek the good of others rather than his own….his last act admits the recognition of good / evil. That means repentance and attempt at reparation.
    The priest cared for Cagney character soul as well as the boys. He helped him do good as the last outward act of his life.to express love for others. Love love love this movie and may others by that good Catholic man Jimmy Cagney.

  • Janet Baker.

    Fifteen years working in Memory Care units is gratifying. One of the heart breaking moments for care givers is the lie we tell when a client with Alzheimer’s repeatedly asks the whereabouts of his/her deceased spouse.
    If we tell the truth the client re-lives the moment of the loved ones death. It’s dehumanizing. The agony they go through at that moment is hell. If we lie and tell them she/he is out with family they accept that without the trauma. They forget moments later they were even looking for their spouse.

    Until you experience this you can’t fully appreciate the event.

    Will we suffer for our lies in our industry?
    I don’t worry about the judgement to come and the lies we tell our patient.

    BTW. Family is very appreciative of our lie’s.
    They have been witnesses of that trauma themselves, and rather a lie be told, than place their parent through that Hell, agian.

  • If the character, Rocky Sullivan did not know fear, then, Rocky Sullivan would not have known how to portray fear. George Bancroft was poorly cast and did not portray the gangster kingpin as well as he ought. Bancroft did not come across as a tough guy. Maybe too fat.

  • Janet Baker wrote, “Does it dawn on anybody that the priest asked the Cagney character to lie,..”
    No, there is no lie here, for there is no false statement.
    We may never lie, but, in appropriate cases, we may use evasion, equivocation or mental reservation (which is what this was) in order to mislead. It is no meore lying that wearing a disguise or using a nom de guerre is lying.
    The Salamanca School have wagon-loads of cases of conscience on the subject, many of remarkable ingenuity.

  • “many of remarkable ingenuity.”

    Indeed, and often they make a straight forward lie seem honest in comparison. There is a reason why casuistry has a bad reputation.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “often they make a straight forward lie seem honest in comparison.”
    Let us say they perfected the conjurer’s art of misdirection.
    That is why Talleyrand said of the Vatican diplomats of his day, “Watch the juggler’s eyes, not his hands.”

  • The Church’s precise understanding of the boundaries of the 8th Commandment has not been static and likely will continue to develop. Even the Catechism’s summary has meaningfully changed, even in recent years, and certainly orthodox theologians continue to debate those boundaries. My own view is that a moral obsession with Cagney’s selfless “lie” signals a flirtation with scrupulosity.

  • Looking back at my reactions (over the years) to the end scenes, I wasn’t sure that Cagney’s character was actually “yellow” or not.
    .
    Anyhow, sanctimonious saints looking down your noses at the rest of us. the commandment is to not bear false witness, i.e., not harm your neighbor with a fabrication. If this movie charade (if it were such) hurt anybody, I don’t see it. In fact, it was meant to help youths avoid the near occasion and crime-ruined lives.
    .
    Plus, we have no duty to be truthful with evil men committing evil acts.
    .

  • “Looking back at my reactions (over the years) to the end scenes, I wasn’t sure that Cagney’s character was actually “yellow” or not.”

    Cagney when asked would never give his opinion, preferring the ambiguity that the scene presents. However, there is nothing in the rest of the movie that indicates that the Sullivan character, for all his moral failings, was not a very brave man.

  • I was going to point out that the 8th commandment says to not bear false witness against one’s neighbor, but T Shaw beat me to the punch, as it were. If one goes to hell for lying, then I suspect it won’t be for the kind of lie which that priest admonished the prisoner to make.
    .
    “I will tell the truth no matter how many innocent people die because I self-righteously and Pharisiticly (is that a word?) kept my holier-than-thou conscience clean.” “Look at me, Lord, I am not like that publican….”

  • Being brave and being scared are not mutually exclusive. Being brave only happens when it overcomes fear.
    He was brave on two levels. Facing death as a person. And giving up his public persona for the young men he was truthful and so was the priest who saw the depth of rocky, who trusted the mercy of God, and helped Rocky to do the right thing.

  • Justice is predicated on intent. This does not mean that the end justifies the means if the means are evil. He who lives in the Lord is above the law.

D-Day on Film

Saturday, June 6, AD 2015

 

 

There have been surprisingly few movies on D-Day, as indicated by the fact that three out of the five videos looked at below are from television miniseries.  Here are the five best from  a scarce lot:

5. Ike: The War Years (1978)

Robert Duvall as Eisenhower gives his usual riveting performance.  The late Lee Remick  gives a good performance as Captain Kay Summersby, the British driver/secretary assigned to Eisenhower.  Unfortunately the miniseries centers around the relationship of Eisenhower and Summersby, a relationship which is subject to historical dispute.

4.  Ike: Countdown to D-Day (1995)

Tom Selleck gives a very good portrayal of Eisenhower in the days leading up to D-Day.  The video does a first rate job of portraying the problems that Eisenhower confronted:  getting prima donnas like Montgomery and Patton to work as a part of a team, concerns about the weather, the deception campaign to convince the Nazis that Calais would be the invasion site, etc.  The video also shines a light on the weight of responsibility which Eisenhower bore, especially when we see him write out a note just before the invasion taking full responsibility on his shoulders if it failed.

3.  Band of Brothers (2001)

The epic miniseries covering the exploits of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, captures well the chaos of the parachute and glider operations behind German lines that were so critical a part of the Allied victory on D-Day.

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D W Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 9, AD 2015

Abraham Lincoln, who padded up and down
The sacred White House in nightshirt and carpet-slippers,
And yet could strike young hero-worshipping Hay
As dignified past any neat, balanced, fine
Plutarchan sentences carved in a Latin bronze;
The low clown out of the prairies, the ape-buffoon,
The small-town lawyer, the crude small-time politician,
State-character but comparative failure at forty
In spite of ambition enough for twenty Caesars,
Honesty rare as a man without self-pity,
Kindness as large and plain as a prairie wind,
And a self-confidence like an iron bar:
This Lincoln, President now by the grace of luck,
Disunion, politics, Douglas and a few speeches
Which make the monumental booming of Webster
Sound empty as the belly of a burst drum.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Film pioneer DW Griffith is chiefly remembered today for the 1915 film Birth of a Nation which was the film version  of the 1905 novel The Clansman, a paean by Thomas F. Dixon to the Ku Klux Klan which, in his view, freed the South from carpetbagger and negro rule.  As history the film is rubbish, but from its technical aspects it is an important development in the art of filmmaking.  In response to his critics DW Griffith made the film Intolerance  in 1916 which condemned religious, if not racial, bigotry.

In 1930 he made the first sound film biography of Lincoln.  Several silent film bios of Lincoln had been made, but having Lincoln speak was going to be an added challenge. Walter Huston, the father of actor-director John Huston, portrayed Lincoln.  Tall and lanky, Huston looked a bit like Lincoln, but his deep resonant tones helped establish in the public mind that Lincoln had that type of voice, rather than the high pitched voice that the historical Lincoln possessed.

The film script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benet, a poet who in 1928 wrote the epic Civil War poem John Brown’s Body.   The film takes considerable liberties with the life of Lincoln, but, like Benet’s historical poetry, it has a good feel for the period and gives overall a powerful impression of Lincoln.  It is well worth the viewing even today, after so many Lincoln films.  It is interesting that this son of a Confederate colonel opens the film with a scene aboard a slave ship and that the film is a celebration of the man who defeated the cause his father fought for.

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The Caine Mutiny: A Review

Sunday, February 15, AD 2015

(I originally posted this in 2009 when the blog readership was much smaller.  I posted this again in 2013, but the scene after the court-martial was not online.  That pivotal scene is now available, so I am reposting this with the scene include in the review.  The Caine Mutiny has always been one of my favorite films in that it examines two themes, the law and military service, that have ever fascinated me.)

For my sins, perhaps, I have spent my career as an attorney.  Over the past 33 years I’ve done a fair number of trials, both bench and jury, and I am always on the lookout for good depictions of trials in films, and one of the best is The Caine Mutiny.  Based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk,  who served in the Navy as an officer in the Pacific during World War II, the movie addresses the question of what should, and should not, be done in a military organization when the man at the top of the chain of command is no longer in his right mind.

 

The cast is top notch.  Humphrey Bogart, an enlisted man in the Navy during WWI and a member of the Naval Reserve, he tried to enlist again in the Navy after Pearl Harbor but was turned down because of his age, gives the performance of his career as Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the Caine.  In the hands of a lesser actor Queeg could easily have become merely a two-dimensional madman.  Bogart instead infuses Queeg with pathos and demonstrates to the audience that this is a good man who sadly is no longer responsible mentally for his actions.  Van Johnson delivers his usual workmanlike job as Lieutenant Stephen Maryk, the “exec” of the Caine, a career officer who does his best to remain loyal to an obviously disturbed CO, while also attempting to protect the crew of the Caine  from Queeg’s increasingly erratic behavior.  Robert Francis, as Ensign Willis Seward Keith, is the viewpoint character, too young and inexperienced to make his own judgment he relies on Maryk and Lieutenant Keefer.  Fred MacMurray is slime incarnate as Lieutenant Thomas Keefer, a reservist who hates the Navy, spends all his time writing a novel, and eggs Maryk on to take command away from Queeg.  Finally, in a typhoon, reluctantly and only, as he perceives it, to save the ship, Maryk, with the support of Keith, relieves Queeg from command.

In the ensuing court-martial of Maryk and Keith, lawyer Lieutenant Barney Greenwald,  portrayed with panache by Jose Ferrer, reluctantly agrees to defend them.

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2 Responses to The Caine Mutiny: A Review

  • Here is a Hollywood quote that relates the proper attitudes of “regulars.”

    .
    From the movie, “The Sand Pebbles”, Captain Collins addressing the crew:
    .

    “At home in America, when today reaches them, it will be Flag Day. For us who wear the uniform, every day is Flag Day. All Americans are morally bound to die for our flag if called upon to do so. Only we are legally bound. Only we live our lives in a day to day readiness for that sacrifice. We have sworn oaths — cut our ties.
    .

    “It is said there will be no more wars. We must pretend to believe that. But when war comes, it is we who will take the first shock, and buy time with our lives. It is we who keep the Faith…
    .

    “We serve the flag. The trade we all follow is the give and take of death. It is for that purpose that the people of America maintain us. Anyone of us who believes he has a job like any other, for which he draws a money wage, is a thief of the food he eats, and a trespasser in the bunk in which he lies down to sleep.”

    .
    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

American Sniper: A Review

Sunday, January 25, AD 2015

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle
My wife and I, the kids are back in college and law school, saw American Sniper at a movie theater in Morris, Illinois on Saturday January 24.  It was the second performance of the day, beginning at 1:00 PM, and the theater still was almost full.  After seeing the movie, the one term that seems to me to apply is stunning, in every sense of the word.  Clint Eastwood has made a masterpiece, the finest of his movies as a director, a film biopic that perfectly captures the man Chris Kyle and his times.  It is not a film for kids due to intense combat scenes and frequent use of the f-bomb by troops.  My review is below and the usual caveat as to spoilers is in force.

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28 Responses to American Sniper: A Review

  • Man I can’t even read this review with a dry eye.

    At times I think that if Jesus was to update the pharisee & tax collector today it would be the [professor/commentator/blogger/many] & the soldier.

    Anyone got a link to Toby Keith’s American soldier? Seems fitting here.

  • . For those Christians horrified at the need to kill women and children if they are carrying bombs, let them peruse Jeremiah 7:18 whose point is that for God, it wasn’t just men that God held responsible for idolatry:
    ” 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.”
    Now a sane sniper has no deep wrath for such children ( that’s God’s orbit only) but they must be killed before killing others.
    Tom Cruise’s film “Jack Reacher” has several sinful snipers and an initial scene of one of them framing another while shooting innocents back in the USA in order to really kill one of those victims for financial reasons. There’s two strong moral elements fostered within the investigation by Jack Reacher, a third sharpshooter, as violent character himself but that morality is mixed in with immoral aspects of the same man including a final extrajudicial execution by him which is wrong unless epikeia is applicable…which was possible. “American Sniper” sounds way better.

  • http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-23/im-so-ashamed-meet-drone-operator-who-helped-kill-1626-people-and-walked-away

    http://thepropheticnews.com/tag/american-sniper/

    “sometimes i have to wonder what book modern Christians are reading cause I don’t see any where in the good book where the first century church is cheering on the Roman army and pining for them to invade the known world and put their boot up anyones a**”.

  • Sometimes I have to wonder about modern Christians who spit on those who preserve their right to live in freedom and peace.

  • Donald,
    Like our last three Popes, D. Black seems to have missed Rom.13:4 which perceptive Aquinas saw for both death penalty and war and which is as much Christ’s concept as are His earthly concepts from the mouth…the red letter ones.

    D. Black,
    You come home from work to find your spouse being attacked by a criminal built like a Jets tackle. The criminal is strangling your loved one to death. All you can see for a weapon is a long screw driver but that suffices if you have enough love for your spouse to plunge it through the criminal’s eye and deep into his brain. What is the Christian thing to do? The state deputes to you the right to kill in accordance with its right to kill in Rom.13:4 which God inspired. What are going to do?

  • The Iraq War did not Catholic Just War criteria. JP2 begged Bush not to go through with his decision. No Iraqi had a thing to do with 9/11 and Iraq did not attack the United States and certainly was no threat to our security. The WMD rationale was bogus, and even if they had existed it was no reason to invade the country, cause billions of dollars in damage and deaths of countless Americans and Iraqis. JP2 also told Bush exactly what would happen to the Christians in Iraq that had lived there for 2,000 years. Bush did not care. He boastfully said he went to work “with war on his mind”. If only Bush the Younger had the wisdom of his father, who had the chance to invade Iraq and passed because he knew the problems it would cost for this country and for the people of Iraq. Jesus weeps.

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger150.html

  • I disagree with you vehemently about the Iraq War d Black, but I am rather bemused by you bringing it up on this thread that had nothing to do with the merits of the Iraq War. Are you so enraged over the Iraq War that you cannot tolerate a movie celebrating an American who served there bravely? Are you so blinded by politics that you cannot respect courage shown by someone who fought for this country in a war you opposed? If that is the case there are many words to describe such an attitude, but Christian is not among them.

  • D Black,
    John Paul II warned the US not to dislodge Hussein from Kuwait in 1991 which Hussein had just invaded.
    John Paul II warned of dire consequences….but Iraqis surrendered in the thousands almost immediately in the desert. Post 1991 JPII was becoming a quasi or sporadic pacifist and in 1995 in Evangelium Vitae, he used the front and back of a death penalty couplet (Gen.9:5-6) to argue against man killing man in sect.39…. while never showing the reader the death penalty part of the couplet he was using. It’s hilarious to those of us who have many passages by rote memory.
    You avoided my question. Try to be truthful this time and not an ideologue. Would you kill a home invader out of love for your spouse? Here’s how nice they are as humans:

    http://youtu.be/dvvHMM6TF50

  • I am sick and tired of liberal progressive Democrat propaganda from the likes of people such as D Black. I will stop. Anything further will get me in trouble. May God bless our heroes like Chris Kyle, and may God bring the murdering Islamic Jihadists and the baby-murdering Democrats to the justice that they so richly merit. God save America!

  • I have to correct myself. D Black referenced a web link to a Lew Rockwell web page. He is libertarian and as isolationist as Ron Paul; he is not a liberal progressive Democrat. But both groups of people generate and disseminate the same anti-war propaganda, and both are wrong.

  • To the mind reader that called me a liberal I have never voted for a Democrat in my 65 years on this earth. I am also a veteran. No one who has served in the Middle East has defended me in any way shape or form. Chickenhawk talking points from cowards that never served but gladly send your sons and now daughters to far away lands to kill others. This whole hero worship of all things military is guilt for the despicable way Vietnam vets were treated before and after Vietnam. “War is a Racket”. – MajGen Smedley Butler, USM.

  • “Chickenhawk talking points from cowards that never served but gladly send your sons and now daughters to far away lands to kill others.”

    I served in the Army during the seventies D. Black. I suggest that you withhold insults from people you know squat about. If you do not think Jihadists are not a threat to you, you are delusional.

  • I was a Nuke Bubblehead, not a Chickenhawk. I will confess to having been cowardly in that I avoided serving in battlefield combat by having served as a reactor operator aboard a US Naval nuclear submarine instead. I preferred the instantaneous death of rapid implosion from torpedo impact to being wounded in the jungle or desert. I am not the hero that Chris Kyle clearly was.

  • PS, I served during the Iranian hostage crisis when that Democrat jerk Carter sat where Obama sits today. When Reagan won the election, all of us on the sub cheered. Reagan made us strong again.

  • D Black,
    Veteran too. Saw more action on the NY harbor streets through living wrong. Thanks for your service. Now I find you incomprehensible but I think you’d kill to protect within your house whatever you say with your lips….so I won’t worry about your loved ones. I sleep with a gun each night because I have a person who said they’d shoot me after losing a street fight to me after I tracked him down over his removing goods from our one city house. Figured he’d come during sleep hours with a pistol. On the street one night, I saw two hooded guys looking at me then at each other and arguing. One obviously wanted to move on me and it could have been him. The other was warning against it.
    One night months later, the motion detector went off. I get totally cool in that situation and waited with the gun for further noises. Must have been a mouse.

  • Excellent review of a great, if flawed movie (I speak of some of the hackneyed dialogue). I’ve never had the experience of exiting a theater to absolute silence as I did with the movie.

  • When I referred to chickenhawk I was specifically referring to the government officials that ran scolded dogs from serving during Vietnam. They are always the quickest to send others to do what they themselves thought they were too good to do. I also believed in the mission in Afghanistan. Iraq was a fools errand.

  • At the time I did not agree with invading Iraq, but I assumed Bush had access to better intelligence info than a mere civilian citizen like me. I was glad when Saddam Hussein – an evil and vicious man – was finally captured. And I believed that most of our service men and women were performing heroically in a land dominated by sickening and depraved Islamic feudalism. Personally, I think our nation should go all nuclear, use nuclear electricity to make liquid hydrocarbon fuel from coal, and tell all the Muslims to go drown in their oil. My only caveat to that is issuing a promise that any attack against Israel would be met with the annihilation of the attacker. But God thankfully has prevented me from ever acquiring power. 😉

  • I’m pretty certain that when Mr. Kyle made it to Heaven, he discovered that all his sins were wiped out at the Cross, and in His Baptism…and that God recognized him as one belonging to Christ and said, “what are you waiting for? Get in here!”

    …or something along those lines

  • “What haunts him (Kyle) are the American troops he was unable to save”.

    My guess is that the men and women who returned home from battles or conflicts had very similar hauntings.
    Replaying the horrific scenes over and over. No wonder self medications are abused as they struggle with the “what if’s”. My late uncle served in Patton’s 3rd Army. He barely was able to cope with the memories.

    God indeed welcomes them home.

  • I don’t know if how to comfort the survivors of war’s horror, but one phrase I heard from a soldier that I wish all those struggling could take to heart:
    “We survived so someone could tell the stories and lessons of war to the next generation.”

  • Philip & Nate, you both make great points. I know of two such men, who both fought in WWII. My grandfather, who never spoke of any bit of the war. He died 20 years ago. And an old family friend, who loves telling war stories & could talk your ear off for days — he’s still living.

  • HEY DRM – I owe you so much for all the wonderful, for me thrilling little snipettes you have given or reminded me and others of regarding our history especially but our lives in general here while being citizens of heaven. i have one for you……
    My theater was packed, and dead silent all thru the final frames of the movie; the regular citizen salute to Chris Kyles funeral is well summed up in an short tribute with pics on the interent entitled ‘ a texas farewell ‘ and i strongly recommend it, but back to the debt i want to repay and ‘ silence’.

    In Charles Bracelen Floods’ tribute to R. E. “Lee The Last years” , Houghton Mifflin Co. @1981- Boston…. Chapters 31 – 34 , especially 33 part II, he tells of Lee and daughter Agnes’ trip thru the deep south [early 1870, months prior to his stroke and death]. Very moving and inciteful. Nearly every line has a poignant, touching recollection of Lee, seeing his dad’s grave in Georgia [ Light Horse Harry Lee] his meeting former officers or being greeted with love and admiration by ordinary people. In Chapter 33, part II flood speaks of the great ferocity and fraternal love of the ‘hurricanes’ the 15,000 or so warriors in the Rebellion from florida. Especially at Cold Harbor. Many turned out families in tow, with the city of Jacksonsville to greet the General on his arrival. Savannas’ welcome had been deafening just a few days before. So many people came on board the boat began to dip – so Lee agreed to come to be seen by the crowds from the upper deck of the steamer early afternoon. Coming to the rail, hat in hand to greet the throngs that had gathered to meet and greet the Old General, Silence came over all. And remained. Rich, pregnant Celestial Deafening silence. The book and those chapters …. it is the only other time for me, in addition to “Bang the drum slowly” and now american sniper, where in the audience was respectful in their deafening silence. I fell silent the first time i saw Peter Grimes live but i digress.
    Thanks for all the history and life lessons… i wish life would allow us to share a few beers and some finger food in conversation, primarily with me listening. Perhaps in the next life. …… paul c

  • Ditto to all your comments, Don. This was a seminal movie for this conflict and this generation of American military personnel, in my view.

    Those opposed to our involvement are blind to the nature of the war we’re in, which is in reality the latest chapter of the 1,500 year war Islam has launched against the West and Christianity. Iraq was merely the latest venue for the contest between Islam and the West.

  • Most of my thoughts are flecked with “hackneyed GI dialogue.” The four-letter-words fly like geese in a gale.
    .
    So, I go to Mark Hemingway for thoughts on the film, and the estimable Mr. Eastwood.
    .

    “The film is primarily about the heroism of soldiers who, thrust into battle by larger forces, do their best to protect each other and innocent Iraqis. Clint Eastwood, often described as one of the few prominent right-wingers in Hollywood, opposed the invasion of Iraq and questioned the invasion of Afghanistan. Even so, the film’s lack of left-wing politics has been treated in some quarters as an unpardonable sin.”
    .

    And, Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan), “[…] Chris Kyle’s story deserved to be told. It tells a story of the stress that multiple deployments have on one military family, a family representative of thousands of military families. It helps to communicate the toll that the war on terror has taken on our defenders. Defenders and families who need our support. […]”
    .

  • “For who is God but the Lord? Or what rock is there but our God? God who has girt me with strength and made my way secure, who has made my feet swift as the feet of deer, and set me on the high places, who has trained my hands for the battle, and my arms for bending the brazen bow. And thou hast given me thy saving shield, and thy great hand has sustained me, and thy care has made me great. Thou hast made the way wide for my footsteps, nor have my feet staggered. I pursued my enemies and I overtook them, nor did I turn back until I had slain them.” Mine was a brief, honorable but inglorious military career, and a proof that we are not tempted beyond our strength.
    Mr. Kyle, thy name is David.

  • Most of Clint Eastwood’s directed movies are amazing. I was disappointed with Million Dollar Baby because of its pro-euthanasia message, and recall feeling shocked by the conclusion, to what I thought was a great story. Looking forward to seeing American Sniper.

Seven Cities of Gold

Saturday, January 17, AD 2015

Something for the Weekend.  After hearing this week that Pope Francis plans to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the Apostle of California, while he is in this country later this year, the musical score to the heavily fictionalized account of the first missionary journey of Serra, Seven Cities of Gold (1955) seems appropriate.

In 1955 Hollywood told the story of the 1769 expedition to Alta California in the film Seven Cities of Gold.  Michael Rennie gave a very good performance as Father Serra and Anthony Quinn gave an equally fine performance as Governor Portolla.  Of course Hollywood could not remain completely faithful to history, and a fictional hunt for the Seven Cities of Cibola was given as the reason for the expedition.  A love story between an Indian girl and one of the Spanish officers was also grafted on to the story.  In spite of the usually Hollywood twisting of history, the film is accurate in its depiction of the goodness and charity of Father Serra and his zeal to spread the Gospel.  One scene from the movie has him denouncing the greed of the Spanish soldiers and their desire to exploit the Indians:

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2 Responses to Seven Cities of Gold

  • Mr. McClarey, As you can imagine the articles in the LA Times regarding Fr. Serra’s canoization are emphasizing the modern Indians’ negative reaction rather than the good the missionary did. Fr. Serra was a very accomplished man before he ever boarded a ship to the New World.
    Question: Why is the Pope waiving the second miracle in this cause and others?

  • “Question: Why is the Pope waiving the second miracle in this cause and others?”

    Eagerness to canonize people presumably.

    In regard to Father Serra he is above such criticisms. He was noted at the time for being mild and gentle to the Indians. By 18th Century standards he would have been regarded as perhaps overly indulgent to all he came in contact with. Modern controversies about him are just that, and have zero to do with the times in which he lived.

New Orleans Is Ready For Its Close Up Mr. DeMille

Sunday, January 4, AD 2015

 

 

American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film. It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans, the two hundredth anniversary of which is coming up this week on January 8, 2015. The 1938 film The Buccaneer was directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte. Two future stars have bit parts in the film: Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan. Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.

 

The 1958 remake was also to have been directed by Cecil B. DeMille, but he was seriously ill at that time, and relegated himself to the role of executive producer, turning the director’s chair over to Anthony Quinn, his then son-in-law, the one and only film that Quinn ever directed. DeMille was unhappy with the film and it received fairly negative reviews, although I think the battle sequences are superior to the first film. Yul Brynner plays Jean Lafitte and Charlton Heston is a commanding Andrew Jackson. Like Hugh Sothern, Heston would portray Jackson twice, the first time being in The President’s Lady (1953), the tale of the great love story of Rachel Jackson (Susan Hayward) and Andrew Jackson. Future stars in this version include Inger Stevens, Claire Bloom and Lorne Green. Adequate coverage of the battle is given in each film, although not much detail. The battle of course is merely an adjunct to the romantic tale of Jean Lafitte. Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.

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15 Responses to Unbroken: A Review

  • Although this man’s tail of survival is remarkable, I fail to see why he should be held up as a hero to Catholics. He turned his back on the Catholic faith and became a Protestant. I wonder what his family thought of his “conversion”?

  • A powerful movie. Your review and the clips have convinced me. Movie night coming up. Thanks. 🙂

  • Stephen, maybe you should be asking where the Church was when this man was hurting and trying to live. From Don’s description of his post-war life, there was plenty of time for Catholics to act as doctors, but it was the Protestant who actually did.

    Someone once said: “By their fruits you will know them.” Maybe you should be asking why one tree bore fruit and the other did not.

    Besides, you think the World cares one bit about the difference?

  • “Although this man’s tail of survival is remarkable, I fail to see why he should be held up as a hero to Catholics. He turned his back on the Catholic faith and became a Protestant.”
    .
    Mark 9:38-41
    .
    John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.

  • Let me make one thing very clear. This comment thread is not, and you can underline that not, going to be taken up in sectarian debates. Further comments along those lines will be deleted by me. I will not have discussion of the movie turned into that truly futile and acrimonious debate.

  • The opposite was the intent of my comment, Don.

  • My comment was not directed at your comment Paul. I want this thread to be addressed to the movie and the themes of courage, endurance and forgiveness raised by the film.

  • Thanks for the review. I’m pleasantly surprised that a film such as this can
    still be green-lit in today’s Hollywood. It sounds like this movie deserves
    all the support we can give it.

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  • A fair review, but a minor point with a major consequence. As any track person knows, a 5000-meter race is not a “dash,” since it’s roughly three miles long. Maybe, in part, Zamparini could do what he did precisely because he’d trained at long-distance endurance.

  • Good point NV, and as Zamperini demonstrated later as a POW, endurance was definitely his strong suite.

  • Apologies for earlier, Don.

    So when you say “epilogue” to the film, do you mean they actually put a “what happened next” over the credits or in text in the film or do you mean “what happened in real life after these events”?

    My mom read the book apparently and wants to go see the film but was worried if she would be able to stand the camp scenes. Thanks for letting me know those were toned down (even if doing so is a debatable choice).

  • The epilogue is in writing with still photos before the credits. I think a sequel on the events of redemption, conversion and forgiveness could be a masterful film if done properly. A subplot showing the different paths taken by Zamperini and The Bird after the War could be especially intriguing.

  • JMJ Praise God I was never a POW. Our POW training camps use methods reported to us by our repatriated POWs. What they endured at the hands the Koreans/Japanese. I was a combat crewmember on B-52s. I can identify with his B-24 time. The training I went through was frightening. Even though I was in training, I feared for my life. I kept focus on that Light at the end of the tunnel. Mel Gibsons The Passion comes to mind when I think of the torture and interrogation techniques with the Resurrection being the Light at the end of the tunnel. Viva Cristo Rey

  • Probably the best review I have seen of this film. The comments are also quite incisive. I would add only one matter, partially relevant to the film. My late wife and her family, Philipino, were forced to live in the back forest and jungle during the war because the Japanese put a price on their heads After the war, despite one million Philipinos killed by the Japanese, there was no wholesale revenge on the perpetrators of these crimes nor was a great number of judicial proceedings conducted by the allies to hold to account the war criminals. Result: Murders in great numbers by the communist Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese. A lesson that should be noted for the future. I would not think the present location of The Bird to be very desireable.

One Response to Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings

  • And here I’d been hoping that Bale and the Israelites got saved by sand worms. Interesting. Glad to hear it didn’t offend you as a theist (I’m not quite sure how else to say that, but I hope you know what I mean).

Cover Me! I’m Going In!

Thursday, December 11, AD 2014

I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.

Chistian Bale, star of Exodus:  Gods and Kings, in reference to Moses, who he is portraying in the film.

One of the many services that TAC has provided to its readers over the years is me going to see bad films so you don’t have to.  My bride and I are picking up our daughter on Friday from college and on Saturday our son will arrive by train, fresh from the rigors of first semester law school finals.  We will eat after he arrives and then the family will go off to see Exodus:  Gods and Kings.  I suspect it will be a bad film from everything I have read about it.  I hope it will be so bad that it may be a cult classic in the making rather like Dune (1984).  Whatever it is, I will review it for the blog.

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22 Responses to Cover Me! I’m Going In!

  • Because schizophrenics are known for their leadership abilities and charismatic appeal, both of which Moses had to have in order to keep the Israelites following him for 40 years, pillar of smoke notwithstanding. As for “barbaric”, someone should perhaps introduce Mr Bale to the Canaanites.

  • Good luck, but remember your brain is a receptacle; you don’t want to put garbage into it!

  • “pillar of smoke notwithstanding”
    .
    Moses followed the Word of God. Does that make Moses schizophrenic? or charismatics ? How could Moses, the Lawgiver, give laws with a broken mind? How could Moses direct the establishment of the nation of Israel, the temple and lead the nation of Israel for forty years in the desert of sin until every person of the generation of the golden calf had perished…with a broken mind?
    .
    The atheists have having fun with us. The atheists have not yet figured out that they are in the desert of sin and they will not find the Promised Land until they perish to themselves.

  • The atheists are having fun with us. All law, (Exodus, Leviticus) and our Constitution (Isaiah and Jeremiah) are in the Old Testament. One would have to give up one’s Faith to believe this and I have not yet seen it.

  • Forgive me, I have to ask: How can anyone portray another on the film if they do not know him intimately?

  • “…a cult classic in the making rather like Dune.”
    .
    Hey, I liked Dune!
    .
    😉

  • My family watches it every New Year’s Eve Paul!

  • Every promising basketball player gets billed as the next Michael Jordan, and every young golfer aims to be the next Tiger Woods. I understand why a catastrophically inept big-budget mess would aspire to Dunehood, but that’s a pretty high bar. It’s a rare generation that gets to witness such greatness.

  • Indeed Pinky, and there are always mere pretenders to the film stinkeroo hall of fame like Heaven’s Gate or Waterworld!

  • Guessing Exodus; Gods and Kings, will be as close to biblical reenactment that Noah was last year. Another lame frame by frame mockery of Our Lords inspired Word.

    I hope the movie portrayal of St. Padre Pio will be actuate. What I’ve read thus far is promising.

  • Accurate…excuse my typo.

  • Can’t watch the trailer after seeing the example of costuming. Did Moses really wear such as that couture for forty years?

  • With his penchant for pyrotechnics, I would have thought the subject of Soddom and Gamorrah more amenable to Ridley Scott’s cinematic endeavors.

  • Anyway, I know Bale cited Numbers 31 (the Extermination of the Midianites) as an example of Moseses barbarity.

  • Ernst Schreib: “Anyway, I know Bale cited Numbers 31 (the Extermination of the Midianites) as an example of Moseses barbarity.”
    .
    All, but the Israelites performed human sacrifice, and therefore were ordered by God for extermination. God prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac to end human sacrifice of another one of His children, a person, Now, If cutting the heart out of another human being, a newly begotten human being’s heart begins to beat at 18 days after fertilization of the human egg by the human sperm, is not barbaric, then the word has no meaning. Yes, abortion is human sacrifice.

  • In ancient times, when Charlton Heston played Moses, the characters knew the proper pronoun cases.

  • Comment of the week Kmbold! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • The Film Stinkeroo Hall of Fame!

    Several Christmases ago I went looking for a DVD of the 1958 film Gigi as a gift for my wife. The salesperson had no idea what I was talking about, and kept trying to sell me the 2003 film Gigli! We don’t have a dog, but I know what would have happened if I came home with Gigli for Christmas.

  • Re: Dune: Imagine how well this could be re-done today. I still watch the old one if it comes on. Guy McClung

  • Kmbold: “In ancient times, when Charlton Heston played Moses, the characters knew the proper pronoun cases.”
    .
    As beautiful as The Ten Commandments was, God’s Name is: “I AM WHO I AM”. “that” and “which” and “it” cannot denote, identify or demonstrate a human being, a sovereign person, made in the image of God and especially God.

  • So true. My own reference was to the misuse of the personal pronoun in the dialogue of the video herein: Egyptian: “We’ll see who is more effective at killing, you or me.” As you well know, it should be “you or I”. Honestly, one expects so much more from royalty than one gets.

  • I don’t think Dune was bad because of when it was made. At least, I don’t remember its special effects being a problem. I thought the ship designs were amazing. I haven’t run across it on tv in a long time, but I’d definitely watch it again. It was interesting.

Fury: A Review

Monday, December 1, AD 2014

And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? And I said: Lo, here am I, send me.  

Isaiah 6: 8   

If a man loves the world, the love of the
Father ain’t in him. For all in the
world, lust of the flesh, lust of the
eyes, the pride of life, is not of the
Father. But of the world.

Don “Wardaddy” Collier quoting John 2:15

 

 

I saw the movie Fury with my family on Saturday.  It is a superb, albeit grueling, look at an American tank crew in Germany in April 1945.  Go below for my review.  The usual caveat as to spoilers applies.

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3 Responses to Fury: A Review

  • I wonder if I would have the courage to say in the face of certain death, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”

  • I might Paul, but the temptation would be strong to say this is crazy and head for the hills.

  • “”Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”” This is the agenda of the film. Keep your “ideals” but do not take up arms against injustice. “Violence” and “armed force” are two distinct and opposing concepts. If St. Michael had not driven Lucifer from heaven with armed force, souls would have two Supreme Sovereign Beings, only One Infinite Being.

6 Responses to Noah: A Review

  • Whenever Noah is mentioned, I always recall a 7-year old at my convent school asking Sœur Marie-des-Anges if Joan of Arc was Noah’s daughter.

    “No,” replied the good sister, “Remember, Noah’s ark was made of wood and St Joan of Arc was Maid of Orléans” – No bad, for someone who did not have English as her mother tongue.

  • Thank you Donald for saving me the aggravation, time, and even the needless expense my watching this non-seasonal turkey would have cost. Russell Crowe should perhaps confine his talents to the Coliseum.

  • O Hollywood . . .

    The most recent occasion for me paying $$ to see a flick was some horror movie in June 2013. Before that it was the third LotR movie. No, wait! The warden and her sister/bro-in-law dragged (kicking and screaming) me to see “Lincoln.” Someone else paid. So, It was okay.

    However, if the movie “Unbroken” is half as good as the book, I could actually “spring” to see it.

  • T.Shaw, I suspect you would enjoy the movie Fury. I saw it today with my family and I will be reviewing it in a few days.

  • I can’t help but be resolved to the conclusion that Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings will be just as bad. The cynic in me asks, “How else was he able to raise the money to make this flick?”
    I hope I’m wrong, but, the track record of Hollywood pretty much makes this a safe bet. (Instead of rock people, maybe there will be bread people, who leave the manna in the desert!)

  • Mac, my Uncle Tom (RIP) was a tanker in North Africa, Sicily and Italy – all the way up the Italian boot. He ended the war in the Po Valley Campaign.
    .

    I’ve read several on-line reviews that highly recommend “Fury.” I will place more faith in your review.
    .

    My father (RIP) picked it up in a second-hand book store. I again read a short (like a coffee table or year book) division history of the 83rd (Thunderbolt) Inf. Div. in WWII ETO published immediately after the war, and written (including pencil sketches and photos) by unit personnel. The men’s courage, perseverance and skill are on display.
    .
    I will mail the book to my son in the 101st.
    .

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

And All His Empty Promises

Monday, August 11, AD 2014

 

 

Back when I was a boy, I watched entirely too much television.  Of course, who could blame me?  Tempted by a luxuriant three, count them, three channels, albeit one of them fuzzy in bad weather, to choose from!  However, I do not regret watching the Early Show on Channel 3.  Back in those bygone days, many stations would run old movies from the thirties, forties and fifties, between 3:00 PM-5:00 PM.  Thus I first experienced some of the classics of cinema, and one of my favorites was Double Indemnity, 1944, the first of the film noire genre. Adultery and murder were perhaps too mature topics for me in my initial pre-teen viewings, but I was fascinated by it because it seemed to be a playing out on screen of what I was learning at the time from The Baltimore Catechism:  that sin will lead inevitably to destruction unless contrition and amendment are made.   The film was fortunate to have at its center three masters of the craft of acting.

 

Fred MacMurray, born in Kankakee, Illinois, 37 miles from my abode, in 1907, was a good guy in real life and usually in reel life.  A firm Catholic and staunch Republican, he tried to join the military after Pearl Harbor but a punctured ear drum kept him out of service.  He adopted a total of four kids with his two wives:  his first wife dying from cancer in 1953, and his second wife remaining his wife until his death.  (Such fidelity was as rare in Hollywood then as it is now.)  On screen MacMurray played to type and was almost always a good guy, but not always, and it is ironic  that the two best performances of his career came when he played bad guys:  weak, lustful and doomed Walter Neff in Double Indemnity and the scheming, cowardly Lieutenant  Thomas Keefer in The Caine Mutiny.

 

Barbara Stanwyck had a Dickensian childhood from which she was lucky to emerge alive, her mother dying of a miscarriage and her father going off to work on the Panama Canal and never being heard from again.  A series of foster homes followed, which Ruby Catherine Stevens, as Stanwyck was then named, constantly ran away from.  Dropping out of school at 14 to begin working, she never looked back.  Breaking into show business by becoming a dancer in the Ziegfield Follies at age 16, she was a star on broadway in the play Burlesque before she turned 20.  Changing her name to Barbara Stanwyck, she broke into films immediately thereafter, displaying a flair for both drama and comedy, specializing in strong independent women.  Her personal, as opposed to her professional, life was a mess.  Married in 1928 to her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay, they adopted a son, Stanwyck having been rendered sterile by an abortion at 15.  The marriage ended in divorce in 1935, Fay during the marriage often slapping Stanwyck around when he was drunk. Stanwyck got custody of their son.  Stanwyck was a hovering and authoritarian mother, leading to a life long alienation from her son after he became an adult.  Stanwyck married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and, after numerous acts of infidelity on both sides, divorced in 1950.  Ironically Stanwyck and Taylor did stay friends after their divorce, Stanwyck, who never remarried, referring to him as the true love of her life.  In her politics Stanwyck was a staunch conservative Republican who supported the investigations of Congress into Communist infiltration into Hollywood.  Remaining in demand as an actress almost until her death in 1990, she filled her last years with charitable work.  Stanwyck was well equipped by her own tumultuous life to give depth to her portrayal of the murderous, scheming Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity.

 

Although remembered today chiefly for his gangster roles and his portrayal of the rat-like Dathan in The Ten Commandments, Edward G. Robinson was actually an actor with a very broad range of work:  comedies, dramas, historical epics, you name it.  By 1944 he was age 51 and realized that his days as a leading man were coming to a close.  His half comedic role as the insurance claims adjuster Barton Keyes in Double Indemnity he viewed as a step in his transition to being a character actor.  Always a liberal, Robinson was blacklisted in Hollywood due to his affiliation with Communist front groups.  Robinson admitted as much by an article he wrote for the American Legion Magazine entitled “How the Reds Made a Sucker Out of Me”.  His comeback came when anti-Communist director Cecil B. DeMille, who thought that Robinson had been treated unfairly, cast him in the scene-stealing role of Dathan in The Ten Commandments.

 

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5 Responses to And All His Empty Promises

  • “We forget however that sin is often its own punishment”
    .
    Sin is its own punishment.

  • MacMurray was definitely one of the good guys. His second wife, June Haver, was a young actress who had worked with Fred once when she was 18. She later left Hollywood to become a Sister of Charity. She took leave from the convent and was praying a novena for her vocation when she ran into the now-widower MacMurray again.

  • A big fan of old movies…I love(d) both those guys!

  • For the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23a

  • The plot/story of “Double Indemnity” came from a 1935 serial novel by James M. Cain (1892-1977), who is perhaps best known for his earlier stand-alone novel “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. Cain was born to an Irish Catholic family from Annapolis, Md. and worked for several newspapers before taking up fiction. He was married 4 times and divorced 3 times in an era when remarriage after divorce incurred automatic excommunication, so I’m guessing he wasn’t a practicing Catholic for most of his life; but he could have absorbed Catholic concepts of sin and its consequences as a result of his upbringing.

    Cain’s inspiration for “Double Indemnity” was a sensational murder case he covered as a journalist. In 1927 Ruth Snyder, a housewife from Queens, conspired with her lover Judd Gray to kill her husband Albert and claim his life insurance benefits. The couple’s lame attempts to pass off Albert’s murder as having been committed by an intruder fooled no one, and both were convicted and sentenced to death. The New York Daily News ran a front-page photo of Ruth at the moment of her death in the Sing Sing electric chair that was and still is one of the most infamous instances of tabloid journalism. That case, perhaps. proved the veracity of a favorite saying of another Catholic blogger of note: “Sin makes you stupid.”