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Archive for the ‘Political Cinema’ Category

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Source: Classic Film & TV Cafe- Angie Dickinson & Efrem Zimbalist 

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

A Fever in The Blood is a picture of courtroom drama and political cinema, intrigue, and ambition. You have three powerful influential ambitious men who want to be the next governor of their state, which is never named in the movie. A sitting city judge, (played by Efrem Zimbalist) a district attorney, (played by Jack Kelly) and a sitting U.S. Senator. (Played by Don Ameche) And while all of this is going on you have high profile murder case involving a successful local businessman and his separated dead wife. With the husband being accused of the crime.

And you also have the adorable, gorgeous, and sexy Angie Dickinson, who has a smaller but very important character in the movie as the wife of Senator Alex Simon (played by Don Ameche) who is more interested in Judge Leland Hoffman (played by Efrem Zimbalist) and sees her husband as too power hungry and ambitious, as well as somewhat shady. I mean the cast and characters alone should get you interested in this movie. Unless you just hate courtroom dramas and fictional political films.

You have this local murder case in an unknown city with the District Attorney Dan Callahan (played by Jack Kelly) deciding to prosecute the case himself instead of assigning the case to one his top deputies. Because again Callahan wants to be governor of this mysterious state that will go nameless simply because it is never announced what state this movie takes place in. You have Judge Leland Hoffman who only gets this case assigned to him because he does his own wheeling and dealing ( I hate that expression) And Senator Alex Simon who is probably the favorite going into to win his unknown party’s nomination for governor, but knows this murder case could be the boost that his top two opponents need to win the nomination. And actually ends up bribing Judge Hoffman in the Judge’s office to let the case go.

There’s a lot of backroom inside politics in this movie. That any great high profile drama has. The movie is also over two-hours but more than worth the time to watch it. Especially if you just like seeing Angie Dickinson in a great movie and she’s had several. Not a movie for people simply looking for romantic comedies and softball humor. There’s a good deal of humor in this movie, but a lot of that involves Don Ameche, as well as how Jack Kelly and Efrem Zimbalist in the courtroom. With the District Attorney accusing the Judge of ruling against him for political reasons. Great movie for political junkies such as myself but also for people who like courtroom dramas and even soap operas.

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Source: Classic Film & TV Cafe- Angie Dickinson

Classic Film and TV Cafe: A Fever In The Blood 1961- Angie Dickinson & Efrem Zimbalist

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Meryl Streep & Alan Alda

Meryl Streep & Alan Alda

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

The Seduction of Joe Tynan is one of the best political movies I’ve ever seen and it reminds me a little bit of the Ted Kennedy-Jimmy Carter 1979-80 Democratic race for president, which I’ll get into later. Alan Alda plays Senator Joe Tynan from New York, who has solid Progressive Democratic credentials. Who is in love with his job and wants to move up and be a national player in the party if not President of the United States.

What separates him from Senator Ted Kennedy is that Senator Tynan, actually wants to be President. Ted Kennedy ran for president in the 1980, because he didn’t like where the country was going with the bad economy and everything else, didn’t think President Carter was progressive enough, but more importantly he felt some obligation to the progressive wing to run for president and put another Kennedy in the White House.

Joe Tynan, loves the president, loves campaigning, loves politics. I would say loves his kids back in New York as well, just not enough to make them a major priority as far as attending their major events. And I would say likes his wife a lot and perhaps loves her and is attracted to her, but doesn’t have much respect for her and sees her as bit of lightweight, at least as far as the people he deals with in Washington. And I believe this comes out pretty clearly in the movie as far as how Tynan talks about his wife whose played by the adorable and funny Barbara Harris.

What makes Tynan a strong potential presidential candidate is that the President a Democrat, has a U.S. Supreme Court nominee up. Who is a bit of a right-winger, at least on civil rights issues and supported forced segregation in the past, who comes from Arkansas. And that puts Senator Tynan in a tough position of having to consider taking on the leader of his party.

Joe Tynan, doesn’t want to take on the President and his Democratic Leadership in the Senate, but he’s not going to support right-wing Supreme Court nominee who supports forced segregation either. Especially since he’s looking at running for president himself. And is approached by civil rights and labor lawyers in the party who want him to vote against Supreme Court nominee. And is approached by Karen Traynor. (played by Meryl Streep)

Who is one of the Democratic activists trying to bring Tynan to their side and oppose Edward Anderson (played by Maurice Copeland) who is the Supreme Court nominee. She gets Tynan real evidence that he’s against civil rights with video of a speech that he gave in the 1960s and that’s how Senator Tynan comes out against Anderson. Which pisses off his close friend Senator Birney (played by Melvyn Douglas) who is a close friend of Anderson and a big supporter of him.

What you have in Joe Tynan is a workaholic who has become a career politician whose always focused on politics and always looking for the next big move in his career and when he’s not doing that and takes any free time, he does it with people other than his wife and family. Starts an affair with Karen Traynor, becomes a national player and hero in the Democratic Party, decides to run for president without even talking to his wife and kids.

Who starts off the movie having basically everything he wants and has everything going for him as a young influential U.S. Senator who can move legislation. But sees an opening to furthering his political career and jumps on that and in the process almost loses everything that he has. I think this is a very good movie about an ambitious workaholic career politician who is never completely happy and satisfied. And is always looking for more, even if it means losing everything that he already has.

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Jack Lemmon
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

Jack Lemmon to me at least and I bet a lot of other people who knew him and are familiar with him would say was that he was a professional comedian who didn’t do standup. At least on a regular basis, but his sense of humor, timing and spontaneity when it came to humor and his improvisation was great and gave him comedic abilities. That are about as good as we’ve ever seen in Hollywood. The man deserves to be in Comedy Hall of Fame if there is such a thing. And you see a lot of that in this interview without a script. Merv Griffin giving him questions that aren’t even intended to have humorous responses. And Jack answering the questions seriously, but using humor to make his points.

I covered China Syndrome last night, but they really did a great movie and made a great movie about a subject that by 1978 and early 1979 I’m not sure a lot of Americans were thinking about and were worried about. Which was nuclear power and what could happen when nuclear power plants aren’t managed well enough and where profits are put ahead of safety. Which is about as progressive or socialist even as you’ll ever hear me talk. But this was movie that had to be done and let people know about this issue. And again Three Mile Island happens just a month after this interview was conducted in early 79.

China Syndrome wasn’t saying that nuclear power was bad or that corporations were bad. What they were talking about was the dangers of nuclear when it is not managed properly and the potential consequences that can come when it is not managed properly. And in an area like Los Angeles with roughly fifteen-million people with four-million of the city and eight-millions in LA County that is a lot of people who could potentially be seriously injured with injuries that they’ll never recover from. If not killed if you have a major nuclear power accident. And that is what this movie was talking about.

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China Syndrome
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

If you are familiar with Three Mile Island and then you see The China Syndrome, I think you would leave the movie thinking, “wow that could actually happen”. Because the Three Mile explosion which happened at a nuclear power plant outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in March of 1979 happened about two months after The China Syndrome came out in January or February of 1979. China Syndrome is not about a nuclear power plant explosion, but about what could potentially happen at a plant like that if it is not run properly, lets say.

There is a bad vibration at a nuclear power plant in Southern California just outside of Los Angeles and the plant knows about it and decides to if not cover it up, play it down so they don’t get any bad publicity or have to deal with regulators about it. A news anchor and cameraman at a local TV knows something is going on and believes the power plant is not giving the whole story. But their boss’s don’t want to go any further in the story and risk a big lawsuit. Kimberly Wells played by Jane Fonda and Richard Adams played by Michael Douglas decided to look into the story anyway. And that is how this story gets going.

Jack Godell played by Jack Lemmon is a shift supervisor at the power plant and knows something seriously went wrong at the power plant. And he also knows his company is not giving the whole story, but is reluctant at first to say what he knows and believes to the media. Jane Wells finds Jack at the bar and they get to know each other and she gets to open up a little bit about what he knows about what happened at the power plant.

So this is what this movie is about where a nuclear power plant had it been any worst would’ve caused serious destruction of Southern California, at least like getting hit by a nuclear missile. A company knowing that if this story breaks, they would not only lose millions and probably a let more, but get sanctioned by the U.S. Government and other authorities. Two somewhat inexperienced media people looking for a big break and a big story all coming together in one story.

Jane Wells is at best a soft news personal story reporter who covers personalities and the goings ons at supermarkets and amusement parks and other things. Who doesn’t want to do that forever and wants to become a hard news reporter and anchor. This is the story that if she gets it and does a good job will get her off of soft news. And she and Jack are the main two characters who break this story and shed light on what really happened at the power plant. And this is a great movie about how deadly nuclear power plant leaks and explosions can be. And very realistic especially if you are familiar with Three Mile Island.

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Source: Nevada Kubrick

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat 

Even with Bill McKay’s wishy-washy answer to the first question in this debate, this is still my favorite scene in a great movie about the classic underdog Bill McKay, played by Robert Redford against classic establishment incumbent Crocker Jarman, played by Don Porter. One candidate, Bill McKay, except for school busing and abortion, two critical issues where he essentially dodged the questions, says what he thinks. The incumbent, Crocker Jarman, gave classic sound-bite answers allowing no insight into his philosophy.

Nevada Kubrick: The Candidate 1972- The Jarman-McKay Debate

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The Candidate 1972

Progressive Grassroots Candidate

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat

I love the movie The Candidate for several reasons. Perhaps the main one is that it has given me an idea for a book about an anti-establishment liberal candidate or perhaps a John McCain Conservative Republican. They face each other in the general election with the anti-establishment candidate beating the establishment, talking point, sound-bite, candidate who always plays it safe in hopes of offending the fewest.

The Candidate is a movie about a little guy running against big time politicians and the big time political establishment in the Democratic Party. He’s Bill MacKay, played by Robert Redford, running against his own party and against Mr. Establishment, U.S. Senator Crocker Jarman played by Don Porter. McKay’s campaign manager played by Peter Boyle is part of that Democratic establishment but wants to run an outsiders campaign without allowing the outsider MacKay to get too far out in left field. You see these two men fighting against each other in the campaign.

The outsider Bill MacKay runs his campaign based on his beliefs. He gives voters a good idea of who he is and speaks his mind. He probably doesn’t use a speechwriter for the whole campaign. His opponent, three-term incumbent U.S. Senator Crocker Jarman just tries to be likable expressing traditional America values, speaking mostly to older voters. He says you should reelect me because I stand up for America etc.

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RIP Dennis Farina

RIP Dennis Farina

Source: Brave New Foundation: Law & Disorder: How the System Really Works

A lot of these law enforcement shows about the justice system, all though most of them are entertaining, only focus on a small percentage of the crimes. But again we are talking about entertainment here. Who would want to watch a show that’s about shoplifting, or traffic stops, drunk driving an so-forth. People need to be able to differentiate between reality and entertainment and many times they are not the same thing. But even if the law enforcement shows showed the criminal justice system for what it is that it a lot about drug crimes and drug offenders and that a lot of these supposed crimes happen in African-American communities in urban areas, these shows would be accused of racism. For always highlighting young African-American men as suspects and criminals.

If these law enforcement shows showed the criminal justice system for what it really is, that it is basically about low-level felonies like shoplifting and misdemeanors, who would watch? Again I get back to the entertainment factor here. A lot of these shows as far as the crimes and how the detectives and prosecutors do their jobs even though they aren’t completely accurate, are at least realistic. As professionals in the criminal justice system will tell you. And even though they do tend to concentrate on a low percentage of crimes that are committed in America, they tend to do a good and accurate job. And they are realistic in the sense that crimes in America are committed by all Americans as far as ethnicity and race. And they don’t focus on one racial, or ethnic group in America.

Again to go back to Hollywood and reality it’s not the job of Hollywood to show exactly what life if like and the subjects that they cover. There job is to be entertaining and hopefully realistic. Smart viewers want both, but unfortunately for lot of Americans they simply want to be entertained when they are watching TV. And even if these shows don’t show the criminal justice system for exactly what it is, again its Hollywood and if you’re a smart person you’re going to anyway how realistic the show is anyway by how informed you are about how the country works. And how much you know about current affairs in America including criminal justice, or whatever the issue is.

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