A wonderful life

Featured image In Dancing In the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression — a book I enjoyed and learned from despite Mark Steyn’s (accurately) devastating review in Commentary upon its publication — Morris Dickstein speaks up on behalf of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. He writes that the movie has “a large cult following that finds it a heartwarming work, the epitome of the Christmas spirit, while others see »

My favorite O’Toole

Featured image Peter O’Toole died yesterday at the age of 81. The New York Times obituary by Benedict Nightingale recapitulates his remarkable career and captures some of his old-school antics. What an actor. We can have a constructive argument among ourselves about which of the films was his best, or even with ourselves about which is our favorite. Into the hopper go Lawrence of Arabia and The Lion in Winter as well »

The unbearable lightness of Gravity

Featured image We enjoyed the 3D version of Gravity at the local cineplex last night. The 3D effects are spectacular, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock charismatic, but the story is a little lightweight (and not at all unbearable) as it works through the challenges faced by the two astronauts who survive the disaster with which the story begins. It seems to me to provide a modestly feminist update on The Perils of »

Eco-Remakes I’d Like to See

Featured image In getting ready to review Pascal Bruckner’s terrific new beatdown on environmentalism, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse, I was pondering his discussion about, of all things, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and my favorite camp-classic, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and I got to wondering—why don’t we have some remakes of classic films within the horizons of today’s environmental correctness?  How would Psycho’s famous shower scene  go with a low-flow shower-head?  Probably »

Who Will Play Hillary Clinton? Scarlet Johansson, Of Course

Featured image The Left is hard at work on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. One aspect of that effort is a movie called Rodham, to be directed by James Ponstoldt. The film will deal with “Clinton’s time as a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation.” Did Hillary play a significant role in Watergate? No, but I suppose the filmmakers thought that was more promising material than her years »

The Bulworth identity

Featured image Peter Baker reports on President Obama’s frustrations in the New York Times: In private, [Obama] has talked longingly of “going Bulworth,” a reference to a little-remembered 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a senator who risked it all to say what he really thought. While Mr. Beatty’s character had neither the power nor the platform of a president, the metaphor highlights Mr. Obama’s desire to be liberated from what he sees »

Video of the Week

Featured image It is not necessary to be a Trekkie (but really, why wouldn’t you be?) to appreciate the intergenerational rivalry of this Audi ad featuring the original Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) versus the “rebooted” younger Spock, Zachary Quinto. And kudos to Nimoy, for being game to spoof the most embarrassing moment of his entire career; and no, I don’t mean that Trek episode where he got the seven-year Vulcan itch.  Rather, »


Featured image The film 42, released nationally this weekend, is a conventional Hollywood biopic in the heroic mold. The film is tightly focused on Jackie Robinson’s epochal 1947 season that broke baseball’s color line. Despite its conventional form, the film is inspiring and distinctive in a number of respects that justify attention. We went to see the film in a suburban St. Paul theater last night and enjoyed it immensely. After seeing »

Jonathan Winters, RIP

Featured image I’m not sure how widely it was known that Jonathan Winters, whom Robin Williams thought the best comic of his generation, was a conservative.  In any case, I sometimes used to show students in my classes on the American Founding the early scene from “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World” where the whole gang tries to deliberate about how to divide the loot fairly when they finally got to the »

Understanding John Ford

Featured image Glenn Frankel’s new book on The Searchers goes to show the continuing interest in John Ford. My interest in Ford was sparked by Professor John Marini of the University of Nevada-Reno, whom I heard speak about Ford on a Claremont Institute panel at the annual convention of the American Political Science Association a few years ago. On the Claremont panel John gave a version of his paper on the creation »

More Hollywood Racism, and Other Tales of the Absurd

Featured image I’m having to pinch myself today to make sure I’m not living in my own special Groundhog Day hell where every day is April 1. How else to take the story that Lego is discontinuing a Jabba the Hutt palace set because the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria (!!) complained that the Lego set is raaaccciist.  The Turkish Cultural Association of Austria??  Okay, I know the Turks rolled briefly through »

The company Hollywood keeps

Featured image Last year the New York Times Magazine featured a cover story by Tom Robbins (not that Tom Robbins) on one of the fanatic leftists who participated in the infamous Brink’s robbery in New York. As George Russell recounts in “The other Rosenberg case,” the October 1981 robbery, which ended in a careening series of car chases and a bloody shootout, left two policemen and an unarmed Brink’s employee dead and »

Dumb and Dumber Indeed: Jim Carrey, Vaccination Denialist

Featured image The aging and fading comedian Jim Carrey apparently wants to act out in real life his role in “Dumb and Dumber,” with recent tweets attacking gun ownership.  Says a person who has armed bodyguards.  You’d think these Hollywood-Washington liberals wouldn’t be completely tone-deaf to hypocrisy. But this only compounds Carrey’s perfidy.  His public opposition to childhood vaccination, along with other worthless celebrities like Robert F. Kennedy Jr (would anyone care »

Glenn Frankel: In search of “The Searchers”

Featured image John Ford is America’s greatest director and “The Searchers” is one of his greatest films. If you’ve ever seen it, you may have asked yourself in wonderment as the credits rolled: “Where did that come from?” Now Glenn Frankel, G.B. Dealey Regents Professor in Journalism and director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, has answered that question and more in The Searchers: The Making »

Fishing for Oscar, the Lincoln edition

Featured image In Hollywood, I imagine, the two sincerest forms of flattery are imitation and left-liberalism. As I suggested yesterday, Argo clinched its Oscar for best picture through the flattery of a left-liberal introduction and conclusion to its story about revolutionary Iran. But let’s not overlook the opening scene from Lincoln which, in my opinion, strikes the only false notes in this brilliant film. That scene features an African-American soldier, in the »

Celebrity Government: Show Business for Ugly People

Featured image Politics, it has been said for a while now, is “show business for ugly people.”  (The line is said to have originated with either Paul Begala, or Texas political consultant Bill Miller, in a 1991 Dallas Morning News article.)  Actually, the ugly part is less and less true; it is slowly becoming a requirement in politics as in Hollywood that you be good looking to succeed. With the appearance at »

How Argo won

Featured image I hear that Argo has won the Academy Award for best picture. I saw the movie on Scott’s recommendation and thought it was quite good, but inferior to Lincoln which I also saw on Scott’s recommendation. How Argo compares to other highly-regarded movies of 2012, I cannot say. Absent a strong recommendation by someone I know and trust, I don’t attend Hollywood films. But I suspect that Argo clinched its »