The Magnificent Seven

Not rated yet!
Director
Antoine Fuqua
Runtime
2 h 12 min
Release Date
14 September 2016
Genres
Adventure, Action, Western
Overview
Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
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  • Skip 'The Magnificent Seven' and Watch 'The Magnificent Seven' Instead
    Today’s Hollywood remakes seem like increasingly desperate attempts to cash in on a familiar name, with no object beyond suckering the unwary into giving the latest dreck a good opening weekend. There was no reason to remake “Ben Hur,” for example, and no attempt (as far as I could tell) to update it or give it a different twist from the original. And if so, what would be the point? What’s the rationale of trying to remake something that was already perfect? It’s like thinking the world needs another version of “My Way” because Frank Sinatra flubbed it. The only way to approach these remakes is not to regard them as worth reviewing for their own sake—what a dreary task that would be—but rather as an opportunity to revisit the original and appreciate what was great about it. Which bring us to “The Magnificent Seven.” There’s a new version out there in the theaters right now. I haven’t bothered to see it, and I won’t. I found Mario Loyola’s pan in The Federalist utterly convincing. The key detail (spoiler warning, for what that’s worth) is that they replace the Mexican bandit villain from the 1960 version with a greedy industrialist, a godawful contemporary cliché. You could criticize the tendentious political overtones—the bad guy has to be a capitalist!—but that seems beside the point. Artistically, the worst thing about this choice is that it is crushingly boring. I’ve been told that the film is packed with over-the-top action scenes, but I’m already falling asleep just reading the plot summary. Yet Loyola’s review also throws some shade on the classic 1960 version of the film, viewing it as just another inferior remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film “The Seven Samurai.” In the process, he misses all of the really interesting things about the American version. To understand “The Magnificent Seven,” you have to understand it not as a mere remake of Kurosawa’s film, but as taking that film’s basic plot and character ideas (as well as elements of Kurosawa’s influential cinematography) and connecting them to themes explored in Westerns of that era. What makes “The Magnificent Seven” a great film is the way it is a culmination of important Western themes about the role of a man of violence in a civilized society, and about what it means to be a man. Here I’m going to give the usual spoiler warning. If you have never seen the 1960 version of “The Magnificent Seven,” go do that now, and while you’re at it, apologize to everyone for having been so woefully ignorant of your cultural heritage as an American. Then come back and read the rest of this article. Loyola theorizes that the events of “The Magnificent Seven” were transposed to a Mexican village to create a class distinction between the cowboys and the peasants in an otherwise classless American West. But the only real class difference that exists in the film is one that can be found at all times and in all societies, one that’s as old as the contest between Homer and Hesiod: the farmers versus the warriors. The farmers need the warriors to protect them, but the warriors don’t fit into the civilized, settled society of the farmers. This was a common theme in Westerns of the 1950s. Consider the famous ending of “The Searchers” (1956), when everyone else has been happily reunited, and they head into the family homestead, but John Wayne’s character—a rugged gunman with more than one killing to his name—remains outside on the porch, framed against a glowing landscape. He’s a permanent outsider, able to appreciate the love and warmth of domestic life but unable to fully join in. In “Shane” (both the 1953 movie and Jack Schaefer’s short, perfectly written 1949 novel),the hero is a gunslinger haunted by his old life and seeking refuge. He becomes a farmhand for a sturdy settler and his wife, only to be drawn back into violence when they need his protection, even if it means leaving behind his life of peace. As he explains, “There’s no living with it, not a killing. There’s no going back from it. Right or wrong, it’s a brand.” I can’t imagine it was a coincidence that this theme was so popular in the 1950s, when a significant number of American men had fought in World War II or the Korean War and had recently gone through precisely this transition from military to civilian life. The answer provided by the Westerns of the era is that a warrior’s proper role is to protect the peaceful life that he isn’t part of. This is crucial for understanding the whole plot progression in “The Magnificent Seven.” It explains the villagers’ initial fear of their own guardians, since the only men of violence they have known are predators like Calvera, the film’s villain. It provides the material for small subplots in which Steve McQueen’s Vin trains the villagers to fight and Charles Bronson’s Bernardo is befriended by three boys from the village. It also explains the Seven’s decision to go back and save the village after Caldera has captured them and released them. They go back because their code is the opposite of Calvera’s. In his code, which is as old as the hills and the brigands who hide in them, it is natural that the strong use their strength to prey on the weak. “If God hadn’t wanted them shorn,” he explains, “he would not have made them sheep.” It is incomprehensible to him that an expert warrior—”a man like you,” he keeps repeating incredulously to Yul Brynner’s Chris—would risk his life for what he regards as lesser men. A few of the Seven return for pride (James Coburn’s Britt) or misplaced greed (Brad Dexter’s Harry Luck). But most of them do it because in their code the role of the strong is to protect the weak, which is why they can’t walk away and leave their new friends to Caldera’s mercy. Again, the warriors are necessary to the farmers, but they can’t join them. At the end, “only the farmers have won”—them, and the one member of the seven who is able to hang up his guns and join them. That leads us to the other big theme of “The Magnificent Seven” and other Westerns of the era. While the film’s big-name actors draw the most attention—the whole project started as a star vehicle for Yul Brynner—from a literary perspective, “The Magnificent Seven” is really the story of the youngest of the seven, Chico, played by the least well-known actor: Horst Buchholz, a German actor recruited, through the magic of Hollywood, to play a Mexican. Chico is an eager but inexperienced young man who seeks what he thinks is the glamour and adventure of being a gunslinger. He is initially rejected from the group because he lacks their expert skills, but they are impressed by his pluck and determination and eventually take him on. By the end of the story, he has proven his courage and gained the respect of the men he admires—but he also learns that he doesn’t need to follow in their footsteps. For Chico, “The Magnificent Seven” is a coming-of-age story. He learns that manhood isn’t about swaggering or waving a gun around. It’s about courage, responsibility, and doing the right thing. That, too, fits in with the themes of the era. “Shane” is told from the perspective of a farmboy who regards Shane as his hero and learns from him what it means to grow up and be a man—but who remains on the farm with his father when Shane rides off into the sunset. In “The Searchers,” too, Jeffrey Hunter is John Wayne’s younger sidekick, who learns from him but is able to leave a life of violence and settle down. That was the ultimate answer for those men coming back from war: you can be a man of violence, for a while, when it’s necessary to protect others. But the real, enduring work of a man is about work and family. Does anybody explore these themes any more? Does every film have to be just a shoot-em-up filled with unrealistic stunts, dedicated to nothing wider than the proposition that all six-shooters have 12 bullets? We live at a time when we’re offered a choice between the good, liberal Pajama Boy without an ounce of masculinity, and the Potemkin Alpha Male who mistakes cartoonish bluster for manliness, one of whom happens to be running for president. “The Magnificent Seven” presents a much better alternative, wrapped up in an exciting, action-packed plot and—oh, yes, I almost forgot—the greatest Western theme music ever written. So skip the multiplex this weekend and revisit this classic, instead. Follow Robert on Twitter. ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • 'The Magnificent Seven' Is Perfect For A Generation With Nothing To Say
    Editor’s note: Spoilers for 2016’s version of “The Magnificent Seven” follow. If you think you’ve never seen Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai” (1954), you’re wrong. You’ve been watching it all your life, in countless remakes and borrowings. It’s in Hollywood’s DNA. Now you have a chance to see a distant glimpse of it again, in a new version of “The Magnificent Seven” by director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Shooter,” “The Equalizer”). This is the second time Americans have attempted to remake “The Seven Samurai,” the first being “The Magnificent Seven” of 1960, starring Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen. Both American remakes are entertaining enough, with plenty of violence and fun repartees. The formula for introducing characters that Kurosawa developed—define the impossible mission, then assemble the crack team one at a time—is a winner every time, as is the basic narrative: underdog warriors defending the innocent from the tyranny of evil men. But “The Seven Samurai” has two things its imitators lack, quite apart from Kurosawa’s masterful command of the film form: majesty and humanness. Whereas “The Seven Samurai” is ultimately about a defeated people’s struggle for redemption, its imitators are about, well, nearly nothing. It’s perfectly understandable that MGM would have seized on the idea of remaking Kurosawa’s greatest film. He was the most “Western” of Japan’s prominent directors, and many of his movies were perfectly adaptable for American audiences. The spaghetti western that launched Clint Eastwood’s career, “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), was copied almost scene-for-scene (plagiarized, actually) from another Kurosawa samurai film, “Yojimbo” (1961). Eastwood would go on to make that mysteriously quiet and deadly gunslinger the most iconic face of the American western. But what made that cowboy so unique is that he wasn’t a cowboy at all, but rather the American face of a feudal Japanese warrior condemned to a lonely and endless peregrination—in other words, a rōnin. The Plight and Redemption of the Rōnin A rōnin is a samurai warrior who has lost his privileged status, usually because his feudal lord has been killed or defeated in battle, and now roams a hostile world, struggling to survive and suffering endless humiliations. Japanese literature and film include lots of stories about rōnin. But in “The Seven Samurai,” all the samurari seem to be rōnin. The film is set in a time of civil wars, during which the countryside is overrun by bandits while the towns teem with idle, penniless rōnin reduced to wandering about in defeat, wondering what the point of survival is without dignity. Kurosawa knew his audience. When the movie was released, millions of former soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army had been reduced to wandering the rubble in defeat, similarly wondering where redemption might come from. For them, Kurosawa had a humane and humanizing answer: What makes you a samurai is not your position in a social hierarchy, but the goodness of your works; not the image your vanity demands, but the honor inside of you. This unmistakably Christian message is driven home in one of the movie’s vaguely biblical opening scenes. The lead character, a great (former) samurai, is introduced as he’s getting ready to rescue an infant that has been taken by a murderous and hysterical bandit inside a hut. To get close enough to get the baby and kill the bandit, he decides to trick the bandit into thinking he’s a Buddhist monk, by shaving off the samurai topknot at the back of his head. The villagers gasp at the unheard-of act of self-abnegation from a samurai. The baby is rescued and reunited with its mother; the bandit is killed. Seeing this, residents of a nearby village who live in terror of a periodic raids from a large group of bandits on horseback prevail on the samurai to help. The samurai, who spends the whole movie rubbing the part of his skull where the samurai topknot used to be, decides to assemble a team of other samurai, a treasury of archetypes Hollywood is still drawing on to this day: the archer with the brilliant sense of strategy; the portly warrior with the hearty laugh; the quiet and unshakably calm super-swordsman; the eager young upstart; and of course the clownish rustic who pretends to be rōnin, inspires his fellow peasants to defend themselves, and in the end proves himself worthy of the samurai. The seven prevail in the end. Yet they have lost half their number. And did it bring the redemption they sought? “In the end, we lost this battle too,” says their sullen leader. But the peasants won, and that’s what matters. Lost in Translation Now consider the problems of transposing this story for American audiences. First of all, it presupposes a social hierarchy with three separate castes: samurai, villagers, and outlaw bandits. How do you recreate a caste system in the classless American West? MGM’s answer in 1960 is a comic caricature of Yankee imperialism. Except for a passionate young Mexican, all the “samurai” parts are white. All the villagers and bandits are … Mexican. In other words, Yul Brenner and his “samurai” gunslingers are doing good by intervening in a conflict among Mexicans. They don’t do a particularly good job. After they successfully fend off an initial raid by the bandits, our magnificent seven are tricked into leaving their positions, and return to find that the bondoleros, led by Eli Wallach, have taken over the town and have them surrounded. They are forced to give up their weapons and beg for mercy. Incredibly, however, the villains agree to let the cowboys leave unhurt if they promise to not come back, and they can even keep their guns. This magnanimity would prove foolish. The seven ride away, easily forsaking the villagers to save themselves, but that night, something stops them. “Nobody throws me my own gun and says, ‘Run,’” intones James Coburn’s character, a faint imitation of the quiet super-samurai. “Nobody.” In the end, the magnificent seven decide to go back and kill the bandits, apparently for the principle that real men don’t back down in a schoolyard scrap. America was now primed for Vietnam. Re-Translated for 2016, and Little Gained In the latest iteration of “The Magnificent Seven,” director Antoine Fuqua sees no need to humanize the villains. He sees no need for diversity, either. Apart from a token Chinaman, a pair of Comanches, and of course Sam Chisolm (the lead role, played by Denzel Washington), everyone is white. Fuqua, who is also black, makes some interesting stylistic choices. Chisolm, leader of the seven, wears all black and a moustache, exactly like the lead role in the most iconic “blacksploitation western” of the 1970s. But what made “Boss Nigger” a blacksploitation film was the constant reference to black cultural stereotypes: a pair of jive talkin’ black cowboys give dumb racist white men their comeuppance to a funk music soundtrack. It was all about race. In that sense there is nothing blacksploitation about “The Magnificent Seven.” In fact, there is hardly a single reference to Chisolm’s race in the entire movie, with the arguable exception of the obligatory opening saloon scene, where all Hollywood gunslingers establish their bona fides by killing a bunch of vaguely ornery extras. He has more than enough range to make his characters all about race, or not at all about race. Here he delivers the latter. Perhaps Fuqua dresses Chisolm up as “Boss Nigger” not to revive blacksploitation, but to inter it once-and-for-all. If George Clooney is our generation’s Cary Grant, Denzel Washington is our Jimmy Stewart, great to watch in any role and breathing life into even the most lifeless characters. Standing in for Steve McQueen, Chris Pratt is thoroughly enjoyable as the alcoholic gambler Joshua Faraday. Unfortunately, despite a cast brimming with talent, none of the other seven is the least bit memorable, nor much less are any of the villagers. The leading “villager” who hires Chisolm to protect the village (and who is widowed by the villain at the start of the movie), tells us what she’s after: “I seek righteousness. But I’ll take revenge.” Sounds interesting, but that’s all we ever learn about her. As an action movie, “The Magnificent Seven” is brilliantly paced and choreographed, never a dull moment. The movie’s downfall is the script, which was co-written by Richard Wenk, a veteran of other Fuqua action movies, and the talented Nic Pizzolatto, creator of the HBO series “True Detective.” Here, the script is not quite as bad as Pizzolatto’s script for the awful second season of “True Detective,” but it is not nearly as good as his script for the show’s first season. It can’t even manage to be consistent about the seven’s most basic motives in defending the town. Some of them seem to be doing it because there will be one less bounty hunter after them, or because they have nothing more fun to do; and even the high-minded Chisolm turns out to be on a revenge mission against the villain, who tortured, raped, and then murdered his family. We only find that out at the end. (Talk about a pointless reveal). Toss In a One-Dimensional Modern ‘Villain’ The most interesting element in this “Magnificent Seven” is the villainous Bartholomew Bogue, a thoroughly evil capitalist entrepreneur played by Peter Sarsgaard. In both “The Seven Samurai” and the first remake, the villains were bandit outlaws. For a 2016 remake, that wouldn’t do at all. As any American university student or Black Lives Matter activist could tell you, the very idea of a bandit outlaw is just privilege justifying the oppression of yet another disempowered group. Only power can be truly evil, particularly corporate capitalist power. So the villains can’t be bandits. They have to be … capitalists! Only power can be truly evil, particularly corporate capitalist power. So the villains can’t be bandits. And why humanize them, when everyone knows capitalists are evil incarnate? At the start of the movie, Bogue interrupts a church service to announce he’s coming back in a few weeks to buy all the land in the town for his mining operation, for maybe a third of what it’s worth. And the townsfolk better sell, because he will kill them all if they don’t. To make sure they get the message, he burns down the church. Hollywood has produced many stories of robber barons intimidating defenseless frontiersmen into selling their land, including for example “Pale Rider” (1985) and Robert Altman’s tragic masterpiece “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1975), a movie that proves Hollywood can make westerns as great as “The Seven Samurai.” It might seem mundane and unproblematic for Fuqua to alight on this construct instead of the problematic “outlaw native.” But “Pale Rider” and “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” were truly wilderness frontier movies, in which the capitalist villain seeks to intimidate either a small group of people, or the partners who own the land, after a more-or-less legitimate offer to buy their share. The new “Magnificent Seven,” by contrast, is set in 1879, with industrial civilization and the rule of law rising rapidly all around. Land transfers obtained by massive force or fraud, to make no mention of mass murder, risk being unenforceable—not very smart for a capitalist entrepreneur. It’s hard to be a successful capitalist entrepreneur when everyone around can see that you belong under lock and key and heavy sedation in a psych ward. But this capitalist, in addition to being a psychopathic mass-murderer, is an idiot. After the seven ambush and kill several dozens of the evil gunmen, Bogue dispatches several hundred gunmen from Sacramento to kill every man, woman, and child in the town. He doesn’t stop to ponder how he’s going to buy up their land if they’re all dead and all the deeds are tied up in probate; or how he’s going to handle accusations that he came by his property by massacring God-fearing Christians in an area of the country firmly in federal control. He doesn’t stop to ponder much of anything, actually. In the final scene, he unveils a Gatling gun that it made no sense to keep for after he has sent his men against the heavily fortified town and lost virtually all of them. Had he opened the assault with the Gatling gun, and then sent the men in, he would have ended the day alive and in control of an empty town, however little that might be worth. After a quarter century of anti-capitalist indoctrination, American audiences can be expected to sit comfortably with the idea that one can be both a capitalist entrepreneur and a depraved mass-murdering lunatic. That blend comports nicely with the worldview of Bernie Sanders and his supporters, and more than a few Donald Trump supporters too. Of course, back on planet Earth, you can’t actually be a successful capitalist entrepreneur if everyone around can see that you belong under heavy sedation in a psych ward. Whether the new “Magnificent Seven” has a social agenda or is “socially conscious,” I’ll leave to experts in identity politics. It certainly doesn’t have a human agenda. It is popcorn: compulsively enjoyable, and totally forgettable. It has nothing important to say, a perfect part of its time. Audiences will love it. ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • The Men Of 'The Magnificent Seven' Turn A Bromance Into Love
    Mild spoilers follow. They will be already known to anyone familiar with the plot of this classic story. Since I began dating my wife, I have sat through almost every romantic comedy under the sun. Many an argument has been lost as I succumb to another Lifetime movie or cinema flick starring Renee Zellweger, Sandra Bullock, or Amy Adams. Yet this past Sunday I was victorious as I convinced my wife to go with me to see “The Magnificent Seven.” But it was an easy fight considering one of the stars was her secret crush, Chris Pratt. As I watched, I was enamored by the relationship these seven strangers cultivated through their small amount of time together after being drafted to protect a poor village from thieves. These men joked, drank, laughed, shared personal details about themselves, and grew in admiration for each other very quickly. You don’t get that kind of relationship between men anymore. In this day and age, it’s more about the “bromance” and less about the camaraderie. After the movie we discussed how some in our culture will try to twist these male relationships. It seems like society deems that men can have one of two relationships with each other: Either they are in love with each other or engage in the twenty-first-century bromance. What’s Wrong with Bromance A bromance, of course, is when two guys hang out a lot and are considered too close to one another. It’s asexual, but from the outside could be misconstrued as something more. A good example is the show “How I Met Your Mother.” If you need actual visualization you can google their episode called “World’s Greatest Couple.” A bromance is a close relationship without all the messiness of actually caring about anyone else. It’s about having a good time with someone who has the same interests. The article linked above says bromances are an awkward male relationship. They’re right—bromance is awkward. But not for the reason they think. Male friendships have been around since the beginning of time. Think David and Jonathan from the Bible, Spock and Kirk, even Woody and Buzz from “Toy Story.” From the modern perspective these relationships are a little weird, even mildly sexual, because they’re so close. But this ignores the real reason these people and characters are so close to each other. It’s the reason bromance must die and camaraderie take its place. This happens in “The Magnificent Seven.” At the beginning of “Magnificent Seven,” these men didn’t know each other. So when they decided to take on the job, a few also decided to take a “half day of drinking.” That’s probably about the equivalent of a bromance nowadays, since it was pretty shallow and just them having a good time together. But as they fight alongside each other and try to train the men in the town, they grow close. These men begin see each other’s character weaknesses and strengths. So then, after they spend a long day of digging trenches we see them laughing and joking with each other while eating and drinking. They also begin to share deep, personal parts of themselves. The character Jack Horne stops them from joking about women to explain he had a family and wife at one time. No Greater Love Hath a Man than This So after putting these townspeople first and working to help them, these seven men start sharing intimate details they wouldn’t have discussed otherwise. Even the community recognizes that after seeing these men come together, work, fight, and help others, the townspeople have come out of hiding and are laughing again. They say they’re doing so for the first time since being oppressed and threatened, and it’s all from seeing how these men sacrifice for the community. The biggest example is when the hired guns’ leader Chisolm gives them the option to leave. One does. But the others have seen what they mean to the people. They’ve stared into the faces of the children, and have grown to care for these other men as well. Ultimately, the one who left comes back and sacrifices his life for the town. While these men are fighting and dying, they’re able to save the kids more than once, help the men from the town hobble to safety, provide cover for the other seven, and even put themselves directly into the line of fire of a Gatling gun to stop it. These are huge sacrifices, not something a hired gun would normally do for others. But as we have seen throughout the movie, these are no longer just men hired to do a job. They’ve become friends and comrades who ride off into the sun together at the end. “The Magnificent Seven” shows camaraderie is not only men spending time with each other but suffering with one another and even sacrificing for others. There are many great examples of this companionship throughout history. The Founding Fathers spent nights in the tavern together but also fought mentally and physically alongside each other for a greater good. Our country was created out of a strong bond between men who stood up in self-sacrifice for those around them. Really, no greater example can be found than in the military or men fighting in war. When men offer their lives for others, they have to form a bond in those trenches. When things get tough, these men who have laughed and drank together put themselves in the line of fire for the ones they call brother. When they come home, that bond remains, because they have shared themselves in a way that today’s men often don’t. A Bromance Can’t Compare Compared to this, bromances are awkward. Men who engage in them are trying desperately to gain that relationship without the commitment. They feel the need for male friendship but don’t know exactly what it is they’re needing. It’s really quite simple. Camaraderie is born in the fires of struggle and sacrifice for others, while a bromance is fueled by satisfaction and mutual amusement. You can call it macho or overly masculine, but it comes down to just being a real man who loves in a real way. This isn’t being macho. It’s not being chauvinistic. I’m not telling people to try to kill someone else to gain friendship with other males, or go out and be Rambo or Jason Bourne. What I am saying is men need to be real men who live not for themselves but rather for the sake of others. They should not look at a relationship and think, “What can I gain from this?” like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. But rather men should think, “What can I do to help, preserve, and protect what is right, moral, and good?” I know this is now way outside our natural thoughts. It can be too foreign to contemplate. But many of our fathers and grandfathers did this. It was not to gain friends later in life, to get a girl, or to get a job promotion. They simply did the job in front of them because they believed it was the right thing for their country and for their fellow man. The same can be said for this movie. At the beginning, these men might have gone into the situation with money, vengeance, or fame in mind, but in the end they chose fight for the defenseless and for the notion that wrong should be swiftly fought. Their moral compass, which hadn’t always pointed north, suddenly changed when surrounded by the people they promised to help. Our society needs more camaraderie and a lot less bromance. We need more movies that show these selfless acts that bring men together in true social justice. We need more fraternal love that can suffer many hardships and shoulder the daily burdens. Yes, there are times to drink, laugh, and relax with each other. If “The Magnificent Seven” has shown us anything, it’s that a real brotherly love is not awkward. But it’s only created in times of trial. It also shows us this love can help us through difficult days, if not outright travesties. That’s the time I want a brother standing by me. I want a friendship like that of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, not like Seth Rogen and James Franco. I don’t want one of convenience. May we all have that kind of relationship that the Westerns and war movies show. Let bromance die and camaraderie live forever. ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • In Defense Of A 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' Reboot
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Deadline.com reports that Disney has begun the process of reviving the Indiana Jones franchise and it’s considering casting Chris Pratt to play the role Harrison Ford made famous in “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”—one of the few flawless movies ever made. If you’re not sure who Pratt is, you’ll soon see him in the “Jurassic Park” reboot and then in a remake of “The Magnificent Seven” (the original was a reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”) where he’ll costar with Denzel Washington, who’s coming off a remake of “The Equalizer.” Because why waste a good story. My impulse, whenever I hear one of my cinematic heroes is being “reimagined,” is to reimagine the producers as Nazis engulfed in excruciating face-melting biblical fire. My social media feeds was in visceral harmony with this position. Some things simply can’t be rebooted. But then I remembered that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was not actually a sacred item passed to humankind on Mount Sinai and Steven Spielberg was not a god. River Phoenix did a fine job playing Indy—why couldn’t someone else do it? I also recalled that Indiana Jones was basically a reboot of 1930 serials that George Lucas loved as a child. And then I realized being annoyed by reboots was just perfunctory. I love reboots. The first, and most obvious, reason is that it doesn’t really matter if the reboot stinks. I’m not sure there was a more exhilarating moment in my preteen life than the day I first saw the trailer for “The Empire Strikes Back.” Not even “The Phantom Menace” could stain that memory. I recently watched the first three Indiana Jones movies with my kids and, for me, it was as if “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” never happened. When we finally got around to the fourth movie, they didn’t perceive much of a difference in quality or entertainment value. And maybe there isn’t much. Actually, there’s probably a strong argument to be made that “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was a more entertaining film than the “Temple of Doom.” Anyway, for a generation of young people, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is “Star Wars” (or as close as they’re going to get to it in the days of multiple blockbusters), which means Chris Pratt is Harrison Ford. Second: reboots, remakes, sequels, and reimagined franchises are not only often technically superior to the originals, but they tend to bring a level of storytelling sophistication that outdoes them. It can be overdone, no doubt. Watching the impenetrable “Prometheus,” a quasi-prequel reboot that exists in the same mess of a universe as the Alien films, felt like auditing a class on quantum physics. But Daniel Craig’s James Bond saved the franchise from the too comedic or too formulaic or too infantile and replaced it with a hard-edge that contemporary audiences can enjoy. “Skyfall” (featuring a glimpse into the origin story, no less) does not make “Goldfinger” any less enjoyable to watch. Then again, always remember that losing sense of humor sometimes mean missing the point, entirely. I’m looking at you, “Robocop” and “Total Recall.” The best balance was probably offered by J.J. Abrams, whose recent Star Trek films restarted familiar storylines in fresh ways without losing the essence of the original. Abrams has promised that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will not only honor the characters of the original but avoid relying too heavily on CGI in favor of locations to create aesthetic continuity, as well. I’ve been waiting since 1984 to know what happens to these people. And Star Wars will also produce one-offs about Boba Fett and a young Han Solo…. so, please, reboot at will. And they are. The slate of forthcoming remakes and reboots is pretty amazing. Here are some just a few from a quick scan of the Internet: “The Fantastic Four” (the first trailer looks tedious) “Mad Max: Fury Road” “Blade Runner” sequel (rumored with Harrison Ford) “The Crow” “Point Break” “Highlander” “Naked Gun” “Ghostbusters” “Independence Day” “Westworld” Another “Terminator” film A “Goonies” remake Many of these will not work. A good story gives a franchise the malleability and possibilities to be interesting and worthwhile. “Terminator” seems like one such franchise, though it often fails, as does “Highlander” and “Westworld” (an HBO series coming soon) because the central premises offers so many promising roads to go down. On the other hand, “Ghostbusters,” which will be rebooted with all female leads, was idiotic. Funny, because of the pitch-perfect performances from Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and the rest of the impressive cast. This matters. It’s the difference between “Caddyshack” and “Caddyshack II.” So it’s not a sexist, I hope, to point out that Melissa McCarthy is not Bill Murray. Because Matthew Perry is not Jack Klugman and he’s certainly not Walter Matthau. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that the “Odd Couple” reboot (the new TV show based on the old TV Show that was based on the movie*) is likely to be nearly as catastrophic as remakes of the “The In-Laws,” “The Out-of-Towners” or “Arthur”—all superfluous because they were great solely because of the actors involved. It’s hopeless to reclaim a role invented by someone like Peter Falk or Alan Arkin, as Arkin could probably tell you when he tried to play Peter Sellers in a Pink Panther reboot in 1968. Unfortunately, no one had the decency to inform Steve Martin. Twice. On the other hand, Dirk Benedict isn’t exactly integral in propelling the “Battlestar Galactica” storyline. And the primary plot of that 1978 series, as it turned out, was ripe for development, and the reboot became one of the most intriguing television shows ever. Perhaps one day the same will be said about TV reboots like “12 Monkeys” or “Fargo,” which is already on its way  (and it’s coming back this year). It’s true that viewers are often turned off by reboots because we tend to romanticize and overrate the movies and actors of our youth. Every generation believes that their music and films and books are the most powerful and important ever. But I have little problem arguing that Tom Hardy is as talented an actor as Mel Gibson ever was. And hell yes, I want to rebooted Superman to square off against sullen Batman. Because Christopher Reeve was unconvincing and Tim Burton’s Batman was sort of silly. I want to know what happened to Rick Deckard. And I want to see where Indiana Jones goes next. Because it’s better than the alternative. *Which is a remake of the play. ]]>
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  • The Top 10 Westerns Ever Made, Plus 10 More Deep Cuts
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    With their clear-eyed moral messaging, Westerns are a great antidote to much of the modern filmmaking landscape, where audiences are often asked to identify with the bad guy.
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  • Here’s A Dueling List Of The Top 8 Westerns, Plus Actual Deep Cuts
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    ‘The Top 10 Westerns Ever Made, Plus 10 More Deep Cuts’ was deeply disappointing to this film buff. So here’s a deeper, better, alternative list.
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John Hanlon 3
John Hanlon Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • “The Magnificent Seven” Review: Strong Reboot of a Classic StorySeptember 28, 2016 |...
  • “The Magnificent Seven” Reviews: Critics take on the remake
    Director Antoine Fuqua brings a classic Western back to the big screen. Check out the Magnificent Seven reviews to see if the film lives up to its potential. Led by Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, cialis 40mg the new Magnificent Seven remake tells a familiar story. In...
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  • Magnificent Seven
    Denzel Washington stars as the lead character in the remake of the classic western The Magnificent Seven. It only takes a few moments in the new remake The Magnificent Seven for the villain to appear. Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), rx a...
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Plugged In 6
Focus on the Family



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Magnificent Seven
    WesternDramaAction/Adventure We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewThey didn't call it the Tame West. The Polite West. The Genteel, Stick-Your-Pinky-Finger-Out-When-You're-Drinking-Earl-Gray West. No sir. It was the Wild West. Wild as a bobcat raised on habaneros and espresso. You had to be tough to live out there—tough enough to deal with heat and drought and rattlesnakes and varmints and bandits and rustlers and hustlers and murderers. You had to rely on your lonesome out there. And if you ran into something tougher and meaner than you, that was just too bad. Ain't no one gonna help you. Well, most of the time, that is. The fine people of Rose Creek are tough—tough enough to move out there with just the clothes on their backs and the dreams in their souls. They worked the land and built the town and hoped to turn it into their own hardscrabble heaven. But then gold was discovered in them thar hills, and Bartholomew Bogue moved in next door. The ruthless mining tycoon doesn't care a whit about workers or property rights. He's got a profit to turn. And if someone dares stand in his way, he'll make sure they won't stand for long. So he marches into Rose Creek and demands the townspeople turn over their land to him: He'll pay 20 bucks per parcel and won't take no for an answer. And just to show he means business, he and his goons shoot six men dead before riding out of town. But Emma Cullen, newly widowed, isn't ready to pack her things just yet. Her husband may be dead—shot in cold blood by the mining mogul—but her spirit's still alive and kicking. She wants to fight back. But how? Emma finds just the man she needs in a dusty saloon out yonder. The hombre, dressed in black like death himself, walks in and starts talking to the barkeep. Next thing you know, the barkeep—a wanted man, turns out—is lying dead on the floor of his own saloon. Other itchy trigger-fingered patrons suffer some new wounds too. The man's name is Chisolm—a "warrant officer" he says, a glorified name for a bounty hunter. Emma asks him if he's looking for work and offers everything the town has in payment. "I've been offered a lot for my work, but never everything," he says. And when she mentions the villain's name, Bartholomew Bogue, Chisolm is ready to sign up. But Emma knows that once Bogue gets word that Rose Creek is fighting back, he won't just send a handful of men: He's rich enough and mean enough to send an army. And while Chisolm may be mighty fluent in lead, he ain't that good. One man can't defend the town alone. But what about seven? Positive ElementsAs this remade film's title suggests, Emma eventually hires seven tough-as-nails desperados to tackle the town's Bogue problem. Now, mind you, none of these men are good men. But they do come together to do what is ultimately a good thing. "They fought for the souls who couldn't fight for themselves," we're told. Chisolm tells them right up front that "probably we all die." And yet, for some reason, they're willing to team up to fight on behalf of Emma and her town's cause. Spiritual ContentThe Magnificent Seven begins in a church, ends in a church and features a lot of surprisingly spiritual talk all the way through. Townspeople meet inside the church to debate what to do about Pogue's nearby mine. Bogue struts in with his armed men. "This is the Lord's house—no place for guns," the pastor says, but to no avail. One man spits tobacco on the floor while Pogue stands in front of the congregation. "This country has long associated freedom with capitalism," he says, "and capitalism with God!" He argues that it is thus their God-given duty to turn over their land to him for a pittance of what it's worth. When things get heated, he herds the crowd out of the church and sets the building alight. There's a showdown in that burned-out shell, the cross still shining starkly from one of the walls. One man says a prayer in Latin. Another seems uncomfortable with the idea of taking life in a holy place, taking off his hat and bowing nervously before entering. While most of the town's seven defenders aren't religious men, Jack Horne is an obvious and vocal exception. He's portrayed as a wee bit off his nut: His theology is off, but his religious fervor is unmistakable. Horne kills two people upon meeting up with Chisolm's posse, claiming the right "by the Lord and by the law." He prays regularly and loudly. He quotes Bible verses, slaughtering people as he recites Psalm 23. He promises to pray for one of his enemies. "A little prayer," he amends. He asks God, "Lord keep me from judgment." He thanks God for "the strength that you've given me" and prays for wisdom and judgment. There's a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah, a mention of praying for forgiveness and a Catholic confession. A pastor prays over dead bodies. Before a massive battle, the pastor preaches and prays over the seven and the other townspeople who've gathered at the burned-out husk of a church, quoting Jesus from Matthew 18:20: "Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I'll be there." The hotel in town is called the Elysium Hotel, referencing an ancient Greek understanding of heaven.Sexual ContentMost of the women we see in The Magnificent Seven appear to be prostitutes, wearing various garments that look like bulky lingerie, designed to accentuate the bust and hips, as well as showcasing cleavage and legs. One of them rubs the shoulders of Josh Faraday, a gambler who joins Chisolm's crew. Emma, of course, is not a prostitute, but she does wear outfits that emphasize her chest. And when she first speaks to Chisolm, he suspects that he's going to offer him her sexual services. "I have a proposition for you," she says. "I'm aware of your propositions, Miss," he responds. New members of the party sometimes leer at Emma, and Faraday tries flirtatiously to teach her how to shoot. She already knows how to fire a gun quite well, turns out, explaining that she had a father. "I didn't," Faraday admits. A woman stitches up Jack Horne's bedraggled clothes. Vasquez, another of the seven, suggests since the woman just talked to Jack about "stitching and poking," he should return the favor (earning ribald laughter from the rest of the group).Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent ContentThe Magnificent Seven is a bloodbath. Hundreds of people die during the film. And while lip service is occasionally paid to how difficult it is to kill—and how the horrors of the act will haunt the killer forever—good guys and bad guys alike seem to take that life without any more thought or sadness than you or I might swat a mosquito. Most fatalities come at the end of a bullet (or several of them). Many of these demises are relatively bloodless and/or take place at some distance from the camera. Still, bodies pile up like mulching wood chips in a garden. Other folks are shot full of arrows or sliced with knives. Several people die at the barrel of a Gatling gun, many others are blown up with explosives. One guy gets thwacked in the back with an axe. A few victims are shot in the head, leaving little bullet holes in the middle of their foreheads. Near the movie's opening, when Pogue kills a half-dozen men in cold blood, he tells the sheriff he's paid off to "leave the bodies where they lie. Let them look at them a few days." Corpses are sometimes bloodied and bruised, open eyes staring sightless. Faraday shoots a someone's brother dead, then shoots the man's ear off. We see bits of flesh on the ground as he clutches the side of his head, whimpering in pain. A man cuts open the middle of a dead deer and pulls out its liver: Two men take bites of the organ as part of a makeshift breakfast. Several people survive bloody wounds. Someone else is nearly strangled. Children are imperiled. A decaying corpse sits in a cabin: Another person living there insists he didn't kill the guy, but he clearly didn't trouble himself to bury the smelly body. Plenty of horses fall and presumably die via bullet or explosion, too. We also hear that someone's mother was raped and his sisters were killed.Crude or Profane LanguageThere are seven s-words uttered in the movie. God's name is misused about 10 times, half of those with the word "d--n." We're also pelted with a shotgun smattering of other profanities including "a--," "b--ch," "d--n," "h---" and "p-ss." Emma says that she hired Chisolm because she was the only one in town with the manly fortitude to do so (using a slang term for the male anatomy).Drug and Alcohol ContentFaraday drinks almost constantly in the movie, swigging from hooch bottles and saloon glassware. Another member of the crew, Billy Rocks, gets drunk after a friend of his leaves. Other folks get tipsy. Many smoke cigars and cigarettes.Other Negative ElementsFaraday is a gambler who always carries a deck of cards. He takes advantage of a fracas to scoop up cash, gold, pocket watches and a bottle of liquor. Chisolm's crew is comprised of a mishmash of people from different races and backgrounds. And while some of the seven take not-so-serious jabs at each other based on their looks or nationality (Vasquez tells Goodnight, another member of the posse that it's possible his grandfather might've killed Goodnight's father at the Alamo), the way others look at them as they ride into town is downright hostile.ConclusionWhen Emma first tells Chisolm about Bogue and the calamity that's befallen Rose Creek, adding that her husband was one of those killed, Chisolm figures he knows what Emma wants: revenge. "I seek righteousness," Emma corrects him. "But I'll take revenge." And so we have the ethical tightrope that The Magnificent Seven tries to walk. This violent remake presents its seven stars as flawed heroes—bad men with good hearts who sacrifice themselves to deal with even worse men. But as much as I wanted that to be true, and as much as I appreciated the movie's old-fashioned, gun-twirling, sharpshooting moxie, I was bothered by the flippancy with which this movie dealt with death. Both Magnificent Seven movies—this one and the 1960 classic starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, were based on another classic film—Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. In Kurosawa's original work, the heroes are also flawed warriors tasked with defending an otherwise defenseless village from rampaging bandits. The movie's heroes are ronin, freelance Samurai without masters—the equivalent of Chisolm's Old West vagabonds. But in Seven Samurai, the samurai rarely take life without a sense of sober responsibility. And in the end, the film feels much like a tragedy. The village has been saved, but at a fearsome cost. "So," the leader says. "Again we are defeated. The farmers have won. Not us." There are hints of that cost in this version. And we, as viewers, are encouraged to mourn fallen heroes and contemplate their sacrifice. But that introspection is relatively rare in this Western romp. More often, this death-dealing feels like a game. Admittedly, this Magnificent Seven is meant to be a popcorn-munching diversion. It's supposed to be fun. And it is, to a point. But the sheer body count here—four-to-five times higher than we see in Seven Samurai or the 1960 flick—is unseemly. And even though Chisolm insists that they "go to fight wicked men," many of the pawns in Bogue's employ are, presumably, just hired hands—not the hardened bandits and criminals we see in previous iterations. Some scenes can feel almost sadistic, too, heroes practically torturing admittedly bad men in an effort to punish them commensurate with their evil deeds. In those moments, The Magnificent Seven feels less like righteousness—even bloody righteousness—and more like revenge. Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
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  • Vodcast: How Messy, Gritty Religion Invades The Magnificent Seven
    Villains aren’t the only ones who use faith for less-than-shiny purposes. Sometimes the good guys do it, too. Sometimes we use our faith in ugly ways, like when we use it to justify actions that are entirely self-serving. We may catch ourselves using it as an excuse to do what we want to do. We can all be hypocritical. We can all be a little blind, even, to our own motives. And sometimes, we see that tendency in ourselves in the actions of others … even on a big movie screen. Take The Magnificent Seven, out in theaters right now. Faith plays a huge role in the film (not as big a role as the guns, granted, but almost), and a surprisingly nuanced role at that. But the sort of faith that we see here isn’t always as positive as we’d like it to be, or as it should be. There’s so much to unpack, in fact, that we did so in a vodcast. ]]>
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  • What Does it Mean to Be Christian … and an Actor?
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The Magnificent Seven lands in theaters today, starring Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington and burgeoning superstar Chris Pratt. Next week, another box-office megastar, Mark Wahlberg, will unveil his latest action flick, Deepwater Horizon. All three actors, incidentally, are Christians. “Put God first in everything you do,” Washington recently told the graduating class of Dillard University, a liberal arts college in New Orleans. “I pray that you put your slippers under your bed tonight, so that when you wake up the morning you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them. And while you’re down there, say thank you. Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents.” Pratt talks about how praying for his son, born nine weeks premature, “redefined” his faith. He regularly posts Bible verses on Facebook. He encourages his fans to pray for sick children. And this Easter, the actor posted a series of pictures on Instagram showing himself and some friends building and erecting a gigantic cross. Mark Wahlberg, a Catholic, goes to church every day. He credits his faith with turning his life around when he was a troublemaking teen. “Anything that’s good in my life is because of my faith,” he told Time back in 2010. “A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don’t need God anymore, they’re gone. But I spend a good portion of my day thanking God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. If it all ended today, I’d be happy. I’ve had such an amazing journey.” I don’t doubt these actors’ spiritual sincerity. In fact, I think I could learn a thing or two from them. Even though I work for a Christian organization and spend lots of time talking about faith and film, I don’t post lots of Bible verses on Facebook. I don’t go to church every day. Do I put God first in everything I do? My honest answer: sometimes. When I remember. But all three of these guys have made movies that we’ve knocked, and sometimes knocked hard. I called The Magnificent Seven’s body count “unseemly” and some of its more notable acts of violence “sadistic.” And I was pretty nice to Seven in comparison to Ted 2, the last movie of Wahlberg’s I reviewed. I said that film was a “poly-blend stuffing of filth.” Which leads me to a question. When you’re a Christian and an actor, does that obligate you to take roles that are in line with your beliefs? To appear in movies that reflect those beliefs? It’s an interesting question, and one that I think Christian actors themselves struggle with on some level. Kirk Cameron, the Christian film industry’s go-to star these days, famously told NBC’s Today show that in Fireproof, the actress playing his wife (Erin Bethea) was swapped out for his real-life wife (Chelsea Noble) when the script called for a kiss. “I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman,” he said. In the same interview, he admitted that even in his latter Growing Pains days, when he was the ABC show’s teenage heartthrob, he clashed with producers when the script strayed into what he considered immoral territory. Denzel Washington has starred in plenty of movies that Cameron would reject. But in many of those movies, he plays a man of principle and honor. The Book of Eli, a dystopian R-rated thriller, features Washington’s Eli protecting (spoiler warning) society’s very last Bible, for goodness’ sake. In Training Day, Washington plays against type and slips into the skin of corrupt monster of a policeman. But the guy dies at the end, apparently because Washington wanted him to. The only just ending for such a foul character, perhaps? “I’ve been fortunate as an actor,” he told Parade magazine in 1999. “I’ve made some interesting films, and I think some of the work I’ve done has touched people. Maybe it sounds corny, but I try to do things for goodness’ sake—to send a good message.” Wahlberg, meanwhile, jokingly asks for forgiveness for some of his on-screen parts. “Holy Father please forgive me,” he said during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia last year. “I’ve always hoped that the good Lord has a sense of humor when it comes and pertains to many of the movies I’ve made.” There’s a certain irony in the fact that these actors’ willingness to speak out about their faith also leaves them open to charges of hypocrisy. We do not shake our heads sadly when, say, Joaquin Phoenix makes a movie we find morally objectionable. We don’t get mad at Brad Pitt for appearing in an R-rated flick. We don’t have a vested interest in their career choices. They’re not in our Christian club. But when we learn that a prominent actor or actress claims to be a Christian, we hold them to a higher standard—and perhaps rightfully so. As believers, we should honor God in all we do, right? Actors are no different. Still, this stuff is tricky. I’m glad these people talk about their faith. And when they make a movie that feels like it’s in line with that faith, it makes me happy. But when they make a “bad” movie, it doesn’t make me mad or sad. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. I don’t think it’s my job to stand in judgment when it comes to the motives of these people’s hearts. That’s a responsibility God reserves for Himself. The question recalls, for some reason, C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, a book from his Chronicles of Narnia series. In the book, the one-time Calormen princess Aravis is asking Aslan, the book’s Christ-figure, about the fate of an old servant she once knew. “Child,” says Aslan, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.” The decisions actors make seem to be an intrinsic part of their own story. If they make a “bad” movie by Plugged In standards, sure, I have all the license in the world to tell you what makes it so. I’m fine making a judgment on a movie. But to judge the people for taking part in the movie? That makes me uncomfortable. It seems like infringing on the tale that they, and God, are writing. But enough about me. What about you? ]]>
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Society Reviews 2
Society Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Brutal, Funny, Entertaining, and filled with High Octane action, this film is another slamdunk in the genre of westerns.

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  • The Equalizer 2 Review
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    2014’s The Equalizer was a solid box office hit that was pleasantly enjoyed by the vast majority of audiences. Like any moderate box office success in today’s Hollywood, a sequel was announced that once again put Denzel Washington, screenwriter Richard Wenk, and director Antoine Fuqua together for a new project. Unfortunately unlike their last production, The Magnificent Seven, The Equalizer 2 is nothing more than a simple carbon copy of the first film and it shows.

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Michael Medved 1



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Magnificent Seven

Debbie Schlussel 1
The New York Post



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Wknd Box Office: The Magnificent Seven, Queen of Katwe, Storks, The Hollars
    Blog Posts Movie Reviews Storks – Rated PG: This dumb, cockamamie “kids” movie was soooooo incredibly annoying. And the very stupid story looked like it was slapped together by a two-year-old (with apologies to two-year-olds for the comparison with the writers of this crappy waste of time). In an era–and in a year–when there are so many far-superior animated kids’ movies, this falls stunningly flat. It also highlights the lack of good, original story-telling that apparently befuddles so many in Hollywood. I was surprised at the silliness of this movie. Plus it is very slow and very boring. The animation is fine, but nothing outstanding. Just the basics that we’ve already come to expect, given today’s technology. Pixar this ain’t. Not even close. The “story” (if you can call it that): storks used to deliver babies to new parents. But it was too hard, and they had so many near-accidents. So, now, they are out of that business and into something else. Today, the storks are delivery men for a giant Amazon.com-like company, called “CornerStore.com.” The main character stork in the movie is about to be promoted to “boss” by the CEO stork. But, first, he has to attend to the orphan girl who lives in the company’s facility in the sky. She’s left over from the days of when the storks used to deliver newborns. Unfortunately, the girl and the stork accidentally set off the old factory machinery from those days, and a new baby is delivered. The rest of the movie basically follows the stork and the orphan girl trying to brave the elements and other obstacles in order to deliver the baby to its family. (The cutest–and only interesting–scene is when the two are trying to escape a very smart and resourceful pack of wolves.) Meanwhile, the orphan girl longs to find her own family and be united with them, after all these years. And, at the same time, a “Valley Guy-esque” stool pigeon is telling on them to the CEO because the pigeon wants to be boss instead of the stork. While all of this is going on, a young boy wants a baby brother because his real estate agent parents are neglectful and devoted to their jobs instead of him. So, he begins building a giant amusement-park on the family home’s roof, in order to attract a delivery stork. At the end of the movie, the storks accidentally set off the baby factory, and thousands of kids pop out. So the storks have to deliver them to their families. This is exactly when I thought to myself, “here’s where the political correctness starts and we see gay families and so on getting deliveries.” Sure enough, Hollywood never disappoints the PC crowd. You see all-female and all-male couples getting baby deliveries. Soooo predictable. The first ex-Mrs. Brad Pitt (Jennifer Aniston) and Andy Samberg voice characters in this movie. I’m not a fan of either. Believe me, I’m making this dumb story sound far better than it is. This is a snoozer, and pointless. But kids will probably love the colors. ONE-AND-A-HALF MARXES ]]>
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Armond White 1
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Hollywood Running Mates
    The Magnificent Seven panders to constituents. Queen of Katwe peddles social-services banalities. Actor Denzel Washington (born in 1954) and director Antoine Fuqua (born in 1966) belong to the generations excited by the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. Their latest collaboration, The Magnificent Seven, a reboot of the 1960 Hollywood film, shows no sign that they respect the social frustration, ethnic pride, and moral daring that were apparent in even the weakest films of that movement (which followed the cultural and political ferment of its era). This unoriginal reboot reveals Washington and Fuqua to be hacks as they take on a brand-name property and a formerly great genre, the Western, which for decades was a wondrous means of stirring one’s sense of historical imagination and personal, cultural belonging. This remake is “updated” in the most insipid way: set in a Western town in 1879 where settlers are driven off their ranches by a ruthless robber baron and his band of anonymous thugs. Washington and Fuqua fail to use this setting as a metaphor for the internecine warfare in urban ghettoes, as ’70s Blaxploitation would have done. The Western motif is simply a mechanism to stimulate rote audience responses. In fact, Washington and Fuqua work without any political, moral, or revisionist impulse. The unarmed ranchers hire vaguely principled Warrant Officer Chisum (Washington) to fight their battle. “You don’t need a bounty hunter you need an army,” he tells them. So he recruits an army of ethnically diverse rogues (Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Roulfo, Martin Sensmeir), each with varied talents for killing. The dishonest emphasis on violence in The Magnificent Seven relates to the currently popular code words “gun violence.” But Washington and Fuqua fail to honestly connect modern insensitivity with the classic, perhaps timeless theme of Westerns: the clash between civilization and savagery. A remake ought to give filmmakers the opportunity to reassess attitudes toward a genre, but Washington and Fuqua show no feeling for history, land-ownership, law, or the tension between cowardice and self-defense — the themes that were prominent in the 1960 Hollywood film that was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1955). This craven, doubled-down remake simply reduces America’s difficult history to a series of violent, affectless, and inept set-pieces. Killing for the sake of killing. The brutal present, in which urban turmoil can be seen as a reflection of America’s violent history, seems to have no impact on Washington and Fuqua’s careerism. They even disregard the social stress articulated by hip-hop artists as career-minded as Jay-Z and Kanye West. The Magnificent Seven exemplifies the least conscientious escapism. Normalizing “gun violence” is part of Washington’s Hollywood macho game; his Warrant Officer Chisum might seem studly, but he shoots blanks. Through Chisum, Washington’s soulless violence offers a black version of what white Hollywood celebrities from Matt Damon to Sean Penn decry in news stunts and then exploit on the screen. Meanwhile, Fuqua’s clumsy landscapes — with no focal point, indecipherably dark imagery, and mis-framed Sergio Leone–style close-ups — distort a once-magnificent genre as if he were a TV director merely interested in acclimating audiences to violence and cynicism. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); This Magnificent Seven is not a pacifist Western like the post-WWII High Noon, and it’s far from the poetic study of masculine aggression that made Kurosawa’s samurai film a masterpiece. In spirit, the truest remake of Kurosawa’s film was not Hollywood’s cornball “oater” version of The Magnificent Seven but Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969), which confronted America’s new, post-assassinations, Vietnam-conscious era of violence. It combined beauty and tragedy as Kurosawa did — and was consonant with the cultural desperation of Blaxploitation movies. Washington and Fuqua forgo political allusions for the simple appeal to vengeance and slaughter. Washington and Fuqua merely combine the contradictions of this political era in which people pay lip-service to “gun violence” (and the term’s implicit call for more gun control) while holding a contradictory, yet unexamined, egotism — particularly the right for a privileged few, but not others, to use guns. The training sequence in which the seven soldiers of fortune put the ranchers through target practice could have evoked U.S. involvement in Afghanistan or other foreign-policy operations, but Washington and Fuqua forgo political allusions for the simple appeal to vengeance and slaughter. A rancher cries, “We’re not killers!” and one of the mercenaries explains, “Most people aren’t until looking down a barrel of gun.” That trite, simplistic response lets Washington and Fuqua have it both ways. They make Tarantino’s Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight look ethical and accomplished. Washington and Fuqua are running mates for the Hypocrite Party. ***** In Queen of Katwe, actors Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo join up with the most powerful of Hollywood super PACs, the Disney Corporation, to retell the “inspiring” story of Phiona Mutesi, the Ugandan teenager who in 2012 became an international chess master. Madina Nalwanga gives an interestingly ageless performance as Phiona, but it’s Nyong’o and Oyelowo (respectively martyred in 12 Years a Slave and Selma) who are running mates of the Exotic Blacks Party. They are figureheads for the Obama Effect by which African-American experience gets swamped by an open-borders ideology. Queen of Katwe may suggest the title of a Disney animated princess (like the lamentable The Princess and the Frog), but all possibilities of romantic fantasy are submerged in the film’s semi-documentary reporting on eternal Third World poverty — the Slumdog Millionaire standard. As inspirational movies go, this is inferior to the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee, Doug Atchison’s marvelous recognition of a black schoolgirl’s spelling-bee struggles as a triumph that combined family, school, and community effort. Critics rejected the beautiful Akeelah as ghetto mundanity, but it’s Queen of Katwe that is banal. Its social-services appeals stop only at the end during the actors’ curtain calls as they stand, in awe, next to their real-life counterparts. It is the only time director Mira Nair seems to relate to the story. Nair never dramatizes the intellectual pride or the complexity of an underclass child outgrowing her native circumstances — one of the unforgettable insights of Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito, the greatest of all films about education and upwardly mobility. — Armond White is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and, most recently, New Position: The Prince Chronicles. ]]>
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  • Diverting, if Not Quite Magnificent
    Movies This timeless tale of warriors defending the weak has its moments of strength, but due to an overlong runtime and lack of real zest, it clocks in at 2.5 out of 5 stars.   Synopsis The 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai was adapted into one of American cinema's most legendary motion pictures in 1960, The Magnificent Seven. Now there's a remake for a new generation starring Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington. Bartholomew Bough (Peter Sarsgaard) is a gold miner essentially holding the small town of Rose Creek hostage under a regime of hard labor and cruelty. After a particularly gut-wrenching killing spree from Bough and his lackeys, newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) goes off to seek justice and revenge by hiring Chisolm (Washington) to find her a band of men who will fight to win back the freedom of Rose Creek. Along the way they pick up a diverse band of misfits, including aging sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheux (Ethan Hawke) and the nimble-fingered Josh Faraday (Pratt).   What Works? The film is a feel-good Western in many ways. The action is present and vibrant, the characters don’t get bogged down with too much backstory, and the rugged Wild West backdrop and costumes are a feast for the eyes. It definitely feels like a film where the cast and crew had a lot of fun; there’s good chemistry amongst the Seven. Veteran Ethan Hawke especially shines as one of the film’s more complex characters, and his interaction with co-stars Denzel Washington and Byung-hun Lee has a solid, truthful spark.   What Doesn't? Despite its charms, the film falls flat in many ways, and its appeal will not be universal. It’s a half-hour too long. It’s a little more dramatic than perhaps it needed to be (something that could also be said of Pratt) and while the script isn’t bad, it’s underwhelming and not particularly memorable. It wants to be a cool movie, but it's lacking the necessary sharpness. Instead, it’s merely diverting. Also (true to the genre) all the female characters end up as props for the men. Bennett does a good job with what she's given, but even though her character is crucial to the story, she quickly becomes relegated to eye candy and adopts the arc of every other Western heroine. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); For the more sensitive viewers, it will also be difficult to watch the nonstop parade of shootings and death. It truly is the Wild West in The Magnificent Seven, and dozens upon dozens of bodies fall before the final act closes (although not in the graphic manner one might find in a Tarantino film).   Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes Rose Creek's church building becomes a very central focus and metaphor in the story. Characters discuss God and spirituality in simple terms, and a local preacher gives wisdom in several scenes. Characters question the wisdom of vengeance and what the path to righteousness looks like. Characters ponder the weight of death and sacrifice, particularly laying down one's life for someone smaller or weaker. There is also a character who speaks mostly in prayers, proverbs, and biblical references.   CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers) MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material  Language/Profanity: There are some exclamations of the Lord’s name and anatomical slang, as well as a handful of standard-fare profanity for period pieces (d----, a--, h---, etc). Sexuality/Nudity: Most of the women in the film are prostitutes providing backdrop to local taverns. They, and other female characters, wear form fitting clothing that shows cleavage. Men make suggestive jokes about women. Violence/Frightening/Intense: Death is a nonstop sport; lots of shootings and stabbings, including blood. There is also an intense scene where a church is set on fire. A native American produces an organ from the sliced open stomach of a dead deer, and two men eat it to form a pact. Drugs/Alcohol: Characters drink liquor throughout, occasionally talk about getting drunk/enjoying drink and are visibly intoxicated.   The Bottom Line RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who like the aesthetic of a Western, but the pace of a modern action flick. Chris Pratt fans. Particular fans of the late composer James Horner, as this engaging score was his final cinematic work before his untimely death in 2015. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those sensitive to violence. Intense lovers of the original Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai. Those who set the bar of the modern Western at films like Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, or True Grit. The Magnificent Seven, directed by Antoine Fuqua, opened in theaters September 23, 2016; available for home viewing December 20, 2016. It runs 132 minutes and stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Byung-hun Lee, Haley Bannett, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Peter Sarsgaard. Watch the trailer for The Magnificent Seven here.   Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Publication date: September 23, 2016 ]]>
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Counter Currents Staff 3
Counter Currents Publishing



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⚠️ EDGY 🔥 CONTENT 🔥 WARNING 🔥 (NSFW?) ⚠️

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  • “Duke” Morrison as Metapolitical Icon John Wayne
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]4,924 words

    The lighted pixels never go dark on John Wayne in the TV sphere. In the four decades since his passing, one can turn on a TV set at any time of day or night and there will be a John Wayne film being played on some channel.

    When looking at John Wayne’s performances, many critics point out that John Wayne always plays John Wayne. However, he himself said, “That guy you see on the screen isn’t really me. I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne. I know him well. I’m one of his closest students.”[1] [2] He never changed his name to John Wayne, didn’t instinctively respond to the name “John,” and registered for the draft during the Second World War under his Morrison name.

    Duke Morrison’s character John Wayne represented many things, the nuance of which will be further described below, but on the surface, John Wayne represented the white American ethnic group, as well as industriousness, seriousness of purpose, honesty, and courage. The character John Wayne was, and is, the embodiment of American manhood in its perfected form.

    Looking back at John Wayne’s career, one can see that the entire Western genre was carried on his shoulders. After he passed away, the number of Western films and TV shows dropped off. Westerns that were produced after his passing, like Silverado [3] (1985), never quite capture the magic that John Wayne brought. One possible reason for this loss of sparkle is that the dialogue in post-Wayne Westerns became crass and vulgar. Another possible reason is that Western movies have become afflicted by Negro-tokenism as in Silverado, Unforgiven [4] (1992), and The Magnificent Seven [5](2016). Furthermore, post-Wayne, an excessively romantic view of the Indians has crept into the genre, as in Dances with Wolves [6] (1990). Even the word “cowboy” was defined by John Wayne. During his lifetime, the word implied virtue and integrity; after his death, the word retreated back to the delinquent gang of insults from whence it came.

    John Wayne’s example has even influenced this author’s life choices, although I cannot even remotely presume to describe myself as the perfect embodiment of American manhood. I’ve probably been in more schoolyard fistfights than necessary due to the example of John Wayne’s many righteous fisticuffs broadcast on Saturday matinee reruns. When I played the trumpet in my middle school band, I mastered the themes [7] to The Comancheros [8] (1961) and [9]Rio Bravo [10] (1959). He also influenced my choices about what to do during the summers of my childhood and adolescence. I didn’t take the easy opportunities provided by my family to go to church camp, where one had an opportunity to flirt with a large group of young ladies while time-wasting for The Lord. Instead, I focused (more or less – girls still were a distraction) on becoming an Eagle Scout. Once I learned to drive and had my Eagle Scout Badge, I spent my summers working on a cattle ranch on the western Great Plains. When I was in the Army in Iraq and other overseas locations, I made decisions based on what I thought John Wayne would or would not do; this probably sounds both more reckless and awesome than it actually was.

    Duke Morrison, aka John Wayne, was also a man of the Right. He self-declared as a man of the Right; he admitted it up front and often. Towards the end of the Second World War, he became politically active and served four terms as President of the anti-Communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. Wayne’s closest friends were among Hollywood’s most strident anti-Communists, including Ward Bond [11] (1903-1960) and the very attractive Hedda Hopper [12] (1885-1966). He didn’t like Senator Ted Kennedy. Duke didn’t even like the New Deal, and publicly supported Richard Nixon from 1960 until Nixon’s resignation.

    Origins, Iowa Privilege, and Personal Life

    John Wayne was born Marion Morrison to Mary Alberta Brown and Clyde Morrison in Winterset, Iowa in 1907. His mother’s lineage was colonial stock Pennsylvanian and Irish. His father was of Scots-Irish and old New England Puritan/Yankee stock. [13] His grandfather [14] had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. John Wayne’s parents had a rocky marriage, and his father had a rough time making his career as a pharmacist work. The family bounced around Iowa until they decided to farm on some land in California that Wayne’s real estate agent grandfather owned.

    By the time the Morrison family got to California, the American frontier was closed. All the remaining open land was in the desert. The Morrison’s farm failed due to the harsh conditions, and so the family moved to Glendale, California, where Wayne would grow up right next to the central location of the nascent motion picture industry.

    Although Wayne’s family continuously hovered near poverty during his childhood, his background was really a big advantage to him. He had Iowa Privilege. He came from a culture that rewarded honesty and hard work. Wayne was indeed honest; his biographers all attest to this. If, for example, he said he met the famous Wild West lawman Wyatt Earp, researchers determined that he probably did meet him. His parents also remained married until Duke was out of the house, despite the fact that his mother was a grievance-collecting woman who was difficult to like. John also made his own luck. He took good advice every time he heard it. His biographer, Scott Eyman, describes many instances where Wayne took good advice, including deciding not to be cruel, learning self-defense, continuing to find work in films even when they were “B” movies, and maintaining a good public image.

    Duke was acting as early as high school. He got his foot in the door of the film industry in the prop department, through his college football coach’s contacts. Eventually he moved into minor acting roles; there, he got a credit as Duke Morrison in the 1927 movie, Seeing Stars [15]. Eventually, he was noticed by the director Raoul Walsh, and the first movie he starred in as “John Wayne” was The Big Trail [16] (1930). This film has sweeping cinematography, but is fundamentally flawed. The plot plods along like a wagon train drawn by oxen, and is as dry as the desert. The soundtrack is also lacking. To top it off, the film was released right after the Stock Market crash of October 1929. As a result, Wayne’s first starring role was a flop, and it sent him into the B-movie circuit for a decade.

    However, this was still a blessing for Wayne. He became a household name to young moviegoers throughout the 1930s. His work ethic helped, too. Wayne worked 12- to 14-hour days, and often did his own stunts. It was in the B movies that Duke Morrison became the physically imposing and graceful John Wayne. He also behaved professionally. He showed up to do a scene knowing his lines, and learned everything else involved in making a movie, such as where to put the props, lights, and so on.

    John Wayne’s career revived when he was picked to play the Ringo Kid [17] in John Ford’s classic Stagecoach [18] (1939). His flashy entrance [19] in that film remains one of his finest. As the camera zooms in while he twirls a rifle, it is an example of teamwork, and the most important aspect of professionalism: mastering the basics. Indeed, the prop department had to modify the rifle to make it twirl without getting caught. The cameraman needed to adjust both the focus and angle to catch it, while Wayne had to move gracefully and make the just the right expressions while following the camera. Wayne also understood that every scene is dependent upon two factors: what the camera’s lens can pick up and how that image will impact an audience.

    Wayne was married three times. All of his wives were of white, New World Spanish background (Hispanic is not a race). He would come to regret divorcing his first wife. His second wife was a train wreck of personal issues, and she dragged him through a nasty public divorce. His third wife was a solid helpmeet, even though they eventually separated but did not formally divorce. Duke also drank a great deal. He liked Mexico – indeed, all of Latin America – and its people. He enjoyed manly pursuits, especially sailing. He was well-read, and was talented at playing cards and chess. Off the set, though, he had a hard time figuring out what to do with himself.

    John Wayne also struggled with cancer. He smoked an average of six packs of cigarettes per day and lost a lung in 1964. He also starred in the 1956 epic, The Conqueror [20], that was filmed downwind of an area that had been used for nuclear weapons testing. Many of the cast and crew got cancer or died of cancer [21]. Wayne was no different. He was felled [22] by stomach cancer in 1979. In both cases, he fought the disease as hard as he could. After losing a lung, he still did many of his own stunts, and he wore a wetsuit to appear to look more fleshed-out at his final public appearance [23].

    Unavoidable Fodder for the Comments Section: My Opinion of John Wayne’s Work

    Everyone’s got an opinion about John Wayne’s films, so I’ll brush over what I think here and dive into his really serious works further on – there will be overlap. The best of his bad movies is probably The Big Trail, as well as Angel and the Bad Man [24] (1947). My favorite movie, which is fun from start to finish, is The Quiet Man [25](1952), where the leading lady was the goddess Maureen O’Hara. My second favorite is Fort Apache [26] (1948), followed by Hatari! [27] (1962). His best movie is The Searchers [28] (1956), and other great movies include Stagecoach [18](1939), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance [29] (1962), The Sands of Iwo Jima [30] (1949), True Grit [31] (1969), and The Cowboys [32] (1972). The best of his more obscure films, in my view, is The Sea Chase [33] (1955). My favorite movies where Wayne had smaller parts are The Longest Day [34] (1960) and How the West Was Won [35] (1962). But I dislike Rio Bravo [10] (1959) and its various remakes.

    John Wayne as the Personification of (White) American Manhood in Different Situations

    Duke Morrison created John Wayne between his first starring roles in 1930 until he became an A-List actor in 1939. With Red River [36] (1948), Duke had become an expert at playing John Wayne. With that in mind, we can see how an archetype of the epitome of (white) American Manhood behaves in various situations. As the embodiment of American Manhood, John Wayne wrestled with modern situations in Island in the Sky [37] (1953) and The High and the Mighty [38] (1954). Many of John Wayne’s movies are nostalgic – (white) Americans making North America their own through Manifest Destiny.

    Manifest Destiny was a metapolitical idea whereby Americans believed that Divine Providence had foreordained that white settlers should continue westward until they occupied the entire North American continent. This meant not just the conquest of America itself, but expansion across the Pacific as well. Indeed, during the Spanish-American War (1898), the biggest American imperial gains were not in Cuba, on whose behalf the war was alleged to be waged, but rather in the Pacific. Americans would go on to capture parts of Samoa in 1899. After the Second World War, the Americans absorbed even more Pacific islands, and for a time even turned Japan into a semi-colony [39]. Indeed, the fact that America chose to fight the Communists in Korea has shades of Manifest Destiny. The US Marines at the Chosin Reservoir [40] were not much different than Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn. And when Kennedy was inaugurated as President in 1960, Manifest Destiny was still ongoing – which was part of the reason for his involvement in Vietnam.

    Nearly every Western that John Wayne starred in has Manifest Destiny [41] as a central theme, although later on his Westerns explored other ideas as well. This is so obvious that not much needs to be mentioned about it. It is likewise clear that John Wayne’s Pacific War movies – such as They Were Expendable [42] (1945), Back to Bataan [43] (1945), and Flying Leathernecks [44] (1951) – were all Westward Expansion movies, with “the Japs” serving as Indians. Admittedly, there are other issues explored in these films, but the main idea remained “Westward Ho!”

    America’s expansion across the Pacific was different from its earlier expansion in one vital regard: the natives didn’t vanish. This created a new set of circumstances for the American public.
    As the Cold War picked up in Asia, Americans realized they had to justly rule and valorously defend the racially different Orientals that they had only just previously been interning and killing. The films which deal with this contradiction include The Barbarian and the Geisha [45] (1958), Donavan’s Reef [46] (1963), and The Green Berets [47] (1968). John Wayne’s films from this period are similar to the view of Asia that we get in other works of the period, especially those of James A. Michener.

    Duke Morrison and Military Service

    Although he registered for the draft, John Wayne didn’t enlist during the Second World War. He did go overseas with the USO on morale tours, but he didn’t take the oath and wear real stripes. Wayne would come to regret this decision later in life. Since the war, military service has come to be seen as a marker of manhood in American life. It is believed that this sets a person apart and above all others.

    However, as a man who has served in combat, and given that men (and some women) in my family have served in every conflict from the Global War on Terror back to the Spanish-American War, I can say this is all hogwash. Every military career is swiftboatable [48], and John Wayne’s would have been especially so. When the war broke out, Wayne was 35 and a lifelong smoker. He likely wouldn’t have qualified for the Infantry or as Combat Aircrew. If he had ended up in the Coastal Artillery Corps [49] in Los Angeles. he might have served in 1942’s Battle of Los Angeles [50], which would have made him a laughingstock as he took increasingly public pro-Vietnam War political stances in the 1960s. Had he joined the Signal Corps and made movies, he still would have been criticized. There, he’d have been moved around for photo ops and training films, but would not have seen much action. He was in an impossible position.

    Military service also carries with it a major flaw; that is to say, people follow veterans’ ideas, even if those ideas are bad. For example, Senator John McCain’s policy positions after 1991 were increasingly irrational and disastrous, yet very few people could effectively stand up to him. After all, McCain had been a POW in ‘Nam and a “war hero.”

    Ultimately, military service is merely a garnish on a career, and today any American “fighting for freedom” is embarking upon a pointless endeavor. In most circumstances, America’s military fights people who are not the enemies of the country, but rather they are the enemies of whatever foreign pressure group has better lobbyists in Washington. It’s been that way for at least a century. The First World War was exactly this sort of conflict. Likewise, the Second World War – at least as far as Germany and Italy were concerned – was the result of pressure groups rather than national interest. In America, courage that really counts is defending the white American people domestically. John Wayne did that. His first genuine metapolitical work was Big Jim McClain [51] (1952), where he fought Communists in Hawaii.

    The Road To and From The Alamo: John Wayne as Metapolitical Activist

    John Wayne’s major project – one which he poured his fortune and soul into – was The Alamo [52] (1960). He directed and starred in it alongside Richard Widmark and Lawrence Harvey. When watching it, one sees that Wayne as Davy Crockett isn’t fighting Santa Ana and his army of mestizos, but rather America’s domestic Left wing and the Communist side of the Cold War. He even got some funding from conservative Texans to make a movie as a counterpoint to the Leftist, anti-white movie Giant [53] (1956).

    John Wayne’s direction of The Alamo should be viewed as a lesson in good leadership. Wayne deftly handled the logistics of the project – it was filmed on location in rural Texas. He even had train tracks built to maintain supply lines. He kept production going even in the teeth of several tragic deaths among the cast and crew. He also managed to get his mentor, John Ford, out of the way when he showed up uninvited and started giving orders. He was able to keep big-ego actors working for him even after arguments that almost became fistfights. Indeed, although all of Wayne’s friends knew that he’d thrown his heart and soul into the project, a great many of them worked against him in some way throughout. James Arness, for example, didn’t show up for a meeting where he’d have been offered to play the role of Sam Houston.

    Although Wayne successfully completed the project, moviemaking is a for-profit business. The Alamo’s costs had spiraled out of control. To finish the project, Wayne threw in all his own cash, mortgaged his film company’s stock of movies, and mortgaged his house. While many Americans went to see it, the film didn’t make any money in the short term due to its massive cost. However, it should be carefully analyzed, as it represented the strengths and weaknesses of the Right just as the racialist, non-white political Left was about to sweep into power through Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Alamo’s strengths and weaknesses are as follows.

    Weaknesses:

    • The story’s pacing is poor. There are long subplots that don’t push the story along. Among other slow stretches, Davy Crockett (John Wayne) tries to woo a “damsel in distress” (Linda Cristal). There is also a big bar-fight scene between The Alamo defenders that serves no real purpose. Outside of science fiction and dystopian works, Right-wing fiction has yet to match that produced by Leftists.
    • It is a metapolitical work for the anti-Communists who were fighting the Cold War. It is not an accurate depiction of what actually transpired during the Texas War of Independence. In reality, the conflict was a clash of civilizations between the Spanish-ruled mestizo civilization and the American Anglos. In the actual battle, the Mexicans deliberately killed Texans outside the bounds of Christian chivalry. In John Wayne’s epics, the Texans gladly fight to the death and the Mexicans honorably killed them. As a result of this, the movie is awkward.
    • Santa Ana (Ruben Padilla) is played as something like an anti-Communist military dictator similar to Chile’s Pinochet rather than someone more shifty – like Vicente Fox.
    • John Wayne makes what we call today the “Boomer conservative” philosophical error of mistaking a form of government (muh Constitution) for a form of government that is an expression of a particular people. Wayne as Davy Crockett makes this mistake when he says [54], “Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose . . . Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.” All African nations are republics . . . does that make your heart warm?
    • John Wayne portrays blacks as loyal and self-sacrificing citizens-to-be. He ignores the fact that blacks in the 1960s were embarking on an insurgency that would leave cities in ruins up to the present day. For example, Jethro (Jester Hairston) throws himself in front of Mexican bayonets [55] to allow his master, Jim Bowie (Richard Widmark), to fight a few seconds longer. This also is an entirely inaccurate view of black loyalty during a military crisis. Blacks are uneven [56].

    Strengths:

    • These can be boiled down to one paragraph, but they are big strengths. The cinematography and music are outstanding. The Alamo was awarded an Oscar for Best Sound and a Golden Globe for its music. The battle scenes are also very well done. Clips of the Mexican army were used in other films, including How the West Was Won. And this tale does show how to behave in a dignified way under terrible pressure.

    John Wayne and Race

    It is important to note that, while John Wayne was well-read, he lived in a time when the distribution of information and its framing was tightly controlled. There were only two serious Right-wing books that “went viral” while John Wayne was politically aware and active. The first was The Iron Curtain Over America [57] (1951) by John Beaty, and the second was The Dispossessed Majority [58] (1972) by Wilmot Robertson. We don’t know if Wayne did or did not read them. If he had a racial view, it could best be described as implicit white supremacy. During the North American phase of Manifest Destiny, the white man advanced and the red man disappeared. During its Pacific phase, the white man ruled over natives who did not vanish, but who were left prostrate following wars. Thus, Wayne didn’t need to think hard about race.

    Wayne’s statements on the matter were all over the map. On one hand, he made statements in reference to his football career such as, “If the player on the other side of the scrimmage line is as good or better than you, you don’t care what color, religion, or nationality he is, you respect him. I’ve tried to live by that all my life.”[2] [59] These sentiments were balanced by more frank talk in an interview with Playboy magazine [60]: “. . . [W]e can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.” He also told reporters [61]:

    We’re being represented by men who are kowtowing to minorities where they can get votes and I think it is bad for our country. And I’m sad to see minorities make so much of themselves as a hyphenated American. I wish they’d all get to thinking that they’re Americans, as they should.

    Duke Morrison was unable to come to terms with the racial conflicts that were increasingly consuming America as he aged into his golden years. But there is one thing to note, namely that his best movie – and quite possibly one of the best movies ever made – was The Searchers, where Duke’s character John Wayne, the personification of (white) American Manhood, played a man driven to fight –  racial holy war style – the Comanche who had killed his family. The movie is quite dark. Wayne is hostile to his mixed-race sidekick (Jeffrey Hunter). The Comanche rape and murder white women. Both sides mutilate the bodies of their racial enemies’ dead. In a way that many white advocates today might understand, in the movie’s haunting final scene [62], Wayne’s character Ethan is cut off from white civilization, although his actions were necessary for that civilization to exist at all.

    John Wayne and the J-Communists

    The Cold War was a large and complex thing, but one aspect of it was that Communism was a Jewish ideology masquerading as a universalist Christian heresy. At least this was true until the Soviet Union became ruled by ethnic Russians, who sided with the Arabs against Israel after 1967. Throughout John Wayne’s lifetime, Communism was on the march, and the Soviet Union was a real force to be reckoned with. Additionally, a great many people in Hollywood, especially Jews, were active Communists to one degree or another.

    John Wayne was an anti-Communist. It is possible (but not certain) that he was a member of the John Birch Society. He gave many public speeches against Communism. And many of his friends were Jew-wise anti-Communists.

    He also worked to get the former Communist, Carl Foreman [63], blacklisted [64]. Wayne felt that Foreman’s movie High Noon [64] (1952) was an inaccurate and subversive reading of Americanism. In it, the Sheriff (Gary Cooper, who was himself an anti-Communist) must protect his town from some returning criminals. The townspeople refuse to join the Sheriff’s posse and cower in fear. The Sheriff must face the criminals alone. High Noon is an excellent film, and it has several interpretations. White advocates can easily identify with Cooper’s solitary stand for his community.

    One note about the blacklist: After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Spanish cultural forms entered a golden age. In the Jew-free England between Edward I and Oliver Cromwell, England produced Chaucer and Shakespeare. Judging from these examples, one can see that Jews bring down the culture of their host society. During the era of the Hollywood blacklist, the worst Jews were cut off from the culture industry, and those remaining had to toe the line. The 1950s became a mini-golden age of American culture. The songs from that time are excellent. Even today, “oldies” remain very popular. Turn on a TV channel that specializes in re-runs, and nearly every show will have been produced in the 1950s. Walt Disney’s greatest works also originated during a time when no Jews worked in his company.

    Westerns Beyond the Westerns: John Wayne’s Serious, Later Work

    After the challenges of The Alamo, John Wayne made a series of what film historian John McElwee has called “comfort Westerns [65].” These films [66], like North to Alaska [67] (1960) and The Comancheros [68] (1961) are well-made and easy to watch action films. A number of these films are also whitopian, such as the war picture In Harm’s Way [68] (1965). Some of the comfort Westerns aren’t that good, however, like Cahill, United States Marshal [69] (1973). Part of John Wayne’s ethos was to always keep working, and as a result, not all his films were great. Nonetheless, his later movies have a seriousness that needs to be discussed.

    The Green Berets is the only movie made[3] [70] during the Vietnam War that was sympathetic to American efforts there. At the time, it was subject to many protests. Oliver Stone considers it “racist,” which misses the considerable empathy shown by Wayne for the South Vietnamese characters. The movie has aged well, its story is good, the pacing is on, and the death of Sergeant Petersen (Jim Hutton) still has an emotional impact. Manifest Destiny’s final moments played out on April 30, 1975 in Saigon, so there is a poignancy in that the actor who best personified Manifest Destiny played a soldier in Vietnam.

    The Undefeated [71] (1969), set during the Civil War, has an opening battle scene that is really well done. The movie tells the story of a group of Union Army vets trying to sell horses to the French in Mexico. They must eventually pick sides in the Mexican-French Conflict and team up with a group of Confederates who are going to join the French. While it is a whitopian comfort Western, it does attempt to get Americans to end their differences over things like the Confederate Battle Flag and work together. The firing squads [72] depicted in it aren’t too far removed from what was really going on in Latin America during the Cold War, either.

    In True Grit [31] (1968), while Glen Campbell is miscast, it does show that the old values of Iowa Privilege still matter. Wayne would win an Oscar for this role. True Grit has an insidious side, though. It spawned a subgenre in which an old white guy does a successful rear-guard defense of the values and people of white Western civilization. However, this subgenre is easy to subvert. Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino [73] (2008) is another example, but in it, Eastwood’s character represents white American manhood sacrificing himself in a non-white vs. non-white conflict.

    Chisum [74] (1970) loosely follows the story of the New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War [75]. Like all great art, the movie can represent real-world situations beyond its original surface meaning. In this case, what should be an impartial law enforcement agency becomes an agent for one sociopolitical faction against another. President Nixon, who is said to have liked the film, would come to be the victim of a disgruntled senior FBI official colluding with the mainstream press and the Democratic Party – the sort of behavior which continues today.

    The Cowboys [76] (1972) was the first film that depicted Baby Boomers as being a disaster of vice, poor judgment, and self-absorption. John Wayne must get his cattle to the railhead at Belle Fourche, South Dakota with a group of children who are too young to be Boomers. Along the way, he toughens them up and teaches them how to be men. In the end, he is shot in a cowardly way [77] by a knave with a hippie hairstyle right out of Woodstock (played by Bruce Dern).

    And lastly, John Wayne’s swan song is The Shootist [78] (1976). If John Wayne ever subtly alluded to the ongoing Sub-Saharan-fueled crimewave then plaguing America’s cities, it was when he depicted scenes of Anglo or Mexican muggers getting shot after some corny lines by Wayne. This happens in The Undefeated, Chisum, and The Shootist [79]. It’s still escapism. John Wayne plays only an implicit white supremacist, not an actual one. But such a mugging (featuring an Anglo as mugger) opens John Wayne’s last movie. It wasn’t supposed to be Wayne’s last, but fortunately, from an artistic perspective, it was. (Wayne only acted in commercials [80] following this film.) In it, John Wayne must face old age, and the film’s greatness becomes apparent if one sees it after caring for aging parents or grandparents.

    John Wayne has ridden into the sunset, and yet his work lives on. His life and work should provide inspiration to whites for centuries.

    Notes

    [1] [81] Scott Eyman, John Wayne: The Life and Legend (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), Kindle loc 106.

    [2] [82] Ibid., Kindle loc. 778.

    [3] [83] Yes, I know, John Wayne doesn’t hook up to the static line before jumping!

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • St. Steven of Le Mans: The Man Who Just Didn’t Care
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]5,471 words

    Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans [2] (2015)
    Directors: Gabriel Clarke, John McKenna
    Stars: Steve McQueen, Chad McQueen, Neile Adams, John Sturges, Alan Trustman, Lee H. Katzin,  Jonathan Williams, Peter Samuelson
    102 min.

    Le Mans [3] (1971)
    Director: Lee H. Katzin
    Writer: Harry Kleiner 
    Stars: Steve McQueen, Siegfried Rauch, Elga Andersen
    106min.

    “Though they may not always be handsome, men doomed to evil posses the manly virtues.” — Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal

    Le Mans is a “racing movie,” and if that makes you want to run the other way — don’t. If this essay can’t convince you, then at least catch the documentary, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, on Showtime or Amazon Video. If that still doesn’t convince you, you may be dead, or at least, have no soul.

    Le Mans is a “racing movie” but this is no Tom Cruise “vehicle” with a pretty-boy romance to bring in the ladies like Days of Thunder. Nor is it a “white people are so stupid” “comedy” like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. And, as we’ll see, it certainly isn’t some thunderingly loud and visually disorienting CGI’d fantasy for nerds without driver’s licenses.

    There’s been a lot of talk here at Counter-Currents about various writers’ personal history with various icons of masculinity, especially (given our times) the cinematic sort, especially in the realm of espionage.[1] In the latter context, names from the ’60s like Sean Connery or James Coburn seem to predominate.

    For what I might call a slightly younger cohort within that generation, Terence Steven “Steve” McQueen (March 24, 1930 — November 7, 1980) would more likely come up; and yet, a search of the Counter-Currents website show he hasn’t here. Except, interestingly enough, in two contributions from myself: one, an epigraph quoted from a book under review [4], Paul Bingham’s Down Where the Devil Don’t Go:

    Mort Schnellenhammer laughed. For the first time in his life, he felt like Steve McQueen.

    And the other, a quote from McQueen, from the end of Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, no less, from my essay on Trump and Positive Thinking [5]:

    “I like daydreaming. You know that state before you get to sleep? Except in my life my daydreams came true.” — Steve McQueen, interview given while he was dying from lung cancer in 1980.

    Now, I don’t want to get into any pissing contests here, but perhaps McQueen’s taciturn model of the quietly efficient doing of one’s job[2] with some inner amusement could serve as a more relevant, or accessible, role model than the wise-cracking, showboating Connery/Coburn?[3] You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

    Frist, let’s get some perspective from, of course, Wikipedia [6]:

    Terence Steven “Steve” McQueen (March 24, 1930 — November 7, 1980) was an American actor. Called “The King of Cool,” his “anti-hero” persona, developed at the height of the counterculture of the 1960s, made him a top box-office draw of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Cincinnati Kid, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, and Papillon, as well as the all-star ensemble films The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world, although he did not act in films again for four years. McQueen was combative with directors and producers, but his popularity placed him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.

    After an archetypically bad childhood,[4] McQueen left reform school to take up a rather archetypally masculinist life:

    At 16 McQueen left Chino and returned to his mother, now living in Greenwich Village, New York. He then met two sailors from the Merchant Marine and volunteered to serve on a ship bound for the Dominican Republic. Once there he abandoned his new post, eventually being employed as a “towel boy” in a brothel. Afterwards McQueen made his way to Texas and drifted from job to job. He worked as an oil rigger, a trinket salesman in a carnival, and a lumberjack.

    Ultimately — and again archetypally — the Marines seemed to straighten him out:

    Initially he reverted to his prior rebelliousness and was demoted to private seven times. He took an unauthorized absence by failing to return after a weekend pass expired, staying with a girlfriend for two weeks until the shore patrol caught him. He resisted arrest and spent 41 days in the brig.

    After this he resolved to focus his energies on self-improvement and embraced the Marines’ discipline. He saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea. He was assigned to the honor guard, responsible for guarding then US President Harry Truman’s yacht. McQueen served until 1950 when he was honorably discharged. He later said he had enjoyed his time in the Marines.

    As we just saw, the late ’60s he had managed to become “the King of Cool” and arguably the biggest males star in the world. Now there’s self-improvement!

    There were two additional elements to McQueen’s success: his frequent director, John Sturges, and the interestingly named Alan Trustman, a successful lawyer who retired at 37 and decided to become a screenwriter. He first two were the iconic McQueen vehicles, The Thomas Crown Affair (written for Sean Connery but rewritten for McQueen; the 1989 remake would go to Pierce Brosnan) and Bullitt (written in 20 hours and grossing 68 million). With the first,

    Trustman felt the script had to be rewritten for McQueen and spent a week of 16-hour days at United Artists in New York screening film on McQueen and making lists of what McQueen liked, didn’t like, did well, and could not do.[5] McQueen loved the rewrite, and told everyone “I don’t know how but the son of a bitch knows me.”

    “Knows” or “created”? Let’s say Tribesman Trustman,[6] a clever middleman, was able to perceive the essence of McQueen’s persona and then distill it into a handy formula; a mantra for McQueen to recite before each scene, “no matter what the director says”:

    I decide what is right and what is wrong, and I don’t have to explain it to anybody. I like women, but I’m a little afraid of them. If you make a commitment to a woman they can hurt you. I won’t pick a fight with you, but if you pick a fight with me or back me into a corner I will fucking kill you.[7]

    There, see? Now there’s a mantra for the modern man. Worth a whole gigabyte of game blogs.[8]

    They let me meet with him a few times so I could explain [compare?] the character to Humphrey Bogart, hard-bitten, not loquacious.[9] All the sentences had to be short, a character of internal integrity who’s not afraid of a fight . . .

    McQueen understood the camera and understood that the camera loved him, and that’s an exceptional ability for an actor to have. Yes, he was consistent, but people loved that character. And it was very much like the real Steve McQueen.[10]

    TCM recently had a double feature of Bullitt (1968) and Le Mans (1971). Although I’m a big fan of Bullitt,[11] I’ve seen it many times and did not mind not noticing it was on until it was almost over. Le Mans was the movie I wanted to catch for the first time, having seen the documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans a few days before. However, for our purposes, if not TCM’s, it would be good to start with Bullitt.

    The novel Mute Witness has an elaborate plot which, whatever its merits,[12] the film, (retitled for its McQueen character), like most successful films — much to the annoyance of Tolkien and comic book fan-boys — puts on the back burner or largely ignores, in favor of sound and vision.[13]

    Much of the joy of watching Bullitt comes from what it captures: San Francisco in the 1960s, Steve McQueen when he was young, action sequences which are believable, and a sense of space and stillness. The dialogue is kept to a minimum, the acting is understated, we observe the characters from a distance. This contrasts with the films they make today which are too busy, with too much going on, too many special effects, unreal action sequences, and with characters who display too much attitude and sarcasm.[14] You can watch Bullitt 10 times and still find elements of the story you hadn’t noticed before, which usually provide some crucial insight into understanding the plot. Important aspects of the story are revealed in places you don’t expect, such as behind the opening credits and before the main characters are introduced. Understanding this film is an iterative process, a better detective story than the one embedded within the plot. It never gets boring.

    “An iterative process” — In short, exactly the kind of movie ripe for our paranoiac-criticial method. But that will have to wait for another time. All the elements this blogger singles out for praise will be found in the much less appreciated Le Mans and (perhaps because) at an even higher level of intensity.[15]

    And a trip to San Francisco in the late ’60s.[16] Like Clint Eastwood’s Carmel and Monterey,[17] this is still a world where “hip” means smooth, “white” West Coast jazz.

    One audio-visual element left out in that appreciation — perhaps it goes without saying — is the famous, indeed iconic “car chase” through what a later TV show would call “the streets of San Francisco.”[18] At the time, for a long time after, and largely still today, it’s considered the Gold Standard for such sequences; especially since, of course, there’s no CGI. And Le Mans does the same for the “racing film”—upping the ante with 50 cars, twenty-four hours, and the greatest track in the world. And just as Bullitt pitted the two greatest street-legal cars — the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger — against each other,[19] so the latter film uses the greatest racing cars of all time, the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 512S; and again, no CGI.[20]

    All these elements would be carried forward into Le Mans, which is pretty interesting, since the only common elements are the time period and McQueen; and fast cars, of course. Otherwise, Le Mans jettisons plot altogether, other than the ready-made narrative provided by the 24 hours of the race.

    First, back to McQueen. Inspired by the character he played in Thomas Crown, he had decided to parlay his acting cred into becoming something that really mattered: a filmmaker. He would no longer be “some candy-ass actor” but a mover and shaker. Filmmaking meant something, both as a massive industry and as a total art form.

    “Film is a very important medium.”

    Here, McQueen is on the same page as our own Trevor Lynch:

    By integrating so many art forms, film can communicate more, and more deeply, to more people, than any single art form. . . . Second . . . movies are a force. They are the greatest tool ever invented for shaping people’s ideas and imaginations. In the right hands, they can be a force for good. In the wrong hands, they are a force for evil.[21]

    As Lynch goes on to point out, films today are mostly a force for evil, since they views and values they embody and promote are those of the hostile Jewish elite. McQueen’s production company would promote — if only implicitly — the “cool” masculinity of the Aryan.

    The name of his company would be, of course: Solar Productions.

    There was another element — also implicitly White[22] — to be added as well: auto racing.

    Maybe it’s being from Detroit, but I’ve never understood the loathing of NASCAR. Well, except I understand it as a status marker posing as cultural sophistication. This is Euro-style Grand Prix racing, not NASCAR, which really did have some cachet domestically at the time, but now I suppose unless it’s bike (or “cycle”) racing, it’s all the same.

    As usual, you can tell it’s a status thing from the banality of the reasons offered. “They just drive in circles!” Sure, no talent required, like horse racing — the sport of kings! — Roman chariot races, and all those Negro track athletes. It’s like “Wrestling is fake!” Sure, unlike, say, a Hollywood movie.

    Speaking of fake, McQueen’s racing was, like his acting, not an act. According to Wikipedia,

    He began to earn money [in 1952] by competing in weekend motorcycle races at Long Island City Raceway and purchased the first of many motorcycles, a Harley-Davidson. He soon became an excellent racer, and went home each weekend with about $100 in winnings (equivalent to $900 in 2015).

    When he had the opportunity to drive in a movie, he performed many of his own stunts, including some of the car chase in Bullitt and the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape. Although the jump over the fence in The Great Escape was done by Bud Ekins for insurance purposes, McQueen did have considerable screen time riding his 650cc Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle. It was difficult to find riders as skilled as McQueen. At one point, using editing, McQueen is seen in a German uniform chasing himself on another bike.

    By 1970, McQueen would drive the 12 hour Sebring race, actually finishing second, despite driving with a broken foot. As an interviewee puts it, “it took Mario Andretti and two Ferraris to beat him.”

    “I am a driver, an actor, and a filmmaker”

    McQueen was now perfectly positioned to draw on all three talents to produce a “racing film” that would be the greatest racing film, the greatest documentary, possibly the greatest film, ever made. Le Mans would combine the tycoon of Thomas Crown with the barely scripted hard driving of Bullitt.

    The Guardian, of course, provides a perfect example of how a modern cultural cockroach would view this film and this documentary thereon, as well as McQueen himself:

    A weird mood of solemnity settles like rain on this interesting, odd documentary about the petrol-head Hollywood star Steve McQueen and the film he took on in 1970 at the height of his celebrity prestige. It was to be a big budget movie about the Le Mans 24-hour auto race in which he would be producer-star: he wanted all the real thrills of the sport he loved.

    It was soon horribly clear that this film was something between a vanity project and a midlife crisis. McQueen could never decide on a script or story, and the movie went wildly over budget as McQueen’s team of professional drivers risked their necks shooting hours and hours of ambient race footage.

    Another type of documentary, with a little more ironic detachment, would have played up the hilarious tinseltown nightmare of McQueen’s Le Mans, and been much more candid about him being an egomaniacal pain. But not this film, which has the cooperation of McQueen’s family and so respectfully insists on how poignant and sad it all was. It could be that this documentary defeats your hopes for fun and interest in exactly the same way as the original film — which is, however, still admired in certain quarters for its almost wordless documentary realism. But it’s still an interesting study in how even the biggest movie stars can bump their heads on a career ceiling. Like Brando, McQueen was discontented with pretty-boy fame. He yearned for producer-power and producer-control, but finally had to settle for being the world’s biggest acting star instead.[23]

    I honestly had to take a shower after reading that. My God, it’s all there, isn’t it? Racing fans are morons (“petrol head”). “Another type of documentary” — you know, a clever one — might salvage some “fun” by revealing the naked Emperor for laughs, but this this benighted one takes it all seriously. Oh, my goodness, can you believe it? Of course, I suppose it has its crude fans in “certain quarters,”[24] but you couldn’t pay me to visit those inbred, Bible-thumping shitholes of CIS culture.

    Anyway, back to 1970.

    Le Mans was supposed to be an unprecedented production, both a racing film — no one, all agreed, had really captured the sport on film — and at the same time a storyline of some sort. McQueen would tie the two together, starring in the story and driving in the race.

    Things began to go to Hell almost immediately.

    They began without a screenplay. Not without a completed screenplay — a not at all uncommon occurrence — but no screenplay at all.[25] Le Mans would be a kind of cinematic “nonfiction novel,” with the filmmakers as participants in the events, and the storyline emerging along with the race.[26]

    The first blow was that the insurance chappies refused to let McQueen actually drive.

    Director Sturges continued as he had started, filming everything he in sight, using both the race itself and staged sequences with stunt drivers. But he continued to press McQueen on coming up with a screenplay with a suitably “romantic” storyline, which McQueen refused to countenance.

    Eventually Sturges quit the film — after most his footage prove unusable — with the classic parting remark, “I’m too old and too rich to put up with this shit.”

    Next to go was Trustman. Despite “knowing” McQueen, the trusty screenwriter could not go along with McQueen’s idea of abandoning his macho image and playing a loser. In the doco, Trustman asks plaintively:

    “He wanted to lose, and I don’t know why.”

    We’ll get back to that. McQueen decided to jettison the story altogether, but eventually, the financiers (of course) moved in:

    Cinema Centre considered shutting down the film completely, but eventually struck a deal with Steve in which he gave up his salary, his percentage of profits, and his control of the film, in order to “get it finished.”

    The same old story: the Aryan creates, begins to succeed, and the financiers bring him down and take it over.[27]

    The film got finished 2 months later than planned and 1.5 million over budget. One driver lost a leg during production, and Steve was nearly killed twice.

    After Le Mans was released in the US, Steve went bankrupt, his main Solar partners left the company, and Solar as a ‘real’ production company had folded. Also, his marriage to Neile was collapsing.

    Le Mans did make money (19 million at the Box Office), but Steve never saw a cent of it.[28]

    Le Mans is surprisingly not a disaster itself, although it proved to be a disaster for all involved.[29]

    I’ve frequently suggested that with Grade Z filmmakers like Edward D. Wood, Jr., Coleman Francis, and Merle Gould, the utter lack of conventional “talent” results in a kind of negative capability that allows, in Zen fashion, interesting things to “just happen.” Freed from Hollywood expectations (Sturges: there must be a romance; Trustman: he must be a hero), the films not only evade liberal agendas (Ed Wood, for example, was a pro-family, anti-smut Republican under his angora sweater) but are free to become remarkably accurate time capsules of the period (true cinéma vérité)[30] as well as be open to the arising of archetypal and Traditionalist motifs.[31]

    The lack of a script isn’t B-movie incompetence, blockbuster no-brainer, or art house superciliousness. It allows the film to be a hypnotic meditation on racing, and is appropriate to McQueen’s no talk character. The ending avoids contrived Hollywood schmaltz AND hip nihilism romanticism (unlike Easy Rider, say).[32]

    Some online comments from the review at wonderinthedark [7]:

    This film has fascinated me for years — not just its checkered production history, but its refusal to play it conventional in terms of narrative storytelling. The filmmakers understand that for this kind of film, visual storytelling is of paramount of performance –hence the surprisingly lack of dialogue and, at times, cinéma vérité approach. (JD)

    [Le Mans only has] something resembling a plot. What plot there is is driven, (no pun intended), by the race, & the sketchily drawn characters are in turn driven entirely by the plot, & are never driving it, which is a microcosm of racing & real lit itself. The characters are sketchily drawn on purpose, as they are as incidental to the movie as the plot is, both being the framework to hang the images on that actually drive the movie.

    The time capsule element is built right into the race documentary angle. The saturated color easily evokes the ’70s. The most notable element is the silence — except for the cars, of course. No ever-present Muzak as in today’s public spaces. No iPhones, iPods, etc. Drivers and crews talk directly to each other, over the car noise, no headphones or mikes.

    As for narrative, Le Mans has the thinnest plot thread of any big-budget, supposedly “Hollywood” film I’ve ever encountered.[33] It’s called Le Mans because the race is the major component, one that simply goes on its own for 24 hours. Inserted into this is a woman (whose name I can’t be bothered to recall, so little does it or her matter) whose husband died at Le Mans the year before. McQueen is a driver who cracked up elsewhere, to avoid a hitchhiker in the road. Their eyes meet; they know each other’s backstory.

    He says, “It must have been hard for you.”

    She replies, “At first. But now I’m alright . . . Was it difficult to return to racing?”

    If this was a “Hollywood” film this encounter would lead to a “romantic encounter” as per Sturges’s idea; I’ve seen online reviews that actual say there is one, so great is the Hollywood preconditioning. But McQueen is in charge now, and so it doesn’t. Eventually, near the end, they meet in a trailer, and a typically awkward male/female conversation occurs.[34]

    “When people risk their lives, shouldn’t it be for something important? What’s so important about driving faster than anyone else?”

    “A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing is important to men who do something well . . . When you’re racing, it’s life . . . Anything that happens before and after, it’s just waiting . . .”

    Then McQueen goes out and finishes the race. The end.[35]

    Here’s what I think is happening: the race, of course, is a Circle. The widow is returning to the scene of her husband’s death, McQueen, who unlike her husband crashed without dying, is returning to racing. By connecting with him, if he can finish the race without dying she will have broken the broken the chain of karma that would keep her returning again and again to the race (the circle of samsara). The vicious circle will become a virtuous spiral.[36]

    Meanwhile, McQueen has concocted a brilliant subversion of the Hollywood Hero ending. McQueen’s character, Mike Delaney (oh, yeah, that’s the name, it hardly matters, it’s Steve McQueen!) also evades karma. He has crashed again, become hors de combat before talking to the widow. But the team manager does not trust his teammate to maintain the lead; he sends McQueen back in solely to stymie the Ferrari driven by his longtime rival and enable the other Porsche driver to win;[37] thus he acts without concern for the fruits of action, he “wins” without “winning.”[38]

    Remember when Trustman (what a name!) asked plaintively: “He wanted to lose, and I don’t know why.”

    Well, I’ll suggest that answer to that, or at least, call on Baron Evola to explain. The “differentiated man” (the man who stands out from the mass) that Ride the Tiger is a study of, and a manual for, faces the lack of initiatory tradition in the modern world by structuring his life as a series of tests or challenges, by which he confronts death, symbolic or otherwise, in order to discover and reaffirm (contra Heidegger) his connection to something Transcendent within.

    The valid attitude toward the beyond is the same attitude that I proposed for life in general: that of a transcendental confidence, joined on one side by the “heroic” and “sacrificial” disposition (readiness to actively take oneself beyond oneself), or the other by one’s capacity to dominate his soul, impulses, and imagination: just as one who, in a difficult and risky situation does not lose control of himself, doing lucidly and without hesitation all that can be done . . . the disposition of being ready “to bear lethal blows on ones won being without being destroyed.”[39]

    “The ‘heroic’ and ‘sacrificial’ disposition” would suggest McQueens’ subversion of the “winner” cliché in the climax of Le Mans. “One who, in a difficult and risky situation does not lose control of himself, doing lucidly and without hesitation all that can be done” — would be an excellent description of race driving, filmmaking along the lines of Le Mans, and life itself, lived along the lines of the King of Cool.

    Le Mans manages to be a bravura celebration of technical mastery — of race driving and filmmaking — along the lines suggested by Ernst Jünger; combined with a proud non-mastery, a sovereign contempt, for the niceties of screenwriting and audience-catering to. As commenter “JD” says,

    Y’know, one could argue that in some respects, McQueen is the auteur of this film. It was obviously a passion project for him, one that almost bankrupted him and that refused to compromise on, which resulted in an uncommercial film, but one that his vision represented his vision. He saw a beauty and sense of purity in racing — the whole man and machine thing where you’re not only racing against an opponent(s), but yourself in terms of mental and physical endurance, which I think LE MANS explores in fascinating ways.

    Indeed, McQueen’s whole persona, the “man who didn’t give a shit,” suggests Baron Evola’s description of the true Aryan “race of spirit”:

    It is not said that the realization that something is impermanent is eo ipso a motive for detachment from and renunciation of it. This depends on what we have elsewhere called the “race of the spirit.” . . . Only in those in whom this race [the ‘heroic” or Aryan] survives . . . can it arouse the reaction that follows from “No, I want no more of it,” from “This does not belong to me, I am not this, this is not my self.” The work, then, has one single justification, it must be done, that is to say, for the noble and heroic spirit, there is no alternative. Katam karaniyam, “that which has to be done has been done,” this is the universally recurring formula that refers to Ariya that have destroyed the asava and achieved awakening.[40]

    Speaking of circles and repetitions, this blogger,[41] though writing in somewhat impenetrable Euro-cinema lingo, has uncovered a number of fascinating parallels between Le Mans and our old favorite, Kiss Me Deadly![42] Beginning with the beginning: both movies commence with our protagonist, name Michael (Delaney/Hammer), driving his expensive sports car (Porsche/Jag) at night on a country road, and swerving to avoid a female hitchhiker.

    He even makes this remarkable claim:

    It is, though, the other side of the camera we have to pay some attention to at this stage, because this vehicle has been discreetly outfitted (by somebody) with an unsuspected range of motion, which seals the deal. There was Katzin, and nominal screenwriter, Harry Kleiner — neither being, for all their Ivy League background, a force for the ages. What they did have, however, was an association with Robert Aldrich and a predisposition to attend to dramas where there is someone who must (like Kiss Me Deadly’s Mike Hammer) stand alone, for want of useful encouragement in the workplace and at home.

    The blogger doesn’t spell out this “connection” but apparently [8],

    Harvard-educated director Lee H. Katzin (1935–2002) was a protégé of filmmaker Robert Aldrich. Katzin’s official directorial debut was the Aldrich-produced melodrama Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice (1969); in truth, a year or so earlier he had helmed the disastrous The Phynx, which had an extremely limited release in 1970. His big-budget break came when he replaced John Sturges as director for Le Mans (1971); Katzin’s documentary approach in this film was at odds with his usual self-conscious, gimmicky visual style. The director’s TV credits include “Movie of the Week” fare like Along Came a Spider (1970) and Ordeal (1973), pilot films like Man From Atlantis (1977), and several episodes of the British sci-fi series Space: 1999 (1975–77). In 1988, Katzin directed The World Gone Wild, his first theatrical feature in years.

    That list of credits certainly puts Katzin in the B director league. The pro-McQueen doco presents Katzin as a nobody and never-was, forced on McQueen by the terms of his settlement with Cinema Center but totally dominated by McQueen, (after Katzin called for a second take on his first scene, McQueen told him that “I’ll say when we need a fucking second take”), but the Aldrich connection[43] may have been just the alchemical element McQueen needed to finally produce some kind of script that would synthesize a film out of hours of race footage:

    The scenario McQueen had favored, for all its paucity of this-planet enthusiasms, did relate to the loneliness of a top-flight Grand-Prix celebrity, constantly exposed to nature-inflecting, life-changing motions. So between them, this unholy trinity did something that, if ever known, would break many hearts in the driving fraternity and render Le Mans even less marketable than generally understood. A storm-tossed voyage, no doubt; but notably having had its moment of brief, powerful (though unnoticed) buoyancy.

    I suppose it should come as no surprise, then, that the ridiculously rare and expensive book on the making of Le Mans is called A French Kiss with Death.[44]

    There’s a Blu-Ray of Le Mans that you should buy.[45] The doco is quite good, and you should either buy it or rent it from Amazon or catch it on Showtime currently. It’s masterfully cobbled together from archival footage, including never before heard audio from McQueen, new interviews with survivors, and incredible amounts of film footage shot in, around, and for the production, which had been presumed lost.

    The McQueen audio, which includes many great lines, such as the daydreaming one quoted earlier, seems to have been recorded while the actor was dying prematurely of lung cancer. They are captioned as “Mexico,” and I recall that McQueen, like Steve Jobs much later, was much in the news as a celebrity pursing an “alternative” cancer treatment; in his case, laetrile, a derivative of apricot pits that was banned in the USA but available down south. The filmmakers don’t mention this, but instead insinuate that the disease was caused by the flame-retardant clothing he wore at Sebring and Le Mans. As a reviewer notes [9]:

    One thing I took issue with was a prominently placed assertion that the asbestos caused cancer may have come from the flame proof driving suits. If that were the case, we would have likely seen this as a trend with drivers from that era. This was a sensational and reckless comment which ignored the fact that McQueen was in the Merchant Marine prior to acting and that the ships boilers and piping were wrapped in asbestos. This was the likely source of his issue as there are a number of former sailors and shipyard workers who had suffered from asbestosis.

    I’ve seen this sort of asbestos panic before, from tenants forced to leave all their belongings behind when evacuated from damaged buildings (and subsequently looted) to all these “home improvement” and “flipping” shows, even the restaurant rebuilding ones; asbestos is treated like plutonium, killing on contact rather than needing to build up over the years. This, like the similar panic over “secondhand smoke” (laws in NYC address the issue of smoke penetrating condo walls 80 stories away) seems part of the ongoing infantilization of the public, which I’m sure McQueen would sneer at.[46]

    As would McQueen’s son, Chad, who went along to Le Mans and returns there 40 years later. In between, he followed his father’s racing lead, eventually breaking about every bone in his body, including a vaguely mumbled injury that apparently requires him to wear sunglasses when facing the camera (otherwise being the spitting image of his old man). He provides detail on what it was like to be at Le Mans with your dad driving, and reads pithy excerpts from his father’s documents with gusto, such as this from a preliminary briefing for the cast and crew:

    [Grand Prix] is a prime example of a director playing with himself in public. . . . OK gentlemen, battle stations!

    Less useful are interviews with McQueen’s widow, who (one is tempted to say “of course”) is still around to complain about his infidelity and, no doubt, collect hefty residual checks. She’s also part of a half-hearted attempt by the documentarians to link McQueen’s lofty “don’t give a shit” mentality to the “liberation” movements of the ’60s.[47] Of course, no one could be less of a hippie than McQueen, except perhaps Frank Bullitt’s contemporary San Francisco cop, Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callaghan.[48]

    The most annoying aspect is the captions or subtitles, which are absurdly and unnecessarily small, making them almost unreadable on the small screen, at least for those of us old enough to remember the phenomenon of Steve McQueen.

    One final repetition, uncommented on in the doco or online as far as I can tell: at Sebring, the almost-winning McQueen greets the cheering crowds (his almost-victory and Hollywood fame eclipsing the actual winners) with the fashionable ’60s “peace sign.” At the end of Le Mans, the almost winning Michael/McQueen gives his rival, and the audience, the European “two-finger salute.” Like so many outsider directors, in the final analysis, he really just didn’t care;[49] and we are all the better for it.

    Notes

    [1] See, for example, Jef Costello’s new collection, The Importance of James Bond (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).

    [2] In the words of the Buddha, Katam karaniyam, “that which has to be done has been done,” a phrase that will acquire pertinacity here soon.

    [3] Steve McQueen, it’s been said, is the only man who could make wearing a turtleneck look cool; Coburn barely succeeds at that. As for Bond, am I the only one who thinks Daniel Craig, as he emerges from the end of the Casino Royale titles, is channeling McQueen? In fact, according to Wikipedia, “Spy novelist Jeremy Duns revealed that Steve McQueen was considered for the lead role in a film adaptation of The Diamond Smugglers, written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming; McQueen would play John Blaize, a secret agent gone undercover to infiltrate a diamond-smuggling ring in South Africa. There were complications with the project which was eventually shelved, although a 1964 screenplay does exist.”

    [4] McQueen was dyslexic and partially deaf; he alternated between street crime and parental beatings. “McQueen was caught stealing hubcaps by police, who handed him over to his stepfather, who beat him severely, ending the fight by throwing McQueen down a flight of stairs. McQueen looked up at his stepfather and said, ‘You lay your stinkin’ hands on me again and I swear, I’ll kill ya.’”

    [5] “Director Steven Spielberg said McQueen was his first choice for the character of Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. According to Spielberg, in a documentary on the Close Encounters DVD, Spielberg met him at a bar, where McQueen drank beer after beer. Before leaving, McQueen told Spielberg that he could not accept the role because he was unable to cry on cue. Spielberg offered to take the crying scene out of the story, but McQueen demurred, saying that it was the best scene in the script. The role eventually went to Richard Dreyfuss. (Wikipedia).”

    [6] “I’m a nice Jewish boy from Boston.” “‘Thomas Crown Affair’ screenwriter Alan Trustman talks films, working with Steve McQueen” by Mike Jaccarino; NY Daily News, August 28, 2011, here [10].

    [7] As his son, Chad, says later in the documentary, regarding his suborn insistence on making Le Mans his way: “He didn’t give a shit, you know? If there was a fight he wouldn’t turn away.”

    [8] So much for Judaic “method” acting nonsense. Not that he was “ignorant” of the Method. According to Wikipedia, “In 1952, with financial assistance provided by the G.I. Bill, McQueen began studying acting in New York at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse. Purportedly, the future “King of Cool” delivered his first dialogue on a theatre stage in a 1952 play produced by Yiddish theatre star Molly Picon. McQueen’s character spoke one brief line: “Alts iz farloyrn.” (“All is lost.”). During this time, he also studied acting with Stella Adler.”

    [9] See my review, “Humphrey Bogart: Man Among the Cockroaches,” reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    [10] Joccarino, op. cit.

    [11] “BULLITT” is a trademark of Warner Bros./Chad & T. McQueen Testament Trust, used here for review purposes only. In other words, “Don’t fuck with Steve McQueen.”

    [12] “[At some point in the ’60s] Penguin began to publish anything, and an orange spine ceased to be an indicator of quality. I’ve yet to establish exactly when the change occurred, but this book provides an upper bound. Simply put, this book has no merit whatsoever. It is just a story; pulp fiction. The characters are not believable, their conversations are inane, it tells us nothing new about the world it describes, and the author has no observations to make on life. There are no lessons here. This book gives the reader nothing but a way to pass some time. It is what Graham Greene would have described as ‘an entertainment’, but even that description would be generous. The book has a single saving grace in that it was the source of the film Bullitt, which is an amazing film, but one in which the plot is very difficult to follow.” A Penguin a Week blog, “Penguin no. 2999: Bullitt (Mute Witness) by Robert L. Pike,” here [11].

    [13] As a minor character recaps his movements in The Dead Talk Back, Crow T. Robot bursts out with “We could use a flashback here, this is a motion picture!” See my “Essential Films … & Others, here [12].

    [14] One might contrast Aryan and Judaic movie styles here.

    [15] Although I have to admit that I can’t claim you can watch it “10 times and still find elements of the story you hadn’t noticed before, which usually provide some crucial insight into understanding the plot,” as I haven’t had the chance to do that.

    [16] Check out the somewhat frighteningly detailed assembly of “Bullitt Locations” here [13].

    [17] As in Play Misty for Me (1971, same year as Le Mans) where Clint plays a hip DJ; a radio DJ, who hopes to break into the big time San Fran market; he also, like Bullitt, has a suitably quiet and in the background girl friend.

    [18] “The famous car chase features a wild drive through several picturesque parts of San Francisco. The chase was filmed in a variety of disparate locations and there is little continuity. It took two weeks to film the chase, not surprising since the locations are spread out over a considerable part of the city. The lack of continuity is due to the logistics of filming in a working city. There are several basic locations from which the film crew operated and many shots were filmed at locations close to these areas. For example San Francisco General Hospital is close to the chase scenes filmed around 20th Street, Kansas Street, and Rhode Island Street, while Russian Hill served as the base for many of the chase scenes, with the Marina District only a short distance away. The chase continues west toward the Golden Gate Bridge on Marina Boulevard. According to several printed sources, the chase was supposed to continue across the Golden Gate Bridge but the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District refused permission since even in 1968 it would have created a traffic nightmare, so the chase picks up again on University Street, which is all the way across the city to the south.” “Bullitt Locations,” ibid.

    [19] “The production company used two Mustangs and two Dodge Chargers to film the chase scenes. The Highland Green Mustangs had 390 cubic inch engines, while the Chargers had 440 cubic inch engines. The Chargers were 4-speeds, as were the Mustangs. The Dodge Charger was driven by Bill Hickman, who also played one of the hitmen in the film. The Winchester shotgun-toting hitman was played by Paul Genge. The Mustangs were driven by Bud Ekins, Carey Loftin, and McQueen. The camera car, built upon a Corvette chassis, was driven by Pat Houstis.” “Bullitt Locations,” ibid. Note that McQueen did (some) of his own driving; he’d do the same in Le Mans.

    [20] “Sadly, this is probably the last of the true racing movies. The world today is impossible to make a movie out of real racing car (every single race car in Le Mans is real: the Porsche 917, the Ferrari 512S, the Lola T70. Driven uses mock CART car based on Indy Light, plus a whole lot of crappy CGI car, Grand Prix uses the F2 car that looks like the F1 at the time. A movie like Le Mans probably will never be made again.” Reviewer at IMDB.

    [21] See “Why I Write,” here and as the Introduction to Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

    [22] Le Mans is a blessedly White film, as is appropriate to a film largely made as a documentary. I can’t definitely account for the crowds, but the only black face to appear is an actor, right near the end, playing a reporter; true to both characteristics, he’s an asshat.

    [23] Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, Thursday 19 November 2015, here [14].

    [24] Inhabited by fans like this one: “Steve McQueen, & Le Mans – SCREAMS Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, Women, Violence, Man Cave . . . !” (posted at IMDB).

    [25] Take that, you French New Wave pussies!

    [26] Somewhat in the manner of the way Hunter S. Thompson’s coverage of the Mint 400 motorcycle race the next year eventually produced Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. MarkM comments: [7] “I’ve always seen this movie as a sort of fictional documentary, as though the scripted scenes are of course staged & filmed, the feel of it is akin to watching a documentary on the race itself, albeit with fictional protagonists & something resembling a plot.”

    [27] See, for instance, my “This Ain’t Funny — This is Genocide! The Rise & Fall of the National Lampoon,” here [15], and “From Ultrasuede to Limelight: Aryan Entrepreneurs in the Dark Age,” reprinted in Green Nazis in Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015).

    [2 [16]8] [16]http://mcqueenonline.com/lemanshv.htm [17]. The doco reveals that McQueen asked Cinema Centre to earmark a share of the profits for the injured driver, Dave Piper, but he never got anything and in fact never knew, until now, of McQueen’s gesture.

    [29] McQueen’s career never really recovered, and he died of lung cancer in 1980. Trustman, for example, says he went from the biggest writer in Hollywood to a complete unknown — “the phone stopped ringing” — after quitting the film. We’ll look at the significance of winning by not winning in a bit.

    [30] As the three homicidal hobos of Red Zone Cuba struggle to raise the top of their stolen convertible, Crow T. Robot exclaims, “Your everyday annoyances should not be filmed!” (MST3k, Episode 619).

    [31] See my essays “Getting Wood: Closely Watching the Cinematic Alchemy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.”, here [18]; “From Bozo to Bertolucci: How Not to Watch the Films of Ed Wood, Jr.”, here [19]; and “Essential Films … & Others,” here [19].

    [32] Even Rocky had to come back and win in Rocky II.

    [33] It’s not intended to be an “experimental” or even “art” film, but as I’m insisting, it subtlely winds up as wildly innovative and unique. I suppose we should be glad that McQueen was restrained enough not to go full Warhol and offer us a 24 hour film.

    [34] “This checkmate has forced him to devise a better response, a response his face and body reveal to be peculiarly agonizing, his being a pronouncedly (and necessarily) laconic take upon dynamics. Barely audible, he takes a stab at conveying the nub of his involvement with fast cars.” Wonderinthedark, op. cit.

    [35] There also an even slimmer subplot of the second driver who’s thinking of retiring, but no one, including McQueen, cares about this plot.

    [36] Needless to say, all this recalls the theme song from The Thomas Crown Affair, “The Windmills of your Mind,” a classic bit of ’60s Euro-Pop that at first may sound like meaningless EuroPop: “Like a circle in a spiral, a wheel within a wheel. Never ending or beginning, on an ever-spinning reel.” The song is by Michel Legrande, who would also score Le Mans, although, like all the others his contributions — merely some atmospheric “cool jazz” that prefigures ambient music — are muted almost to nothing in McQueen’s single-minded pursuit of The Race Itself.

    [37] An interesting combination of such macho clichés as “taking one for the team” and “cock-blocking.”

    [38] “So, you lost. But by admitting you lost, you won. That’s some Zen shit, there.” World’s Dumbest Brawlers 12 (TruTV, 2012).

    [39] Ride the Tiger, p. 221. It’s interesting to imagine Evola as a Gran Prix driver; Ferrari or Porsche, do you think? In his own case, it was “mountain climbing at high altitudes” that allowed him to “seek dangers as a tacit way to put fate to the test.” See his Meditations on the Peaks (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1998) and also his autobiography, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Arktos, 2009), pp. 183–84, where he also discusses the “rumour” that his crippling injury in wartime Vienna was a result of a similar “testing” of fate.

    [40] The Doctrine of Awakening, “The Determination of the Vocations” (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1996), p. 77). It should be noted that of the various psychological types or “races of the spirit” that Evola delineates, McQueen also shades into the “Nietzschean” who embraces impermanence in a spirit of amor fati. Asked by the interviewer “Would you do it all over again” he replies “Absolutely.”

    [41] “‘When people risk their lives, shouldn’t it be for something important?’: STEVE McQUEEN AND LEE KATZIN’S LE MANS; May 15, 2013 by wondersinthedark, here [7].

    [42] See my essay “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale” in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

    [43] In my cited essay, I emphasize the accidental emergence of Traditional themes when directors and screenwriters are not paying attention — i.e., consciously inflicting their liberal/modernist agendas.

    [44] A French Kiss with Death: The Story of Steve McQueen and LeMans by Michael Keyser. From the apocalyptic climax of KMD: Lily Carver: “Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. The liar’s kiss that says I love you, and means something else.” Cue, like Le Mans, explosion and flames. Neither Mike ever really connects, Hollywood style, with his femme fatale.

    [45] For those who care, here’s a technical review from DVD Verdict: “The sheer joy of watching Le Mans is amped up considerably by the stupendous high definition transfer on this Blu-ray. The 1080p MPEG-4/AVC image offers sharp detail, superb depth, and perfect color reproduction. Print damage is minimal, as is any digital manipulation of the image. Audio is presented in a room-shaking DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround expansion of the original analog monaural track. Dialogue is a bit flat at times, but the sounds of the race are surprisingly full-bodied and dynamic given the limited source. Purists can rest assured that a single-channel DTS-HD Master Audio presentation of the original audio is also available, as well as uncompressed dubs in French, German, and Spanish. In fact, most of the space on Le Mans’ dual-layered platter is consumed by superb audio options. There are also 10 optional subtitle tracks. In addition to the feature, the disc offers a surprisingly substantive retrospective making-of documentary called Filming at Speed: The Making of the Movie Le Mans. The piece is hosted by McQueen’s son, Chad, and includes contributions from Katzin. There’s also a trailer for the movie.”

    [46] No comments are made about David Piper, the stunt driver who lost a leg below the knee, and was known as “the Pirate” due to his ever-present pipe smoking. He looks almost unchanged today, pipe and all.

    [47] The two themes collide when we learn that McQueen was to have attended the Hollywood party that was the target of the Manson Family murders; instead, he met some chick and had better things to do. Interestingly, one of the victims was Jay Sebring.

    [48] Bullitt adds the cool jazz and easy sex of Play Misty for Me to Dirty Harry’s Callaghan. What Tarantino might call “The Jessica Walter Problem” illustrates McQueen’s mantra, both the danger of casual involvement with even the most seemingly accommodating women and the willingness, if pushed, to fucking kill you.

    [49] A trope, coined by MST3k, defined as [20] “A strange combination of the lack of money, time, expertise, enthusiasm, and simple talent sabotages the production. This is when the production values of a work are just so far below what should be expected that you can’t help but figure that They Just Didn’t Care.” For example: “I see the movie has finally thrown up its hands and said, ‘I just don’t know!’”— Tom Servo, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode 619, Red Zone Cuba.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Yukio Mishima
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]8,859 words

    Editor’s Note:

    The following text is the transcript by V. S. of Jonathan Bowden’s New Right lecture in London on December 10, 2011. I want to thank Michèle Renouf for making the recording available.   

    Mishima’s life was dedicated to a return of the spirit of the samurai and a belief in Yamamoto Jōchō’s book Hagakure, which is partly the 17th-century bible of samurai morality whereby life is transfigured by death, and the notion of a warrior who is also an intellectual and a literary figure as well as a spiritual crusader, a priest who kills, is paramount.

    Japanese culture is distinct from almost all others on Earth and is still difficult to understand and conceptualize for many Westerners. One of the more glaring things about Japan is that material which is banned in the West is widely available, particularly in terms of pornography, over which there are very little restrictions at all. Even in manga, or Japanese comics, which are often amazingly hardline and hardcore in Western terms.

    Japan is a strange society, because the dialectics which move within it are oppositional and highly differentiated to those of the West. It’s probably true that people who are self-identifying in the Western tradition have often admired elements about Japan, particularly imperial Japan. There’s a degree to which there’s not so much a symmetry as a meaningful asymmetry by which the Japanese are perceived as a people who wanted to be themselves in their own way.

    Japanese thought is influenced by Confucian, Shintoist, Buddhist, Zen Buddhist, and Taoist ideas and a medley of these finds itself as the basis of what it is to be Japanese. One of the cardinal views is that life is dominated by the spirits of the ancestors, and there is the notion of ancestor worship, which makes the family and the line of a family’s inheritance extraordinarily important. These spirits are called kami and there’s the notion that they can intervene in one’s actual life. These are supernatural ideas, but one of the tricks of Japanese culture, which is very similar to ancient Greece in this respect, is that all orders of opinion can accept these beliefs because there are secular and atheistic interpretations of these belief systems as there are purely religious ones. As in ancient Greece, a woman could kneel or lie before a statue of a god, and yet rationalist intellectuals in the same civilization could regard the divine stories as entirely metaphorical. And yet they would all be accepted as Greek. And they would all be accepted as different definitions of what it was to be Greek or to be a member of a Greek city-state. Mishima, for one, was obsessed by Greece, particularly ancient Greece, and incorporated quite a few Grecian odes and ethics into his books.

    Mishima was born into an upper middle-class family in Tokyo and was separated from his other siblings by his grandmother at an early age. A weak and rather effeminate child who was divorced from the company of boys on the order of his grandmother who was obsessed with death and had a rather morbid outlook and was herself quite closely related to key members of the Japanese aristocracy. Mishima had a strange, rather twilight childhood up to the age of 12 when his grandmother died and he was reintroduced starkly to the rest of his family.

    Modern and somewhat psychoanalytical interpretations of Mishima’s later conduct and ritual suicide as a political gesture at the end of his life concentrate on these early years as the foundation stones of the cult of living death that his adoration of the samurai was to perpetuate.

    Now, Mishima started writing when he was about 12 years of age, possibly when he was 6 years of age, and had his first novel produced when he was between 16 and 18, which was published on war rations paper. The first book was called Confessions of a Mask, but there was a book even before that which is largely forgotten today and which concerns nature worship.

    Mishima wrote a wide number of books. He wrote plays, which are both modern and classical in the Japanese tradition. Noh theater, as it’s called. Kabuki theater is a classical tradition in Japan. There’s also a puppet theater in relation to the second city other than Tokyo, Osaka, and the provinces. The tradition being external to Tokyo, the puppet is used instead of the body. In Tokyo, the body is used instead of a puppet. He also wrote two modern plays. One of which was called Madame de Sade, which is about the Marquis de Sade’s long-suffering wife in the early years of their life. That’s Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, who lived between 1740 and 1814. He also wrote a play called My Friend Hitler, which is quite controversial and was published in English, I think, in 1966.

    His most famous work, which is widely regarded outside Japan, is a tetralogy at the end of his life called The Sea of Fertility and is about the increasing meaninglessness of Japanese civilization, as he saw it, dominated by an excess of materialism which was alien to it.

    [2]Japan began to modernize from what Westerners would call a feudal type of life or pattern of existence in the 1860s and underwent extraordinary modernization. So much so that it is the first hybridized, Westernized Eastern society or Occidentally-oriented Asiatic society, seen in Western terms. I say “seen in Western terms,” because Westerners can only ever see things in their own terms. It’s extraordinarily difficult to step out of one’s own culture and view another culture which is highly advanced and technocratically proficient as well as having an artistry that stretches back centuries, if not a thousand years plus, into the past and yet is based upon axioms which are fundamentally different to one’s own.

    To give one example, there is a species of violent comic book, manga as they’re called in Japan, which is extremely sadistic and erotic, and one of these publications is called Rapeman, rather like Spider-Man or Superman, and it’s aimed at a similar audience. The incidence of rape in Japan is extraordinarily small in comparison to other advanced meritocratic and post-industrial societies like the United States, because the Japanese view is that you exteriorize dangerous fantasies by demarcating their existence rather than repressing them. The idea being that life is so ordered and structured in accordance with the social organicism of Japan based upon Confucian ideals that you have to let off some steam from the pressure-cooker eventually and one of the ways to do this is with material that will be regarded as suggestive, extremist, anti-familial, or highly dangerous in Western terms. So, you have a culture of extreme restraint and the possibility of radical violence co-existing in the same continuum because a lot of Japanese ethics and super-abundant ethics, the meta-ethics of a society are about the holding together of contraries in a dynamic state of force.

    Much of the Western world became aware of the growing militancy of the Japanese imperial nation-state in and around the beginning of the 20th century when Japan fought the first successful war against a European or a Western society when they essentially defeated the Russian Empire. This was in the Russo-Japanese War, which led to the scenario of a European power (Russia would be regarded as a greater European power in these circumstances, its landmass stretching over into Asia) defeated by a non-occidental rival. This was the first intimation of the modern prowess of Japan that it was prepared to take on major occidental societies in the struggle for world hegemony.

    The doctrines that have ruled Japan are essentially those of imperial monarchy, but this was always vitiated by the idea of the shogun or shogunate whereby essentially militaristic feudal lords representing samurai clans drawn from different parts of Japan exercised the imperial advisory role underneath a monarchical overlay. The monarch was seen as appointed by God and were seen as divine. It’s important to understand that for most Japanese until the middle of the 20th century following the defeat the divinity of the emperor was sacrosanct and was no negotiable and was not subject to discussion.

    In extreme Right circles in Japan, one of the many reasons why Mishima is a controversial figure is because he’s criticized the Emperor Hirohito at the end of the Second World War when in fact he didn’t abdicate and agree to the American proposals that the Japanese constitution be fundamentally changed.

    It’s difficult to imagine a human being who is worshipped as a god in Western terms. Roman emperors were worshipped as gods, but only outside Italy proper and only often in the more backward and remote parts of the empire. Even totalitarian leaders of Western nations in the 20th century who developed around them an anima or aura which could be said to be spiritistic in type have never been worshipped as gods in the formal sense.

    The de-divinization of the leadership of Japan in the post-war period was part of the American recasting of Japan so that it would never be a threat again. Japan has one of the largest standing armies in accordance with its population in the world, and all it does is guard the territory of Japan and steam around the various islands that constitute that landmass. There’s a degree to which the Japanese Self-Defense Force, as it’s called, never intervenes in the rest of the world, and you will notice that, UN proscriptions aside, America has not been able to coax Japan out into the various escapades and forms of adventurism which have characterized both the Cold War and the immediate last 20 years after the destabilization of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Russian Federation in its stead. Japan takes no role even in the Vietnam War. The Americans would have loved Japan to have fought in the Vietnam War, because of close proximity, but they refused to do so.

    There’s a strong culture of civic pacifism in Japan rooted in the nihilistic despair and vaporization of the atomic weapons that we used. There’s even a form of revisionism in Japan which is partly state-induced and which is not compatible with other forms of historical revisionism elsewhere in the world. This is the idea that certain official sources and channels and mainstream media in Japan downplay the actual sort of ferocious and horrific events of the atomic weapons use, because they don’t want to draw attention to the war of annihilation struggle and imperial dominion and the desire to carve out an enormous socio-economic empire in near Asia that Japan was engaged in. This means that the victims of the bombing, and there were an enormous number of survivors in both of the cities, blame their own government for perpetuating the war against the United States and its Western allies and in alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This is a Western ideology which has been seized upon by the victims of the atomic strikes and is often very powerfully used inside Japan. So, you have this paradoxical idea that revisionism is state playing down of Hiroshima and Nagasaki so as to defeat the neo-pacifism of a largely Buddhist movement that seeks to hold the Japanese government as being co-responsible for the use of the atomic weapons when in actual fact in all logic the Americans used the atomic weapons. This is part of a device which is used in Japan to regulate and moderate anti-Americanism, which is still a latent and powerful force in Japanese society given the re-writing of the constitution and the creation of a new civic Japan after the war.

    Basically, Japan was changed by the advent of the Second World War and its nuclear-laced aftermath far more than Germany was in the period of Adenauer’s succession between 1945 and 1948. West Germany largely was built on the basis, somewhat rudimentarily, of Weimar Germany, which could be said to be its natural precursor. There’s also a degree to which the norms of West Germany and its domination by the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic power structure alternating with periodic elections and a federal system based initially in Bonn prior to reunification was such that it ramified with many of the states around Germany in Europe. Japan had to chart a totally new course after the Second World War.

    You’ll notice that Japan is dominated or has been until relatively recently by one political party. Despite numerous elections, despite numerous attempts to import the Western model into Japan, two party democracy has never really taken off.

    One party, somewhat meaninglessly called the Liberal Democratic Party to appease American sort of neo-imperial tastes, has dominated the country since the nuclear explosions and the de-divinization of the emperor and the resulting capitulation of the armed forces, most of which did not commit ritual suicide on the event of Japan’s defeat because the emperor ordered them to stand down.

    Mishima represents the culture of the imperial officer corps who fought the war in imperial Japanese’s stead first against China and then against the Western powers. It’s important to recognize that Japan initially thought about attacking the Soviet Union – Russia in a sense – rather than the United States. This is partly because Japan fought a war successfully against Russia in the early part of the 20th century, but it’s also because a significantly Right-wing part of the samurai-based officer corps wanted to attack the underbelly of the Soviet Union. Don’t forget, we have a situation in the 1930s where large sections of China are occupied by Japan, particularly the industrial area of Manchuria. There was also in Western and humanist terms extreme brigandage and ferocity and what is called atrocity in those areas committed by Japanese troops.

    If Japan had invaded the Soviet Union’s softer underbelly and gone up into the Asiatic republics of what was then the Soviet Union at the time of maximum tension in the Soviet Union and during a period where the Soviet Union was under extreme attack at the point of near defeat by the forces of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union possibly could have been defeated and destroyed, and the whole history of the world would have been different. Indeed, in 1934 or 1936 there was a rising by 4,000 officers, all of whom were accredited samurai, which took over Tokyo and demanded that the imperial general staff orient Japan’s would-be offensive effort against the Soviet Union both for patriotic, geopolitical, and historical reasons. Also because Communism was seen as a great threat to the imperialistic and dynastic system that ruled in Japan.

    The samurai are a type of soldierly elite that has existed in other cultures in the world but rarely has been concretized to the degree that took place in Japan. At times in Japanese history 10% of the population were accredited samurai, including women who were married into samurai clans. The samurai were meant to be learned warriors who were steeped in the Buddhist tradition, which is in some ways in Western terms a mildly pacifist tradition, but the hard edge of the tradition is the martial arts which the samurai learn in their initial training.

    Samurais are accredited, unless they’re independent of all lords, to a lord or to a feudal baron in Western terms, and they formed clans or inter-ethnic enclaves or forms of identity which identified with particular feudal lords as against others. You then built up into a shogunate whereby an imperial leader and his wife or wives, because most marriages at the upper end of Japanese society were arranged . . . You had relationships with wives, you had possible relationships with geishas of which there were different types, and you had the possibility of multiple wives and multiple families for some men of the Japanese ruling class and upper class.

    One important thing to remember about Japan is that Japan is the society that rejected Christianity formerly and in an extreme way. There is a degree to which few societies on Earth have partly begun a conversion to Christianity and then reversed and negated it involving the massacre of many Christians and Christian missionaries. Exposed to the Portuguese and the Spanish Empires, Japan hesitated over the adoption of Christianity and whole samurai clans in various parts of Japan converted to the Christian faith. This was later undone by later shogunates who returned to Shintoism or to innate Japanese paganism.

    This faith system believes that the Japanese are uniquely chosen on Earth and are the children of the sun and are represented governmentally and institutionally and metaphysically by a living sun god who is their emperor.

    The duty of the samurai is to kill with love and understanding and in accordance with complete serenity in a semi-religious way on behalf of this divine autocrat or leader even if his will is interpreted by a Bismarckian figure such as a shogun. Again, one strives for Western metaphors to understand elements of the Japanese mindset, because it is rare for this formulation to exist in Western culture.

    Simulacrums of the samurai in the Western tradition might be said to be the Templars and the Hospitalers in the Middle Ages or elitist Christian warriors reared to a patriarchal standard of ascetic masculinity, those who believed ideologically in Crusades against Islam, for example, on behalf of the faith and genuinely seemed to believe in them at the time when they professed those views. One possibly also has elites in all armies, such as the Praetorian elite in the Roman legions, the Spartan courage and system of land-based fighting, the corollary to the Athenian naval-based prowess which provided the balance in Greek military warfare that enabled them to resist Persian invasion and elsewhere. But the cultivation of a priesthood that is also a killing machine, which is what the samurai were, is difficult to understand in Western terms.

    In the Hagakure, the samurai must never show weakness even at a point of weakness and never speak in such a way that undermines his sense of self or his loyalty to his lord and master. Samurai should strive for this odd combination of fanaticism, steeliness, clearness of thought, and serenity of temper. The samurai should feel no guilt over killing, but the flip side of this is that the samurai is always ready to kill himself in relation to a system of honor.

    In the Japanese traditionalist belief system, suicide is morally meritorious, which is something that the Western mind finds difficult to comprehend. This is because Shintoism preaches the notion of direct reincarnation as a fact rather than just an idea that can be spiritually postulated. In samurai rhetoric and law, and these ideas have the force of law for this pre-existent military elite inside Japan, if you were killed or if you committed ritual suicide you were immediately reborn in a mother’s womb 40 days later as a new human being. This meant that in their conception of self-suicide was not the end. Most of the greatest and most glorious figures in Japanese culture have committed suicide and have been praised for this both in their own time and afterwards. All suicides have to write a poem before they die which is called a death poem and is often in the form of a haiku, this minimalist, condensed type of poetry often dealing with themes of gentleness and forgiveness prior to the ultimate form of death.

    Mishima believed that this is what Japan was and is and could be, and he believed that the spirit of the samurai, both male and female, fluctuated in Japan and should be brought back in a period where it had been relaxed to a point of semi-oblivion in the late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and up to his own seppuku in 1970 when he ended his own life on the 25th of November 1970 in a way which caused consternation.

    There is no parallel in the West for this sort of thing. If you like, the most prominent post-war British Western novelist is somebody called William Golding who wrote The Lord of the Flies. It’s like William Golding committing suicide on the steps of Downing Street after having demanded a change of course by a post-war British prime minister drawn from either the Labour or Conservative tradition and also having spent his entire life getting physically fit to a point of military perfection rather than being a sort of flabby Guardian aesthete, which essentially he was.

    It’s also redolent of a man who owned his own private army, which Mishima developed for his own use. This was a society called the Shield Society and consisted of military trainees and conscripts about 100 in number that were run as a quasi-paramilitary force by Mishima and were allowed to train in Japanese army camps after 1966. Mishima’s ritual suicide took place in an army camp in 1970.

    The liberal Western interpretation of Mishima’s life is a failed attempt to return to the samurai verities of old which remains concurrent with the literary output that is highly revered in the West and outside Japan. Westerners as well as Easterners put Mishima forward for three Nobel prize citations in the post-war period, yet he never won, partly because another Japanese writer who was very much his literary sponsor won the prize in 1968, and Japanese culture is so difficult to understand from many mainstream Western perspectives that it was felt that in that generational era another Japanese wouldn’t win the prize after it had been adopted to one of their own number. So, Mishima became gradually aware to the fact that he would have to wait for that. It’s widely believed that he deserved the prize as a number of other major writers in the Western world have done but have not received it.

    Mishima’s literary output is divided into two halves, one of which deals with, if you like, quite decadent themes in certain respects. Mishima is drawn to extremes, and in Confessions of a Mask he’s drawn to extremes of auto-mutilation and sacrifice of self and the wearing of masks as part of social identity. The concept of the mask is cardinal to what it is to be Japanese. So frightened are the Japanese of giving offense which will lead to extreme violence between individuals and/or between groups that a culture of extremely formal politeness is institutionalized whereby no one wants to lose face in relation to a rival, a family member, a competitor or somebody they’re associated with in business, commerce, or state practice. This is quite opposed to the post-1960s belief in the Western world of emotional authentication whereby people are professed to express their emotions particularly in public. Otherwise they will be belaboring under false consciousness or will be internally divided or troubled. In Jungian psychoanalysis or analytical psychology there is the belief that all people have a shadow which is their more negative, ferocious, adversarial and barbaric side and to be a whole human being this has to be integrated into the personality. In the Japanese way of thinking, this is already integrated into the personality and doesn’t need to be shown because it would lead to conflict of a very barbaric manner.

    There’s an extreme tension in Japanese society and there are strong sado-masochistic features from a Western viewpoint in a society that holds itself taut and rigid almost like a man in archery who is just about to release a longbow. And yet at the same time there is a softness and a gentility and an aesthetic decorum especially about traditional Japanese attitudes which strike a Westerner as a belief in perfection and stylization. This ability to slip from stylization – the tea ceremony for example, which is a key samurai ritual copied by the rest of the culture and which has to be separated from just tea drinking in an English sort of 4:30 in the afternoon way — and the possibility of extreme violence, which is always the legacy of the samurai tradition and which lies at the heart of a lot of Japanese notions of themselves.

    The culture of the manga or the film on paper which is the comic book, which in the West is essentially regarded as a form for children and adolescents which has to be outgrown when one transfers to proper books and the adult version of which is the film rather than the comic or graphic novel. In Japan, some of the most senior artists and senior political figures in the society are people who write comic books, which are regarded as a major cultural form and are sold in their millions if not their tens of millions.

    An enormous subculture within manga, which deals with every topic on Earth from cooking to romance to war worship, is the samurai genre which spills over into television, film, and books. Many of the samurai novels and plays and films strike Western audiences as stereotypical, but a Western parallel would be the fantasy of the western in the United States. Everyone has probably seen A Fistful of Dollars with Clint Eastwood and has seen The Magnificent Seven and these sorts of westerns, all of which are based upon Japanese samurai films and cultural abstracts of that sort.

    One of the most remarkable samurai films of all time is by the greatest Japanese director, as many conceive it inside and outside Japan since the Second World War, a man called Kurosawa who did a film called Ran, which means “chaos” and is the samurai version of King Lear, which with Hamlet is Shakespeare’s preeminent play possibly next to Macbeth, Othello, and many others. This Japanese King Lear, which is an extraordinary piece of work and lasts for about 4 hours, is an attempt to distill the samurai ethic using a Western story. This is still controversial in Japan. Although many Japanese artists have been famous outside Japan, the belief in cultural and ethnic exclusivity is very extreme in Japan by Western standards even to this day.

    Kurosawa was heavily criticized for using a Western model in order to transmute Japanese meaning and form. It is still controversial even to use extra-Japanese forms in classical Japanese usage even in modernity.

    Mishima got around this partly by transmuting Japanese forms in ways that Westerners could understand. In his novel called The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, he deals with a burning down of a Buddhist shrine by a psychopathic eccentric who was a classical outsider in terms that both Western and Eastern audiences could understand but not necessarily sympathize with. The book caused consternation in Japan and was based on a true case. The nearest parallel I can think of is Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel In Cold Blood, which is about the murder of a Kansas family by two mid-American drifters whose internal psychological torments and anxieties are dealt with at extreme length by Capote prior to their judicial killing by the federal American system in, I think, an Iowa penitentiary in the late 1960s.

    Mishima believed that a culture should be exclusive and that Japanese life and circumstances were unique and demanded unique answers inside Japan that were purely Japanese. Like all artists, his form of nationalism was one that did not necessarily appeal to Right-wing nationalists inside Japan.

    Paul Schrader’s film, which is a very famous Hollywood film, and for a Hollywood film it’s a very good film,called Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters . . . Schrader’s most famous for his extremely violent, excoriating film about the transgression of American values called Taxi Driver, a film which many people will have seen or at least heard of. Now, in his film about Mishima, three of Mishima’s novels, one from The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, are reconfigured as stories external to Mishima’s life but which he gives literary value to by virtue of his own biography. The fourth quadrant of the film is biographical/autobiographical and deals with Mishima’s own life.

    In Schrader’s piece, Mishima’s seen as a man whose death is foretold by the nature of the ideology he adopts. One which is both an emotional, a literary, a speculative, a martial and an intellectual ideology. The sort of ideology that Mishima proposed in his novels and plays was similar to that put forward by D. H. Lawrence in the West and yet different with similar elements to Friedrich Nietzsche’s thought at the end of the 19th century and yet distinct.

    There was something also irreducibly “other” and Japanese about it which no Westerner could completely grasp. I think there is something in the Western tradition, which although not frightened of suicide, regards it with a degree of disrespect. Certainly the idea that a suicide can be beautiful and is the apotheosis of a life and of a moment of religious intensity is not alien to the West, but it is relatively alien in the West and has attracted few ideological adherents in most forms of Western history.

    The main Western group that preaches suicide at the moment is the Italian-American Sicilian Mafia whereby a Mafia don who is cornered by his colleagues and has nowhere to go is meant to open his veins in a warm bath as certain senators and other leaders of the Roman republic and empire did in the Western world. But the Western view of warriorship is always to try to survive so that you can fight on. Western terrorists rarely ever kill themselves no matter how violent or fixated or paramilitary the logic of their own language and being might be. IRA men, UDA men, whatever they might have been would inflict pain and violence but always sought to get away afterwards, and this is very much the Western ethic in battle. The idea of a deliberate sacrifice of self, which will occur in slaughter anyway, because soldierly rearing and military training is partly being trained for death as all people in military command structures understand, because military life is where emotions are heightened to a degree which civilian life can no longer cope with the exertions, particularly the moral exertions which are required.

    The nearest Western version to a man like Mishima, who in a way superseded him because he had a military background that Mishima couldn’t boast and because of the feebleness of Mishima’s body when he came to be commissioned in the Japanese Imperial Army at the Second World War couldn’t ascribe to, is Ernst Jünger. Ernst Jünger is probably the supreme example of an artist, a literati, a secular spiritualist, and an extreme soldier who fought in the First World War for four years from 1914-1918, was awarded two Iron Crosses as well as the highest medal for valor, the Pour le Mérite of the Prussian Imperial Army, and was wounded fourteen times at the front to which he returned and only stood down with the surrender of the German imperial forces at the armistice at the end of that conflict in 1918. If you read books like Fire and Blood, which only exists in German, or Battle As Inner Experience, which is likewise only available in German or the two versions of his four-pronged wartime epic, which are available in English, The Storm of Steel and Copse 125, you come across a man who has a spiritual view of warfare and could be described as a Western samurai.

    The samurai tradition basically believes that the potential of a soldier has to be high rather than low. It’s the combination of a university professor, a martial arts bodybuilder, and an extreme warrior. This is an unusual combination which in most societies has only been restricted to tiny little militaristic elites or elites that guard an imperial or quasi-divine figure. The Praetorian Guard, the Immortals in the Persian court, an organization that was partly reinvigorated by the Shah of Iran during his period of power, the SS to a degree, and similar organizations that would now be called special forces are the closest you get in the Western tradition to the samurai ethic. But even then your average SAS man could hardly be described as an intellectual or a literati. Nor is that insisted upon. However, the degree of physical courage, hardness, rectitude, and readiness for martial conflict which Delta Force, the Navy SEALs in the United States, the Spetsnaz forces in the post-Soviet Russia, the Special Air Service Regiment and Special Boat Service Regiment and the elite squads of the German and Italian army, and probably the elite of the French Foreign Legion as well could be said to carry out and do carry out in Western neo-imperial missions all over the Third World to this day are the nearest you get to the sort of endless military training and subservience to authority that the samurai had to evince.

    There’s also the combination of a degree of individualism as well, because these are warriors who are bound to have to fight on their own often behind enemy lines, and it’s noticeable in the enormous literature which prevails in modern Britain, or post-modern Britain, of the SAS warrior, the Andy McNab subcultures and all their endless spin-offs and various media whereby SAS men and their equivalents are sort of worshipped because of the yearning for a heroic and the yearning of a return to elements of heroic masculinity which are shot through with individuality. But again, despite all the courage and military preponderance that such individual warriors, and individualistic at that, will show there is not the culture of a refined ethic of beauty, the religious sensibility, or the cult of intellectuality, which although a small minority of samurai would actually have evinced in their own era was nevertheless the guiding ideology of this type. The combination of the warrior and the aesthete is not uniquely Japanese, but the ideology that pushed them together was and to a certain extent still is.

    After Japan modernized its society in the 1860s, the Japanese imperial ruling class went for a national conscript army along Western lines, but the whole officer corps and the whole elite of the Japanese army after the defeat of the shogunate, which involved a monarchical restoration in conceptual terms after the 1860s, was samurai in order and orientation. This in turn gets us into a very controversial area which most studies of Mishima, which tend to be purely literary in form, tend to reject. This is the treatment of Western prisoners by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War.

    Many Westerners still remember hideous disfigurements, malnutrition, and mistreatment of prisoners both Western and Eastern by the Japanese Imperial Army. The Mishimas of this world never really commented on this because their system of moral ethics in this is in some ways different to a dualist, a Manichaean, or a Christian or Christianized or post-Christian system. In Mishima’s conception of the world, without speaking for him unduly, although it’s there in texts such as The Way of the Samurai and Sun and Steel and “the pathway of the samurai is death” and books about the heroic martyrs of the Japanese Imperial Army is that pain and cruelty is part of life and are on a continuum with peace and benignity, so there’s a degree to which there is not a moral soul searching about what is regarded as evil in other spiritual trajectories although there would be no denial that evil can exist and that men in battle will perpetuate it.

    The important thing about the sort of pagan morality the samurai evinced is that it was hierarchical rather than dual. Rather than behaving well or badly, a society such as this or a caste such as this drawn from a society, which it probably was quite unrepresentative of as such elites always are, has a hierarchical notion of morality whereby honor and the esteem that one is held in by one’s warrior colleagues is more important than dualist preparations. So, a samurai who has disobeyed an order or has been caught in a cowardly act or has retreated before the enemy will be demanded to commit ritual suicide instantly. Instantly! Just like that, with little preparation. Just has to be mentally prepared for this. Traditionally, samurai would cut the tops of their fingers off for minor indiscretions and for minor infractions of various rules in their honor-based system which is called bushido. There is a sort of cultivation of the masochism of the flesh as well as the extremity of externalized violence which is a Japanese tradition and which essentially effects their attitudes in all areas aesthetic, literary, poetic, religious, and sensual and sexual as well. So, Japanese culture contains some very extreme metaphysical postulates which are openly avowed whereas in most societies such tendencies are often hidden or glossed over or regarded with a certain degree of discretion.

    The radicalism of the Japanese army during its expansionist phase and its ferocity towards enemies as well as its deep sense of discipline and self-control was commented upon by many people at the time. Indeed, in the Rape of Nanking, for example, the German ambassador in a society with which Germany was then at that time moving towards alignment with, West and East, described the conduct of Japanese troops as bestial viewed in traditional Western terms. And this was a German cultural attaché at that particular Chinese embassy which had been invaded from without by the Japanese Imperial Army.

    There’s a degree to which Mishima, like Jünger about the excesses that the Prussian tradition can go in for on occasion, remains silent about these sorts of matters much to the extreme anger of humanistic and moral Western critics. This is because their view of life is aesthetically different and super-charged in relation to what is currently part of present civility.

    One of Mishima’s remarks about his own civilization was its feminization, which was something that a large number of Right-wing criticizers of their own societies have put forward in the post-war period. It is quite true that the army and the military tradition has completely vacated the civilized and civic space in nearly all Western societies, including the United States. Armies are purely professional and are no longer conscript. The bulk of the population never comes near armed force or the utilization of that force. Young Westernized men never go in for military training. One of the last Western countries to get rid of military training for the young was France. Always done on the lines of cost and because the military don’t want a large number of the conscripts that they regard as very substandard troops that they have to lick into shape for sociological reasons and wouldn’t be much good martially. This is why you have a confluence of cost-cutting, neo-liberal politicians, and army and navy and air force technocrats who wish to get rid of conscript armies. Interestingly, in France’s case, the last two political parties that voted for the tradition of mass military conscription were the Front National and the Communist Party of France. All of the parties in between them, in the middle if you like, center Left and center Right, voted for a paid, patriotic army of volunteers who were not going to interfere with the business of military life.

    It’s always true, of course, that armies constellate around elites, and even a professional vanguard army of people who wish to fight in such a force on behalf of their own nation-state or confederation form an elite in relation to the mass of the citizenry, but never before has the citizenry been so disempowered in relation to military life.

    Mishima didn’t preach the militarization of Japanese life, which is something that someone like Ernst Jünger preached for interwar Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. There is a degree to which Mishima’s belief was that the army should once again become the template of Japanese civilian life and should become the model for a post-war Japan that related to the pre-war Japan that went down in atomic defeat.

    After writing the better part of a hundred novels and plays and non-fiction works, at least 40 of which stand alone as literary items – the West will quickly run off items for money – Mishima proposed a solution to the dilemma of post-war Japan. Japan has been politically crucified in certain respects since the Second World War as has Germany. A very powerful country economically and yet a country with almost no military resource outside or external to its own borders and a country where people are afraid to summon up any foreign policy that can conflict with American global prerequisites.

    There’s a degree to which the Japan of the post-war era is a politically humiliated society and a militarily humiliated society which is also an economic super-power. Germany, certainly in relation to the rest of the European Union, is in much the same situation. Both countries have internalized their massive defeats in the second global conflagration of the 20th century. Both have related to those defeats in different ways. Both have engaged in an endless politics of apology and absence of self-defense in relation to what hostile Western historians tend to call the unmastered past.

    Don’t forget that although it’s regarded as obscure by most Westerners, the entire Japanese military leadership, often in a symbolic way, was put on trial after the Second World War. Massive war crimes trials were conducted along the Nuremberg patent despite the fact that atomic weapons had been used in order to finish the conflict on the Japanese peninsula. The Japanese elite has internalized the idea that the use of atomic weapons was justified because of the possible several millions of deaths that would have accrued when samurai-based warriors on the Japanese mainland fighting for a god-king, as they perceived the empire cult at that time, would have wreaked havoc and would have killed an enormous number of Americans and other Western allies and paid the price in terms of body count themselves. In this way of looking at things or point of reference, the Western historiographical tradition regards the use of atomic weapons, the only time they’ve ever been used in anger by one nation-state against another, as justified partly because it saved so much chaos and rancor which would have been occasioned by a conventional invasion of Japan. Although there is deep anger in Japan about the use of these weapons, in typical fashion a lot of that has been turned inwards inside Japanese culture in relation to pacifist usage, possible feminization of life seen in masculine, traditional samurai and martial terms and in terms of the Buddhist tradition.

    There’s little social anger towards the United States in a publically affordable way, and this is because the United States has completely dominated and morally and mentally invaded post-war Japan to a degree that most Westerners cannot configure. It’s only because Japanese culture is so distinct and freestanding and resistant to Westernization in some of its own terms that Westerners don’t realize how much post-war Japan has been Westernized in America’s image.

    Now, the belief that one author, rather like Ezra Pound in relation to Fascist Italy as regards the governmental structures and economic power of the United States, could change this is part of the fantasy of what it is to be an important literary writer, particularly one who believes in the bardic tradition. The idea that writers speak for a whole people or writers speak for something more important than themselves. The liberal conception of the writer is of essentially a lonely creature scribbling or tapping away on a computer now in a room whose products are bought and sold as any other commodity by those in the cultural marketplace. But the bardic tradition holds that the artist creates on behalf of a people and at least attempts to speak for large proportions of that people in key moments.

    Mishima’s struggle with himself and with literature came to an end with The Sea of Fertility trilogy in the late 1960s which talks a great deal about small conspiratorial groups of Right-wingers who contrive with elements of the post-imperial Japanese military and general staff to overthrow the business, corporate and political elite of liberal, democratic Japan and reinstitute emperor-worship. In one of his essays, Mishima asks, “Why did the emperor have to become a human being?” because traditionally the emperor was not regarded as human in Japan up until about 1945, 1946, and thereafter.

    Mishima made his last stand and his last statement in an East Tokyo army base on the 25th of November 1970 where with either three or four acolytes from the Shield Society and dressed in largely pre-1945 and imperial Japanese military uniforms designed by himself and with messages which were pithy statements of martial intent which Japanese warriors traditionally wear on their body. If you notice, in many Asiatic houses there are often slogans or pieces of Buddhist scripture that are written calligraphically on the wall as either banners or forms of art, and they essentially adopt the position of a painting on the wall. Sometimes Japanese warriors write a slogan such as “Death is the Cardinal Reality” or something like that from the Hagakure and fold it around their head with the imperial emblem of Japan, which is the sun.

    The Shield Society, which was Mishima’s own personal militaristic little society numbering around a hundred persons, all of whom were supremely physically fit, all of whom were male, all of whom were invested with martial arts, had as its symbol two imperial Japanese helmets from the 17th century cast in red and facing each other.

    Mishima prepared banners and a proclamation which would be read out to the soldiers. He met, under a pretext of political falsity, General Mashita who was in command of that particular East Tokyo army base. Swords and daggers – traditionally the samurai has a very long sword, he has two of them and he has two short or stabbing swords. In samurai warriorship, the culture of modern war, killing from a distance, is disprivileged even though, of course, in modern warfare the Japanese army is highly organized and mechanistically capable and is as fully prepared to use modern weapons as anyone else. But interestingly they dovetail these ancient and modern ideas with the cult of suicide and reckless personal death for an imperial and popular mission. The cult of the kamikaze pilots, for example, who would dive their planes into American ships causing massive explosions in their internal organs and workings and disable them and often destroy them in the Pacific theater of war was part and parcel of that particular endeavor.

    Mishima and his colleagues strode into Mashita’s office, disarmed him, tied him up, produced some slogans on banners which they then draped from windows which led to a balcony outside this particular general’s office, and then marched out to address the troops. About 1,000 Japanese troops were lined for some internal Japanese army matter and it spread like wildfire that Mishima or somebody was acting in a strange or possibly terrorist manner in relation to this base. By the end of Mishima’s speech to the troops, which was relatively short, helicopters were flying overhead in an attempt to disrupt what he was saying.

    In his speech to the troops, which apart from its initial phase when the troops stood in shocked silence was received by jeers and hoots by the majority of them, Mishima demanded a return to the empire of the sun. He demanded a return to empire-worship and to imperial worship of the majesty of the emperor. He demanded that the post-war emperor would be declared Tennō, be declared a god again and be declared the god of the Japanese people. He also argued that the army cease to be American mercenaries, as he called it, and return to their traditional mission as the soul of Japan. He basically argued for a restoration of the Japanese war dead and implicitly that the Japanese Emperor Hirohito at the time of the surrender in 1945 should have never denied his divinity or been forced to do so by American license and should have accepted his responsibility as in Buddhism for the war dead. He was essentially demanding revisionism, the revision of the past and a sort of moral statement of victory in defeat which would allow the traditional Japan to resurface and to claim a form of spiritual conquest even after the bankruptcy of physical defeat in the atomic weapons used against its cities in the mid-1940s.

    Mishima was really asking for the impossible and asking for demands that the whole of contemporary Japan with the exception of certain fringe far-Right and samurai groups had set their face against.

    Why did Mishima ask for these impossible demands which, to invent a term or a neologism, could be describe as impossibilist demands? Many Western historians and literati believe that Mishima wanted to die and wished to commit suicide at this time and used the call to arms of a renascent imperial Japan based upon god-emperor worship and the kami of the past as his excuse to commit hari-kari or seppuku in either Western or Japanese terms. This may have some psychological truth to it. Mishima was obsessed with death and with the morbid undercurrents of life and with the samurai cult of self-extinguishment from a very early age. He certainly had planned his suicide and his will and his testamentary deposits over a year prior to the act. Every element of the act was thought through aesthetically.

    After his speech was rejected by the body of the troops, he went back into the room and said various Shintoist prayers with his three or four colleagues. He then knelt down and ripped open his belly with one of the shorter of the samurai knives, which is the beginning of the ritual suicide in Japanese warrior culture. At the end of this act, your head is literally severed by another samurai who stands behind you. The head is then held aloft and then prayers are said over the head. His colleague committed ritual suicide in a similar way.

    There is also a degree to which, as also happens in real life, the chosen associate of the suicide who later committed suicide himself couldn’t go through with the act and the stronger hand of a third samurai had to be used in order to inflict the beheading. The two heads were then placed beside each other and ritual Buddhist and Shintoist prayers were said over the dead. This is because in their belief system, of course, you are reincarnated as new life after 40 days and so this is not the end. It is a perpetuation of a prospect of a new beginning.

    It is true to say that his ritual suicide and his demand for cultural revision and national reemergence caused a consternation in Japan. You have to understand that he was the darling of the Eastern Western media in Japan for quite a long period. He was also widely translated in an era when Japanese writers were not particularly widely translated. He was also widely popular inside Japan despite being a self-consciously literary writer. It literally caused consternation that he had done this. His revision and interpretative re-issue of the Hagakure, the Bible of the samurai from three to four centuries before, became a best-seller in Japan after his funeral. Ten thousand ordinary Japanese, not associated with Right-wing groups or associated with nationalist caucuses or associated with samurai undercurrents inside or outside of the Japanese army at the time or associated with literary circles, attended Mishima’s funeral, which was an event unheralded in the culture of the Japan at that time. It basically caused an enormous civic and psychological shock in Japan.

    Was Mishima on a trajectory of his own? Did he represent the soul of his people as he believed? Was his act a lonely and masochistic one totally contrary to the post-modern and Westernized wiles of contemporary Japan? Or was it in a sense a return, as he would have configured it, to fundamental verities about what it was to be Japanese as against any other nationality on Earth?

    Nobody really can come up with an answer. Possibly an answer is a medley of all of those questions put into one statement. A Westerner, certainly, is outside the remit of force and fire and the circle of the sun which is necessary to ponder such questions.

    But there is a degree to which most of Yukio Mishima’s major works have been translated into English, including Confessions of a Mask, Sun and Steel, Madame de Sade, My Friend Hitler, On the Heroic War Dead of the Japanese Nation, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Forbidden Colors, The Sea of Fertility trilogy, and many others. The interesting thing about them is they often deal with a decadent violence and an amorality, such as in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, unless the samurai ethic is put underneath them and those sort of yearnings for violence and for order which he sees in traditional pre-modern, pre-Second World War versions of Japanese society are re-institutionalized.

     

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    (Review Source)

Kyle Smith 1
National Review



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Full-Length MGM Movies on YouTube
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    In about ten years, maybe five, the practice of keeping a library of DVDs in your home (I have a few myself, and I’m considering liquidation) is going to seem about as eccentric as hanging on to back issues of the newspapers. MGM has just announced it’s going to start putting its library of movies and TV shows on YouTube, where viewers will be able to watch them free. Movies like “Legally Blonde” and “The Magnificent Seven” are among the first slated to go up. Factoring in in-demand programming from your cable provider and a Netflix subscription, home entertainment is soon going to be a dial-up-anything-you-choose universe. There is a certain fracturing of mass attention that I’ll miss. When I was a kid, we would go over last night’s jokes from the sitcoms we loved every day at lunch. Now those conversations may not go anywhere–“Don’t tell me what happened on ’30 Rock,’ I TiVoed it but I’m not watching it till next Tuesday.”]]>
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    (Review Source)

Hugh Hewitt 1
Salem Radio Network



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Brad Thor On His New Thriller, Act Of War
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    HH: On my anniversary show, 32 years married to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, 14 years on the air linked to Duane and Adam and all of you HHRS listeners, a special guest for a special day – Brad Thor, author extraordinaire. He’s got the number one New York Times bestseller in the past, and I have no doubt that Act of War, which is out now, will rise up the charts. Hello, Brad, and best congratulations to you. This is really something for reasons that I’m about to discuss. BT: Well, Hugh, it’s great to be with you, and I can’t thank you enough for having me on again, Hugh. HH: Now the first thing I’ve got to say is I got up this morning, and the first thing I do is I check the New York Times. I’ve been reading Act of War late into the evening. And on the front page of the New York Times today is a story that the Chinese have broken into the personnel confidential files of my old agency, the Office of Personnel Management. They figured out that that’s where we keep all the personnel clearances, and they’ve looted all this stuff. And you open up Act of War, and it begins in Beijing, or nearly Beijing, with their special department 2 launching all sorts of initiatives. You’re not surprised by this stuff, but I think your book’s going to be an eye-opener to people about the real nature of this regime. BT: Well, I hope so, because first and foremost, Hugh, as you and I have discussed in our friendship on and off the radio over the years, my job first and foremost is to entertain people. That’s why I like to read thrillers. I like to come out in July. It’s the beach read season. But with Black List, which you and I talked about a couple of years ago, I presaged the NSA scandal. And even further back with the First Commandment, I anticipated the high level Taliban Gitmo prisoner swap, and I didn’t say we’d give four, I didn’t say we’d give six. I said exactly five on Page One of that book, and that’s what happened. And I really believe that a thriller writer’s job is to beat the headlines. HH: Well, I hope you’re not beating the headlines this time, because if Operation Snow Dragon, and I’m going to let, we have to, I always walk a fine line. I try not to give away too much. I try to tell you a little bit that will not in any way ruin your enjoyment. But if anything like Operation Snow Dragon is being run or contemplated by the PRC, we are in the for the confrontation of all confrontations. BT: Well, I like to tell people, Hugh, that no matter how many Starbucks I have in my neighborhood, or how quickly I can download videos of cats from the internet onto my smart phone, we still live in a very aggressive, very dangerous world. And I think our world has become more dangerous, because our nation has kind of recoiled into its shell a little bit. We’re not projecting the strength in support of our allies we need to. So that’s the stuff that worries me as a thriller writer. HH: Now I want to tell, because I have audiences in all four cities, you are signing books tonight in Dallas at Half-Price Books, their flagship station over there at 5803 E. Northwest Highway, and then tomorrow, you’re in my wonderful city of Highlands Ranch in Colorado at the Tattered Cover. Saturday, you’re at the Scottsdale Public Library. That’s a throwback. I love that, at 5pm. And then Sunday, you’re in Houston, Texas, and my friends, Christina and Steve, and a whole bunch of people are going to come by, murdered by the book. All of your book signings are coming up, but I wanted to let that, let those folks know. You really do a lot of this, Brad, and more and more, authors don’t go out and meet the public. Why are you still doing this? BT: Well, Hugh, I tell people when I’m on the road and I’m at these book signing events that I get once a year to go out and see the people who I work for. I’m a small business owner. I try to create a better product each year. I try to get better. I try to hone my craft. And then I get to go out and say hey, thank you. Without you, you wonderful readers, you wonderful booksellers, I wouldn’t have this career that I love. HH: All right, now let’s go back to Act of War. And Act of War is linked at www.hughhewitt.com. It’s going to fly off shelves and lay down in Costco and go up the New York Times list. Tell us about unrestricted warfare. It will not be new to the people who listen to this show, because two years ago, I had Dr. Kissinger on talking about his book, On China. And it closed with a rather gloomy chapter about the rise of these colonels, two Chinese colonels who you talk about, actually, as you begin the war. They don’t believe in restricted war, that they’re all about unconventional attacks, and there are no rules. But explain what unrestricted warfare is. BT: Well, there were two Chinese colonels in the Chinese military who realize that China could never face America on the conventional battlefield, and that if China was ever going to go to war with the U.S., they would have to come up with a brand new way of waging war. This is almost like Hitler saying how do we run through all these countries quickly, not get anybody in our way, and knock down the ones who do? And these two Chinese colonels came out with a brilliant, absolutely terrifying and brilliant white paper titled Unrestricted Warfare. And rule number one about unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules. If you want to poison a water supply in the United States, if you want to put bombs in movie theaters, if you want to bring down the power grids, and there’s even some anecdotal stuff out there that the Chinese were involved in that big Northeast blackout back in the 2003-2004. That’s fair game. But this is all geared towards the United States, weaponizing things we take for granted, and bringing us down, collapsing us rom within, and then after a year after they’ve done this to us, and we’ve had a 90% die off, then they can roll right in with their tanks and all that kind of stuff, and there’ll be nobody left to stop them. HH: And as we will talk about a little bit later, not just with their tanks, but with their collateralization. We’re talk about that a little bit later. But I want to also raise the possibility that you’ve raised, and many other people have thought about, but usually in the semi-classified, semi-restricted world of high cost, high subscription newsletters, the use of Muslim radical proxies by the PRC, that they don’t want their fingers on this for a variety of reasons. They want what, the classic turn is a cutoff man, or in this case, a cutoff jihadi. And I don’t know that you’re working here from anything other than your imagination, or is there stuff, is there buzz in the world into which you are so deeply wired about this? BT: Well, it was spelled out directly in Unrestricted Warfare that the Chinese said if we do go about collapsing the United States from within, we need to use third-party actors. We need cutouts that can stand between us and the actual deeds so that we don’t get the condemnation of the global community for triggering the collapse of the United States. There is a great author, Kevin Freeman, who did a whole book about was the 2008 financial collapse part of unrestricted warfare by the Chinese. I’ve talked to Ginni Thomas repeatedly about this. She’s written about it. There’s a lot of us in the United States concerned that the Chinese have been using other actors to hide their involvement in trying to weaken the United States. So in Unrestricted Warfare, for instance, Hugh, that book was written in the late 1990s. They said you what would be the great way to begin the collapse of the United States? Boy, if only Osama bin Laden could be brought over to hit the World Trade Center and bring it all the way down, and that’s actually what happened. HH: Now there are also in Act of War, Brad Thor’s brand new book, a number of snatch and grab operations that I wanted to ask a very specific question. There’s one in Karachi. There is one in Dubai. And these are, these have actually been practiced by the CIA in Pakistan. I don’t know if we’ve done any in Dubai, and successfully so. They brought back the killer of the attacker on the CIA after 15 years, they pursued that guy. But how did you, have you been to Karachi? I mean, it’s like being there in this thing. BT: No, but I know a very, very dangerous handful of men who are incredible patriots that have been. So I asked them what does it smell like, what does it feel like. You know, what is it like when you’re on a street that I was describing where the ocean’s that close, but all these trucks are belching diesel fumes, how brightly lit is it, all that kind of stuff. So if I can’t get there, I made it as far as Afghanistan, but I didn’t go to Karachi. But if I can’t go there, I want somebody who has been there on the ground that can tell me exactly, exactly what it’s like. HH: The other thing that sticks with me, Brad Thor, is that you really hate Dubai traffic. And I do not know if that’s based on personal experience or reputation. BT: It is. I was in Dubai. Dubai was the launching pad for me to go into Afghanistan. So as a funny story, flew into Dubai, and the team that I was going to be joining in Afghanistan, the big piece of advice that they give me before leaving home was get in great shape, grow your beard out, get your affairs in order. And then when I got to Dubai, they said jump into a bathing suit, put on high level sunscreen, and sit outside at the pool so that you can readjust your body clock, because when you get into Kabul, we don’t want you being plagued with jet lag. So I went out in Dubai while I was staging there ready to go into Afghanistan, and Hugh, it’s the worst traffic in the world. HH: You see, I’ve always said Moscow, of every place I’ve…I’ve never been to Dubai, but of every place I’ve ever been, I thought Moscow was worse. But the way you described it in Act of War, and by the way, it’s one of the things that makes your book so wonderful to read, is a lot of intensely localized detail that people can rely on. I am never going to Dubai. I just don’t want to drive to the airport. BT: Listen, what was funny is, is as tough as the traffic was, when we were leaving Afghanistan, and I was going to be going back through Dubai, the guys said remember, Brad, we told you, make sure there isn’t a single round of ammunition in your bag. Did you check everything? And I said yeah, and they said okay, and they completely, it was like being in boot camp. They turned my duffel inside out, checked everything out, and they repacked it for me, because if you get caught with even one round of ammunition, it is a year in jail in the UAE. HH: Wow. — – – – – HH: Brad, you have an enormous following on Twitter, and you talk to people, unlike most authors. Well, Berenson does it a little bit. You love to mix it up with your audience. BT: I think it’s important, and I think that’s one of the great things about social media is that you can. At the end of the day, I want to know what people are thinking. I want to know what people are saying. And I want to be part of that dialogue not only participating in it, but also helping shape some of it. And you know me. I’m a political animal. I write political thrillers. I like politics. And I’m a citizen who sees himself as a steward of the republic. My job is to leave a better, stronger, healthier, more prosperous nation to the next generation. HH: Well then, let me honor that by taking a call from David in Spartanburg, South Carolina listening on 94.5. Hi, David, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show. You get the kickoff call to Brad Thor before I go back to my line of questions. David: Hey, Hugh, morning glory. HH: Evening grace. David: Hey, I’ve got a question for Brad. I don’t remember if it was you or him that said it, but talking about a good thriller writer needs to be able to beat the headlines. BT: Correct. That’s what I said. HH: That was Brad. David: Something else you said later on about bin Laden and what not. Is it ever a concern to you that you might be giving the bad guys ideas? HH: What a great question, David. How about that, Brad? Are you letting them think too much about bad things? BT: It is a great question, and yes, I mean, that’s something you think about as a thriller writer, this kind of concept of first, do no harm, to steal a motto from another profession. But you know, the stuff I write about, it’s fiction. And I have a lot of people who are active, military active intelligence, active law enforcement people that I share my manuscripts with. And I say what do you think? And what’s funny is I hang around with enough people that they’ll say Brad, we gave you Point A. We also talked about Point C. But you figured out B on your own, and you wrote B into the manuscript. B cannot be in there. It’s got to come out. And I’ve gone through as many as 15 revisions sometimes trying to obscure things that friends of mine thought would be dangerous. So I take it seriously. You know, I don’t want to be giving the bad guys any ideas. So I do rely on people who know what’s going on to kind of steer me. But at the end of the day, I’m all about the entertainment factor. So you know, I want it to be entertaining, but never want to do anything that would hurt the country or our men and women who serve the country. HH: Thank you, David. That raises a question from me about Act of War, Brad. Operation Red Wing, familiar to many Americans, of course, as Lone Survivor, the story that gave rise to that tragic, yet heroic Marcus Luttrell book and movie, Red Wing is referenced in Act of War. I won’t tell people why, because I want them to be surprised by it. Did you run that past some of your friends in Special Warfare, Naval Special Warfare to see what they thought about your treatment of that incident and its parallel? BT: I did. As a matter of fact, you know, I have had the honor of meeting Marcus on a couple of different occasions. I got to go to a special screening of Act of War down in Texas that Marcus put together for his Navy SEAL brothers and some other folks, friends and family. And it was a real, it was so special to be in Marcus’ presence. I mean, he’s an incredible warrior and an incredible man, incredible American. And what was interesting is after Operation Redwing, one of the things people talked about was, the warriors talked about, is what would I do if I was in that situation with those goat herders that had stumbled across the four SEALs. Would I have done the same thing Marcus did, knowing what happened to Marcus and his team, Marcus being the only survivor of the four. Would I have done something differently? Would I have obeyed the rules of engagement? Would I have obeyed by conscience? And I thought that, Hugh, would make for such dramatic tension in a thriller. I said I’ve got to do that. I’ve got to put these, I’ve got to put a similar team in a situation where there weren’t the rules of engagement that Marcus and his teammates were bound by, and let it play out. Let’s see how these characters of my novel would discuss and then act upon what they thought the right course of action for their assignment was. HH: That’s an amazing sequence, and I think it’s going to get quite a lot of notice in the reviews, quite a lot of notice in the discussion boards about Brad Thor. That’s all I’m going to tell you, is that sort of a revisiting of Operation Redwing’s critical decision path is played out in Act of War. Difficult to write? Was it hard to figure out? BT: It was tough. I have to tell you, I could not write my books without some incredible people that contribute. And it’s, if I reach out and call one of these guys, I need an answer right now, because I’m stuck at my keyboard, and I can’t go until I get an answer. And I have to tell you, they pick up my phone call every single time, and I am indebted to them not only as an American, but also as an author. So I really got some ground truth from these guys who helped with this particular book, and I’m very fortunate to know some of the men that I do. HH: Now I’m jumping quite a lot around, because I don’t want to give anyone any clues as to what happens. I want to talk about China now, particularly about the Politburo Standing Committee, the nine member Politburo Standing Committee. And you can get in line again, 1-800-520-1234. Sherry and the rest of you, don’t worry, I’ll get to you. What about this, Brad? Is that how it actually operates? Is there a nine member Politburo Standing Committee? BT: There is, and nothing happens without them having their fingerprints on it. I wanted to kind of get around them and everything, and I spoke to a couple of quiet China experts that I know, and they said Brad, if you want this book to ring true, you’re going to have to make this something that the Politburo Standing Committee would be aware of, this kind of an operation, because even the elites within the Chinese intelligence apparatus would not do the things that you’re talking about in your book without people signing off. And I said well, that’s got to be a disaster. I can’t imagine Chinese politicians are any different than American politicians. And these sources said they’re a little bit different. Things happen in China that don’t happen here, but yes, there’s always a political calculation when there’s politicians involved. And that’s something that vexes intel operatives. And they often try to kind of back the politicians into the decision that they, the intel officers, want to get. So there’s that strategy, and that was something that I wanted to employ in the novel. HH: So this attack this morning, this massive cyberattack revealed by the government today on the Office of Personnel Management, do you think that’s the kind of attack that has to get up to the nine member committee? Or is that something that’s been authorized by general standing rule, just probe, probe, probe, steal what you can steal, get the information? BT: From what I understand, the Standing Committee gets kind of broad reviews. You know, the President has his daily briefing. And the Standing Committee gets reviewed on operations just in general. Here are kind of the pools we’re fishing in. The Chinese hackers, also known as crackers, their command and control structure feeds that information up the chain. So they’re aware in broad brushstrokes of what they’re trying to do. But what’s amazing is the People’s Liberation Army in particular, the amount of manpower they have devoted to trying to get into our systems, it is absolutely astounding how many men and how much money is being poured into stealing from us. It’s an around the clock thing in China. — – – — HH: I’m going to honor my pledge. Cherry in Sacramento, you get a call in with Brad Thor on the week of his book launch. What do you want to ask Brad? Cherry: Yes, I’m honored to talk to Brad. He’s a great patriot, and sitting with a great patriot as well. My thoughts, I have picked up, and about the military, because you’re so well versed, as far as I read a little thing about maybe documents filed or something didn’t show that an official stand down was given for Benghazi. Well, Brad, we’ve always had a habit, haven’t we throughout history that some officers would get together and say we’ve got to go help these guys, we’ve got to do this if anybody was in trouble? So it seems to me, Brad, if you don’t say the word go, you have automatically given a stand down order. Am I correct? HH: Cherry, good question. Brad Thor, what do you think about that? BT: Well, we do know that men, very brave men from the CIA annex, did say forget it, we’re going over there, we’re the closest people to go help them. As far as what was done or what was not done by the White House, I would agree. You know, we see all these pictures of President Obama sitting in the Situation Room the night that the bin Laden raid happened, but there’s zero photos of him during Benghazi. Now that’s not exactly something you’d want to publicize. Here’s your president watching Americans and an American ambassador get killed. But we don’t even know where Obama was. You’ll remember, Hugh, when that young man from the Obama administration, former staffer, was on with Bret Baier and called him dude, that was like two years ago… HH: Yup. BT: But he confirmed that Obama was not in the Situation Room when that was happening. So we don’t know the timeline for Obama or for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. HH: Now let me also talk with Tangi in Colorado. Brad is going to be signing books tomorrow night at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. He’s over in Dallas tonight at Half Price Books. Tangi, welcome, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show with author Brad Thor. Tangi: Thank you, Hugh. Hi, Brad. I just finished the book yesterday. BT: Wow, you’re a fast reader. Thank you. Tangi: I am a fast reader. Well, I got it on my Kindle, and I’m going to try and come tomorrow night down to Highlands Ranch when you’re at the Tattered Cover. HH: And remember, no spoilers, Tangi. Tangi: No spoilers. Okay. HH: Okay. Tangi: I just found it fascinating you didn’t talk anymore about his love life. I mean, is it Lara and her little boy, Marco? HH: Okay, now that’s kind of quasi-spoiler, but go ahead. BT: They are referenced in the book as you know, Tangi, since you just read it. You know, it’s interesting. This is, writing a thriller, it’s show and it’s business. And you have to decide what you want to do. And I looked at the pacing and everything, and it was happening so fast. It was taking place over just a handful of days, that I didn’t want to slow the action down, but I did want to acknowledge that Harvath was thinking about those people that are kind of growing influences in his life. So I did make sure to make mention of them in the book, although you won’t see too much hugging and kissing with Harvath and his current love interest. HH: And there’s a little bit of an interesting family psychodrama in here. The Magnificent Seven movie episode, are you a big Magnificent Seven fan, Brad? BT: I am a huge fan, Hugh. And one of the things that’s interesting, when you write a series character like I do, my number one goal is that you can pick up any book in the series and be perfectly, you can read it, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the other books before. But the big challenge for me as an author is how do I reveal more about this main character that people have been on multiple adventures with? And I thought through the Magnificent Seven, through that relationship he has with his dad who was in the SEALs, I thought that would be kind of fun, because my dad was a big Steve McQueen fan, and so am I. HH: And I had no idea. Is it true that it’s the most watched movie, or the second most watched movie in America, given the number of times it’s shown on TV? BT: Right after the Wizard of Oz. That is the claim. HH: That is a pretty remarkable stat. I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t know dialogue from it. Can you actually, is dialogue running around Brad Thor’s head from the Magnificent Seven as it is in Scot Harvath’s? BT: Well, a little bit, and you know, you really, it’s such a great, just gritty cowboy movie where these guys come together to protect a group of Mexican farmers who can’t defend themselves against these banditos, these just, you know, I’m, I hate the mafia. I hate any criminal element at all, organized or disorganized. And that story’s always resonated with me. And there’s so many great, very macho lines in that movie, that it’s fun to quote them in a book like mine. HH: We’ll go out with a little Magnificent Seven music. — – – – – HH: Brad, during the break, I was answering a couple of tweets and a couple of congratulations amid all the Brad Thor adulation. And I wrote back to one of them, thanks, Diana, 14 years down, 16 to go, it’s going to take that long to fix the country. There’s a president, a post-Obama president in Act of War. It’s President Porter. I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler. And you describe him this way. The president saw the economy as an Abrams tank that needed to be whacked with a gigantic wrench to get it going. He had no script, he had a vision for returning America to greatness. And either you were on board or you were tossed overboard. He made no secret of the kind of people that he wanted around him. Are you tipping your hand on what you want or who you predict’s going to win? BT: Well, a little bit of both. I am, I was speaking not too long ago with my pal, Dennis Miller. And Dennis is rather pessimistic. And I said Dennis, I am optimistic. The DNA of liberty and freedom is woven into every one of us in America. I believe we will see morning in America again. And as you and I have discussed so many times, Hugh, we don’t own this country. We’re merely stewards of this republic waiting to hand it down better, stronger, faster, more secure, more prosperous to the next generation. So that president, I really, I looked at the Ian Fleming books, the James Bond books, and why those Bond books were so popular in their day. And a lot of it had to do with Britain’s view of itself receding on the world stage. And here came along James Bond to make people in Great Britain feel good about themselves. Even America, the soon to be lone superpower couldn’t get anything done without James Bond. And I said you know what? We’re not receding. Maybe we’ve got some issues now, but our best days are in front of us. And I wanted that in my fictional president. I want that to be portrayed. And I want it in my real president to say this is the greatest country in the history of the world, the greatest force for good in the history of the world, and it will be morning in America again. HH: Just a little poker tell, Brad Thor’s new president has a cowboy rhetoric and a bold approach to problems. But he also has a secretary of the Treasury that looks like an aging bank president. So you can’t really tell, but it’s, you might be looking south for that next person if you were Brad Thor. Now Brad, I want to talk to Charlie in Mesa, because you’re going to be signing books at the Scottsdale Public Library, 5:00 on Saturday. So I’ll talk to Charlie as a way of reminding people in Arizona head over to the Scottsdale Public Library at 5:00 to meet Brad Thor. Charlie, you’ve got to be quick. I’ve got lots of ground to cover still with Brad. Charlie. Okay, I hope he remembers a book by the name of Spy Catcher by Peter Wright, banned in England. My question is with regard to the two groups in China, military and the politicians, can there be something related to that happening in the United States in the near future? HH: Oh, great question. Brad Thor? BT: Well, I think China is a threat, and I think we need to keep our eyes on China. The weaker the United States gets, or I should say the greater the weakness we project is, the more concerned I get. You know, China’s got a thousand year plan. They’re very pragmatic. They need us to a certain degree, but what I don’t think people are getting is that things are much worse in China than they are letting on. There are a lot of problems over there, there’s civil unrest every day. They are out of fresh water, fresh air, and resources. And my concern is that we’re going to see a very desperate China start to spread its wings very soon. HH: But I think what he was asking is do you think there’ll ever be a split between civilian and military to the extent that the military becomes a threat or an independent force in the United States? I don’t, but I want you to answer him directly. I think you might have missed what he was asking. BT: I did miss. No, it’s intertwined. They draw from the military on purpose into the Standing Committee and other committees within the Communist Party. So they weave the military people in on purpose. So they are very, very thoroughly locked at the hip there. It is not a them and us sort of situation. HH: Very interesting aspect of Act or War is your discussion of the princelings. And for reasons that people will have to discover why they matter so much, but they’re a real force now, the children of the oligarchs. In Russia, they’re called oligarchs. In China, they’re members of the government. BT: They are, and that’s, it’s a big, big problem. And it’s funny, because it was an intelligence operative over here that’s a pal of mine that suggested I look at the princelings. And what’s going on with them and the problems that they pose for the Chinese Communist government, because they all come over here to get their education, and they get very westernized. And then they go back and drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis and wrap them around light poles, and it really messes up the narrative for their parents. HH: Let’s also talk about one messed up narrative. You borrowed from recent history in talking about a NASA internship that the previous president, President Obama, established. And you quote him, you have an eye on our recent history as you wrote Act of War. But people are still going to think this is fiction. It’s not fiction. BT: No. As a matter of fact, I used, it was, again, Hugh, if I went into my editor’s office and said I’m going to write a president that’s just had scandal after scandal after scandal, and I started with Fast & Furious and worked my way through the IRS and the VA, she’d laugh me out of her office. And this Muslim internship, this connection with NASA, where NASA, the new head of NASA was encouraged to go out and make Muslims around the world feel better about their culture. That was his number one job at NASA? It’s insane, but it really happened. HH: It really did. And the president said that. The president directed him to that. And there’s an angle to this book about who came into the United States via that process. You also spent some time on our visa program, Brad Thor, and whenever we talk about immigration reform, I’m a big advocate of a border fence. But I know that the visa system is broken. It’s no answer to either to say do one and not the other. You’ve got to do both. But you really illustrate why even with our biometric uptick in security, it’s a broken, badly-deranged system. BT: It is, and I would tell you this. The number one thing, if the immigration system needs to get fixed, is we’ve got to get high qualified candidates over here before anybody else. I mean, I’ve traveled the world and seen people standing in the rain, the sleet, the snow waiting just for a ticket to get into the lottery for a green card. I mean, there are good, talented people out there that we need in this country. And yet we seem to say oh, well, the only ones we should take or we want to take are the ones the other countries don’t want. And I think there’s a way to balance this, but if we can’t secure that border, we’re not really a nation. HH: By the way, a great new character, Billy Tang. I’m not going to say much about him except he’s from Columbus, Ohio. BT: Thank you. I’m glad you liked Billy, and it’s funny, one particular weapon that Billy used, I was with a guy who has employed the weapon similarly to Billy, and he was the one that drew my attention to it out at Shot Show in Las Vegas last year and said boy, I could tell you what I would do with that. And he kind of winked at me and I said I’ll go buy you a beer, and I want you to really tell me, and I took notes. HH: And Billy Tang is a terrific, you know, I always look at when authors are developing characters who might end up in their own book doing their own thing. And Billy Tang is from Columbus. He didn’t play for the Buckeyes, but he might have. He would have been very useful. He has a special skill set. — – – – HH: Time to blow through some calls for Brad Thor, author extraordinaire. And let’s make them 30 second call and answers. Rhode Island, Johnny, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show with Brad Thor talking about his brand new book, Act of War. Go, Johnny. Johnny: Okay, I had a quote, the best quotes from Magnificent Seven. BT: Which one is it? Johnny: If God had not wanted them to be sheared, he would not make them sheep. BT: (Laughing) HH: Well said, and by the way, the famous sheep, sheepdog and wolf analogy is employed here. My question in the middle of this, Brad, you chose to write about North Korea and the bleakness of it. How did you get information on it? And how did you convey what a vast prison camp it is with so little known about it? BT: Well, I read an awesome non-fiction book that my neighbors had been reading, a couple of fathers kept pressing me, saying you’ve got to read this book, read it, read it, read it. It’s called Escape From Camp 14. It is the true account of the only known man born into a North Korean labor camp to have ever escaped. In North Korea, they believe if you commit a violation, your family, three generations of your family, must be taken out of society to pay for the crime to clean your bloodstream. And that’s what they do. It is terrifying over there, and I hope people get a real good look at North Korea through reading my thriller, Act of War. HH: I think they are. I think it’s a public service. I’m going to talk to Nina Shea next hour, who has very strong opinions. She runs the Hudson Institute, Institute on Religious Freedom, and believes that North Korea is the least free place on the planet. Tim, Belmont, Texas, you’re on with Brad Thor. You’ve got to be quick, Tim. Tim: Yeah, Brad, one of my favorite authors, and I’m reading Hidden Order now. Also, another one of my favorite authors was Vince Flynn who passed away earlier this year. Wondering if you might do a tip of the hat, a memorial and somehow in a future book mention Mitch Rapp along with Scot. HH: Well, you may not have heard the news, Tim. They’re not, the series continues. And Brad, are you surprised by that decision? BT: Not only am I surprised, I’m thrilled. I’m a big fan of Vince’s work, and the author who’s picking it up, Kyle Mills, is a good buddy of mine from before I was even an author. So that’s terrific. HH: Oh, good news there. So there you have it, Tim. Last call, Steve in Los Angeles, you’ve got 30 seconds, Steve. Steve: First, congratulations, Hugh, on both anniversaries. I’m a big Clancy fan, Mr. Thor. Is your style similar to his? BT: I’m sorry, to who’s style? HH: He said are you a bit Tom Clancy stylist? And I would say this. I won’t let him compliment himself. The most technical writer was Tom Clancy, and Brad Thor meets that standard. He gives you the absolute technical details, in fact, about the submersibles that the SEALs use, I was blown away by what you know. Brad Thor, congratulations on Act of War, another bestseller, another great book, another great interview. And have a great book tour. Thank you, Brad, for joining us. BT: Happy anniversary, Hugh. HH: Thank you. End of interview. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Return of Kings Staff 3
Return of Kings



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  • Why Chuck Norris Is Worthy Of Praise Rather Than Parody
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Obadiah Austin is a Texan in exile. He used to write about MMA, pro-wrestling and movies. He then actually tried MMA and making movies (and had more success in the former).
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Toronto International Film Festival: Raw Commercialism Behind A Veneer Of Progressivism
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Writer. Filmmaker. Lover of cuckoo clocks. Email: harrylimerok @gmail.com.
    ...
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  • Why Is The Race Of Harry Potter’s Hermione Being Magically Changed From White To Black?
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Thomas Hobbes is an Australian uni student hiding out in his mother's basement waiting for the singularity to arrive. As a backup plan he is secretly hoping to avoid the perils of an actual career by becoming a writer and travelling the world.
    ...
    (Review Source)

PJ Media Staff 2
PJ Media



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  • 10 Tinseltown Turkeys That Make Real Men Choke
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'plan 9 from outer space (trailer)', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Sometimes Hollywood serves up some pretty indigestible fare. Some films, such as Howard the Duck (1986), are impossible to swallow—so terrible they become synonymous with “bad cinema.” (Who can forget Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon depicting "Hell's Video Store," its shelves stocked solely with copies of Ishtar (1987)?)But not every bomb reaches such heights of notoriety.  Here’s a list of movies that are every bit as bad—and leave “real men” with extra heartburn. They degrade the genres that “real men” love best.10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)All right, this utterly dreadful sci-fi schlock is, admittedly, no stranger to lists of worst movies ever. And justifiably so. Written, directed and produced by the world's least talented filmmaker, Edward D. Wood, it’s a bijou of awfulness. What twists the knife in this celluloid sacrilege is the sight of Bela Lugosi, one of Hollywood's greatest horror stars, shambling through what was to be his last appearance on the silver screen. Rather than try to sit through this sad excuse for a film, better to watch Tim Burton's engaging biopic Ed Wood (1994), which tells the story behind the movie. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/11/27/10-tinseltown-turkeys-that-make-real-men-choke/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
    ...
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  • The 10 Best Elmore Leonard Movies
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Lifestyle Thriller writer Elmore Leonard died recently at the age of 87. He leaves a huge legacy, including perhaps the best crime show currently on television, Justified, and dozens of classic American suspense novels, a few of which were turned into classic movies— more of which were absolute disasters.For his early career, Leonard wrote tough, gritty westerns like 3:10 to Yuma and Hombre, both turned into very good films.But for years even Stephen King could not claim to have been as badly abused as Elmore Leonard when it came to his crime novels. His first, The Big Bounce, was also filmed starring Ryan O’Neal. He wryly said it was “at least the second worst movie ever made.” Then it was remade in 2004 with Owen Wilson and it was even worse.Overall, I tend to enjoy Leonard’s tight first 25 books more than his talkier next 25. Book 25, Glitz, was his breakthrough bestseller, causing the author to joke he was an overnight success after 25 years.Get Shorty was the first film to really capture Leonard’s style, and frankly I thought it was even better than the book. In the second half of his career, Leonard added about a hundred pages to the length of his books, mostly of dialogue. Admittedly, it could be great dialogue, but I like the early books that just had a bit less of it. Others disagree.Out of Sight is a perfect example. The book is too long, and too talky, but still quite good. Cutting it down to film length helps a lot -- so does the chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez which helps sell the outlandish premise of the U.S. marshal and the bank robber’s mutual attraction.He once called Freaky Deaky his favorite book, but the limp film adaptation of this send-up of the radical '70s counterculture deservedly went straight to video in 2012.Leonard was known around Metro Detroit as an unassuming guy. He didn’t play the big celebrity, and was known for his love of the Detroit Tigers and of blues clubs. He was gracious to writers who asked advice, skeptical of whether they would follow through on his emphasis on hard work and routine; and finally published a short book compiling his rules for writing.Robert Ferrigno was a novelist who benefited from that generosity, and wrote a poignant piece in National Review Online in remembrance.So here, submitted for your approval, are 10 good reasons to remember Elmore Leonard, even if you aren’t a fiction reader. Maybe I’ll get to his best 10 books in a future column. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/9/21/the-10-best-elmore-leonard-movies/ previous Page 1 of 11 next   ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Andrew Anglin 1
Daily Stormer



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  • The Wild Bunch: The Götterdämmerung of Westerns
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Silas Reynolds | It's one of the very best.
    ...
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John Nolte 1
Daily Wire / Breitbart



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 'Equalizer 2' Review: Denzel Washington Tears Down the Deep State
    (”The Magnificent Seven” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    In the very satisfying Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington comes out of the shadows to hand the Deep State an overdue reckoning.
    ...
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