Hollywood and an open thread

I’m buried up to my whatsis in work this morning, so can’t blog.  Before I turn this post into an open-thread, though, I wanted to suggest that you read William Katz’s article, which looks at the way in which the movies that showcased the wonderful Van Johnson (who died the other day at age 92) could never have been made today.

(By the way, you can read more of Mr. Katz’s writing at his own blog, Urgent Agenda.)

And now enjoy your open thread.  We’ll talk later….

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  • suek

    First the article…

    It seems to me that we’ve discussed each and every topic addressed in his article right here! Maybe he was listening in???

    Then the open thread part…
    Here are a couple of interesting articles for thought…



  • Charles Martel

    My wife and I are avid NetFlix users and we rarely find ourselves renting a “mainstream” Hollywood movie. Increasingly we’ve sought out indie films from here and overseas, old film noirs and B movies, as well as silent films every 20th viewing or so.

    We’re also working our way through “Have Gun Will Travel,” a classic half-hour western from the late 50s and early 60s that depended entirely on good scripts and acting from the fantastic repertory of character actors that lit up Hollywood’s firmament in those times.

    As much as we diss Hollywood (even my wife, a firm liberal, won’t go see the anti-Bush crap the studios are churning out), we know that it still has a hold on young people. Considering how ill educated even our Ivy League graduates are, we realize that they lack the intellectual skills to know when they are being propagandized. That explains why an execrable anti-human screed like “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is doing fairly well at the box office.

    Is there a silver lining. Well, yes, but a highly tarnished one. Hollywood has been doing terribly for 40 years, increasingly so lately. Miserable attendance and revenues (as a percentage of population), low-rated Oscar ceremonies, the increasing reliance on CGI-aided remakes, and the inability to offer serious grown-up fare because there are almost no actors or actresses left who can portray adults.

    With the rise of new technologies, and a young generation that is absolutely fearless about filming on its own, Hollwood will eventually go the way of the Big 3 and Green Stamp trading stamps — barely functional, highly specialized and quaint.

    Finally, two other causes for optimism: 1. ) Marxism/socialism inevitably fails, and its lies are finally revealed after enough starvation, deprivation and loss of life. 2.) In this country, the left is a weird melange of appeasers, pacifists and metrosexuals — in short, physical cowards who shudder when they hear Chairman Mao’s old adage, “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

    The reason why they shudder is because troglodytes like us own about 200 million guns. And we are not about to let this country slide into Goulash Gulagism without one hell of a fight.

  • Tiresias

    Charles – don’t forget to check out Mr. Smooth, if you can find him: Gene Barry bringing effortless class and coolth to Bat Masterson.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Charles: I’m old enough to have watched Richard Boone (direct descendant of Dan’l, by the way) in HGWT when the show was originally playing….. We’ve bought a few of the DVDs cheap and those shows really do hold up! Great writing, in most cases, and Boone did an fine job of walking the line between overacting and non-interest. The show was never as popular as Gunsmoke or Bonanza, if memory serves, but compare it to an episode or two of those or other shows of the time, and the contrast is striking.

    Tiresias: we also watched the Bat Masterson shows at the time – have never seen one as an adult….are they really still good?

  • Zhombre
  • suek

    First the open thread link:


    Second, old tv shows: We’ve been watching Cosby again – and they’re still good. I’ve done some searching online for a collection, but the best I’ve seen is a “25 Year Anniversary Edition” being sold at Target for $99 ! That’s a bit high for one bite…separate years that cost more in toto but less on a per item would be preferable to me. Still…maybe after Christmas…!!! It would make a good gift for my grandchildren family that doesn’t let their kids watch tv…

    We enjoyed “Have Gun, Will Travel” as well…it was billed as sort of the “thinking man’s western” as I recall. Do you have that on DVD?

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Speaking of Westerns, a few years ago, I saw Stagecoach for the first time, which I understand was John Wayne’s breakout role. Until that time, I’d never understood the Wayne mystique. After all, I grew up in the generation that saw him as a joke, not an iconic actor. Stagecoach, though, was fabulous, and I suddenly understood how he got to be such a huge star. I don’t know that I’ll ever be a real fan, but I finally appreciate John Wayne the actor.

    I’m a huge fan of the classics. As soon as they hit Costco (i.e., cheap), I’m buying the Dick Van Dyck series, which I think was one of the most brilliant shows — evah! As far as I’m concerned, it’s up there with I Love Lucy as a timelessly funny show. Just thinking about the episode in which Rob is hypnotized to get drunk every time the phone rings makes me laugh all over again.

  • suek
  • suek

    >>Until that time, I’d never understood the Wayne mystique.>>

    Guess you never saw “The Quiet Man” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045061/ ) did you! That might set you back to your former opinion a bit! Probably more controversial. His westerns are pretty clear cut most of the time and there’s very little male-female connection (silent hero rides off into the sunset), but The Quiet Man involves issues of male-female relationships in a culture that is rather different from ours. In light of the discussion of the other day of females’ choice of mates – I don’t remember the thread – it’s particularly interesting. He did a number of films opposite Maureen O’Hara – pretty much the same basic plot, though the settings differed. Definitely pre-feminist era.

    Wayne did so many of them…another one I really liked was the one where the only hands he could muster up for a cattle drive was a bunch of boys in their very early teens. I don’t remember the name…but it was a good story, and good as a study of the harshness of life in that time at that place.

    And of course, Rooster Cogburn. Playing opposite Katherine Hepburn. Similar male/female interaction as he played opposite Maureen O’Hara, but different. Wayne never made the mistake as he aged of trying to play the young handsome hero – his older characters pretty much matched his actual age, even when there was a romantic interest of some sort.

  • Charles Martel

    John Wayne was smart enough, like Leslie Nielsen and William Shatner, to admit when he was no longer young enough to play ever-macho, eternally spry heroes. (Look at how pathetic Harrison Ford looked in the last Indiana Jones outing. He spoke and moved like he was the world’s smartest turtle.)

    That’s why one of my favorite Wayne roles was Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.” His character is a washed-up sot of a federal marshal who can’t decide which he likes better: killing bad guys or getting drunk.

    Anyway, there’s a scene where he’s riding through the Colorado high country with Kim Darby and Glenn Campbell in pursuit of the lowlifes who murdered Darby’s father. It’s late afternoon and Cogburn has been hitting the juice all day. Swaying more and more, he finally sways too far and falls off his horse, landing hard on his ass on an especially nice patch of grass.

    Without losing a beat, he proclaims, “We’ll camp here!” solving in one stroke the twin problems of saving face and finding a good place to bivouac.

    I realized then that Wayne was one of those rare actors who knew when to let go.

  • Charles Martel

    Tiresias, amen to Gene Barry’s Bat Masterson. You always knew he’d outslick the opposition.

    It’s funny how many cool characters there were in 1950s westerns. They ran the gamut from flinty-eyed Jim Arness’s Matt Dillon to Jame’s Garner’s Maverick, who was a hoot to watch as he slithered his way through one (usually self-inflicted) problem after another.

    Say, do you recall the weird “Billy the Kid” (1960?) that starred Clu Culager (sp?) as a sort of a confused, conflicted James Deanish youth whom Sheriff Pat Garretson is always trying to nudge in a good direction? It wasn’t bad, but it was when I think westerns started heading in a darker direction.

  • suek

    >>Jame’s Garner’s Maverick, who was a hoot to watch as he slithered his way through one (usually self-inflicted) problem after another.>>

    And “Angel”… ” I hear three horsemen coming….one mile away…one riding a black horse, one on a chestnut and one on a bay…”

    They even carried that line – or one close to it – through some completely different show/movies. Garner seemed to keep the same crew of actors and set people on his various jobs.

  • Ymarsakar

    Is there a silver lining. Well, yes, but a highly tarnished one. Hollywood has been doing terribly for 40 years, increasingly so lately. Miserable attendance and revenues (as a percentage of population), low-rated Oscar ceremonies, the increasing reliance on CGI-aided remakes, and the inability to offer serious grown-up fare because there are almost no actors or actresses left who can portray adults.

    Hollywood’s latest franchises came from books, for Christ sakes. That should give you a level on the “mature, adult, and intellectual themes” that Hollywood has been able to produce in-house. Bourne Identity? Check. Tolkien? Check. Harry Potter? Check. Day the Earth SS? Remake. Hulk? Remake. That Tom Clancy Sum of all Fears? Check. Blackhawk Down? Check. I could go on, you know.

    If Hollywood could actually produce, internally, good script material, they wouldn’t need to outsource it to the “real intellectual” hitters.

    As much as we diss Hollywood (even my wife, a firm liberal, won’t go see the anti-Bush crap the studios are churning out), we know that it still has a hold on young people.

    Most people my generation, my peers, like movies like 300 but then they say they hate studying history. All of this is proto-typical of the immature youth mentality. You see, young people like having a cause to fight for, they like having good and evil and a clear and present target because evolution has dictated that the youngest generation should not tolerate the status quo of the Elders, instead they should go out and seek fame, fortune, and what not. And to do that, the youngest generation needs an enemy.

    Now, that enemy could either be Nazi Germany or it could be Global Warming deniers. The young generations don’t care which you pick for them, cause they are going for one eventually.


    I wasn’t around for all these Westerns or various comedy shows. I’ve mostly checked up on movies like High Noon (1952) because of happenstance or (To Kill A Mockingbird) due to school requirements.

    I have all too many criticisms of “modern” day entertainment, namely video and tv, that I can’t go into them at any real level of detail here. Suffice it to say that there is a severe lack of character development, integrity, judgment, and synthesis of plot elements present in various shows and movies. A lot of these people excuse it based upon saying that the movie format is limited and you have only so much script to present, but 24 has shown us that you can do pretty complicated plots using a few new tricks of the trade. Split screen portrayals of various characters doing various things and then seeing them culminate together is the essence of what “tactics” is. Yet the traditional method of the single screen (one screen showing one scene at any one time) is what movies, even as recent as the Star Wars prequels, have used.

    You don’t even want me to start on the technological inconsistencies, as relating to military considerations, in ST: Voyager.

    This is a good example of very high quality material.

    Firefly is also an example of very high quality entertainment, social commentary, and world/character building.

    Given that Firefly is a “Western” in space, I suppose that fills in some of the gap I have for not ever having watched a Western of the old school.

  • rockdalian

    Four of the best westerns that Wayne starred in were directed by the late John Ford.
    Three of the movies are considered to be Ford’s cavalry trilogy.
    Fort Apache, with Shirley Temple, Henry Fonda, and Ward Bond.
    She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, with Joanne Dru.
    Rio Grande, with Maureen O’Hara.

    Three of his best.

    And of course, the best for last, The Searchers. Another film with Ward Bond.
    This movie allows Wayne to portray a dark side to his character where he is not entirely the good guy.

  • Charles Martel

    Ymarsakar, you are right: Young people need a cause. It’s pathetic that the best ones we can give them to fight for are global warming and gay marriage.

    In my household my son and wife roll their eyes when I say that America’s very existence will be put to the test within the next generation. I’ve told my son dozens of times that his generation will be called on to defend the U.S. physically, and that if America loses he and the rest of us will be finished as a nation. He doesn’t quite believe me, but I think I’ve planted a seed.

    I bring all this up because fighting for your life has a way of clarifying things. What the specific threat will be — Islam, an attempt to force Catholic hospitals and doctors to kill unborn children, persecution of the Jews, the destruction of Israel, the creation of citizen boards with the power to force euthanization, the confiscation of firearms, a confrontation with China or Russia — time will tell. But it will be an event that signals the need to take up arms and fight.

    Back to more pleasant things: I loved Firefly. One of the best westerns evuh!

    Rock: Your list gets no arguments from me. Of course Ford cheated a little when he recruited Monument Valley and southern Utah as extras. :)

  • suek

    >>He doesn’t quite believe me, but I think I’ve planted a seed. >>

    Heh. One of those small moments a mother treasures is the day my first born – then in his mid thirties – made a comment to the effect that he now realized that most of the stuff we told him – that he disagreed with in his twenties – was right. A truly golden moment…! I wish you the same. Or maybe not – what you’re predicting – if you’re right – will not be a happy thing.

  • Ymarsakar

    The trick is, Charles, to not tell your son things but rather find a way for him to find it himself.

    Now this seems a rather thin line, but I believe the demonstration of proper gun training for adolescents and children should communicate my proof here.

    If you just tell your children or teenager “not to play with the gun”, then they are inevitably going to do just that, for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. Now, if instead of that, you use punishment and pain to get them to stay away from guns, then you can certainly make them afraid of guns, if only because of you, but once you are gone, their fear goes away and they will want to find out why a gun is so forbidden.

    The best method, in my view at least, has always been showing the kinder (children) why the gun is dangerous and why they don’t want to play with it. Not because it is something that comes from the parent, but because the gun will blow a small hole in your brain and create a crater in the back of your head. And showing them what a watermelon does when you hit it with a .50 caliber gun should be an appropriate object lesson on what guns are for. Children have a natural curiosity about such things and there is no reason, other than societal taboos, not to show them exactly what the gun can and has done for human beings.

    Without a real understanding of war, psychology, deception, corruption, politics, hatred, killing, and economics, no man or woman, whatever their age, will properly classify “threats” and “non-threats”. But they cannot be simply “told” what they are. They either have to find it out for themselves or they need to be shown a demonstration. A very personal demonstration at that.

    I know that I never was convinced by anything my parents told me, for my curiosity demanded that I find out for myself not only whether it is true, but why it is true.

    Now, if people don’t care or are morons and idiots, then you can’t do much for them. If they don’t want to know and are incurious, then you can’t give them a motivation that they don’t have within themselves. But if they even have a slight interest, even if they don’t talk about it or voice it, then you should find ways for them to learn this on their own, Charles.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Speaking of parents and wisdom, one of the first footsteps in my travels to the Rubicon, when I left behind my old liberalism, was my Dad’s outrage that our welfare system kept increasing unwed mother’s benefits the more children they had. I remember him saying that, as a taxpayer, he was willing to pay for one baby, but not for more! He clearly understood that there is a difference between helping an established family that has hit hard times, and creating economic incentives for illegitimacy and government dependence. It took more than 20 years for the message he planted then to reach fruition, but reach it it did. (Sadly, my Dad died before the Clinton welfare reforms came into being. He would have appreciated them. He may have been only a semi-reformed Communist, but he was a hard worker and no fool.)

  • Ymarsakar

    I don’t know your son, but depending on his interests, there are some recommendations I have in mind.

    If he is interested in martial arts or physical competition, then Target Focus Training can teach him a couple of vital points. Combinations of sociology, criminology, psychology, OODA loop cycle theory from Colonel Boyd, and personal duty and responsibility are only some of the things that can be picked up from this. Most of it requires that you make your own connections, but this kind of knowledge has useful applications, which renders it very hard to corrupt into “abstract Ivory Tower” misuses. I don’t say that TFT provides, exclusively, these benefits, but it is the only system of training that I can personally vouch for. I cannot say the same for others because I have not taken any of the others. Martial Arts, itself, only teaches a bare fraction of TFT’s reach precisely because TFT compared to Martial Arts is like taking our briefing from veterans of a real war to taking your briefings from Ivory Tower intellectuals on what they think historical wars imply for today’s fight. None of it is ever useless, but there is a strict line between subject matters designed for the field and subject matters designed for classroom presentation. And the Dojo is definitely a classroom, but then so is Marine Sniper School also a classroom. The difference, however, is pretty profound. Even if you ignore the “room” part.

    If he is interested in warfare, then military history can often teach the students of history things that they could never learn simply by living a life in Western decadence and security. An interest in history is also a prerequisite for real understanding concerning modern events. And we’re talking about real history here, not the whitewashed version taught by Academia.

  • Ymarsakar

    Back to more pleasant things: I loved Firefly. One of the best westerns evuh!

    As far as I know, Charles, Bookworm hasn’t watched Serenity or Firefly.

    Her husband got a few DVDs of Firefly from netflix but then returned it because he didn’t like it, not giving Bookworm any time to watch it. This was the last news I had heard on the subject.

    So, Charles, be sure to nag Book constantly about the series, whenever you get the chance, if she hasn’t gotten it for herself yet!

  • Ymarsakar

    Of course Ford cheated a little when he recruited Monument Valley and southern Utah as extras.

    What are “Monument Valley” and “southern Utah”?

  • Charles Martel


    Monument Valley is an Indian reservation that has some of the most iconic scenery in the U.S.

    Remember those scenes in the John Ford westerns where there are island mesas overlooking a high-desert valley floor, with slender spires shooting up from them? That’s Monument Valley.

    Southern Utah, which includes Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks, Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, Lake Powell National Recreation Area and the Vermillion Cliffs is probably the most beautiful landscape in America. It is achingly beautiful in spots, and the wiser Hollywood cinematographers knew that it not only was glorious eye-candy background for films, it exuded “West” in its whole look.

    Ford knew what he was doing when he made that part of the country the backdrop for his films.

  • suek

    Monument Valley:


    and here’s a bunch more:


    Great place to visit…and photograph. I don’t think I’d want to live there…! It’s pretty amazing that the indians managed to eke out a living.

  • suek

    Oops. Two links in one comment. I’ve been sent to moderation…!

  • rockdalian

    Two words: tiny url

    Will turn a long url to a shorter, more manageable url. Fits on the tool bar for ease of use.

  • suek


    You think it’s the length of the url that’s the problem?

    I used to use tinyurl a lot, but then stopped because other commenters (different blog) hesitated to click onto a site without having any idea where the url was going to take them. I also ran into the problem myself when my son had a blog while he was in Afghanistan, and I was posting links to a lot of different articles. The problem was that in going back, I had no idea where those links went, and didn’t really want to visit each one before filing them. I decided that using the actual url was preferable, since it normally gives _some_ clue of the location of the actual site…

  • suek

    Rock’s right…that first url doesn’t even work.

    Here’s the same link with a tinyurl, and it _does_ work!


  • rockdalian

    There is a preview link on the side box at the tinyurl home site.
    Normally if I am a regular at a site I trust, I do not worry about following links so I do not use the preview capability.

  • Ymarsakar

    This page may help you, suek.