Elia Kazan’s America

By Colin Martin

Elia Kazan is one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, and yet his name is controversial in Hollywood. This is made clear when Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro nervously presented an honorary Oscar to Kazan in 1999. The crowd did not immediately erupt into a standing ovation. On the contrary, some sat, others clapped halfheartedly, and a few expressed utter contempt. This reception can be traced to Kazan’s turning in eight members of the Communist Party to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. While Hollywood scorned him, he was proud of the more “personal” films he made afterwards, writing, “The only genuinely good and original films I’ve made, I made after my testimony.”

Kazan did not disavow his actions, saying late in life that he selected “only the more tolerable of two alternatives that were either way painful and wrong.” When actress Zoe Kazan was asked about her grandfather, she did not simply condemn him, rather, she remarked that she thinks of what “it meant for my grandfather as an immigrant to this country to have his Americanness tested and the choice that he made from that.” If his Americanness was tested in the 50s, ex-Communist Elia Kazan thought he passed such a test, and the films that followed were reflections of it.

To adopt Kazan’s description, one of his “genuinely good” films is 1957’s A Face in the Crowd. It revolves around an entertainer who curries favor with the public but whose character does not merit such esteem. The movie provides a useful parallel to Kazan’s naming names of Communists whom he viewed as a threat to America, reflecting the personal nature he says was present in his post-1952 movies.

There have been a few opinion pieces describing this film as predicting the rise of Donald Trump due to its blending of an entertainment personality with political demagoguery. However, A Face in the Crowd is not simply a warning about the dangers of populism, nor is its protagonist simply “Trump before Trump.” Kazan’s understanding of the American character is revealed not merely through the shifty entertainer but also the people who fueled his rise.

The film begins with Marcia Jeffries, a journalist for a small-town Arkansas radio station, reporting from inside the local jail. She exclaims that “people are fascinating wherever you find them.” That is certainly the case when she meets Larry Rhodes, whom she gives the nickname “Lonesome.” This character, the film’s protagonist, is played brilliantly by Andy Griffith in his film debut.

Lonesome is immediately appealing to both the fictional radio audience and to the film viewer due to his undeniable charisma. He plays the guitar, sings folk songs, and seems to be a genuine person. Americans enjoy the elevation of a likable man from humble origins, so the audience is drawn to him. He gets his own local radio show, and he earns the goodwill of an ever-expanding audience of ordinary folks. He leaves the small town for the opportunities …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Liz Peek: 10 New Year’s resolutions for Biden

By Liz Peek President-elect Joe Biden, like most Americans, is probably thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Here are 10 helpful suggestions I would give him if we could have a talk. …read more

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Richard Fowler: In Georgia Senate races, key voting bloc gives Democrats excellent chance of winning

By Richard Fowler If Republican win even one of the Senate races in Georgia, the GOP will retain control of the Senate and be able to obstruct President Biden’s initiatives at every turn, frustrating the will of the American people …read more

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Attorneys Gen. Landry & Rutledge: Georgia Senate race puts support for law enforcement on ballot

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Reverse Trump’s Western Sahara Giveaway

By Doug Bandow

Is Mike Pompeo the worst secretary of state in U.S. history? It’s possible, though he has lots of competition.

Unfortunately, he appears to be determined to continue his malign activities until his very last day in office. His latest awful act was buying Morocco’s support for the normalization of relations with Israel by endorsing that latter’s seizure of the Western Sahara.

Rabat had no colorable claim, religious, cultural, ethnic, economic, or historical, to the territory, which is why no other country or organization has officially accepted the annexation. And the International Court of Justice and United Nations affirmed the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination. Yet the Trump administration is backing the aggressor. Alas, noted Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco: “The failure of the international community to force Morocco to live up to its international legal obligation is what has led to the Western Saharan crisis in the first place.”

King Mohammed VI brilliantly played Pompeo, winning something for almost nothing. The former did not even agree to open an embassy, despite America’s lavish PR claims. In a game of strip poker with Morocco’s monarch, America’s secretary of state would be naked after the first round. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe complained: “He could have made this deal without trading the rights of a voiceless people.”

Still, the worst part of the agreement is the substance. Hundreds of thousands of Sahrawi people suffer because of Morocco’s ruthless land grab. The State Department admits that not all is well for those living under Rabat’s rule, with human rights issues including: “allegations of torture by some members of the security forces, although the government condemned the practice and made efforts to investigate and address any reports; allegations of political prisoners; undue limits on freedom of expression, including criminalization of libel and certain content that criticized the monarchy and the government’s position regarding territorial integrity; limits on freedom of assembly and association; and corruption.” On top of this, there was “a widespread perception of impunity.”

Yet Pompeo treated these Sahrawi people as did Morocco—as spoils of conquest, objects to be bartered for geopolitical gain. Trump’s action, complained Sid Omar, the Polisario Front’s UN representative, was “a blatant violation of the United States charter and the resolution of international legitimacy.”

And with the apparent breakdown of the nearly three-decade ceasefire between Rabat and Sahrawi last month, Washington’s action could add gasoline to the fire. “This move makes the resolution of the current bout of violence much harder,” contended Riccardo Fabiani of the International Crisis Group: “This will also make Sahrawi youths more angry, mobilized and committed to resolving the conflict through force.”

This is no idle worry for the U.S. An Army War College assessment warned: “kidnappings and arrests suggest that terrorist and criminal organizations, some with ties to al-Qaeda, are attempting to infiltrate Western Sahara and the refugee camps, although Polisario leaders appear to be trying to keep them out. Still, such infiltrations may come to threaten regional security.”

Strangely, Pompeo’s potentially dangerous sell-out does not …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Paul Batura: ‘Gilligan’s Island’ star Dawn Wells dies — unlike on TV, she was rescued in real life

By Paul Batura Dawn Wells, the actress who went on a fictional “three-hour tour” in 1964 and found lifelong fame as the bubbly girl-next-door Mary Ann Summers on the TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Wednesday of complications from COVID-19 …read more

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Michael Goodwin: Trump’s Middle East Abraham Accords are his third stunning achievement as president

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