Movies and Politics and a Coach Update

I haven’t talked about movies in some time and even less about politics. We had Trumbo (2015) sitting on our watch list for a while and kept forgetting what it was about. In short Donald Trumbo was one of the Ten, Hollywood screen writers who were blacklisted by the studios, under great pressure from columnists and congressmen. They were indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” There was no “right” answer. “No” would have been met with “proof” of perjury and “yes” was met with a demand for who else was a member. I know this is old news, but the story of how Trumbo survived twelve years of black list and what it cost him is well told. Also it leaves me very worried that we now have an appointed member of the administration, Steve Bannon, who Southern Poverty Law Center says has no business in the White House and members of Congress who could create a modern day HUAC.

Moving back to the movies. The Black List was broken when Kirk Douglas made Spartacus and announced that Donald Trumbo was writing the script, already an open secret. Hedda Hopper went after everyone in sight to stop it or to prevent people from going to see it. The American Legion ordered its members to boycott and it was a box office smash. It didn’t hurt that John F Kennedy was seen to have sneaked out of the White House to see it. The movie is indeed a blockbuster, the cast includes, Kirk Douglas, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons and Laurence Olivier. Also 10,000 troups from the Spanish Army and that is just half the battlefield. It is gory for its time and it is a love story and romantic for its time. It runs 3 hours 15 minutes. We got it from the library in an edition called the Criterion Collection. The finest piece in the extra material is a film made by the Hollywood Ten as they were preparing to go to jail for a year for contempt of Congress.The added material in the Criterion Collection made the experience far more than watching a movie, it even includes correspondence from the MPAA with their censorship concerns.

We did not set out to have a political experience, far from it, enough already. As I said Trumbo has been on our watch list for months. I would have preferred to have watched Roman Holiday (written by Donald Trumbo but the Oscar went to Ian McLellan Hunter who was not on the blacklist). Ricki and the Flash, with Meryl Streep is on our watch list, maybe that will be safe to watch.

Coach Update: The date is now December 1. I had a long talk with John, the body shop manager, and they are just getting ready to paint. He figures they need a week. There is no way we would be able to drive it to Virginia leaving next Tuesday. We are going to take the car to Charlottesville and have a great time there and see people in DC. Then back to Rochester for a day before picking up the coach and taking a day to settle back in before heading out on a northerly route dependent on how the weather looks. Wish us luck.

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