Archives for posts with tag: Donald Sutherland
fta

“The show the Pentagon couldn’t stop!” Sure …

I have previously discussed the dubious “anti-war” credentials of countercultural figures Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda, who played the part of rebellious hippies within the Hollywood elite. No film better encapsulates their fraud or the fabricated nature of the corporate counterculture than Francine Schoenholtz’s ridiculous 1972 documentary FTA, which stands for “Fuck the Army”. The film follows Fonda, Sutherland, and other performers as they tour Japan and the Philippines, performing unfunny comedy routines and hokey protest songs for American servicemen. Schoenholtz’s previous work included a 1966 series of one-hour plays for PBS called Jews and History – and FTA itself and the culture creation it represents comprise a singular Jewish contribution to American military and pop-cultural history.

The film is as much a promotion of subversion as it is a polemic against the war in Vietnam. The poster, boasting its image of a stoned Donald Sutherland, is an undisguised attempt to associate anti-war activism with drug culture, and much of FTA is devoted to glorifying communism, feminism, vulgarity, bad grooming, and loutish black militancy, with the U.S. characterized as a racist society perpetrating genocide against both the Vietnamese and American blacks. FTA’s pose of revolutionism notwithstanding, is the audience really expected to believe that this troupe of anti-American undesirables would have been allowed anywhere near U.S. military bases overseas unless the production had at least the tacit approval of powerful persons within the American government? Would U.S. Army and Navy personnel be permitted to participate in the production of a film if it authentically sought, as FTA pretends, to goad soldiers into turning their guns against their leaders? It was during the week of the film’s premiere in July of 1972 that Fonda, just to present the anti-war movement in the worst possible light, notoriously visited Hanoi and posed for a photo with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

Producing and completing post-production on FTA was Igo Kantor, who tells the story of his involvement in the project in an interview he granted for the DVD release of the stupid woman vigilante movie Alley Cat (1984). He remembers that “Technicolor came to me and they said they would like to do a show on Jane Fonda going with a group of people, the FTA group, musical group, all over the Pacific Rim, all of Vietnam, all those countries, and do a show about the counter [to] the Bob Hope Christmas shows,” which were being produced by NBC, then owned by the defense contractor RCA. “The Bob Hope Christmas shows were dignifying the war movement because he was performing for the troops all over, every Christmas he’d go to one of these towns where the war took place and he would have shows – and I was the editor on the Bob Hope Christmas shows for six years. […] But then Technicolor said Jane Fonda would like to do a show to counteract that. Instead of heroining the war, let’s be pro-peace,” Kantor recounts, smiling sardonically.

That RCA would produce television programming “dignifying the war movement” is hardly surprising; but that Technicolor, a subsidiary of the defense contractor Thomson-CSF, would approach Kantor to produce a radical “pro-peace” hippie extravaganza, even hiring the same editor, is more interesting. “So she [i.e., Jane Fonda] went [to Vietnam] and the amazing thing is, here I was working in this building on Highland Avenue [in Los Angeles] and Jane Fonda, I gave her an office upstairs, and she and Don Sutherland were together at that time […] and Bob Hope had an office downstairs, and Bob Hope knew about this and he says, ‘Igo, what’s going on here, what, you’re working on my show, which is pro-war, and you’re working another show that’s anti-war?’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, I will not mix the footages. They’ll not be the same show, don’t worry about it.’ And sometimes,” Kantor remembers, bemused, “they used to go up and down the stairs and throw darts at each other. Bob Hope and Jane Fonda were, my God, crazy.” So, by Kantor’s own admission, the entertainment industry’s representative pro-war and anti-war exemplars were literally working out of the same building and frolicking on the stairs and enjoying hijinks – but that was surely just a coincidence – right?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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Leisure Seeker

The Leisure Seeker is little more than a piece of scurrilous hate mail that disguises itself as a valedictory love letter to the Baby Boomer generation. Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren play John and Ella Spencer, an elderly couple whose twilight years are rapidly fading to black. John is a retired literary scholar whose intermittent lapses of long- and short-term memory at times reduce him to petulant childishness, and Ella is dying of cancer and getting by on pills and alcohol. Conscious that they both have little time left, Ella, without informing their worried son and daughter, is taking a final road trip with John to Key West for a life-and-death-affirming pilgrimage to Ernest Hemingway’s house. The title refers on the literal level to the Spencers’ gas-guzzling motor home and on the figurative level to hedonistic selfishness as the outmoded vehicle in which the Baby Boomers tripped, crashed, and will righteously burn. Morbid vitriol thinly veiled as bittersweet dramedy, The Leisure Seeker will hold the most appeal for the unperceptive.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Leisure Seeker is:

4. Gun-ambivalent. Ella defends herself against redneck highway robbers with a shotgun, but the senile old man’s access to the weapon is intended to cause the viewer anxiety, and Ella discards the shells after the would-be muggers have gone. Guns, if permitted at all, should be placed in women’s responsible hands, the movie appears to suggest.

3. Pro-gay. It is strongly insinuated that the Spencers’ cake-baking son Will (Christian McKay) is a homosexual. Ella is not only unperturbed, but seems to be fond of the idea.

2. Pro-miscegenation. John and Ella barge uninvited into a retirement home to visit her black ex-boyfriend, Dan (Dick Gregory), who, as it turns out, does not even remember who she is. Ella’s wistful expression on seeing him again makes clear, however, that her memories of him are dear.

1.Anti-white. The Leisure Seeker evinces resentment and distrust toward the Baby Boomers, whose revolutionary potential and openness to new experiences have ended in mindless, maudlin conservatism. The film is set shortly before the 2016 presidential election and a tacky pickup truck flying Trump flags rolls into view during opening credits as Carole King can be heard lamenting, “it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late, though we really did try to make it.” In a later sequence, John, in one of his absent states, confusedly wanders into a crowd of Trump supporters robotically chanting “USA! USA!” and seems to be enjoying himself until his wife retrieves him like a mother apprehending an errant toddler. This is the film’s representative Trump voter: a senile and disoriented bumbler in need of supervision. Disingenuous appeals to Boomer nostalgia are inevitably undermined, as when John and Ella’s attempt to resuscitate the disco spirit makes her nauseous and causes their dance to be interrupted when she abruptly vomits. Displaying their insensitivity to the people of color oppressed by their hegemonic ancestors, John and Ella visit a theme park simulating colonial America and blithely ignore the background actors performing as toiling negro slaves. Their self-absorption reveals that the Boomers have failed to make amends and that further generational redress will be necessary. They repeatedly bore and annoy the younger and browner people around them, such as when John insists on discussing Hemingway with strangers in restaurants. In one key scene, however, John encounters a bright black waitress who turns out to be a Hemingway scholar herself (as contrasted with a ditzy white waitress featured in a previous scene). When John suffers a memory lapse and cannot recall a passage from The Old Man and the Sea, the black waitress finishes his thought for him, demonstrating that the white man has become a redundancy and that non-whites are fully capable of serving as the repositories of high culture going forward.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Lock Up

One of my favorite Sylvester Stallone movies from my childhood is 1989’s Lock Up, a satisfying prison flick that stars Sly as Frank Leone, a model convict with six months to go and what appears to be a bright future ahead of him – until he is unexpectedly transferred in the middle of the night to a hellish correctional institution run by the sadistic Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland), who harbors a long-festering vendetta against Leone. “This is hell, and I’m going to give you the guided tour,” he promises. Full of memorable bits like a cockroach race, a barbell assassination, and a brutal slow-motion football montage, not to mention a sentimental piano theme that I’ve never forgotten, Lock Up also delivers the adrenaline in its inevitable escape and comeuppance sequence.

following orders

Following orders.

Sutherland is perfect as the mannered antagonist, and Drumgoole is easily one of the greatest bad guy monikers ever, putting me in mind of the canistered zombie who kicks off Return of the Living Dead (1985) – and Drumgoole is a zombie of sorts, at least in a figurative sense, as he reanimates for the viewer the corpse of the evil Nazi villain stock character. Viewers only hoping for a fun Sylvester Stallone vehicle and harmless action fix instead find themselves the captive audience for a dose of Hollywood Holocaust propaganda when Drumgoole has Leone sealed into a glass chamber for delousing with Zyklon gas! Naturally, Drumgoole leaves Leone struggling to hold his breath way longer than is necessary, and Stallone’s partial Jewish family background makes the moment that much more piquant. Reinforcing the notion that there is something Nazi-like about the prison staff is Tom Sizemore’s character Dallas’s nickname for one of the guards – “Col. Klink” – a reference to the WW2 POW camp sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Then, too, there is the racial makeup of the guards, with whites like Manly (Jordan Lund) being among the meanest and most stereotypically fascistic and blacks like Braden (William Allen Young) revealed to have compassion in their still-beating hearts. There is an undeniable thematic overlap between the prison and Shoah film and fictional genres, with prison movies as far back as Brute Force (1947) serving as social commentaries on the dangers of authoritarianism and with entries like the Holocaust (1978) miniseries, various salacious Nazisploitation movies of the seventies, and Escape from Sobibor (1987) combining elements of both genres – and Lock Up implicitly acknowledges this connection, so that it could be classified with Soylent Green (1973), for example, as a crypto-Holocaust movie.

Three writers, including Die Hard (1988) bard Jeb Stuart and some nobody named Richard Smith, are credited with Lock Up’s screenplay – but somehow I have to suspect that it is the third name, Henry Rosenbaum, that accounts for the Zyklon delousing scene. The film was directed by John Flynn, whose other credits include the obscure made-in-Israel thriller The Jerusalem File (1972), vigilante movies Rolling Thunder (1977) and Defiance (1980), and the top-notch Steven Seagal revenger Out for Justice (1991). Rocky (1976) composer Bill Conti, meanwhile, contributes the score to what adds up to an audience-pleasingly macho but sensitive send-off for the eighties, Stallone’s most successful decade – even if the gassing scene does give it just a whiff of a fishy-smelling air of high camp for those racially conscious viewers in the audience.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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