Archives for posts with tag: The Manchurian Candidate

The following material is excerpted from my recently published book, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

front cover

Sirhan Sirhan, the man who has been characterized as both the first “Palestinian terrorist” as well as the quintessential “Manchurian Candidate”, was described after his alleged assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 as having been “motivated by Kennedy’s support for Israel.” Sirhan is supposed to have written in a notebook, “Kennedy must die by June 5th” (i.e., the anniversary of the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967)1. Sirhan retracted his initial admission of guilt in the crime, claiming to have been “hypno-programmed” by the assassination’s plotters. Indeed, more than one researcher has suggested that Los Angeles sex therapist and hypnosis expert William J. Bryan did the programming. “Bryan, a self-proclaimed eccentric character, once boasted to two of his favorite prostitutes that he, in fact, had hypnotized Sirhan and had worked on ‘top secret’ CIA projects,” writes Forgotten Terrorist author Mel Ayton. “Bryan’s most famous hypnotic subject was the notorious Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, whose name appeared in Sirhan’s notebooks.”2

Bryan served as a technical advisor on John Frankenheimer’s film The Manchurian Candidate (1962)3, which is about a brainwashed assassin. Frankenheimer had been a successful television director in 1960 when he declined an offer to work for the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign. (According to Frankenheimer, United Artists executive Arthur Krim had aspirations to become the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and was reluctant to green-light The Manchurian Candidate for fear it would upset Kennedy; Krim is supposed to have relented, however, after learning that JFK was a fan of Condon’s novel4.) Frankenheimer, who said he “felt guilty” after the Kennedy assassination for not having done the work for his campaign, proceeded to insinuate himself with the Robert F. Kennedy camp: “when his [i.e., JFK’s] brother declared his candidacy in ’68, I immediately called Pierre Salinger and said, ‘Pierre, I want to be part of this.’” “I never left him,” Frankenheimer recalled. “I was there with him for 102 days.”5

frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer

“Bobby became best friends with me,” the director claimed. “He was staying with me in Malibu, and I drove him to the Ambassador Hotel where he was shot.”6 Frankenheimer further related a strange circumstance of this “defining moment” of his life to interviewer Alex Simon. “You were supposed to be up on the dais with him at the Ambassador, weren’t you?” Simon asked. “Yes, then at the last moment, it was decided that having a film director up on stage with him wasn’t the image they wanted, so we had [Kennedy’s labor advisor,] a friend named Paul Schrade, who was about my size and complexion, take my place,” Frankenheimer recounted. “And he was one of the three people shot in the kitchen.”7 Schrade, who survived, has maintained ever since that day that Sirhan only served to create a distraction and that the shots that killed RFK were fired from behind the candidate’s back8.

Ed Sanders, in his biography of Sharon Tate, relates that Sirhan Sirhan, the alleged assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, was reported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to have been “attending parties on behalf of the Satanist English cult [the Process Church], including one at Sharon Tate’s place.” Sanders points to a possible motivation for the Tate murder that had absolutely nothing to do with some Mansonian (or Bugliosian) notion of an apocalyptic “Helter Skelter” war:

INS criminal investigator Richard Smith’s report stated that an LA law enforcement agency had a female informant who averred that the English Satanist group had commissioned Manson to kill Sharon Tate. […] The reason for the contract […] was “something that she unfortunately overheard that she was not supposed to overhear either in regards to Sirhan Sirhan or about Sirhan Sirhan.”9

Sirhan Sirhan

Sirhan Sirhan

Tate’s acting coach at the time was an Israeli, Zev Lahav, who went by the name “Laurence Merrick” and had been sent to the U.S. to promote Zionist interests10. Lahav, with partner Robert Hendrickson, produced a documentary, Manson (1973), about the Family, which included interviews conducted both before and after the Tate-LaBianca murders. Members of the Manson Family had come to visit the set of Lahav’s previous film, Black Angels, in 1969 – an eerie circumstance considering the race war plotline’s resemblance to the “Helter Skelter” scenario later attributed to Manson by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who participated in the making of Lahav’s Manson documentary. Another of Lahav’s films of 1969, interesting in view of his Tate-Manson connections, is Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?, which is concerned with occult ritualism and mind control (and even features a minor character named Sharon) and was filmed at the Magic Castle, which, as Scott Michaels points out in the documentary Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (2009), sits a few dozen yards from the Franklin Garden Apartments where Charles Manson shot Bernard Crowe over a bad drug deal – also very near the Franklin Avenue apartments from which Manson ran a prostitution ring called 3-Star Enterprises.

Frankenheimer, over the course of his career, would direct a number of movies with explicitly Jewish and anti-Nazi themes: The Train (1964), The Fixer (1968), Black Sunday (1977), The Holcroft Covenant (1985), and Dead Bang (1989). Black Sunday, in particular, depicts the Israelis as allies against Islamic terrorism. Indeed, the assassination of RFK, as Ayton puts it, “might be the first act of the tragedy that culminated in 9/11”11.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood.

Endnotes

  1. Troy, Gil. “Understanding RFK’s Assassination as Palestinian Terror”. The Jerusalem Post (June 5, 2013): http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=364591
  2. Ayton, Mel. The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, pp. 6-7.
  3. Vaughn, Robert. A Fortunate Life. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008, pp. 260-261.
  4. “Dialogue on Film: John Frankenheimer”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 96.
  5. Simon, Alex. “John Frankenheimer: Renaissance Auteur”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, pp. 149-151.
  6. Hart, Hugh. “Frankenheimer Knew Period’s Main Players”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 213.
  7. Simon, Alex. “John Frankenheimer: Renaissance Auteur”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 151.
  8. Post, Paul. “Schrade Still Seeks Justice for RFK: Senator Was Assassinated 47 Years Ago, June 5, 1968”. Saratogian (June 5, 2015): http://www.saratogian.com/article/ST/20150605/NEWS/150609842
  9. Sanders, Ed. Sharon Tate: A Life. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2015, p. 266.
  10. K., Rainer Chlodwig von. “Israel, Manson, and Vampirism: The Freaky Life of Laurence Merrick”. Ideological Content Analysis (May 4, 2017): https://icareviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/israel-manson-and-vampirism-the-freaky-life-of-laurence-merrick/
  11. Ayton, Mel. The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, p. 11.

killer joe

Whereas 2006’s Bug was an interestingly novel but frustrating film, this second collaboration between playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts and director William Friedkin is an essentially perfect work of art and probably the greatest product of Friedkin’s career – which, in view of the fact that said career also includes The French Connection and The Exorcist, is praise of an unusually high magnitude.  An ironical study of human folly and avarice in the mode of the Coens’ Fargo, but resembling Oliver Stone’s U-Turn, Sling Blade, or No Country for Old Men more in its climate and milieu, Killer Joe is an elegantly and wickedly realized adaptation of a crime story in the pulpy and noirish tradition, and is brought to wonderful, vibrant life by the year’s finest assemblage of actors.

A stylized black comedy focusing on a Texas white trash family, Killer Joe surprises in not approaching its subjects with the expected Hollywood condescension, but in allowing even the dumbest and sleaziest characters their due degree of human dignity and consideration.  Emile Hirsch plays Chris Smith, a loser and gambler deep in debt to loan shark Digger Soames (Marc Macaulay).  His not-so-bright solution is to hire a hitman, policeman Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his divorced good-for-nothing mother and collect on her life insurance policy.  Chris’s dimwitted father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), childish, enigmatic sister Dottie (Juno Temple), and whorish step-mother Sharla (Gina Gershon) are willing to go along with the plan; but when Chris and Ansel are unable to meet the killer’s condition of pay up front, Joe decides to take Dottie as his “retainer”.  This being a noir world, nothing goes as planned.

In The Manchurian Candidate, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) explains that, “the human race is divided into two distinct and irreconcilable groups: those that walk into rooms and automatically turn television sets on, and those that walk into rooms and automatically turn them off.”  Joe Cooper, in Shaw’s paradigm, is the serious man, the one who always walks into a room and switches off (or smashes) the television.  “I’m real,” he says to Dottie.  Joe is also an increasingly threatening and problematic figure for the Smith family, particularly after he shows himself content to keep his “retainer” indefinitely.

Killer Joe is insightfully cast.  Emile Hirsch is an obviously foredoomed man from the moment he first appears, while Matthew McConaughey displays a surprisingly icy, intimidating side.  Thomas Haden Church is both hilarious and melancholic, and quirky Juno Temple may have the prettiest, sweetest face and voice on the planet, the perfect sexual foil for scarily masculine Joe.  Gina Gershon is a national treasure and has the potential in coming years to become something approximating her generation’s Karen Black.  One of the great sexpots of the 1990s, her charisma and animal appeal remain undiminished; her age, if anything, has enhanced her capacity for juicy character parts, so that one can only look forward to the roles of her further maturity.

Gershon’s instantaneously immortal and deservedly notorious fried chicken moment is only one of many evidences of Killer Joe‘s unwillingness to pull its punches or compromise.  A violent film that in no way glorifies violence, Killer Joe‘s view of the human condition is a sophisticatedly absurdist one, with the chicken scene being the most grotesquely brilliant depiction of proxy object fellatio since Roger Watkins’s Last House on Dead End Street.   Whether the scene is gratuitously cruel and intended for mere shock value, or whether it rather has some thematic relevance and meaning is something viewers should enjoy contemplating for themselves, and will probably (or at least ought to) be a point of reference for film fans in perpetuity, much in the same way that the backwoods rape in Deliverance or the nuclear bomb ride in Dr. Strangelove have entered the cultural psyche.

One of the best films of 2012, Killer Joe receives five stars and the highest possible recommendation.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that the film is:

5. Pro-drug.  Use and trade in illegal drugs is a reality of average Americans’ lives and as casual a recreational comfort as beer.

4. Neurosis-critical.  Obsessive health consciousness and the ubiquity of empty sexual imagery have turned America into a basket case, with fast food, consequently, becoming the new pornography.

3. Anti-Christian.  The unthinking invocations of Jesus and God; the crucifixes decorating Ansel and Sharla’s trailer; the rote and meaningless funeral ceremony for a woman whose death was welcomed by the attendees – all are representative only of the obviously ineffectual superficiality of these people’s beliefs.

2. Anti-slut.  Sharla is in for some major pain and hideous humiliation.

1. Anti-state/anti-police.  Dallas police officer Joe moonlights as a hitman and says he likes vicious loan shark Digger.  The ease with which Chris acquires a gun illegally serves as a reminder of the futility of gun control legislation.

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