Rightwing Film Geek

The Kazan haters

It’s unfortunately not on the Web site, but the December issue of The Atlantic has a postmortem on Elia Kazan from conservative writer Mark Steyn, in a bit of a reined-in writing persona compared to what he did at, e.g. the American Spectator. Steyn has an interesting take on a film (GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT) that I found pretty weak but Steyn makes me want to see it again. But most importantly, he states bluntly the principle behind supporting Kazan.

kazan.jpgBut the arts have little time for anti-Communists, especially premature anti-Communists, especially as premature as Kazan: he quit the party in 1936, after he’d refused to help it turn the Group Theatre into an actors’ collective …

But if we were to frame Kazan’s testimony to HUAC in terms of personal loyalty, what about his responsibility to, say, Vsevolod Meyerhold? When Kazan joined the Group, straight out of Yale, the company looked to the Russians for inspiration — not just to Stanislavsky, but also to his wayward disciple Meyerhold. The latter was a great mentor to the young Kazan and other Group members. This was a period, remember, when the Group frequently visited Russia; [Waiting For] Lefty, for example, was staged in Moscow. Meyerhold loved the older stylized forms — commedia dell’arte, pantomime — and refused to confine himself to Socialist Realism. So Stalin had him arrested and executed.

Think about that: murdered over a difference of opinion about a directing style. As ‘persecution’ goes, that’s a lot more thorough than forcing some screenwriter to work on a schlock network variety show under a false name.

And that really says it all about why I scorn the professional anti-McCarthyites, and why Kazan’s memory was honored by these rodents’ hate. Any comparison or parallel between McCarthyism, HUAC, loyalty oaths and the rest of it and the *ordinary way of doing business* in the Soviet Union is obscene. Anyone who’d make it has no sense of proportion or a sense of what a monstrous evil Communism was, and therefore thus how derivatively evil supporting it was.

November 24, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Bubba the bibliophile

Here are Bill Clinton’s favorite books, according to The Impeached President’s Library (thanks Adam).

I wish I could think of some more smart-alecky comments to make, beyond noting that Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” is nowhere to be found. For some reason.

I frankly don’t see how anyone could list Max Weber’s [brilliant] “Politics as a Vocation” as a favorite book (though it’s actually a widely-anthologized lecture) and also quote St. Paul’s vision of Heaven in his inauguration speech — but trying to figure out Clinton’s mind is like getting into a land war in Asia. (Nick Gillespie and Fred Moramarco ponder the meaning of Clinton’s love for “Leaves of Silly Romantic Claptrap.”)

Any other comments on these books, only 5 1/2 of which I have read?

November 24, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment