This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Richie Cunningham Presented Lies In Order To Sell A Picture

Richie Cunningham Loses It

If there was ever an actor who epitomised good American apple pie values, it was Ron Howard. No kid served as a better role model than Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. No one, not even Mrs. C, could take the credit for transforming The Fonz from thug to good citizen other than Richie Cunningham.

Opie Goes to School

It then came as utter disillusionment to find out that Ron Howard in real life couldn't hold a candle to those goodie two-shoes he portrayed on television. In order to sell Cinderella Man as an epic portrayal of James Braddock's unlikely rise to winning the heavyweight belt, the producers figured there needed to be a villian. That person became Max Baer.

The problem is Cinderella Man was based on a true story. There's no place for poetic license in such a situation. It was morally wrong to rewrite that history. It's unfortunate this happened, because it was unnecessary. One can appreciate Braddock without being fed lies about Max Baer. The bottom line is actually that Braddock was a mere footnote compared to the impact Max Baer had. Baer should have been featured and not the other way around. By twisting and lying about Baer's past, Howard basically became a sellout hack.

I'm shocked that no Hollywood movie has ever been done on Max Baer. Maybe I missed it, but I don't see that there has been even one attempt.

Cinderella Man spinned Max as being proud of murdering a man in the ring. It is fair to argue that the 1930 death of Frankie Campbell was the reason Max Baer never became one of the all time greats of the sweet science. That event devastated him. He humbly offered his goodwill to the Campbell family and helped put Frankie's kids through college. Campbell's tragic death was the equivalent of Samson getting his hair cut off by Delilah, or Popeye having his spinach taken away. From then on, Max Baer needed all sorts of psychological motivation to perform well in the ring.

He got some of that mojo back when he fought Max Schmeling of Germany. Baer had Jewish blood. Although he wasn't a practising Jew, for that fight and from then on he wore boxing shorts with a large Jewish Star embroidered on it. That was downplayed by Cinderella Man. It was decided that Braddock versus Baer as good versus evil schtick wouldn't work so well, if folks knew Baer had been a thorn in Nazi Germany's Aryan supremacy schlock. We know of Joe Louis smacking down Hitler's favourite boxer. We know Jesse Owens did a good thing smacking down Nazi morale with his efforts in the 1936 Olympics. Max Baer deserves to be in that grouping. Unfortunately because of Ron Howard's mythology, he isn't.

James J Braddock Max Baer 1

I watched a chunk of the Braddock-Baer fight. It was a snooze fest except for Baer's entertaining nature. Braddock won by decision. He didn't exactly beat on Max. As reported in a 1935 Time Magazine article, "Over Braddock [Max Baer] had the advantages of weight (18 lb.), reach (3 in.) and a fabulous right-hand punch which had once killed a man. In all earnestness he had told reporters:
I'm scared stiff I'll kill Braddock. I dreamed last night I hurt the boy. I woke up in a cold sweat.
The real irony is that it's not an outrageous opinion to think Max Baer was a better actor than Ron Howard. He was in a number of quality flicks. Ron Howard never was.

Max Baer made his acting debut in 1933 in The Prizefighter and the Lady. It is fair to say he stole the movie from two of the greatest actors of all time, Myrna Loy and Walter Huston.

The "Thin Man" witty lines


There is a very interesting side tangent that emerged from this movie. Mussolini's boxer Primo Carnera played himself under the condition that he wouldn't lose to Baer's character. That guy was huge, but he had a soft chin and word was most of his wins had been rigged. Max crushed Carnera the next year to win the heavyweight belt, after having knocked him down eleven times.

Max Baer would later co-star with Humphrey Bogart in the 1956 film The Harder They Fall. It was Bogart's last movie. The script was a fictionalised version based on the Primo Carnera story. Baer played a character somewhat based on himself, but in which he was portrayed just like Cinderella Man did, as a monster proud of his ability to kill people in the ring. Maybe Baer wouldn't have played the part, if he knew decades later he would be unethically pinned as being so in real life. But that takes us into a Twilight Zone styled time travel schlick-schlock.

Max Baer had major skills beyond fisticuffs. He was perhaps the original Muhammad Ali or perhaps that honour goes to Gentleman Jim Corbett. Baer was a natural born entertainer who just so happened to also be adept at applying fists to faces. He was the real life version of Golden Boy by Clifford Odets. That play first hit Broadway in 1937. Perhaps Odets had been influenced by Baer's story? A similar death in the ring occurs. A similar anguish is felt by the character Joe Bonaparte that Max Baer experienced. This was a theme, one of regret of one's hands leading to another's death, that Ron Howard and the makers of Cinderella Man didn't bother including in their movie. To make matters worse, Cinderella Man falsified such truth.

The Prizefighter and the Lady wasn't a musical, but about halfway through it, Max Baer showed up in a Broadway-like schtick. Since Cinderella Man decided to fictionalise real history, I am going to go out on a limb and argue that Rocky was the much better picture, precisely because it never made itself to be anything than it really was. Richie Cunningham messed up bad. He should apologise and atone for distorting history into fiction without a disclaimer.

Max Baer in "Prizefighter and the Lady"

Related Reading:

Fight Snub
How Cinderella Man sucker punches the Jewish boxer Max Baer.

The Real Max Baer Is Missing From 'Cinderella Man'
Ron Howard's latest movie proves that Hollywood still has a real problem portraying American Jews as anything but stereotypes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Director Ed Wood Jr. Had No Talent And Was Racist

I must come clean. When I first came across his movies, I thought they were brilliant or at least very fun to watch. I was wrong.

Ed Wood Jr. was a hack. He was a scam artist with a video camera. What fools people otherwise is the adage that some movies are so bad, they are good. His movies are like watching a car wreck, yet no one gets physically hurt. You can't turn your eyes away. You don't know know why, but you can't.

I think I figured it out. Take any stupid entertainment show, and you'll see that the schtick usually revolves around hurting or making fun of others; The lowest common denominator, so to speak. The Beverly Hillbillies made fun of Southern rednecks. Now one may ask where does All in the Family fit into this. That was surely a good show. Well, that's easy. It made fun of bigots. It's ok to make fun of people who deserve it, like Archie Bunker. You may ask well didn't Hogan's Heroes make fun of Nazis? So isn't that ok? No. If you do it once say like The Stooges or Chaplin did, then that's good. Make a weekly show basically downplaying genocide, and it's a no-no. Well, then what about Seinfeld? That made fun of the Me Generation. You see, it's all about the consumer. Good entertainment is marketed to thinking people with integrity. Bad entertainment is about making bucks while laughing at those who pay for it.

Those who like Ed Wood Jr. are deluded. I was one of them. Not anymore.

In a movie called Jail Bait, Ed Wood Jr. put in a few minutes of an old-school, black face, vaudeville act. He did this well after it was so-called acceptable to do so. There was an Amos and Andy television show, and there is debate whether that one was racist. Its radio roots certainly were. But at least it gave work to African-American actors. I haven't really looked into it, but I think there were some normal roles in that show not making fun of African-Americans. It wasn't white dudes making fun of blacks. Maybe it was somewhat akin to the Beverly Hillbillies. Though ultimately I think the tv version of Amos and Andy was bad news precisely because of its origin. Kind of like I never got a good feeling watching Hogan's Heroes.

The movie Jail Bait is in the public domain. The scene in question can be viewed after the sixteen minute mark.

When I saw this, I was disgusted and in shock. I looked around for any entries explaining wtf was up with this. There's not much out there. Thee's one blog which explains who the act was but nothing more than that.

I only found one source which comes close to solving this mess.

Ed Wood, mad genius: a critical study of the films By Rob Craig

I read elsewhere that indeed the scene had been replaced in some versions with a stripper type act. Either way, it's now clear to me that Wood was going after the dumb man's pocketbook.

Now check this out. I found an article written in Reason Magazine titled The Outsiders; How D.W. Griffith Paved the Way for Ed Wood by Jesse Walker. Jesse actually did a decent job reviewing D.W. Griffith, imho. I didn't exactly get his premise how Griffith had paved the way for Ed Wood. If anyone can explain, please do. What I did notice is the author has no awareness that Jail Bait contained a racist segment. Maybe he started out thinking he'd do a piece on Griffith and felt he needed a bit more to turn it into a schtick. Maybe there was a rerun of an Ed Wood movie on while he pondered how he would be able to come up with a couple hundred extra words for his deadline. This is a head scratcher. No matter how he came up with this premise to tie the two together, he missed the big story.
Wood's fans frequently describe his movies as "so bad, they're good"; the Wood enthusiast's usual defense of his passion is that the director may be inept, but at least he never made a movie that's boring. But Wood did make boring movies—titles like Jail Bait and Necromania that only hardcore fans of cult cinema seek out and even fewer finish. Something clearly separates such unwatchable flicks from his two most famous pictures, both of which have devoted followings and enjoy regular revival screenings. I submit that it's the same thing that separates the liveliest moments of Intolerance and Orphans of the Storm from Griffith's more plodding pictures, like the indescribably dull biopic Abraham Lincoln; the same thing that separates the sentimental sections of The Birth of a Nation from the wilder, more paranoid parts. Wood's most famous films have more going for them than mere ineptitude; they do not violate film grammar so much as they create a private grammar of their own. They are outsider art. Like a Howard Finster painting—or a D.W. Griffith movie—each feels like a window into one man's eccentric mind.
It would have been a good article if he had noticed the racist nature of Jail Bait. Even without that, this article might have survived, if he had said the two eccentric minds had a knack for knowing how to provide well what their target audience would like to see. He missed on both counts. Thus he failed.

NBC used to be at the bottom of the ratings. Then at some point they figured out how to be patient with quality shows not doing that well. I can think of a few that didn't come out fast from the starting gate but later became fan favourites, like Cheers and St. Elsewhere. I don't remember Taxi doing too well ar first for ABC but then it eventually caught on because it was so well made. Now it's a whole new ballgame with television. There are simply way more channels now. It used to be a lot easier to study it sociologically, when there were only the big three networks to parse. The onset of reality shows was perhaps the death blow.

I've a few more videos to share. These are public domain with no copyrights and can be found at The first is the wild dream sequence from Glen or Glenda, Woods' best film. It's more evidence that Woods was simply out to make a buck. The second video is one ye should all watch when you get the chance. It's not political. It wasn't necessarily a deep film. It won't change your life. But it was well-written and acted. It was pure entertainment and starred one of the greatest actors of all time, Edward G. Robinson. Though I just downplayed its intellectual significance, I do think Scarlet Street is thought provoking and will make you think about major themes such as greed, morality, feelings of being trapped, and much more. This is classic film-noir, perhaps the best of all time. I won't give away the ending, but one question you may want to ponder is whether the film broke the Hays Code demanding that no criminal act may go unpunished.

Risque fetish scenes added to Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda
Posted by StingRay Films: Public Domain film: Producer George Weiss re-released "Glen or Glenda" (1953) adding these racy and fetishistic clips to Wood's bizarre dream sequence to sell more tickets. That is, by adding some hetero sex-appeal to this nutty treatise on tranvestites. I edited this down somewhat - it ends suddenly as I can only do 5 minute mpeg files.

This odd bondage, whipping, sexual assault footage was from an unfinished Weiss project (probably a burlesque film) directed by W. Merle Connell -- who specialized in cheesy exploitation and striptease films. Could there be an Irving Klaw influence here? In New York around 1953 Klaw was just getting started making his fetish film-loops with Bettie Page and other models. Anyone else have more info about this?

Scarlet Street (1945) directed by Fritz Lang

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wake the Fock Up, Everybody!

That was my original catchphrase, regardless of any attempt by noom to steal it.

Ok, enough with the inside stuff. It's time for a new blog entry. This one will be a two in one production. We'll take a looksie at word that a substantial number of Germans would like a new fuhrer. Then we'll give a kindred spirit blogger named Doug Mesner some props for his excellent exposes of internet convolution.

#1 Raging Ethnocentrism as a Cover for War and Inequality

Merkel says German multi-cultural society has failed

Here's what I think is going on. War is the #1 racket of all time going back to the caveman days of sticks and stones.

For the war profiteers to maintain their schtick and subsequent intake of blood money, they need bogeymen. No, this has nothing to do with Humphrey Bogart and my old movie fetish. His nickname was actually spelled as Bogie. But I digress.

The Ruskies ran out of moolah. That ended the Cold War. What we are seeing is basically a return to North versus South geopolitics. The Military Industrial Complex needs an enemy. Say there was little crime. A lot of cops would be out of work. It's the same with the war industry.

An uneducated population steeped in nationalistic propaganda helps perpetuate a war mentality as in us versus youse guys. It's been close to a decade since 9/11. That was a horrendous event. We still do not fully understand how it was pulled off. Though we can see how it has been used as a vehicle to stymie the Middle East peace process. We can see how the US military has turned one criminal event into their justification of an enormous expansion of spy factories.

A disturbing poll result has emerged from Merkel's Germany. Thirteen percent want a new fuhrer. No joke. That's sick. Maybe three percent would make sense. But not thirteen.

Why 13 percent of Germans would welcome a 'Führer'

That's a reprint of a Christian Science Monitor article written by Robert Marquand.
(fair use excerpt) Paris – A new survey in Germany shows that 13 percent of its citizens would welcome a “Führer” – a German word for leader that is explicitly associated with Adolf Hitler – to run the country “with a firm hand.”

The findings signal that Europe’s largest nation, freed from cold-war strictures, is not immune from the extreme and often right-wing politics on the rise around the Continent.

The study, released Oct. 13 by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, affiliated with the center-left Social Democratic Party, revealed among other things that more than a third of Germans feel the country is “overrun by foreigners,” some 60 percent would “restrict the practice of Islam,” and 17 percent think Jews have “too much influence.”
Such a development is not only taking place in Germany. France has been duly criticised by the European Commission for their heavy-handed deportation of Gypsies back to Eastern Europe. Here's a story reprinted from the Associated Press documenting yet another example of xenophobia. As Angela Doland reported:
In recent months, France has expelled more than 1,000 Roma immigrants, mostly to Romania, and demolished hundreds of illegal Roma camps. It frames its actions as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration and crime, and it says most of the migrants are leaving France voluntarily, with a small stipend.

Critics say France is unfairly targeting an ethnic minority and lumping together entire communities instead of handling the expulsions on a case-by-case basis.
This manufacturing of scapegoats is nothing new for failed capitalistic systems. Let me amend that. Capitalism has been a success for the rich. The war industry has been very generous to the wealthy of the world. Why must war and inequality persist? There must be enough in this world for everyone to have a good life. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. [/there's nothing like a good cliche to wrap up a paragraph]

Here's a bit more on this I added to my other blog.

When looking for a decent mainstream news article to link to for this post, I came across a Stormfront thread linking to the Irish Times. I refuse to link to Stormfront. The response there was predictable, like hip hip hooray for hate. Someone even posted an image in honour of Hitler. Disgusting.

Survey findings on far-right views give Germany its latest Führer furore
Derek Scally in Berlin wrote:

After almost a decade of decline, a poll indicates that views in favour of dictatorship, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are rising.

GERMANY IS undergoing its annual Führer furore, this time over a new survey suggesting that extreme-right views are on the rise.

Some 13 per cent of Germans in a new survey said they felt “Germany needs to be ruled with a firm hand by a strong leader or "Führer ” – a term exclusively associated with Adolf Hitler.

Over a third of those surveyed agreed – either largely or whole-heartedly – with the statement that Germany was “endangered” by its non-German population....
Xenephobia appears to be increasing in Europe. In regards to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is simply attempting to harness that escalating racism into political clout.

Weak Merkel stokes xenophobia as she fights for political survival

#2 Blogger Journalist Doug Mesner Continues to Expose Internet Convolution

I first became aware of this dude's work after getting interested in the satanic panic and more specifically with its evolution as internet phenomena.

He went undercover to one of those goofy, mind control conferences. His two-part story is a must read. Here are direct links to that along with an article he wrote based on the story of a former Colin Ross patient named Roma Hart. The last link will bring you to his new story on people who claim to have come in contact with aliens. He also has a new blog titled The Dysgenics Report. My only complaint is he uses small fonts that are not so easy on the eyes. Yet, one need only go to their view menu and increase the page size to overcome that. To see these links in new windows simply right click.

Report from the S.M.A.R.T. Ritual Abuse/Mind-Control Conference 2009, Part 1

Report from the S.M.A.R.T. Ritual Abuse/Mind-Control Conference 2009, Part 2

Dr. Colin Ross, demonstrating his supernatural eye beams
Dr. Colin A. Ross: Psychiatry, the Supernatural, and Malpractice Most Foul

out-sized forehead, black almond-shaped eyes
Among The Abducted

Check it out. It's worth the time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hollywood Had to be Reigned in and More on Keep it in Your Skirts

photo found from Lee Tracy by Imogen Sara Smith

Before 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, there was a nice 1932 film titled Washington Merry-Go-Round. The lead was played by Lee Tracy. It was a scathing depiction of widespread, American corruption. For at least now, it can be viewed here.

I'm not saying all silent movies were bad, but once sound was added, cinema finally took on the ability to shape the zeitgeist more than any other form of media. Most of the silent film stars didn't have the voices or acting skills to make the transition. The greats from the stage along with very talented writers were the ones who enabled films to become potential vehicles for positive, social change.

It can probably be fairly argued that precode talkies had a lot to do with bringing Prohibition to an end. The gangster genre showed how corrupt ptb's were the ones benefitting from booze being illegal. Realistic precode depictions of life during the Depression probably had a lot to do with FDR generating necessary political clout to pass through New Deal legislation.

The ptb's went after Hollywood, because many films were too intelligent and close to the truth. Prostitution, for example, was convincingly being argued as a result of class conflict rather than immorality. Too many African-Americans were being portrayed as human beings. Films promoting female capacity for sexual pleasure were attacking patriarchy at its roots. Mae West had to be neutered. You couldn't have women calling the shots concerning their own bodies.

Paul Muni's depiction of a chain gang fugitive also hit the spot without rubbing it out. He had been unjustly sentenced to cruel and unusual punishment for eating a hamburger. A real bad guy made it seem he would cover the bill. Here's a spoiler, so skip the rest of this paragraph, if you don't want to read the ending...... Muni escapes. He can't start a new life, because he will be busted yet again. He had already tried that route in the past. The irony is that he has to become a thief in order to survive. I'm going from memory here. I think he is asked at the end how he is able to keep living. He responds, "I steal." Thus, the movie was an indictment of a system which creates crime. Once the Code kicked in during the summer of 1934, such an ending would never have been allowed. The Code said no criminal could get away with his or her activities. Those aware of the Code thus realise how predictable later movies became. With precode movies, there was a spontaneity to the endings missing from afterwhich the Code was enforced.

For at least now, I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang can be viewed here.

Unfortunately many precode movies were butchered when they came out for rerelease, and the originals were forever lost. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde starring Frederick March and Miriam Hopkins comes to mind. Plenty of it was butchered by the censors on rerelease. It even went missing for many decades as the producers of a lame remake with Spencer Tracy bought the rights and then buried it. One movie called Convention City has been completely lost. The only available glimpse of the movie on the internet appears to be this still.


Though according to this article, many more stills are available through the George Eastman House, and there is hope a copy of the film will eventually be located.

I'm loving finding old movies through youtube. I'm wary of posting links, because I don't want to possibly be the reason such films get scratched from public view. Since I'm just a small time blogger, maybe these fears are unfounded. If I'm able to locate them, you'd think anyone verklempt over copyrights could find them too. When you find a good one, you must watch them as soon as possible. That's all I'm saying.

Here are a few good ones I recently watched. This first one won't probably last too long at youtube. I won't even mention the title. It had to have the most A stars in one cast ever put together- John and Lionel Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Lee Tracy, Billie Burke, Karen Morley, and other top notch actors and actresses. It covered the Depression. It also covered the awkward transition from silent movies to talkies. It's a must see for any movie buff, and I'm grateful to have found it.

With a bit of fishing around, other good movies though less well-known can be watched. I found a couple starring John Barrymore. There's State's Attorney. Barrymore defends and then falls in love with a prostitute. This is the kind of flick I mentioned before, where during the Depression some women went into the oldest profession in order to keep eating.

There was also a sequence about halfway through it I'd like to touch on, as we get closer to the keep it in your skirt portion of this blog entry. Barrymore became a District Attorney. In one scene he held no punches in cross-examining a husband murderer played by Mary Duncan. I am no prude. Though I do appreciate subtlety over the Sharon Stone type crap. Barrymore played an exceptional attorney, though he was also a womaniser and drunk. In one scene he checks out Mary's legs, and she tells him to stop it.

I liked that part of the scene. It was realistic. The lady who also covered up her legs by the way was played by Jill Esmond. She was Olivier's wife who he dumped for Vivien Leigh.

What I found very interesting was how bad Mary Duncan was as an actress, as in too much ham to go with the gams. She had some success in silent films. She was in a few movies after sound arrived. I think that was only because she was sizzling hot. I'm somewhat disappointed the Barrymore's were so old that the prime of their careers were mostly spent in stage performances we'll never be able to see. John, Lionel, and Ethel did get in a lot of movies, but John only had so much more to offer due to his drinking. Ethel came up with some good stuff but because of age, we only got to see her usually as Grandmom. Lionel had skills too but was also up there in age. I thought Bette Davis could act, but imho, those three were much better than Davis could have ever imagined being. People should also definitely check out Marie Dressler in Dinner at Eight. She was born in 1865! Nonetheless, she was actually a big draw in the 30's. I love it when we can get back to history like this. Kids and even adults nowadays don't seem to have any clue how young a nation we are. They don't seem to have any grasp of history. Much of precode Hollywood was more modern and realistic than 99% of the crap put out since the 80's. I recommend folks check out these older movies.

An even better Barrymore movie for at least now can be seen here. It was titled Counsellor at Law. It subtly covered anti-semitism. It also effectively covered class issues in the early years of the Depression. Please watch this movie.

Here's a good link where folks can learn more about some precode titles. That specific page descibes some flicks from 1932. You can scroll down and go to pages covering the other few years of precode talkies.

Here's another movie I recommend. It's called A Free Soul. That's from 1931.

But back to that previous link. I was shocked to find out disgusting films known as shorties had set the stage for Shirley Temple soon becoming a wholesome movie star. wrote,
This was a prime example of 15 minute (one-reeler) child exploitation films - eight Educational Pictures' Baby Burlesks shorts (with toddlers playing adult roles and wearing provocative clothing). All of them featured four-year-old Shirley Temple. The young Temple's first film appearance was in in Runt Page (1932) as Lulu Parsnips (a take-off on Louella Parsons); in the second film War Babies (1932), Temple (as Charmaine) accepted a large lollypop from doughboy little boys; in Kid in Hollywood (1933), Temple was cast with the titillating name Morelegs Sweettrick (a play on the name Marlene Dietrich), and in Polly Tix in Washington (1933), Temple took the part of Polly Tix, a high-priced call girl/prostitute (!) sent by corrupt officials to influence a backwoods politician. Tasteless films such as these led to an outcry for more wholesome films that didn't eroticize children.
That sounded unbelievable. But one can find those shorts at youtube and see that it's true. Ugh. Here's a screenshot from Kid in Hollywood.

To repeat, I'm not a prude, but those movies were disgusting and bordered on being child pornography. Children should never be sexualised.

And neither should teenagers. In Connecticut, there has been a backlash against the use of skimpy outfits for cheerleaders.

Bridgeport cheerleaders say uniforms expose too much skin

That being pointed out and along with the Shirley Temple exploitation movies put to the side, I do appreciate the sexy nature and realism centered on social issues of much of precode Hollywood. Those movies did present a challenge to the status quo. It is disgusting that censorship was alive and well in American Cinema from 1934 into the 1960's. It's also a shame that modern films lack the writing and acting that befits the phrase, "They don't make them like they used to."


The Last Mile 1932 (Anti-death penalty, African-American actor also featured)