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Random Observations On Movies & Politics

Terri Schiavo and THE BIG CARNIVAL To quote Tim Grieve of Salon: ... the biggest loser in the Terri Schiavo case has to be Schiavo herself. The Flor

Terri Schiavo and THE BIG CARNIVAL

To quote Tim Grieve of Salon:

... the biggest loser in the Terri Schiavo case has to be Schiavo herself. The Florida courts decided that she would have wanted to die rather than live the life she endured. The right and the left may forever disagree over that conclusion, and the Republican Party may well find itself caught in the middle. But everyone ought to be able to agree on this: Whatever Terri Schiavo might have wanted out of her life and her death, it wasn't what she got.

About a week ago James Wolcott had a helpful_suggestion for the media:

Here's something the cable news outfits could do that would rilly rilly rilly be useful, given that they got all those cameras down there in Florida and all.

Just for the kooky hell of it, why don't they provide us with one wide shot or overview of the protestors and vigil-holders in Pinellas Park just so we can see how big the gathering is? Is it a big, swelling group, or is it like the jubilant Iraqis surrounding Hussein's razed statue, a seeming mass revealed in long wideout as a motley get-together? And what is the ratio of Schiavo deathwatchers to media deathwatchers? Are there as many reporters there as sign-holders, or what?

Because whenever there's a ground-level view of the vigil, it seems to be the same scraggly-looking characters and showboating Franciscan friars moving back and forth across the screen, clogging the view.

The images evoked by his comments led me to remember Billy Wilder 's THE BIG CARNIVAL, a movie which is probably unknown to anyone but film buffs but one which I think perfectly captures the Terri Schiavo situation.

By the early 50's Wilder had already written and directed such classics as THE LOST WEEKEND, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD, all of which were both criticaly and financially successful. But his next film, originally titled ACE IN THE HOLE, was to be neither. The plot concerns a down-on-his-luck reporter (Kirk Douglas) for a small New Mexico newspaper, who, upon learning that a man is trapped in a nearby mine, decides to exploit the rescue effort - even to prolong it - so as to further his own career. The media frenzy he generates with his "sensational" story of human suffering ends up turning the area surrounding the mine into a literal fairground (hence the movie's ultimate release title.) In the process Wilder not only exposes how virtually everyone involved in this media event - particularly the press and the politicians - has been corrupted by power and profit, but also how easily the ghoulish instincts of the general public can be manipulated.

Gee, a personal/family tragedy, which is exploited for political gain ... an event in which the media is by no means simply just a "witness"...

ACE IN THE HOLE is undoubtedly one of the most cynical, bitter movies ever made by Hollywood; before its title was changed to the supposedly more commercial THE BIG CARNIVAL some industry heads were referring to it as "Ass in the Wringer." The film held little appeal for audiences of the time and was, not surprisingly, a financial failure. Wilder's career soon bounced back with a string of hits, including such classics as

Because whenever there's a ground-level view of the vigil, it seems to be the same scraggly-looking characters and showboating Franciscan friars moving back and forth across the screen, clogging the view.

The images evoked by his comments led me to remember Billy Wilder 's THE BIG CARNIVAL, a movie which is probably unknown to anyone but film buffs but one which I think perfectly captures the Terri Schiavo situation.

By the early 50's Wilder had already written and directed such classics as THE LOST WEEKEND, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD, all of which were both criticaly and financially successful. But his next film, originally titled ACE IN THE HOLE, was to be neither. The plot concerns a down-on-his-luck reporter (Kirk Douglas) for a small New Mexico newspaper, who, upon learning that a man is trapped in a nearby mine, decides to exploit the rescue effort - even to prolong it - so as to further his own career. The media frenzy he generates with his "sensational" story of human suffering ends up turning the area surrounding the mine into a literal fairground (hence the movie's ultimate release title.) In the process Wilder not only exposes how virtually everyone involved in this media event - particularly the press and the politicians - has been corrupted by power and profit, but also how easily the ghoulish instincts of the general public can be manipulated.

Gee, a personal/family tragedy, which is exploited for political gain ... an event in which the media is by no means simply just a "witness"...

ACE IN THE HOLE is undoubtedly one of the most cynical, bitter movies ever made by Hollywood; before its title was changed to the supposedly more commercial THE BIG CARNIVAL some industry heads were referring to it as "Ass in the Wringer." The film held little appeal for audiences of the time and was, not surprisingly, a financial failure. Wilder's career soon bounced back with a string of hits, including such classics asSTALAG 17, SABRINA, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, SOME LIKE IT HOT, THE APARTMENT and THE FORTUNE COOKIE, all of which are widely available on video.

Unfortunately ACE IN THE HOLE is one of the few Billy Wilder films not currently available on video in any format (DVD or VHS) but should it turn up on AMC or TCM it's definitely worth watching and taping.

 
 
 
Randall Terry enunciated wingnut goals...and Jesse, he's a mike-seeking missle
 
Hopefully, the circus and freak show outside Terry Schiavo's hospice room will move on. What transpired over the past few weeks has been disgraceful, egged on by the media, cable chatters, charlatans, religious extremists, self-serving pols and camera-hungry publicity whores. It was as ugly a display of human behavior as I've ever seen, and I fear that Schiavo's death will serve to fuel even coarser displays. No way that fascist Randall "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good ... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism" STALAG 17, SABRINA, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, SOME LIKE IT HOT, THE APARTMENT and THE FORTUNE COOKIE, all of which are widely available on video.

Unfortunately ACE IN THE HOLE is one of the few Billy Wilder films not currently available on video in any format (DVD or VHS) but should it turn up on AMC or TCM it's definitely worth watching and taping.

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