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Stanley Kubrick's film about the McCarthy Era


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#1 Robert Edge

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 08:24 PM

Here's the scenario...

Stanley Kubrick has just finished Dr. Strangelove. He is approached by Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr. to make a film about HUAC/McCarthy.

Kubrick decides to make the film. He can use whomever he wants as a writer, actors, cinematographer, editor, composer, consultant (Robert Altman/Roy Cohn/I.F. Stone?). Also, he has been studying H.G.Wells and can kidnap people from the future for his project.

Now the fantasy baseball/hockey/basketball/European or American football part...

You are Kubrick, with his personality, and you have seen Good Night and Good Luck.
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#2 Rik Andino

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 09:16 PM

Here's the scenario...

Stanley Kubrick has just finished Dr. Strangelove. He is approached by Dalton Trumbo and Ring Lardner Jr. to make a film about HUAC/McCarthy.

Kubrick decides to make the film. He can use whomever he wants as a writer, actors, cinematographer, editor, composer, consultant (Robert Altman/Roy Cohn/I.F. Stone?). Also, he has been studying H.G.Wells and can kidnap people from the future for his project.

Now the fantasy baseball/hockey/basketball/European or American football part...

You are Kubrick, with his personality, and you have seen Good Night and Good Luck.


This is almost the peak of geekdom...

What's this fascination with fictious scenarios involving people's cinematic hero...

If you truly were Kubrick you'd take whatever you're idea was and write a script...
And then try any which way you could to make it into a film...
And then move to a remote location in Europe and refuse to compromise over anything.


These if you were so&so
Or if so&so were still alive...scenarios are becoming annoying.

I'm sorry if I insulted your fanatasy world but...


Eitherways
Good Luck
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#3 Robert Edge

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:04 PM

Rik,

Could I ask that you have a look at what I said about Good Night and Good Luck in a thread called Best Cinematography and then re-read the post that initiated this thread?

Personally, I think that this thread raises an interesting set of questions, which can be addressed as seriously or unseriously as one desires.

Besides, after seeing Good Night and Good Luck, I just wanted an excuse to call out the names Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner Jr. and, in particular I.F. Stone.

I actually think that it might be interesting to talk about alternative approaches to Good Night and Good Luck, and to talk about the people who paid for that era, and maybe to do so with a bit of humour, maybe the kind of humour that Kubrick demonstrated in Dr. Strangelove.

Indeed, the idea of Kubrick making a film about HUAC might make an interesting film in itself.

Cheers
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:12 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble but it really doesn't sound like a film Kubrick would make, anyway.
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#5 Robert Edge

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:36 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble but it really doesn't sound like a film Kubrick would make, anyway.


Thanks. As we know, it took 50 years for George Clooney to make a feature film about it.

I figure that if they had the money, John Sayles would have made a film about HUAC, and probably Altman.

I agree that Kubrick wouldn't have done so in 1965, but I'm curious to know why you think that he wouldn't have made a film about HUAC in the 70s or 80s.

I realize that Rik thinks that I'm a stupid geek and that you take pity on bursting my dumb bubble. Sorry to both of you for wasting your time.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:41 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble but it really doesn't sound like a film Kubrick would make, anyway.

IMHO Kubrick could easily have made a movie where the political violence and insanity of the McCarthy era would have been exaggerated to the point where it turned stomachs. Joseph McCarthy ruined many peoples lives merely because they wouldn't submit to his insane political agenda - you have heard of the "Blacklist" haven't you?

Edmond, OK
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 12:00 AM

I don't get R. Edge's constant beratement of this movie, which was one of the best of 2005 -- very entertaining and very well made on a limited budget, well-acted, snappy dialogue, etc.

Kubrick wouldn't have taken on the McCarthy story because there was hardly any moral ambiguity for him to tackle -- McCarthy was clearly wrong. It would be like him doing an anti-lynching movie about the South -- he would say "who's FOR lynching anyway?"
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 12:53 AM

You know what would make a great McCarthy era movie would be one about the massive public support McCarthy recieved. The blacklists people in studios made to cover their own asses out of fear. and those who believed they were actually doing the right thing for their country after it was discovered a US scientist had given Russian spys the secrets of the bomb because he believed it would maintain a balance of power in the world. The horror of the McCarthy era was the horror of apathy, the horror of noone standing up and saying "This is wrong" for fear of being branded "UnAmerican" or a "Communist Sympathizer". And the horror that in this climate of fear and madness, there actually was a ligitimate threat to our national security from the Communist Russia.There are parrellels with both Veitnam in the early years and the Bush administarion today.

That's probably one of the reasons so poinant today in addition it just plain being a terrific film. If Kubrick were to make a movie about McCarthyism, which as David said, I doubt he would because he was very picky about his subjectmatter, It would probably be about people. Maybe something more resembling "The Curcible" rather than "Good Night and Good Luck". Actually he did make a film anout the abuse of government and expliotation of the public's fear for personal politial gain, It was called "A Clockwork Orange". He also broched the subject of people being needlessly destroyed but power hunger egomanical leaders and one man standing up to say it's wrong in "Paths of Glory"
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#9 Dan Goulder

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:09 AM

If Kubrick made a film about the McCarthy era, the only thing you can be sure of is we'd be arguing about whether it was framed for widescreen or 4x3.
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#10 Robert Edge

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:15 AM

I don't get R. Edge's constant beratement of this movie, which was one of the best of 2005 -- very entertaining and very well made on a limited budget, well-acted, snappy dialogue, etc.

Kubrick wouldn't have taken on the McCarthy story because there was hardly any moral ambiguity for him to tackle -- McCarthy was clearly wrong. It would be like him doing an anti-lynching movie about the South -- he would say "who's FOR lynching anyway?"


What I said is that Good Night and Good Luck is a didactic exercise, which you say is inherent in the story and, therefore, the reason why someone like Kubrick wouldn't touch it.

To be honest, if I believe that a film is inherently that black and white, and that someone like Kubrick wouldn't touch, it is hard for me to understand how I could attack someone for having reservations about it.

I am aware of the fact that some Americans like this film. As someone who is not American, but spends a lot of time in the US, I can only say that I found the film a bore, and that the person with whom I went to see it walked out half-way through.

It seemed to be about Americans trashing themselves for what you call a lynching. Well, I guess that it is hard to be I favour of lynchings. Whatever, I can't stress enough how much this is a local film, of very little interest outside the US, and within the US, of interest to people who are prepared to believe that there is some kind of connection between Dalton Trumbo and Iraq.

I think that they are different issues. I think that Good Night does an injustice both to Dalton Trumbo and Iraq, and I do not apologize for thinking that Good Night, as a study of McCarthyism, is inferior to what one might expect from PBS.

I started this thread in the hope that it might be a little light-hearted. Apparently I've touched a raw nerve, and I regret that. If this thread dies quickly, I won't be dissappointed.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:12 AM

This film isn't a study of McCarthyism. It's about a group of people who stood up and said enough is enough. This is wrong and we won't stand for it anymore and that had a whole lot to lose by doing so. This film is about courage, The kind of courage that may be uniquely American. The kind of courage that it take for a small group of people to stand up to their goverment and say We WILL not stand for this anymore and do whatever it takes to change it including taking on one of the most powerful men in the world. That's what this film is about
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#12 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 06:54 AM

The kind of courage that may be uniquely American.


Oh please!
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:19 AM

I'm not saying that a film that takes a clear moral stance against an obvious injustice is bad nor shouldn't be made, only that Kubrick would not be interested in making such a film -- it just didn't interest him. He preferred tackling questions that were harder to answer without clear moral stakes. That was simply his nature. He wasn't Frank Capra.

So what if "Good Night & Good Luck" is not a GREAT movie, just a good one? That already puts it ahead of the majority of films released in 2005.
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#14 K Borowski

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:19 AM

. . . the kind of courage that makes for great, bold, daring, American statements such as "Mr. President, we will not ALLOW. . . a mine-shaft gap!" Seriously, if what you are saying is without some sort of sarcasm we are not getting, you really need to reexamine history, or learn to understand that that sort of nationalistic bravado has started two world wars and cost uncounted millions of human lives. Let me quote another movie (more or less a quote) "[Now this summer there's going to be a lot of hubub about our bicentennial] just remember this country was started because a bunch of old, rich, white, slave-owning men didn't want to pay their taxes." The sad part of this quote is that it is absolutely true. Frankly, the history taught in the United States is still full of propaganda. Columbus day was still celebrated when I was in kindergarten (early '90s), and I don't think I was taught any objective American history until I was a junior or senior in high school

:huh:

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#15 Keith Mottram

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 10:06 AM

The kind of courage that may be uniquely American. The kind of courage that it take for a small group of people to stand up to their goverment and say We WILL not stand for this anymore and do whatever it takes to change it including taking on one of the most powerful men in the world.

i just threw up a little....
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#16 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 05:47 PM

. . . the kind of courage that makes for great, bold, daring, American statements such as "Mr. President, we will not ALLOW. . . a mine-shaft gap!" Seriously, if what you are saying is without some sort of sarcasm we are not getting, you really need to reexamine history, or learn to understand that that sort of nationalistic bravado has started two world wars and cost uncounted millions of human lives. Let me quote another movie (more or less a quote) "[Now this summer there's going to be a lot of hubub about our bicentennial] just remember this country was started because a bunch of old, rich, white, slave-owning men didn't want to pay their taxes." The sad part of this quote is that it is absolutely true. Frankly, the history taught in the United States is still full of propaganda. Columbus day was still celebrated when I was in kindergarten (early '90s), and I don't think I was taught any objective American history until I was a junior or senior in high school


:huh:

Regards.

~Karl Borowski


How in the Hell do you figure WE started 2 world wars? Have you ever actually READ any history? WW1 was completely the fault of the Europian empires of the time and WW2 was started be the Germans or if you want to blame any of the allies blame France for it's unjust and unreasonable war reparations policy.

Columbus was an Itailian commissioned by the Spanish who were the ones that inslaved native peoples in the name the church and greed. We celebrate the discovery of the Americas, not the pursicution of it's native people. If you want really biased history go almost anywhere else in the world.

As for Mr' Mottram "throwing up a little..." just because your so jaded you don't see that civil protest and disobedeance, the rights of a single man to fight against his government is a founding pricipal of the American characture doesn't mean it it isn't true. Sarcasium may my be you argument but history is mine. In every single instant where the American Government lost sight of it's founding principals, there were a group of Americans that stood up and challanged it. If you are an American, You may not apprieciate the freedoms you have now, but should there ever come a time when you lose them, you will definately whistle another tune and that tune will be Yankee Doodle. It may not be fashionable to be patriotic in these cynical times but I don't care. This goverment is best one yet devised by man. There are alway those who would try to corupt it for personal power or a personal agenda, but that where the saying the price of freedom is etrnal vigelence comes from.
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#17 Max Jacoby

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 05:51 PM

How in the Hell do you figure WE started 2 world wars? Have you ever actually READ any history?

Have you ever actually READ the exact phrasing of his post?
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#18 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 06:04 PM

Again with the personal comments, And here I am trying my best to be nice.:D
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#19 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 12:02 AM

Kubrick wouldn't have taken on the McCarthy story because there was hardly any moral ambiguity for him to tackle -- McCarthy was clearly wrong. It would be like him doing an anti-lynching movie about the South -- he would say "who's FOR lynching anyway?"



DING-DING-DING!!!!! Kubrick's movies always involve some sort of moral question that has strong opinions supporting each side. He tackles things that one might not be able to decide on, once they have experienced both sides. There's no room for Kubrick to make the audience think much about it so I don't think he would have done the film.
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#20 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 12:40 AM

You know I've thought about this. What about films like A Clockwork Orange, Paths of Glory Sparitcus and Dr' Stangelove? Morality-wise these are all extremely lop sided pieces. There is very little argument as to who is on the right side, so why wouldn't he be interested in doing a McCarthy film (If he were still alive of of course) assuming he could come up with a uniquely "Stanley Kubrick" story?

David I respect your opinion but after thinking about it, I have to wonder if your reasoning on this exstrapilation is valid given the reasons you stated. Don't these films tend to make one think Kubrick was very capible of handling onesided issues with his own particular vision that would make them uniquely interesting? Take Lolita for example, very few people would argue the pediphilia was acceptible, but Kubrick makes us feel sympathy for Humbert and lust for Lolita. He essentially turns our moraity around and uses it against us. In full metal Jacket We can't help but hate Sargent Hartman but when Pyle shoots him we're shocked and when the rest of the guys get to 'Nam we realize Hartman's disapline is essental to their survival.

I know I said earlier Kubrick wouldn't be interested in this kind of story but I'm beginning to think this could be exactly the kind of story he could look at in a completely original way that would be a kind of difinitive statment on the matter, as Stangelove was on the cold war.
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