Thursday, September 22, 2005

Guess that character

Who Am I?
Thanks to my powerful daddy, I found me a cushy spot in the American National Guard. Before long, I held a position of considerable rank and authority. Many fine young soldiers depended upon me for their lives. They died, but that wasn't my fault. Nothing is ever my fault. Hard liquor and me, we go way back. Some folks think you can't find courage in a bottle, but I say, courage is as courage does. One man's cowardice is another man's good judgment. Besides, a stiff drink never hurt no one. Thing is, you can't get yourself excited, and you can't go losing your head while others about you are losing theirs. All I ever wanted was to make Daddy proud. Make him see what a man I was. In the end, I'll show him. One way or another, I'll show him.
Give up?
Props to The News Blog for mentioning the movie Attack! a few days ago. Karen and I were sufficiently intrigued by the premise that we bought the DVD from Barnes & Noble. Here's the scoop. Eddie Albert plays the villain, Captain Erskine Cooney. Towards the end of WWII, Cooney is given command of a National Guard Infantry Company. He receives this command because he's good at sucking up to positions in authority -- networking in as sleazy a manner as possible -- and his father is a judge. Lieutenant Costa (Jack Palance) sees Cooney for what he is, a coward unfit for command. Through his cowardice, Cooney gets a squad killed. Costa vows revenge if Cooney ever screws up like that again. I think you can guess the rest. Attack! (1956) has a modern sensibility. The film openly condones the idea of killing a commanding officer who is a danger to the soldiers under his command. The ending has a touch of the moralistic, but there's also a strong (and cynical) hint of politics-as-usual. Despite a strong cast (featuring not just Albert and Palance, but Lee Marvin, Richard Jaeckel, and Buddy Ebsen), it was a low budget film and lacked the usual Hollywood sensibilities as regards rah-rah WWII war movies. According to IMDB, the US military wanted nothing to do with the film and did nothing to lend support. Congressman Melvin Price criticized the military, labeling their disinterest "a shameful attempt at censorship." The filmmakers capitalized on this, plastering their movie posters with, "Is this the most controversial picture of the year?" They grossed $2 million -- not a bad haul. You won't find this one at Blockbuster, and I doubt you'll ever see it on TV. Netflix has it. Rent it. You'll be treated with top notch performances from Eddie Albert, Jack Palance, and Lee Marvin. And the sleeper hero of this pic is one William Smithers. No, not Mr. Burns' sycophantic employee. (Remember Captain Merick on the old Star Trek? The episode about ancient Rome? Kirk and Spock as gladiators? Am I the only science fiction geek left on this blog?) D.


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