Saturday, February 17, 2007

For Your Weekend Viewing

What the Second World War was about. From a certain point of view. How copied B-29s suddenly become Soviet DC-3s upon landing and American and British flags are miraculously transformed into Red Banners. Or how Reds are really patriots. True Americans. And why a couple who have long sought each other for entire duration of the Great Patriotic War shout out loud only to find themselves standing next to each in the presence of the locomotive of history -- Koba AKA Joseph Stalin -- perhaps the greatest mass murderer in the long, sordid annal of the world.

And what it might have looked like from another point of view.

The Russian movie, is I believe, an early postwar production. In it the Masses have fought for the Communist Demigod, who descends on silver wings, to gather the nation's flags beneath Him and smile benignantly on two individuals basking in the radiance of His presence.

And Casablanca was produced at America's lowest ebb, in 1942. In it men fight for love, self respect and defiance. They are always free to choose; even go over to the enemy to regain a lost romance. There are no demigods at Ricks Cafe. Only a humanity driven there by circumstance: gambling, dreaming, scheming, resisting, grasping and sacrificing. As time goes by.


Blogger Jamie Irons said...


That scene in Rick's Bar is stirring and inspiring.

There are some surprising bits of background to it, however.

To Yalies like me the Prussian Battle Hymn sung by Major Strasser and his henchmen brings a smile because the tune became that of the Yale song "Bright College Years" (many years before the outbreak of WWII):

"Die Vaterland müsst ruhig sein..."

corresponds to:

"O, let us strive that ever we..."


Furthermore, when one looks up the actor, Conrad Veidt, who played Major Strasser (who became the object of perhaps the best line ever, of any movie, uttered by Claude Rains: "Major Strasser has been shot...[Pause] "Round up the usual suspects!" ;) one reads in

Conrad Veidt attended the Sophiengymnasium (secondary school) in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin, and graduated without a diploma in 1912, last in his class of 13. Conrad liked animals, theater, cinema, fast cars, pastries, thunderstorms, gardening, swimming, and golfing. He disliked heights, flying, the number 17, wearing ties, pudding, and interviews. His first wife, Ilona (nicknamed Lily), was Jewish. Whenever Conrad had to fill out his ethnic background on forms to get a job, he wrote: "Juden" (Jewish). He and his second wife, Felicitas, fled Germany in 1933 after the rise of Hitler, and became a British citizens in 1939...

Sadly, Veidt died, on the golf course, of a heart attack, in 1943, the year after Casablanca was released.

Jamie Ironsiku

2/17/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

Then for Conrad one should say "well done".

After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-truth was taken with a Summons by the same Post as the other, and had this for a Token that the Summons was true, That his pitcher was broken at the Fountain. When he understood it, he called for his Friends, and told them of it. Then said he, I am going to my Fathers, and tho’ with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the Trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My Sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my Pilgrimage, and my Courage and my Skill to him that can get it. My Marks and Scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his Battles who now will be my Rewarder. When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the River-side, into which as he went he said, Death, where is thy Sting? And as he went down deeper he said, Grave, where is thy Victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

2/17/2007 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


It has begun.
Abbas presses U.S. to soften stance on unity deal

The ever compliant Mr. Olmert will agree.


2/17/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


Thank you for that beautiful response.

Jamie Irons

2/17/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


Caroline Glick finds some disturbing parallels:

Hamas and North Korea: Administration has chosen to pretend that in failing it has succeeded

Ms. Glick's willingness to consider the possibility of a subterranean plan by the administration is generous of her.

2/17/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Things get transformed after a war - and sometimes during one.

Perhaps I have mentioned that a friend of mine was a WWII Polish Army POW. He escaped late in the war, linked up with U.S. forces, and went back into the fighting with them as an interpreter and guide.

They encountered Soviet forces, driving American Jeeps. He asked one of the Russians how he liked the U.S. made vehicle.

The Russian replied that the Jeep was Soviet made, not American. When he asked the man to explain the instrumentation and markings in English, the Russian replied that the USSR shipped Jeeps to the U.S., and that Russians were so smart they did not need to understand all of markings, while Americans were dumb and needed that info. Whether the Russian really believed that story or was just speaking so that the KGB could hear was something I have wondered.

By the way, I understand that in "Casablanca" Conrad Veidt was the highest paid actor in the film. And that famous ending and last line was thought up at the almost the last minute.

2/17/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Israel must be destroyed and
”Abbas made clear he would not budge from the deal.”

Israel must die, and "This agreement was the best we could get. We cannot change it. You either take it or leave it."

Rice pursues Mideast peace despite unity dilemma

Mr. Abbas is being snippy without cause. Of course the Bush administration will accept the “death to Israel” Fatah-Hamas deal; however, it would be indecent to hurriedly do so. Appearances must be maintained.

2/17/2007 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger you are me said...

Burnt by the Sun:

“Nikita Mikhalkov dedicated this film 'to all those that have been burnt by the sun of revolution'. In this film, none escape it; not the innocent, nor those who were immediately involved.

“While Kotov served the regime out of a true sense of duty and idealism and for a greater cause, Mitia served it only to survive. In their confrontation, Kotov tells Mitia that we all have a choice and that none can play the victim. The truth, they discover, is that they live in a world where there can only be a choice between serving the system and thus becoming its accomplice or to be exploited by it. Under the sun of Stalin, both come to the same end.”

Bolshevik, Nazi and other totalitarian “revolutions” may have charismatic leaders who end up burning all they touch, but I say the weak and hysterical in our herds who follow strong leaders and wrong movements are most culpable. It seems only fitting they should despair and die in self-imposed bleakness with no legacy other than that of our never forgetting their base animal behavior.

Whereas, those individuals who resist the dystopias and inhumanity and who are doomed by their dignity and sanity to suffering and death should always be honored in the better lives they’ve given us. Are we doing nearly enough to safeguard the liberties and to maximize the potential of the free and better way bequeathed to us, or are we getting too weak and hysterical, too?

2/17/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Per "Valiant for Truth": Never thought anyone read John Bunyan anymore... Pilgrim's Progress dates from 1678, and we've been browsing it since first reading in 1954. Indeed, Bunyan's allegories seem too literal, his doctrinal perspectives rather obsolete. But the modesty and withal the nature of his spiritual quest are truly timeless.

Bunyan in 1675 was imprisoned for violating Britain's Conventicle Act, which prohibited conducting worship services outside the auspices of ye olde Church of England. Our Constitution's "Anti-Establishment" Clause addresses just this issue: Not banning State observances as the ACLU's asinine prevaricators treat it, but prohibiting any State subsidy of a particular denomination. Today this would include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam... of course, the latter's murderous treacheries can be dealt with outside its mullah-dullahs' bigoted sectarian dogmatism.

"Valiant for Truth"-- alas, we know our limitations all too well. But let's at least raise three cheers to John Bunyan, and to Wretchard for reminding us where virtue lies.

2/17/2007 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

With Thomas Hobbes contemporary.

2/17/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Is the last minute of that 1st video, after the greeting of the couple, some secretly filmed footage of a NYT editorial board meeting?

2/17/2007 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Heroic Dreamer said...

Oddly enough, the first clip of Stalin reminded me of Al Gore. Not that Gore is a murderer or anything, something in the applause and the attention seeking that is very familiar.

2/17/2007 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I was in West Berlin for a weekend in 1978, and one evening was watching a Russian WWII documentary being broadcast from East Berlin (with German subtitles) about the struggle in the Pacific. I had never realized until then that the Russians beat the Japanese almost single-handedly!

2/17/2007 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must be having a brain fart: I thought the B-29 was copied into the Tu-4 and the DC-3 was copied into the Li-2?

2/18/2007 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

I ran both films at the same time, Russian and French all blended together - but all I heard was English.

Stalin is so Nekulturney. Listening to him brough back memories of listening to Sov propaganda - it gave me the creeps.

2/18/2007 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Lies can do some real damage.

It was the genius of American communists to attribute to the American right by way of McCarthy -- what stalin was a bout to do in the Doctor's Plot.

2/18/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

jjjoseph: Yes, the Tu-4 came from capture B-29's and the Li-2 was a copy of the DC-3.

However, the airplane that Stalin is seen stepping out of is neither a Tu-4 nor an Li-2. While bearing a remarkable resemblance to the DC-3 in many respects, it is a nosewheel airplane, while the DC-3 is a taildragger.

The airplane does not appear to be the Tu-75, a cargo version of the Tu-4, which did not fly until 1950. So it is some sort of Soviet postwar derivative of the DC-3 - and thus could not have delivered Stalin to newly occupied Berlin in May 1945.

In any case, as Wretchard is pointing what we see in the film is a physical impossiblity - one airplane flying overhead, a different type landing, and neither available to carry a triumphant Stalin to Berlin as wounded Soviet troops, POWs, and the Workers of the World cheer.

Like the Jeep story, if Stalin had visited Berlin in May of 1945 it likely would have been in a far less impressive aircraft - and one recognizably of American design.

2/18/2007 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

Well here on a Sunday morning I see where H.Rodham Clinton has set a 90 day withdrawl start to our ME policy. Fine. This will easily make the aftermath of whatever happens in the ME as well as elsewhere squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats.
With , what is it , five or ten years to go until the election the Democratic brain leakage has intensified to the level of "do not resusitate"

When they finally discover that jihad is in America, after the next attack they will have no avenue to escape. Only the die hard Marxists and the "America as epicenter of all evils" crowd will be left. We can deal with them then. And some of us will.

2/18/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen said, 'Israel must die, and "This agreement was the best we could get. We cannot change it. You either take it or leave it."

Allen, I saw an article by Daniel Johnson the other day that concluded with:

"The destruction of Israel would signal the demise of the Judeo-Christian morality that ennobled Greco-Roman culture to create the only Europe that was ever worth preserving. I for one could not live in a society that could even contemplate such a second Shoah. I would turn my back on such a Europe, shake the dust from my feet, never to return."

I was thinking that it would be more than the demise of this or that moral tradition, it would be the demise of six million Jews. Again. And one hopes that people who anticipate the possibility of this do more than just threaten to leave the continent in an Alec Baldwinesque pique.

2/18/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


For some reason, probably the Shoah, it is assumed Jews will simply accept extermination. Those who benightedly hold this notion should consider that the Jews of Hitler's Europe were 1) dispersed over a vast area, 2) lacking of any central governing authority, and 3) pathetically unarmed.

When Israel comes to grasp that it is alone, Israel will not need the well wishes of others. The diplomatic use of its arsenal will suffice.

2/18/2007 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Also from the bio in IMDB:

When Britain went to war, Veidt (an anti-Nazi and British citizen) gave most of his estate to the war effort. He also donated a large portion of the salary from each of his movies to the British war relief, as well.

I suppose when a country's citizens believe themselves truly at war, they will go to great lengths to support the war effort since they identify with the effort and believe that the outcome really will directly affect them. Unlike our, ahem, present situation where wealthy and protected individuals give nothing.

2/19/2007 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I like Bogart's movies in general. He plays the man with no-name (MWNN) role, just his MWNN is more towards the good side than Eastwood's MWNN.

He is never looking to do good or right, his primary concern is to survive and perhaps be at least as well off (if not better) at the end of the day than at the start.

Of course, circumstances always thrust him into making decisions that involve grand actions and heroism. In Casablanca at the end of course he did stick his neck out, in The African Queen again he is reluctant to go along with Rosie's scheme but survival, love, and luck propel him on. In Key Largo the same story, he is forced into helping the gangsters and he goes along patiently until opportunity presents itself.

Dictatorships have to build up the myth of the super leader or ideal person. Liberal societies realize our individual actions for good and bad are what count.

2/20/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger LifeoftheMind said...

Interesting. The starting shot is certainly copied from Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" Somewhere I have a book on Totalitarian Art that draws out the parallels between Fascist, Nazi, Soviet and Maoist iconography.

2/21/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger eatyourbeans said...

In fairness, during the war a lot of incense to Uncle Joe rose from the West. Mission to Moscow, for example--as shameless a whitewash of the purges, the terror, the pact with Hitler as you'll ever see.

Even Churchill succumbed to the Great Leader of the Peoples' spell, and took to wearing proletarian coveralls when he visited Moscow. But his sucking up miscarried. By this stage of the war, Stalin had acquired a taste for military medals and epaulettes, and was displeased.

I guess war can make you make an ass of yourself.

2/21/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Good point up there.

Algore is a Stalinist. Al Gore's father was Armand Hammer's bitch. Armand Hammer was a personal close friend of Stalin.

Couldn't you just see a statue of Al Gore in one of those cast metal cement looking overcoats that they used to cast statues of Stalin in? It's a perfect fit.

We dodged a bullet when he lost the election. Thank God for that. To my mind Al is a very dangerous person. His global warming scam is well financed and an economic death threat to the United States. It looks like he is angling to be the head of a UN with the power to Global Warming Tax America which equals ruler of the world. Just call him Oil Finger. Get James Bond on his case, pronto. This is no joke.

2/23/2007 02:13:00 AM  

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