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Andrew Klavan
American Movies, Foreign Minds « Back to Story

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WOW, this article doesn't make any sense at all.... Well let's see, now that you mention it... The European influence in Hollywood has been there from the beginning, let's see .... "Stagecoach" is based on a story "Boule de Suif" by Guy de Maupassant (1880), a French (Oh my, an European!) writer.

"High Noon" was directd by Fred Zinnemann who actually was born in Vienna, Austria (Oh-my, an European again!)


Cary Grant, that fantastic actor from "The Philadelphia Story" was actually born in England (Oh Lord! Another European...!)

And let's do not forget:
Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian, Josef von Sternberg and a long long long long list filled with Europeans! etc...

All these remarkable people who INVENTED Hollywood or Hollywood GOLDEN years (Think abou the founders of Paramound, the Metro Golden Meyer, etc... those damn leftist Europeans!) all of them, came from EUROPE, from a foreign land, but they wrote, and directed scripts that were simply brilliant, and got any type of audience.... Today Hollywood's problem is MEDIOCRITY, OR A TERRIBLE LACK OF GOOD WRITERS AND IDEAS, who insist in writing non-senses like this article!
I'm not american but, by reading this article I can only conclude: "blame it on yourself". Hollywood has, for so many decades, thought so big, that it aimed at the whole world as their market. They showered european and then worldwide theatres, with their films and the political agenda they have always contained (if you think twice, "infinite territory" fantasy is an expansionist message, only comparable to other "imperialistic" regimes of the past). Hollywood aimed so hard at becoming the major source of films of the world, that it now (how ironic) depends on the market it created. Letting the rest of the world make their own movies? YES, PLEASE! We would greatly appreciate it, and it would be much easier if worldwide distributors weren't so dominated (alas) by Hollywood studios and american media. In fact, why does this bother the author of the article so much? Shoudn't the american authors associated to mainstream studios have the liberty and the freedom to make movies aimed at the global market? It's America, the mother of freemarket. In my country, and in most of the world, we also have an excess of foreign, mainly american, movies. Europe has much more to complain regarding foreign domination in our film industry, from creation to distribuition.
American movies do not celebrate american greatness any more.Indeed.But that is not a consequence of the others' bad taste. It is because that greatness is gone.
Forever, I'm afraid.
i think American movies giving us different knowledge about our everyday life they giving us new and fresh in our eyes...some of the other country are just imitating mostly the American films
Movies have become like the new History books used in high school: no real good and bad guys; such a thing would be so..so pedestrian. History has become a series of lists, dates, names...all without edges. They might otherwise offend Orwell's "bespecaled intellectuals" who sit through and snicker at national anthems. So our high school kids are bored to death and in the process, they have been severed from our own history. Its all fungible anyway they are told.

Movies now show a studied effort to eschew anything American--in an effort to be so cosmopolitan, so above it all. "Superman Returns" was the nail in the coffin for me. "Truth, justice and all that stuff, " indeed. The writers and directors were ashamed--ashamed- to celebrate anything unique about the US. "Superman" I and II still attact viewers. "Superman Returns" is like eating a wet paper bag. The newer fare like "Hurt Locker," and "Green Zone?" Never.
Movies always need an enemy. Americans are joining us Brits being cast(or accepting being cast)as pariah. Interesting that when UK joined US in the war on Iraq we were rewarded by nice brit, namely Ralph Fiennes in Maid in Manhattan. Maid a change.
But the new villain on the block for J. Bond at least is a south african. In die another day, bond needs access to a cuban island. He has to beat up a man to get his tickets, and you can't beat up a decent bloke, so we are shown a "typical" sith efrikan - womanising, racist, bullying. When bond thumps him no-one minds. Similarly in casino Royale Bond needs a diversion to get into a security room. The directors give us another sith efrikan /boer who treats bond like a skivvy. So we dont mind when bond trashes his car.

Just an observation, but treat a Jew (maybe) a muslim, an irish or a Jamaican with such stereotyping - oooh my word.
Richard Grupenhoff August 15, 2010 at 2:42 PM
So now the right opens up a new front on the culture wars by attacking American movies? Yeah, so let's use John Wayne as the model of dignity and self-respect. But let's also indicate that he actively avoided Army service during WWII so he wouldn't lose his place in Hollywood. He reminds me of those pathetic right-wing elitists who hid away in college and the National Guard (George Bush).
The problem, Al, is that the people who make the movies would rather be bankrupt than make movies that show American culture in a favorable light. Money doesn't mean a thing - look at the success of Fox News. In television, heck in all media, success by a competitor means imitation of the formula for success by other networks. You see anyone imitating Fox News, even though it has proven record of success? Remember, it took an Australian to discover that selling media that didn't have a leftist agenda is a money making proposition - our home grown media elites would never go that route. How about Katie Couric? That particular leftist consistently has the lowest ratings, yet CBS plugs on with her year after year. So, if you are looking for the existing people in the media business to suddenly discover that there is money to be made marketing to Americans (other than self-hating leftists) than you will be disappointed. America is waiting for the entertainment mogul who is willing to make a fortune selling to 'regular Americans.' If the mantra in a capitalist society is "find a need and fill it" then here is the need - we just need someone to fill it.
Thank God for capitalism. Demand for these anti-American movies will drop and production companies sponsoring this garbage will have to choose between profitability or sponsoring a money-losing product to get their political point across.
Good article. I suspect the author conflated "mewling" and "puling" to come up "pewling." I like it. A new coinage.
I agree. Most American movies seem so predictable and formulaic lately, and I don't appreciate political messages either. Why can't we just all be Americans?
Where do I begin? This is spot on - in a word, the movies suck. Hollywood has assumed the cultural change that began in or about 1960, to transform our nation into the pewling (love that word), self-doubting, feminized, and all the other adjectives you can think of. Think Steve McQueen in 'The Great Escape' as the quintessential (old) American Hollywood hero. What would his counterpart be today? I don't know because we stopped going to the movies about eight years ago. And that's the point - with so many staying away from the theaters because of what's playing, isn't there some film makers out there willing to play to this pent up demand - in other words, isn't there money to be made by making movies that appeal to American audiences? Or have we been so changed by decades of leftist propaganda and brainwashing that there really isn't any 'American" audience left. All of this points toward the control of the media as the key to getting control of the country away from the leftist who want to destroy us. ALL other considerations are secondary - wresting control of the mainstream media away from these people of ill will is all that matters. And that starts with conservatives studiously AVOIDING leftist media, and SUPPORTING media that serves their interest. Biased is ok, but the bias should be pro-American. How about a conservative cable channel as a start? Want to make a fortune start a pro-American cable channel - heck there's a channel for golf, why not for conservatives? And it starts with that - American news AND entertainment, for Americans.
As a Canadian, I find this tirade puzzling. Hollywood always generated a lot of substandard movies as well as some real gems. These days, there is a lot of dross, but still some gems. As for the US being the "last, best hope of earth" ... wow, you have an inflated sense of importance.

The US is a great nation and I hope it continues to be so .. but get a grip ion yourself. You're not the be-all and end-all. And Hollywood does not tell the full story of the US anyway.

Relax a little. Summer movies are mostly light fluff, anyway.
Francis W Stocker, M.D. August 08, 2010 at 8:22 PM
The international tie 'splains a lot. I always suspected it. If one watches Asians and others on international flights, they mostly watch American movies.

In David Baldacci's "Camel Club" he has the CIA guilty of addicting African Americans to cocaine. The assertion seems to have nothing to do with the plot which of course has the American government trying to murder one of its ex-agents.

I suspected that was thrown in as an item of interest for movie produces- again with an international outlook.

During the first half of the 20th century movies were produced by Jewish immigrants who were thankful for their opportunities, and who made it their business to appeal to middle-American tastes.

Despite some resistance in the form of the McCarthy-era blacklist, the second half of the 20th century saw movie-making dominated by fellow-travelers of the New Left.

Eventually, the art of film-making may become as irrelevant as painting, sculpture, poetry and serious music.
If you want to make loadsa cash, you have to consider overseas. Listen to British musicians, comedians or even novelists like Amis, McEwan and Rushdie, all focused on pushing the product in the American market. That's money roaring for you.

Michael, you may 'take issue' with the relative shortness of Americans these days (which would greatly surprise a latter-day Vera Brittain) but you can hardly dispute it?
I agree, Andrew. Americans have never had a king, emperor or dictator. We bow to no one and our country is unique in that respect.

American moviemakers have forgotten that. While they're raking in millions making movies, they've fogotten the roots of American movies.

The Left keeps saying that it's American overbearing foreign policy that's the cause of the rest of the world hating us.

I submit it's because American movies, which now travel the world as fast as the internet are at fault for showing only a leftwing bias which seems intent on pulling this country down by putting us in the worst possible light.
Puh-leeze! If there is one thing that even its biggest fans would deplore, it´s America´s - well, Americocentrism. Even respectable journals such as Lew Rockwell and the Von Mises Daily ooze introspection.
It´s tedious and juvenile. And now Mr. Klavan wants more emphasis on "America´s unique greatness". Has he not heard of capitalism? It involves the making of movies that the rest of the world might actually want to pay to watch, not agitprop. Capisc?
enjoyed the article,interesting to note that the Hurtlocker won the oscar this year & it's characters were more in line with the heroes of ww2 - albeit updated to our times. it was my favorite movie this year
As a non-American, may I say - Hear, Hear!!! Give that man a prize or better yet, put him in charge of Hollywood!
It's not the movies but the ideology of Hollywood that has changed towards a left wing internationalist perspective and one could argue about the political motivation of the times being led by ...or leading Hollywood.
Surely the industry is big enough to make both the home spun patriotic individualistic movie of yester year as well as what they now produce for an international audience ? The question is would America want that ?!

Yes please

more like these men (and their women)
John Wayne - Stagecoach
Gregory Peck - MacKenna's Gold
and more recently
Richard Burton - Where Eagles Dare
Richard Burton - The Wild Geese
and not that long ago
Clint Eastwood - The Outlaw Josey Wales
and just last year
Liam Neeson - Taken


"American GIs are a good bit smaller than Dutchmen these days."

I take issue with that assertion.

The depiction in Hollywood of American G.I.s may have changed, but what an American G.I. is and what he or she is capable of is the same as always. If you don't believe me, launch an attack on us from the Netherlands. Wait - even the thought of that makes me laugh. Never mind.

Maybe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will spawn a new generation of American movie heroes.

Hoo-ah to Andrew Klavan for a great article, and for his great novels.
I wonder what percentage of movie-viewing Americans today miss John Wayne, or have heard of John Wayne. Sadly, I think American movies have been made for Americans, whose attention span has been shrinking since about the Bay of Pigs. I am intrigued by your assertion, but I know of little to support it.
Andrew, I hope no one will takes issue with your truthful, concise observations. And Jimmy Stewart was the real thing, having been a seasoned combat pilot in WWII. But did anyone ever hear him whining in self-doubt after the fact?
A scientist wrote about cave drawings, and he said there was evidence that art was a natural trait in humans - from the beginning. Hollywood, and most artist whether film, music, books, are motivated by money. Giving people a gift of entertainment, smiles, laughter, glimpses into the soul isn't a part of the business - except on very rare ocsasions.
Welcome to the global village. Movie makers in the rest of the world have struggled in Hollywood's shadow for nearly a century. Do what they do - trim your budgets.

In many ways, other countries have caught up with the US which is a good thing. American GIs are a good bit smaller than Dutchmen these days.

The 'romance of infinite territory' was always nonsense anyway.
Great article.