We shall defend our Island

Churchill studies reports of the action that day with Vice Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, 28 August 1940, © IWM (H 3508)

I almost never, as you know, talk about current movies. That’s mostly because they don’t interest me, very occasionally I’ll watch one, although, in truth, it’s more often that I’ll try to, and either fall asleep or get bored out of my mind and give up.

But there is one opening today that I do want very much to see. You see, I was raised by the guys that fought World War Two, the ones we sometimes call ‘The Greatest Generation’ and not unjustly. That’s true in America, and it’s arguably even more true in the UK. Remember, their war started on 1 September 1939, ours not until 7 December 1941. For two years the Empire held the line, worldwide, pretty much alone.

During all this time until Barbarossa went in on 22 June 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union had the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact guaranteeing peace between them.

In April of 1940 the Germans executed  Operation Weserübung, the conquest of Norway, and then in May came the Battle of France. The Allies despite having numerical superiority were surprised terribly by the German tactics, often referred to as Blitzkrieg, a style of campaign first executed by General Sherman in the US Civil War and popularised by JFC Fuller and Basil Liddel-Hart. As executed by Guderian and Rommel it was devastating. As the campaign developed the British Expeditionary Force and elements of the French army were trapped in and around Dunkirk. In an epic of improvisation and sheer bravery the Royal Navy, covered by the Royal Air Force and with the assistance of hundreds of small civilian craft managed to extricate over 300,000 members of that force.

That’s what the movie opening today is about. It is titled Dunkirk and promises to be an epic. Here is one of the trailers

The Prime Minister famously said that wars are not won by evacuations, and he is, of course, correct. But in this case, it was a very great moral victory, and besides, without it, there would have been almost no regular forces to defend Britain itself.

I imagine you have heard as I have that a singularly stupid twit, named Brian Truitt writing a review in USA Today, has said this:

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

He also managed to conflate Dunkirk with D Day, I don’t know, maybe because they both have a ‘D’ in them.

About all I can say is that he apparently slept through history, if he took any, and for that matter doesn’t understand how to run Google. We may safely, going forward, completely ignore anything he says. He’s actually too stupid to live, but not smart enough to die, so he will, no doubt continue to waste oxygen and contribute his very own carbon footprint. Sad.

Here, from the International Churchill Society is Sir Winston’s speech, after Dunkirk.

The other film I very much want to see is connected viscerally to this, as well. Steven Hayward, writing in PowerLine tells us this:

Fortunately, another Churchill movie has finished production, Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Churchill, and focusing on the key period of the first weeks of Churchill’s premiership in 1940. Based on the trailer below, it looks not only that Oldman is a superior Churchill, but that it gets the key moment—the climactic events in the war cabinet of May 27-28 (which were unknown to the public until the 1980s)—exactly right. A couple of previous attempts, especially the HBO version of Finest Hour about ten years back, don’t get it right. (In addition to the brief evidence in the trailer, I’m pretty sure some sound friends of mine had significant input into the script.)

I haven’t heard from my friends that are Churchill experts about it, but maybe they will chime in as well. But judging by the trailer, this film, which opens in November, will be well worth our time. This trailer came out last week.

And so they did, in Churchill’s own words, ” until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

“Bless ’em all, the long and the short and the tall.”

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Persuasion: the Movie

Well, I’m sitting here wondering what to talk about – there’s surely no shortage of things to be either enthused or outraged about, is there. And you know, I decided it’s time for a movie. We used to do them a lot, and as my morale slipped simply got out of the habit.

But why not? This is the 2007 production of Jane Austen’s last complete novel Persuasion, some say the 1995 version is a bit better, but I couldn’t find it. But the people are a bit older, and that suits me, as well. So enjoy, cause I will.

The Trump Mutiny

ouragan sur le caine The Caine Mutiny  Année : 1954 - usa Humphrey Bogart, Fred MacMurray, Van Johnson  Réalisateur : Edward Dmytryk

ouragan sur le caine
The Caine Mutiny
Année : 1954 – usa
Humphrey Bogart, Fred MacMurray, Van Johnson
Réalisateur : Edward Dmytryk

Steve Berman advanced a thesis the other day. I think he has a point. It seems to me to be just about what is going on. The Caine Mutiny is one of my favorite books, and the intellectual ( perhaps pseudo-intellectual) Keefer really is the apple that spoils the barrel. Here’s Steve:

It wouldn’t surprise me if, behind closed doors and absent any electronic devices, intelligence community members call President Trump something like “Old Yellowstain.” There’s a mutiny brewing, one that’s being incited by the real cowards who hate Trump but hide whispering in the shadows.

If you’re familiar with the 1954 movie “The Caine Mutiny,” based on Herman Wouk’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel, you’ll know where I’m going here. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, read or watch it.

Here’s a quick synopsis for the unfamiliar, or those who need a refresher. Scroll down to skip my ersatz Cliff’s Notes, or you can read about it on Wikipedia.


In the movie, Humphrey Bogart plays Lt. Commander Phillip Francis Queeg, a regular Navy officer who served faithfully pre-World War II, who is now serving in wartime in a role for which he’s not accustomed. Van Johnson plays executive officer Lt. Stephen Maryk, and Fred MacMurray excellently portrays the intellectual novelist Lt. Thomas Keefer, the ship’s communications officer. […]

There’s a whispering campaign going on in the intelligence community. It’s a mutiny in the making. Withholding intelligence from the president because the IC doesn’t trust the man is not part of their job description.

Leaking highly classified material to the Washington Post which results in the resignation of the national security adviser to the president is not part of the job description. The whole “loyal to the Constitution” thing is the same choice faced by Keefer and Maryk in Wouk’s story. The captain is in charge of the boat, in a storm or on calm seas.

The Keefers are just waiting for a storm–it will come–when Queeg can be made to appear frozen in indecision or cowardice. Then they will encourage Maryk to relieve him. They will make it seem reasonable that Trump should be removed from office, by either impeachment or the 25th Amendment.

via The Trump Mutiny | The Resurgent

It’s a pretty good thesis, I think. It may not cover all cases, but I think it covers quite a few. So, do read the whole thing™.

But’s it’s Saturday, and time to slow down a bit. And besides, it’s a good movie

 

 

World War III

Today is the feast day of St. John Paul the second. As any of us old enough to remember he was one that triumvirate, including Reagan and Thatcher, who defeated the Soviet Union, and did it peacefully. Some friends of mine say that he was the greatest of them, I think it may be so. He surely had the most compelling story. For more on him, Chalcedon wrote about this today, here.

But it was a very close run thing, there were many alarms in the night, before that hateful wall came down, and it could easily have gone wrong. Here’s one way it could have. Today’s movie is a reminder of what and why we held the line all those years.

 

Thank God saner heads prevailed.

Hat tip to Weaponsman

Myths,legends and facts

lvalad

I don’t know about you guys, but one of the greatest pleasures of this site for me, is going into the archives and reading what we have written, especially for me what Jessica has written. She has a gift, of drawing lessons for us from many things, and making them stick. And mind, there is a lesson here for us all. So let’s share one of my favorites.


“This is the West, sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of my favourite quotations from any film, and it is what the newpaper editor, Scott, says to Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard at the end of The Man who shot Liberty Vallance. Even for the great John Ford, that’s some line. Stoddard, a Washington grandee, former Ambassador to the UK and likely Presidential nominee, has come back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of a local rancher, a nobody called Tom Doniphon, and the local press want to know why: Jimmy Stewart’s character tells them a story which is not just about how the West was won, but how it became civilized.

The story began quarter of a century before, when what is now the State was a Territory – with men who wanted it to stay that way. The young Stoddard is held up by a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance, and pistol-whipped. Doniphon, a tough local rancher, takes him back to town and sets him up with the family who run the local canteen – his love interest, Hallie helps the wounded lawyer recover, and he helps out at the canteen – eventually falling foul of Vallance – played by Lee Marvin at his brilliant best. In a scene packed with tension, Doniphon tells Valance to pick up the food that’s been spilled by him tripping ‘Ranse’ Stoddard up: it looks like there will be a shoot out – but Vallance backs away – Doniphon’s that sort of a guy.

So, we have there the old West, men are men and all that. It’s rough and tough, and if you haven’t got a gun – or don’t know how to use it – you’re not going to get far – or even live long. But Stoddard is the new order’s forerunner. He believes in the law, sets up an office in Shinbone and works with the local editor as the Territory moves towards statehood.

Doniphon tries to help Stoddard adapt to the ways of the West, but an attempt to teach him how to use a gun is a failure. But Valance and his type are not to be stopped by the law. They beat up the editor and burn down the newspaper offices, and Valance challenges Stoddard to fight him. The first two shots see ‘Ranse’ injured, and he drops his gun – Valance, wanting to rub it in tells him to pick it up – sure the next shot will be right between the eyes – but to everyone’s surprise, the next shot kills Valance. Hallie runs to help the wounded Ranse. Doniphon, who actually fired the shot, sees that he has, in saving Stoddard, lost Hallie – he goes back home, drinks himself into a rage and burns his house down – being saved by his faithful retainer.

At the convention where the vote for who should represent the Territory in Washington is to be taken, Stoddard is challenged by a rival, who says that he should not be trusted because he shot a man. Soddard hesitates, wondering if that is actually the case – should a gun fighter be a politician. Doniphon removes his doubts by telling him the truth about the man who shot Liberty Valance. The rest is history, Stoddard becomes Governor, Senator and Ambassador, marries Hallie and has the career which opened up to men of his type as the United States moved towards its manifest destiny. Now Doniphon is dead, it is time to tell the truth – but the press don’t want the truth – the legend does them just fine.

So Doniphon, who had saved Stoddard’s life and made his career possible, dies alone and unheralded – but not quite, Hallie and Ranse have not forgotten him, or who he was, and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.

This is Ford’s world at its best – there’s no one does the old world making way for the new better. He admires the values of the old West, and he sees them re-embodied in a different form in the new. Doniphon and Stoddard are two sides of the same coin. Their integrity shines through – and Doniphon is all the more believable for not behaving like a plaster saint when he knows he has lost Hallie. Plaster saints neither won, nor will the hold, the West. And now, as then, the media prefer the legend to the facts!

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

2014-06-05-robertmitchumlongestday-thumb

Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away. 🙂

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