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Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States Blu-Ray Review



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#21 of 34 Jack P

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Posted October 29 2013 - 02:44 PM

Well maybe the large abundance of movies about blacklisting (The Front, Guilty By Suspicion, House On Carroll Street etc.) and the strange absence of movies about notable Soviet or Communist oriented atrocities comparatively speaking ("The Killing Fields" was one case where a story of a communist atrocity was blamed on the United States for making the Khmer Rogue savages in the first place, which is a historical falsehood) has a lot to do with that.



#22 of 34 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 29 2013 - 03:18 PM

Well maybe the large abundance of movies about blacklisting (The Front, Guilty By Suspicion, House On Carroll Street etc.) and the strange absence of movies about notable Soviet or Communist oriented atrocities comparatively speaking ("The Killing Fields" was one case where a story of a communist atrocity was blamed on the United States for making the Khmer Rogue savages in the first place, which is a historical falsehood) has a lot to do with that.


Well, none of the movies you mentioned "praise" communism. If you had said there were more mainstream movies about blacklisting than the toil of communism on the Soviet Union or on Cuba, I could agree with you.
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#23 of 34 davidHartzog

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Posted October 30 2013 - 02:00 PM

Tailgunner Joe McCarthy was a drunken buffoon who did more damage to American society than the USSR could ever do short of nuclear war. The best representation of McCarthy was James Gregory's Senator Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate. Recent attempts to rehabilitate his image, such as William Buckley's novel, went nowhere. The blacklist, a product of HUAC, whose 40s chairman went to prison on corruption charges, was one of the worst things to happen in American society, and deserves to be recalled as a warning from history.

Edited by davidHartzog, October 30 2013 - 02:02 PM.

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#24 of 34 Sam Favate

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Posted October 31 2013 - 04:37 AM

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I always thought the point of Stone's JFK was not to say "here's what happened in 1963," but rather to say "the version of history you've been handed - by people who have a stake in it - may not be true." At the very least, Stone's films encourage critical thinking, which is never a bad thing, however unorthodox his methods may be.


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#25 of 34 Jack P

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Posted October 31 2013 - 05:01 AM

Tailgunner Joe McCarthy was a drunken buffoon who did more damage to American society than the USSR could ever do short of nuclear war. The best representation of McCarthy was James Gregory's Senator Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate. Recent attempts to rehabilitate his image, such as William Buckley's novel, went nowhere. The blacklist, a product of HUAC, whose 40s chairman went to prison on corruption charges, was one of the worst things to happen in American society, and deserves to be recalled as a warning from history.

 

Oh please.     This image is a fable from start to finish.      The blacklist, first off was not the "worst" thing to happen to American society considering that the Hollywood Ten (save Edward Dmytryk, a principled liberal who then realized that the Stalinists of the Ten sold him a bill of goods) was a group of unrepentant Stalinists at a time when Stalin had plundered and raped Eastern Europe (and had slaughtered more than Hitler going back to 10 million killed in the forced starvation of the Ukraine) and who morally and ethically were no different from those who a decade earlier were apologists for Adolf Hitler.   Charles Lindbergh was "blacklisted" from polite society because of his America First connections (and even had his mail opened and his civil liberties violated by the FDR Administration) but that is a form of "blacklisting" that is considered respectable by contrast based solely on ideology.      And considering how today, Hollywood practices a blacklist of its own against those who hold conservative beliefs, their long-term hypocrisy on this subject is all the more evident.

 

McCarthy was a buffoon at times who shot from the hip, but he was no demon.    M. Stanton Evans' recent book "Blacklisted By History", unlike the filth of Oliver Stone, is a genuine case of serious scholarship that calls for some needed "revisionism" in some legitimate areas and how the image of an American Inquisition in the 1950s orchestrated by McCarthy doesn't hold water (that is a case where "critical thinking" is needed more).     It properly notes McCarthy's faults, and at the same time reveals how long-term, the true story of America in the late 40s is how the picture of Soviet subversion in government was actually *greater* than was realized at the time (thanks to such inconvenient truths as the Venona Papers and Soviet sources which now show there were over 500 operatives in government working inside the various levels of the Roosevelt Administration during the late 30s and 40s, all the way up to Presidential aide Lauchlin Currie who conveniently fled the country when questions were raised about his Communist affiliations).



#26 of 34 davidHartzog

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Posted October 31 2013 - 05:46 AM

I stand by my original posting. I might also point out that I wrote that the blacklist was ONE of the worst things to happen to America, get it tight. Edward Dmytryk ratted people out to save his own career. Most of the people blacklisted were Jewish, like Eddie Robinson and John Garfield, a terrible comment on America as the "last best hope". M. Stanton Evans is not a historian, nor much of a scholar. McCarthy recklessly accused many innocent people of subversion and ruined many lives. He even attacked the Presidency and the Army, which was the last straw. He was censored by Congress and died of complications from alcoholism. Most Americans have always realized communism is the double shuffle.

Edited by davidHartzog, October 31 2013 - 05:47 AM.

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#27 of 34 Jack P

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Posted October 31 2013 - 08:17 AM

Dmytryk found that he'd been sold a bill of goods by a Stalin toady named John Howard Lawson in which he thought he was going to jail for some high-minded principle, but what he was really doing as he found out was that he was going to jail to serve the interests of the Communist Party.    Soviet sources now confirm that the Party was a wholly owned subsidiary of Moscow and that Lawson, along with his other dishonorable members of the Ten were simply following Party edicts which wasn't what a traditional New Dealer like Dmytryk bargained for.   Dmytyrk was right to disown that crowd and I applaud him for it.    It isn't "ratting out" to tell the truth, which was an alien concept to the likes of Lawson (try reading the story sometime of how he took Albert Maltz to the woodshed when Maltz behind the scenes was critical of party tactics;  Maltz then learned he had to always follow the Party no matter what and that meant also supporting efforts to censor the works of anti-Communist authors like Arthur Koestler). 

 

M. Stanton Evans is far more of a scholar than Oliver Stone, and it's amusing how revisionism is considered okay if its the likes of Oliver Stone positing that Henry Wallace was a great visionary who should have been President and was right about Stalin and Harry Truman was evil, but my goodness there can't *ever* be any revisionism on the matter of the whole "McCarthy era" because by gosh we know it's always anti-communism that is the root of all evil!    Evans does not whitewash McCarthy's flaws, he simply notes that the simplistic narrative of McCarthy as demon is not true and the notion that McCarthy ruined the lives of many does not stand up to closer scrutiny if we're talking about the likes of China Hands like Owen Lattimore, John Stewart Service et. al, who made one series of dishonorable reports after another whitewashing Mao-Tse-Tung as some noble agrarian reformer and who overlooked Mao's capacity to be a mass murderer (indeed, one of the most forgotten of Holocausts is what Mao later did in the Great Leap Forward).

 

Evans also had a co-author for his most recent work on Soviet espionage during the Roosevelt era (it was the failure of Roosevelt to address this and the failure of Truman to have a public airing on this that made HUAC investigations and then McCarthy possible), Herb Romerstein who was a noted scholar in his own right.      Even if one doesn't agree with all their conclusions, their material is a lot better sourced than anything Oliver Stone has ever come up with and requires serious attention. 

 

I'm not sure I get what "most Americans have always realized communism is the double shuffle" is supposed to mean.   It sure wasn't that way to the Hollywood Ten members who were committed Stalinists at a time when Stalin had exceeded Hitler's death toll.   That isn't any more noble than being a member of the KKK or the Bund Society and I think it can be safely said that if the industry ever chose to "blacklist" someone like that, it would be met with roaring approval. 



#28 of 34 davidHartzog

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Posted October 31 2013 - 11:46 AM

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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#29 of 34 Jack P

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Posted October 31 2013 - 12:45 PM

Yep, that's typical of someone who knows he's in trouble when it comes to debating the facts seriously.      It's amusing though how this point always rankles some people more than the idea put forth by Stone that the US was evil and that Stalin was blameless for the Cold War.

 

Of course the reason why Holocausts like the forced starvation of the Ukraine and the Great Leap Forward in which 10 and 30 million people died respectively become forgotten is usually because there are too many people going "Zzzzzzzzzz" over those events who instead get more lathered up about the fact that some stupid actors and writers couldn't find some work for a few years.    Talk about having one's priorities out of whack!


Edited by Jack P, October 31 2013 - 12:55 PM.

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#30 of 34 davidHartzog

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Posted October 31 2013 - 04:28 PM

No, zzzzzzzzzzz is simply a reaction to sarcastic hectoring and misrepresentations rather than dealing with cold, honest fact. Its how Tailgunner Joe operated until tripped up by Joseph Welch, a true American hero. Blacklists damaged the lives and careers of many hundreds of people, famous and not famous, violating the spirit of the Constitution. No one is arguing that America is evil, certainly not Stone, who served honorably in this nation's military. Most of us know about the deadly reign of communism, which was responsible for the deaths of upwards of a hundred million people in the most deadly of centuries, the 20th. McCarthyism, HUAC, blacklists are blackmarks in American history, and must not not be brushed off like other countries do with their misdeeds. These are things that must not be repeated. America needs to be better than that, a "city on a hill" for us and for others who wish to come here. Our standards of conduct must be higher. More than forty years of reading and studying American history has taught me that.
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#31 of 34 Jack P

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Posted October 31 2013 - 05:18 PM

All you're doing is printing the legend instead of the facts, which Evans in his book goes over with a fine-tooth comb.   First off, the silly notion that McCarthy was running roughshod until along came Edward R. Murrow and Joseph Welch isn't what you'll learn if you go back and read the historical record.    On a routine basis, McCarthy's political enemies dished out as much dirt as they could in return, chief among them political gossip columnist Drew Pearson (who back in the 1940s employed as his two chief leg men for political gossip, men whose names in the 1990s turned up in the Venona Papers as active Communist party operatives) so this image of no one standing up to McCarthy until then is just another myth in need of genuine revisionism.   And second, you know what prompted that grandstanding "Have you no sense of decency?" moment by Welch?    It was when McCarthy simply asked a question about one of Welch's lawyers by repeating something that had been written *one month earlier* in the New York Times (no McCarthy supporting newspaper that was).     And yet Welch had never seen fit for a whole month to feel any indignation over the New York Times not having any sense of decency in running the story that all McCarthy did was repeat verbatim without any embellishment, instead falsely suggesting that McCarthy had concocted this accusation out of thin air because of his "cruelty".    The only thing Welch knew how to do better than McCarthy was to play to the TV cameras, which McCarthy didn't know the first thing about which combined with his boozing was his biggest enemy (and I'll be the first to acknowledge the whole Army investigation was ill-considered; he was by then taking too much advice from Roy Cohn).

 

And just whose lives were ruined by McCarthy?   Let's leave out the Hollywood blacklist for a moment because he had nothing, nada, zippo to do with that (but then again those people are not heroes, especially not the Hollywood Ten Stalnists whose regard for the Constitution was non-existent).    My heart does not bleed for the likes of Owen Lattimore or John Stewart Service, two men who put admiration for Mao Tse-Tung ahead of the interests of the United States and our ally, the Nationalist Chinese and of whom in Lattimore's case, there is still reason to believe he was working as a Soviet operative.    Nor do I have much regard for those who covered up the inconvenient facts surrounding nearly 500 Soviet operatives inside the Roosevelt Administration and exercising a dangerous influence on key policy matters from Alger Hiss to Harry Dexter White to Laurence Duggan to Lauchlin Currie and a host of others who once exposed, the Truman Administration simply quietly moved them out instead of having a public housecleaning, which had Truman done so, he could have prevented HUAC and later McCarthy from becoming big public figures using the issue in the first place (indeed, one of Truman's most shameful moments was when he attempted to get a Justice Department indictment not of Alger Hiss, but Whittaker Chambers, the man who exposed Hiss before HUAC.   Only the efforts of HUAC caused that attempt to railroad a genuine American hero to fail).   The presence of all those spies is the greater outrage than anything that happened in the investigations afterwards and how the public was denied its full right to know about how extensive that was since the Truman Administration also made the decision to keep the Venona dispatches classified when public exposure would have revealed that threats of communist subversion was not a "red herring".

 

As for "no one is arguing that America is evil" that is not true in the case of Oliver Stone.   He firmly believes that since the end of World War II, America was evil to challenge Soviet hegemony and aggression, and that every aspect of American foreign policy on behalf of challenging Soviet backed communism was evil and that JFK (a Cold Warrior in the traditional sense who once counted McCarthy as a personal friend, as did Bobby who made McCarthy godfather of his first child) was somehow done in by some evil conspiracy to keep us in Vietnam (never mind that JFK was the one who personally ordered the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Diem just three weeks before his own death because he felt that Diem wasn't tough enough), even to the point where Stone in his movie chose to rehabilitate a genuine case of a man who ruined lives with demagoguery in the form of Jim Garrison (take a look at what Garrison did to Clay Shaw, and you will find something that vastly exceeds the worst thing McCarthy could be accused of because Garrison as a prosecutor held powers in ways McCarthy never did and never could exercise influence over.   This including suborning perjured testimony and falsifying evidence in courtroom proceedings.   Yet Oliver Stone takes the view that even if he did Clay Shaw an injustice with his movie, that pales before what he considers the "greater good" of exposing this evil conspiracy he says exists)

 

BTW, if you're so concerned about what you regard as "black marks on American history" then where do you stand on Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War suspending habaes corpus, imprisoning suspected Confederate supporters without trial etc.?      History long ago learned not to regard that as a "black mark" in evaluating Lincoln as the wartime leader who saved the Union because they learned how to develop a sense of perspective, even though I would find it a safe assumption we had more "ruined lives" who were caught up in the sweep in that endeavor than there were blacklisted actors and writers in the 1950s.     And then there's the fact of how when Franklin D. Roosevelt is evaluated as a wartime leader, is the first thing we mention the internment of Japanese-Americans?     No.    It seems that with FDR, we learned to have "perspective" as well.     The same thing is needed with McCarthy, not for the sake of turning him into a hero  but for the sake of putting an end to this myth of him as some demon who controlled America in fear until along came Murrow and Welch to save the Republic.     That is pure fantasy, and in light of how too many of his opponents turned out to be dangerously wrong about the extent of Soviet espionage in this countr and how most of the "victims" were not pure as the driven snow individuals, the picture of the McCarthy era becomes one where less self-flagellation is called for and more evenhanded perspective.     



#32 of 34 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 31 2013 - 06:42 PM

From the NY Times, some perspective.

" There were broader consequences, as well, of the decision to keep Venona secret. The overlapping issues of Communists in government, Soviet espionage, and the loyalty of American Communists quickly became a partisan battleground. Led by Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, some conservatives and partisan Republicans launched a comprehensive attack on the loyalties of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Some painted the entire New Deal as a disguised Communist plot and depicted Dean Acheson, Truman's secretary of state, and George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff under Roosevelt and secretary of state and secretary of defense under Truman, as participants, in Senator McCarthy's words, in "a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men." There is no basis in Venona for implicating Acheson or Marshall in a Communist conspiracy, but because the deciphered Venona messages were classified and unknown to the public, demagogues such as McCarthy had the opportunity to mix together accurate information about betrayal by men such as Harry White and Alger Hiss with falsehoods about Acheson and Marshall that served partisan political goals".


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#33 of 34 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 31 2013 - 06:44 PM

And I'm done with the debate. There are learned men here who read and digest multiple sources of documented history and arrive at different places on 'the truth'. As with most things, reality is likely some place on the spectrum in between.
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#34 of 34 Russell G

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Posted November 06 2013 - 10:34 AM

Thanks for the review of this set. I skipped the program figuring it would basically be an "Ancient Aliens" type entertainment that drives me nuts. I am a Stone fan though, and you've certainly piqued my curiosity. I'll have to check this out.


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