The Dirty Tricks Department / The Nazi Conspiracy: the Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill (book reviews)

These two books about World War II have a lot in common. Both are centered on espionage and intelligence gathering, a new wrinkle in defense against foreign threats. At the beginning of the War, the U.S. has only recently developed an organization, as John Lisle outlines in his book. Certainly, spying and figuring out your … More The Dirty Tricks Department / The Nazi Conspiracy: the Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill (book reviews)

The Holocaust: Ken Burns and Assorted Thoughts

The U.S. and the Holocaust is a three-part, six-hour series focused on the Holocaust from the American involvement leading up to, during, and immediately following World War II. This Ken Burns series stirred a lot of discussion, certainly on the Holocaust, but more importantly, on the United States’ failures in responding to the Final Solution. … More The Holocaust: Ken Burns and Assorted Thoughts

Ivan Meets G.I. Joe

In 1980, the Clash released a song called “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe” on their stunning Sandinista album. At the time, U.S. – Soviet relations were at a low point. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and the U.S. was sending arms to Afghan fighters, particularly Stinger surface to air missiles that fell many Soviet helicopters … More Ivan Meets G.I. Joe

The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation

The new book by Rosemary Sullivan (2022), The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, is chilling to read. We know what happened to Anne Frank and the other seven who hid from the Nazis for 26 months, but less about the society where both betrayal and heroism existed side by side. Anxious to … More The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation

Good Guy/Bad Guy

Some of the best stories are of a flawed protagonist who exhibits complexity of personality and reveals himself (or herself) to have a pivotal moment(s) where their character undergoes an unexpected action, yet they remain true to their basic moral fabric. What this is not: a fairytale moment of metamorphosis of The Grinch suddenly growing … More Good Guy/Bad Guy

The World at War (1973)

The world of documentary filmmaking has changed since the debut of this 26-part television series. I mention this upfront because of how history is now presented through recreation, actors, animation, point-of-view, CGI and other film techniques can, and does, change the viewer’s perception of historical events and the emotional connection to the story as depicted. … More The World at War (1973)

Hitchcock by the Decade

I just finished a three-session film class on Alfred Hitchcock. Over six hours, we tried to digest his remarkable career. Of course, it helps to have seen most of his films and much of his television anthology series. Hitchcock is a lot of things, personality, auteur, mystery and macabre storyteller, and great observer of life. … More Hitchcock by the Decade

Mel Gibson is Back

The Lethal Weapon star never really went away, although after some well-publicized personal issues, he lowered his profile and studios distanced themselves, at least temporarily. Between a domestic issue, bitter custody fight, drunk driving arrest and an ugly anti-sematic rant, Gibson had a difficult several years. Those things would have buried most people, but in … More Mel Gibson is Back

Twelve O’clock High

The successful 1949 film about World War II bomber crews was turned into a television series (1965-1967). Gregory Peck starred as Gen. Frank Savage in the film, commander of the Army Air Corps 918 Bomb Group. Savage is also a B-17 pilot, flying daylight missions over Europe in 1942. Savage is assigned to take over … More Twelve O’clock High