FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Springtime for Hoover

Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s top movie directors. He’s directed (and starred in) many movies; from the great, redefining-the-genre western The Outlaw Josey Wales, the Oscar-winning Unforgiven, the preposterous Million Dollar Baby and the brilliant Gran Torino to such underwhelming fare as Invictus, Space Cowboys and Hereafter.

He’s added to his oeuvre with J. Edgar, a biopic of the late FBI Director. J. Edgar is a complete mess. Instead of the usual guns-blazing-G-man-gets-his man tripe, J. Edgar is a weird, tepid love story. With only passing nods to the many significant events of the Director’s 48 years at the helm of the agency, the movie’s focus is on an anti-social, damaged man who lives with his  controlling, passive/aggressive mother until she dies and who finds love of a sort with Clyde Tolson, a subordinate he promotes to his top aide and lifelong companion.

The story revolves around the Hoover/Tolson relationship. The many egregious assaults on civil liberties that Hoover conducted get slight attention – the deportation of Emma Goldman, the veiled threats towards the Kennedys, the outright blackmail efforts against Martin Luther King, the infiltration and misinformation campaigns against Labor, Black, and anti-war student activists, the secret blackmail files,…all are reduced to background noise to Hoover’s tortured personal life.

Even the fellows’ sex life is watered down to the point of ambiguity. While focusing on surreptitious hand-holding, a couple of kisses and “I love yous,” no mention is made of famed gangster Meyer Lansky’s claim to have comprising photos of Hoover and Tolson; or of the great FBI blackmailer’s being blackmailed over it himself by Lanksy, who notably  remained free of jail until his death in 1983. Nor is there any mention of CIA Counter-Intelligence chief James Angleton’s showing around compromising photos to CIA pals. CIA expert Gordon Novel later claimed, “What I saw was a picture of him giving Clyde Tolson a blowjob. There was more than one shot, but the startling one was a close shot of Hoover’s head.  He was totally recognizable”

There is some decent acting; I imagine Armie Hammer, Armand Hammer’s great-grandson, who plays Tolson will get, at minimum, an Oscar nomination; perhaps, Leonardo DiCaprio’s inanimate, near comatose Hoover – miles from the volcanic Hoover of legend – will also get some recognition. But, talk about missing the point! J. Edgar Hoover’s tortured, closeted personal life really is insignificant to the real history of this anti-democratic monster.

After 48 years of despotic, anti-American rule with dozens of interesting sub-plots – not the least of which is Hoover’s complicity in the rise of the American Police State – this movie could not be further off the mark, nor more frivolous in its efforts to humanize a tyrant who destroyed so many, innocent lives. Ultimately, J. Edgar is as absurd as, and comparable to, the Adolph/Eva love story featured in the Bollywood fiasco Dear Friend Hitler – a real-life Springtime for Hitler.

MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, OR. He can be contacted at: pahtoo@aol.com

More articles by:

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail