Welcome to another exciting and fact filled installment of Ask Derek
Recently, the ADA offices were informed that many inaccuracies were being printed in film critic Roger Ebert’s column Movie Answer Man. Not one to take things lying down, Derek himself decided to set the record straight on several questions so that readers could finally find out the true story and not some made up, politically correct answer by a no-nothing windbag…
Q: When they started honoring stars who had passed away in 2003 by showing their pictures over the Oscar stage, to my surprise and horror, Leni Riefenstahl was included. OK, I'll be first to admit it: "Triumph of the Will" is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen, and its propaganda value is second to none. Moreover, as an historian, I can also recognize the film's tremendous influence upon 20th century
For many years, "Triumph of the Will" was the official face of the Nazi Party throughout the world, and rivals Griffith's "Birth of a Nation” in terms of its long-term historical impact. That being said, how can we honestly pay tribute to Leni Riefenstahl? This was a woman, who, to my recollection, never once came clean about her activities during the Third Reich, and was as compulsive a liar as any apologist who ever survived the war. This is not to say that we should never forgive anyone who lived in Germany during the Hitler era. Were roles reversed, the fact is most of us would have behaved in exactly the same way as the German people did during the '30s.
Nevertheless, Riefenstahl never had the courage to own up to her legacy. I believe that for the academy to honor such a woman is a disgrace. What is more, for the audience to dutifully clap when her picture was flashed is a testament to its boundless stupidity. -
Anand Toprani, Ithaca, N.Y.
ADA: I’m glad this question was asked because the dirtsheets such as The Pro Wrestling Torch and Figure Four Weekly have completely avoided discussing Leni Riefenstahl’s help in making professional wrestling what it is today and that is no doubt because of both Wade Keller and Bryan Alvarez being Jewish and letting their religion govern their editorial policies. Now see, back before Vince McMahon took wrestling out of smoke filled basements events were only filmed with one hard camera. It wasn’t until Nazi sympathizer and WWWF owner Vince McMahon Sr. hired Riefenstahl and implanted her idea of having “men with cameras” (now commonly known as “cameramen”) outside of the ring closer to the action. These idea revolutionized wrestling and helped pave the way for future innovations in the world of filming sports such as the camera that look out over the hood during a NASCAR race.
Riefenstahl quickly rose the ladder in the WWWF -soon to be WWF- hierarchy and was trusted enough by Vince McMahon Jr. that when he needed the WWF Women’s Championship taken off an uncooperative Wendi Richter, he had Riefenstahl herself enter a match (masked, as “The Spiderwoman”) and did the first known version of “The Montreal Screwjob.” Fame is fleeting though as the urge to film another movie as powerful as ”Triumph of Will” caused Riefenstahl to return to Hollywood to helm the picture ”Bodyslam!” starring Dirk Benedict. This movie also starred Capt. Lou Albano along with several professional wrestlers and immediately caused Riefenstahl to be blacklisted by Vince McMahon and the wrestling community.
The Academy included Riefenstahl in their tribute this year to pay homage to her film ”Bodyslam!”’s impact on the “Rock and Wrestling Connection” which, through a series of events, led to members of the world of professional wrestling being able to star in absolutely unwatchable movies such as Paul Heyman in the ”Rollerball” remake and The Rock in ”The Mummy Returns”.
Q: I just returned from seeing "The Passion of the Christ." Had I been able to wrench my attention away from all of the horrified children gasping in the audience, I might have appreciated it more.
I can understand parents showing up at this film with their children expecting something different, but after a few minutes of the tremendous violence shown onscreen, I would have thought more parents would have spared their children further horror. Shouldn't ticket sellers offer some kind of warning to parents showing up with good intentions and young children? - Carson Utz, Novato, Calif.
ADA: This is an issue which strikes very close to my heart. Being a deeply religious man, I am often troubled by parents bringing their kids to movies which contain graphic violence and/or dead languages. In fact, I am troubled by kids going to any movie I see because more often than not they drive me nuts. Whether it’s their non-stop talking, their indecision at the popcorn counter or that stupid way some of them are wearing their baseball caps to the side, I find myself annoyed to the nth degree whenever I see a person under the age of 20 in a movie theatre. I think that parents should leave their kids home while they enjoy the movies so that the kids can watch more wholesome things like professional wrestling or surf the Internet for porn.
Q: What was "Rosebud" in "Citizen Kane"? - Gail Lehmann, Millbrook, Ala
ADA: When Kane on his deathbed said “Rosebud” it was to be a phrase that would drive film historians nuts for well over 50 years. There was absolutely nothing in the film that gave the line any context. Recently, the truth came out. To put it simply, “Rosebud” was a prosthetic hand that Charles Kane’s mother gave birth to in a previously unseen deleted scene. Thanks to modern technology, we can finally witness this scene on the latest DVD release of the movie. This deleted scene on the DVD actually came at the chagrin to the heirs of the Orson Welles estate, however when the DVD of ”Citizen Kane” was being made they were so tangled up in the court case over the rights for Welles voice of “Unicron” in ”Transformers: The Movie”, that they just told the producers of the Kane disc to do, “Whatever the hell you want.”
Derek Burgan is the not only widely regarded as the smartest man in the world, he is also generally accepted as the angriest.
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