Ed Driscoll

When Michael Met Roger

My memories of the details were slightly fuzzy, but I knew I wasn’t imagining this, when I wrote three years ago:

Back when I was a film junky, I also remember reading an article in England’s Sight and Sound magazine (hardly a bastion of conservatism) that exposed many of the lies in that film as well, which put Moore on the map. Not the least of which was the film’s premise: Moore wore a silly cardboard cartoon “PRESS” badge whenever he visited GM, thus ensuring that he’d never meet with Roger Smith–because if he did, there’d be no movie.

Actually, the real truth is even more awful:

As documentary filmmakers, Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine looked up to Michael Moore.

Then they tried to do a documentary of their own about him – and ran into the same sort of resistance Moore himself famously faces in his own films.

The result is “Manufacturing Dissent,” which turns the camera on the confrontational documentarian and examines some of his methods. Among their revelations in the movie, which had its world premiere Saturday night at the South by Southwest film festival: That Moore actually did speak with then-General Motors chairman Roger Smith, the evasive subject of his 1989 debut “Roger & Me,” but chose to withhold that footage from the final cut…

The fact that Moore spoke with Smith, including a lengthy question-and-answer exchange during a May 1987 GM shareholders meeting, first was reported in a Premiere magazine article three years later. Transcripts of the discussion had been leaked to the magazine, and a clip of the meeting appeared in “Manufacturing Dissent.” Moore also reportedly interviewed Smith on camera in January 1988 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

Since then, in the years since “Roger & Me” put Moore on the map, those details seem to have been suppressed and forgotten.

Linking to our reprint of Pauline Kael’s perceptive and dissenting review of Moore’s first agitpropumentary (and such criticism would largely vanish from liberal movie mavens once they crowned Moore with Rock Star status), Damian Penny writes that this new revelation “puts Michael Moore’s breakthrough film in a whole new light, doesn’t it?”

Not to everyone…

Update: Speaking of Roger & Me, Roger L. Simon has some related thoughts on the agitpropumentaries of both Moore and Gore.