In 2001, when it was announced that Will Smith would be playing Muhammad Ali in a film directed by Michael Mann, this seemed like perfect casting. If anybody could portray Ali, it was the equally charismatic Smith, then at the peak of his career. Unfortunately, this was a case of the right actor in the wrong movie, at the wrong time. The film was released in late 2001, after 9/11, and after American troops first rolled into Afghanistan. As John Podhoretz wrote in January of 2002, Mann wasn’t interested in Ali the superstar boxer who was made for television, he was interested in Ali’s radical politics during the Vietnam War, and the timing and the lugubrious, inert feel of what should have an exercise in kinetic filmmaking sunk the movie at the box office:
It’s conceivable that the movie has failed because it’s a stiff. But moviegoers wouldn’t have known that in the first weekend of its release, and with Will Smith’s name above the title, it should have made at least $30 million. It made half that. Why?
Simple. Ali is a mostly worshipful movie about an American icon who converted to Islam — or rather, Elijah Muhammad’s bizarre riff on Islam — and then proceeded to dodge the draft while making speeches about how he had no argument with the people who were killing tens of thousands of young Americans in Southeast Asia.
You can perhaps see how uncomfortable this story would make American audiences these days. In 1975, Ali himself starred in a fictionalized version of his own life called The Greatest. Ali was charming and funny in The Greatest in a warts-and-all portrait that showed him being a selfish jerk with at least one of his wives. What The Greatest did not do was turn Ali into a political icon.
A wise move. As a political icon, Muhammad Ali is as much of a dud as the movie about him.
A movie that dwelled on the comic aspects of his life — that would have used Will Smith’s own natural energy and likability to its utmost — might have been a triumph. But such a movie wouldn’t have satisfied Michael Mann’s hunger to Be Important.
Memo to Hollywood: Draft-dodging Muslims are out. A movie with a Muslim war hero — now that might make a fortune.
Of course, Hollywood would spend the next seven years doing its damnedest to destroy America’s morale in the wake of 9/11. This was partly because they hated Dubya, and as Daniel Henninger has written, for many on the left, their most intense day during that period wasn’t 9/11, but a year earlier, when Al Gore lost the recall election to GWB, partly because of the nostalgic left wanting to relive the glory days of their protests against LBJ, Nixon, and fighting communism in Vietnam.
Which brings us to this infamous moment by Robert Redford, while promoting The Company You Keep, his new film embracing the Weather Underground:
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As Scott Whitlock of Newsbusters summarizes:
George Stephanopoulos was so enthusiastic towards Robert Redford and his sympathetic new film about an ex-1960s radical that the actor enthused, “You ought to get on the marketing team!” The aging actor/director appeared on Tuesday’s Good Morning America and endorsed the violent actions of protest groups. Reminiscing on his own past, the liberal Hollywood star recounted, “When I was younger, I was very much aware of the movement. I was more than sympathetic, I was probably empathetic because I believed it was time for a change.”
After Stephanopoulos wondered, “Even when you read about bombings,” Redford responded, “All of it. I knew that it was extreme and I guess movements have to be extreme to some degree.
It’s pretty rare for someone to drop the mask and admit that he’s cool with terrorist bombings; at Front Page, Bosch Fawstin explores “Robert Redford’s Terrorist Heroes:”
“ALL OF IT,” said Robert Redford, when asked if he supported the bombings by The Weather Underground.
Redford came out for terrorism on a mainstream morning television show in an interview with democrat-operative-leftist-hack George Stephanopoulos, who was slobbering over Redford’s pro-terrorist movie, The Company You Keep. I drew my illustration of Redford, below, days ago, and I wonder if he’s for the terrorist attack in Boston today. Or maybe he wants to wait and see if it’s leftist terrorists before he decides he’s all for it. Below is a list of what Robert Redford was for, via Sean Hannity on FOX News.
The Weather Underground’s history of terrorism consisted of:
1970: SFPD Bombing (1 Killed)
1970: NYPD Bombing (7 Hurt)
1970: NYC Explosion (3 Killed)
1971-72: Capital & Pentagon Attacked
1981: Armed Robbery (3 Killed)
(As John Boot at PJ Media notes: The Vietnam War, of course, had been over for years, [by 1981] which gives the lie to the film’s claim that the Southeast Asia conflict was anything but a pretext for the terrorist network.)
Fortunately, Redford really did his homework, thoroughly immersing himself in the history of that intense and convoluted period before the cameras rolled:
[A]t a recent press junket, Redford emphasized that he didn’t do much research beside watching Siegel’s documentary.
“I didn’t feel I needed to, because I saw a documentary several years ago that came to the festival called the ‘Weather Underground,’” Redford said. “I felt that that documentary was very well made about the actual people … I felt I had a thorough description of them from the film.”
Redford’s film is now playing in an environment where real terrorism is front and center in the news. On Twitter, Bill Hobbs speculates:
Gonna be hard for liberal film critics to praise Redford’s pro-terrorist bombers movie “The Company You Keep” after Boston. But they will.
— Bill Hobbs (@billhobbs) April 19, 2013
Of course they will. As Kathy Shaidle likes to say, so much of “liberalism” boils down to “It’s different, when we do it.” This might be the ultimate case. Still, kudos to Redford for revealing his inner liberal fascist on national television.
Related: Speaking of the Company You Keep, “New York Times shows sympathy for Boston terrorist suspects,” as spotted by the Daily Caller, who finds the Times attempting to brand the suspects as just average Joes, slacker kids “Far From War-Torn Homeland, Trying to Fit In”; “Brothers Seen as Good Students and Avid Athletes.”
Why, it’s almost as if, from the top down, the Gray Lady is pretty cool with this whole radical chic thing themselves.
I guess Redford has his sequel, “The Company You Keep 2: Chechnyan Renegade Boogaloo.”
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) April 20, 2013