With National Review’s John J. Miller counting down the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years, it got me to thinking about conservative “moments” on film. This is not a preview of any upcoming films on the NRO list. You’ll have to keep an eye on the Corner for those. These are just clips [some with adult language] that stand out for the reasons stated below:
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1. “I’m not your best friend; I’m your only friend.”Other People’s Money (1991): One of the reasons Leftist films have been bombing at the box office (even with Leftists) is due to a one-sidedness that insults the intelligence. In just a couple years, between narratives and documentaries, there have been over a dozen anti-war films that have all flopped, and one of the reasons is that at no time was a single character allowed to stand up and point to the elephant in the room:
But wait a minute… What about the Iraqi people? There are twenty-five million innocent people there and we’re the only thing between them and annihilation. You just want to abandon them? You’re arguing we feed millions of women and children into a terrorist meat grinder? Haven’t you seen “Three Kings?” Once upon a time, even George Clooney thought that was wrong.
As a general rule, for over a decade now, no conservative has been allowed to make an intelligent case for their beliefs in a high profile studio film – whether it’s gun control, abortion, the environment, taxes, or the war in Iraq. And the reasons are obvious. When presented intelligently, conservative ideas appeal to those possessing both common sense and compassion. In other words, these arguments are persuasive and Hollywood knows it.
In 1991, a number of things had started to awaken me from my liberal slumber. Maturity, a job… and watching Danny DeVito’s Larry the Liquidator turn “Other People’s Money” completely on its ear with his brilliant speech about the realities of how an effective, and yes, compassionate, economy should work. For some context, check out the speech Gregory Peck’s character gives beforehand.
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2. “Tough guys deep fry chicken.” Stand and Deliver (1988):
These inner city students had all kinds of reasons to fail but Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos, in one of the best performances of the 80s) refused to give them excuses. This scene crystallized the attitude of the entire film. No Ebonics, no multi-cultural nonsense, no woe is me. Escalante presented the world to his students as it is and prepared them to succeed in it by demanding their very best.
To produce narcissists you need only teach self-esteem based on identity instead of accomplishment.
Escalante produced adults.
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3. “This reading will not stop.” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945):
There are a few interesting things in this clip. The obvious one being that such a simple truth about the greatness of America would never make it into a studio film today. And if it did there would be so many asterisks about Indians, global warming and trans fat, you’d think MSNBC wrote it.
The grandmother as the wise one is interesting, as well. Today, she’d be presented as senile, horny or both. The only people Big Hollywood allows to be The Teller of Deep Truths anymore are either lunatics or the homeless.
The second part of the speech is as important as the first. For the film, the grandmother is setting up the central theme, but she’s also reminding all of us that in America success and compassion are not mutually exclusive.
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4. “We’re going to what home was always supposed to be.” We Were Soldiers (2002):
This ranked #19 over at NRO, and for good reason. When it comes to Vietnam, we’ve gotten to a point where being apolitical (like this film) is, in fact, political. If a filmmaker doesn’t portray the mission as misguided, the troops as unstable, and America as imperialist there must be right-wingery afoot.
The conservative aspect of Gibson’s moving speech is in his character’s focus on our similarities while still respecting our differences. “…All Americans,” he says. Not “all one people.” Not “all stewards of Mother Earth.” Not “all the same.”
We are all Americans. No one on the left said this, until, you know, Obama won.
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5. “Thank you for bringing democracy to Iraq!” Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005):
Deuce Bigalow + Pro-American + Tweaking the Europeans = Sublime.