Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day - Memorial Day Movies

Memorial Day - Memorial Day Movies - Best War Movies

Originally, it was "Decoration Day." Confederate ladies decorated the graves of their fallen soldiers. This spread to the Union, and became Memorial Day, May 31. Now it's the last Monday in May. 

It's Summer today, until Summer ends on Labor Day.

Memorial Day is to honor all Americans who have died in all wars, remembering men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

People visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers place American flags on graves in national cemeteries.

There have literally been hundreds of wars since 1945, the end of WWII, and I've quite given up on this being a peaceful planet, and ours being a peaceful species, that can get along with itself. After a certain point, I just had to quit hoping for any change in Humanity, and accept what IS.

(A good thing, too, that nobody ever asked for my opinion).

War will always be with us, whether you're pro- or anti-, and War is a favorite topic of filmmakers everywhere.

Memorial Day is a big holiday. Post Office and Banks are closed. Play the DVDs, open your eyes and heart, and solemnly reflect on Man's Inhumanity To Man.

Just so we don't get stuck in the Twentieth Century. Spartacus? War movie? Stanley Kubrick? Yes!

There were lots of war movies made during the Vietnam era.
"Full Metal Jacket." Best Vietnam War movie? Yes.

Also-Great Vietnam War Movie. Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now."

Robert Altman's blood-soaked comedy, M*A*S*H. Set during the Korean war, but it's really about Vietnam.

Mike Nichols's Great, but too-cute-for-its-own-box office "Catch-22." About WWII, but really about Vietnam. (Recognize some Great Actors, as youngsters?)

Stanley Kubrick's end-of-the-world Nightmare Comedy about Nuclear War.
(Which we don't discuss any more, but it's more likely now than ever). "Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb."

Great Cast (Lee Marvin, Robert Carradine, Mark Hamill), in
Samuel Fuller's masterpiece, "The Big Red One."

America is a land of contradictions. We believe passionately in Freedom and Rights, but historically, America has infringed some American citizens' Liberty.

This is the story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most-decorated US outfit of WWII. Composed of Nisei (2nd generation Japanese-Americans), they fought valiantly, despite losing their Rights and Property and Personal Liberty. Their story is inspiring, in "Go For Broke"

Last, but certainly not least, here's Audie Murphy, the most-decorated boy soldier of WWII, who came home to a celebrated movie career.

Audie was 5'5" tall, weighed 110 pounds, crazy brave enough to wipe out German tanks and machine guns and soldiers, while he was sick to death with Malaria.

Audie won 33 medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. The movie story of Audie's life was Universal's highest-grossing film for 20 years, until it was topped by "Jaws."

Audie Leon Murphy. Somebody must have told him his middle name means "Lion," because he was brave as one.

I'm a big fan of Audie, starting with his heroic story, playing himself on the big screen, in "To Hell And Back."

Happy Memorial Day! May America and Americans live up to her proud heritage, and take the high moral road.
God Bless America!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Cinco De Mayo Movies

Cinco De Mayo Movies

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday, not an American one, although more Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the USA, than Mexicans celebrate it in Mexico.

For Americans, Cinco de Mayo is an excuse to drink alcohol and eat starch, flavored with vegetable irritants.
Americans think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. No, for that is 16 September, which doesn't roll nearly so well off the tongue.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico fighting the French in 1862. France invaded Mexico because Mexico owed them a lot of money. Countries do that. It happened, and will happen again.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates an unlikely victory - that of the raggedy little Mexican Army over the big bad French Army (then the most powerful in the world), in Puebla, Mexico on May 5th 1862. (Not surprisingly, most Mexican celebration of this event occurs in that city of Puebla).

In 1860, Mexico had been waging what historians call "Too many wars." Mexicans fought the Americans in 1846-48, and each other in 1858 and 1860. As has happened, and will happen again, to countries waging too many wars, Mexico's treasury was empty, because war is expensive.

In July 1861, Mexican President Benito Juarez decreed a 2-year moratorium. Mexico would make no payments on its debts to Britain, Spain, and France. This created what historians call, "A tense situation," between Mexico, Britain, Spain, and France.

Britain and Spain reached diplomatic arrangements, (negotiation usually preferable to conflict), but France...

Napoleon III, The Emperor of France, sent 8000 crack troops landing in Veracruz, marching to Mexico City, to conquer Mexico for France. Napoleon wasn't kidding around.

Even so, Napoleon's crackerjacques French army of 8,000 soldiers ran into 4,000 determined defenders at the city of Puebla, who...beat 'em.

Unthinkable, but it happened. 5 May 1862, Battle of Puebla. Outnumbered and outgunned Mexican Army...beat the top-shape French Army. Celebrate! Victory!

Well...the victory didn't last long, because the French regrouped, and wiped out the Mexican Army a year later, establishing Emperor Maximilian I to rule Mexico.  BUT...that's the Cinco de Mayo story.

Here are some movies with a Mexican flavor.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Humphrey Bogart faces the Gold Hat Bandito, played by the unforgettable Alfonso Bedoya, in John Huston's classic film. Negotiation seems impossible.

Viva Max (1969)
Peter Ustinov takes over the Alamo. Jonathan Winters negotiates with him.

El Mariachi (1992)
Robert Rodriguez takes over Hollywood. Victory didn't last, but he had a great start. Negotiations continue...

viva max
el mariachi
cinco de mayo movies
treasure of the sierra madre