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Same As It Ever Was

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 — This is a 1:23 scene from Keeper of the Flame, a George Cukor film made in 1942, from a screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. Katherine Hepburn plays the widow of Robert Forrest; Spencer Tracy is a former war correspondent who had planned to write Forrest’s biography.

Seventy years later things still work the same way.

In case of technical difficulties, here is a transcript; Hepburn is speaking:

The morning of the accident I stole his keys, came here, and opened this.

[Opens the door to a large cupboard.] This is what I found: the key to Robert Forrest’s fascist organization. Of course they didn’t call it fascism. They painted it red, white, and blue and called it Americanism.

[Opens an inner door to a safe.] In here are the funds to see it through; fantastic amounts subscribed by a few private individuals to whom money didn’t mean anything anymore but who wanted political power … knew they could never get it by democratic means. There’s a list of their names.

[Pulls out a thick file folder.] This was the essence of their plan. Here are some articles ready for release to stir up all the little hatreds of the whole nation against each other. This was an article to be published in an anti-Semitic paper attacking the Jews. This was to be used in the Farmer’s Gazette to stir them up against the city-dwellers. Here’s one attacking the Catholics … anti-Negro … anti-labor … anti-trade union … subtle appeal to the Ku Klux Klan.

Here’s a list of newspaper editors who either sought to occupy public office, or sought to dictate who should occupy public office, and, when they failed, felt that that the public was a great, stupid beast.

Here’s a list of men who served their country in the last war and were failures in business and again longed for the power of rank and the prestige of a uniform.

Comments

Comment from Bob Stepno
Time: May 16, 2012, 14:05

Thanks for sharing this clip. I plan to discuss the film (along with Citizen Kane, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Scandal Sheet and others) in a fall course on the portrayal of journalists in popular culture — including the rather different images we get of “the columnist,” “the reporter,” “the editor” and “the publisher.” See jheroes.com for my related radio research.

Comment from admin
Time: May 16, 2012, 14:48

Bob — Glad you can use it. JHeroes looks great — I’d check it out now but … we’re on deadline.

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