Marshall

On the holiday, I got out of bed slowly.  I kept hearing people talking about the end of the Vikings game with the Saints.  I went out to the theatre to see “Marshall,” the movie about Thurgood Marshall.  Actually, it wasn’t really about Marshall, but one of his early cases from 1941.  As it is, it’s just a glimpse into a moment in his life, as he guides Jewish lawyer Sam Friedman through this rape trial.  The script felt awfully familiar, and it had a processed quality, with predictable elements inserted.  Chadwick Boseman was Marshall, and he was a strong presence on the screen, although he didn’t convince me that he understood the law.  I thought this film had a weakness that most movies about trials have, and that is too much talking.  Kate Hudson plays Eleanor Strubing, the accuser, and she made me think of how quickly the eighteen years since “Almost Famous” have passed.  It was kind of sad to see her play a character who gets booed when audiences see what she is.  James Cromwell, the man we remember from “Babe” quite a few years ago, plays Judge Foster.  He just about sabotages the trial for Marshall and Friedman.  A movie about Thurgood Marshall should have been about all his accomplishments, but that would be too difficult to show, and audiences aren’t patient for that sort of thing.  They want conflict and clear victory.  This movie had the audience talking and making comments about who to trust and who was displaying racism.  That is what made me skeptical, since I think that audiences are stupid.  Sam Friedman’s nephew Roger Friedman said, “Almost not a word of my great uncle’s depiction in the movie is accurate.”  He was not an inexperienced lawyer who was lost without Marshall.  Friedman had been practicing law for 14 years at that point and had a good reputation as a trial lawyer.  Roger said that the moment when Marshall cursed at Friedman for saying that he couldn’t afford to lose the case was absurd and made his family cringe at a private screening.  After the trial, Joseph Spell eventually moved to East Orange, New Jersey.  He died in 1968.  I thought this was not a great movie, even though it received quite a few good reviews.  The hero wasn’t so heroic.  He just learned how to do things in a courtroom.  The defendant behaved badly.  The situation was a mess, and no one emerges with our respect.  It certainly wasn’t an uplifting story.  I thought the Sam Friedman character deserved something better.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen racial issues treated well in a movie.  It is a difficult thing to do because there are more than two sides to the issue.  This movie received some light applause after it was over.  On this Martin Luther King holiday, it was discouraging to think that Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court in place of Thurgood Marshall.  I headed home to watch some Laugh-In with Flip Wilson and Gina Lollobrigida and take a nap.  Some of the people who died on January 16 include Léo Delibes (1891), Carole Lombard (1942), Arturo Toscanini (1957), Ted Cassidy (1979), Bernard Lee (1981), Ron Carey (2007), Andrew Wyeth (2009), Russell Johnson (2014), Dave Madden (2014), and Eugene Cernan (2017).  Today is a birthday for Sade (59), Debbie Allen (68), and John Carpenter (70).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 16, the Cavern Club in Liverpool opened in 1957.  In 1963, “Son of Flubber,” a sequel to “The Absent-Minded Professor,” was released.  In 1966, the James Coburn movie “Our Man Flint” was released.  In 1970, The Who began a tour of European opera house, performing music from the “Tommy” album.  In 1972, Ross S. Bagdasarian, known as David Seville, died of a heart attack at age 52.  In 1991, The Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 1998, “Fallen,” starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, and James Gandolfini, was released.

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