Re: Charlie Wilson's War

1

Everyone should read the book, he said earnestly.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 2:10 PM
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i wish i have more time to read all the archives
the old post is great, thank you for pulling it out
good read!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 2:38 PM
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Caught 1 1/2 hours of 2 on one of the science/history channels this lst week. It was objectively pro-Charlie.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 2:53 PM
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I've grumbled a lot to the effect that the Democrats' deficiency in semicriminal entrepreneurship is why they lose. But Wilson was a Democrat, a semi-criminal entrepreneur, and a winner.

This does suggest that that road of political success does tend to lead to war, disruption, and wild adventurism, I suppose. As libertarians might suggest. Democrats now seem to be stuck on the moderate / normalizing / keeping the lid on path, but perhaps that would be a good thing. If they could only win that way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:10 PM
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Incidentally, the 2:53 comment was written at 2:15, but was withheld from posting by one of those instantaneous big-meal Xmas catnaps. Either an advantage of old-age or a symptom of a terminal heart-condition.

a)Tom Hanks does not suck, he is just one of this generation's middle-weight moviestars, who evokes affectionate embarrasment even at his most pathetically ambitious. I don't know if Hanks could ever have been a contender. Cage OTOH is a disappointment, if not a tragedy.

b) Watching the documentary on Charlie Wilson, I kept asking myself what is this for? What are the points or lessons of this fun & interesting story, if any? I have a lot of books around, but I wonder at the purpose or misuses of the accumulation of mountains of data & conflicting insights & analyses.
Pedantry, biases confirmed and entrenched, sunk-costs of time invested, skillset dependencies (all problems look like nails, all human problems can be rational-choice modeled).

Knowledge may not be good.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:16 PM
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There is also my "lump-of-knowledge" theory. That all humans have limited info-storage capacity, and all humans experience their environment at the same rate. So one person at a given age has nearly the same amount of knowledge as every other person of the same age. "IQ" is irrelevant to this.

So then we get into the importance or relative value of different kinds of knowledge. Certainly a person who has visited 50 countries knows dofferent things than someone who has spent that same time in one city, but I cannot say that the traveler has better quality knowledge.

Are we sure it is better to read 50 books than to read one good book 50 times?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:24 PM
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But is the movie any good? The book was a great read, although I walked out of it (closed it?) feeling I didn't know the first thing about the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan. I don't expect to learn anymore about that from the film, but if it's fun, I'll sit through it.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:36 PM
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4:Does anyone think an intrepid & determined Congressperson, with the aid of bellydancers & socialites, could today manage to direct oodles of money & arms to the Somalis or the PKK?

There are obvious contingencies to the CW story.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:46 PM
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Something like that is happening as we speak, Bob, except that Congress has been muscled out of the decision-making process.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 3:48 PM
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9:If the Bush administration is secretly supplying the PKK with anti-aircraft technology, I sure hope the Turks don't find out.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 4:16 PM
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About a month ago I came back from a trip and asked my students how they liked their sub, whom I had never met but only spoken to on the phone. Every single one of them insisted he was actually Tom Hanks, and the other teachers said they too had to keep convincing themselves he wasn't Tom Hanks. The chair said that the man had apparently body doubled for Tom Hanks several times. I found this vaguely disturbing and felt even guiltier for leaving my charges in his care. But by all accounts he was a good sub, module the distraction factor.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 4:33 PM
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a month ago I came back from a trip

And you've been weirdly sick for weeks? Where'd you go?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 4:47 PM
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I, too, find Tom Hanks extraordinarily offputting. If I should ever accidentally see him in something again, I'll have to see what I think of Ogged's old hypothesis.

Hm, Camino's spellcheck seems to have gone insane, as it is telling me that every single word is misspelled, including "it" and "of".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 7:19 PM
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radfouxteylshraub Ie tenk yer Spilchk iz bräken 3r symthyng?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 7:24 PM
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I find the earnest woman's reaction completely reasonable. I've felt that way about life in general the last couple of years.

Nice to see Emerson acknowledging the value of the moderate Democrat route (where moderate by rational standards = quite liberal by current American ones).


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 9:13 PM
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Boston, ogged. Boston. Learn from my mistakes.

Actually I got sick a week later, so that seems a bit long for an incubation time. Hopefully I can get my 3rd doctors appointment tomorrow, and they'll do more than shrug at the sinus bleeding and tonsils so swollen I can barely swallow.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:12 PM
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Uh oh, my egg nog is in Boston.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:14 PM
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I don't drink egg nog. Could it use some vitamin C?


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:15 PM
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19

NO HEALTH FOR YOU


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:17 PM
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Geez, you're mean. Eating eggs is against my religion. Sheesh.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:18 PM
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SORRY THESE ARE THE RULES


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:19 PM
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Well I hope your egg nog has lots of Boston cooties then!


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:25 PM
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THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT YES


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:25 PM
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24

If Tom Hanks were a billboard, he'd be this one.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 10:32 PM
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25

remember back when nobody commented on this blog? 3 comments?!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-25-07 11:59 PM
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Tom Hanks really does suck, suck, suckety-suck-suck. He was effective in Forrest Gump, which, like the Terminator, is one of those actor-proof roles in which the character is not required to display subtle human emotions and reactions. In anything else, when you see Tom Hanks on the screen, you don't think, "There's an interesting character," you think, "There's Tom Hanks, in all his smug, smarmy, yet fundamentally wholesome glory." Bah.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:17 AM
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Also, I thought some of you would like this advice on how to choose a college major.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:18 AM
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Kinda funny: Tom Hanks as James Bond


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 3:32 AM
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Gary is right, everybody should read the book, (known as My Enemy's Enemy outside the US), but they should also read Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, which puts the former somewhat into perspective and will have you facepalm quite a lot at the missed opportunities to bring peace to Afghanistan.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 4:04 AM
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And yes, The Tom Hanks sucks is one offcial viewpoint I can get behind.


Are we sure it is better to read 50 books than to read one good book 50 times?

It's better to stop navelgazing and get out there, man! One good book will only teach you what's in that book; the world is too complex to be caught in even fifty.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 4:16 AM
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31

I never knew the blog had an official position on Tom Hanks. I am pleased. I thought I was alone in my aversion.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 6:00 AM
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32

You grumps. You might as well complain about Jimmy Stewart as an actor.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 6:17 AM
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33

Julia Roberts looks now so aged, that hairdo is terrible
her hairs are best when flowing freely
she is the same her in all her roles too, in my opinion, i don't like when she smiles her trademark smile which was worst in the best friend's marriage


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 6:43 AM
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-s


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 6:49 AM
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she is the same her in all her roles too, in my opinion, i don't like when she smiles her trademark smile

I concur.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 7:25 AM
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36

Tough crowd.

I'd rather spend my time more productively, hating on Cruise, Celine Dion, and Sean Hannity.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 7:33 AM
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37

I'm reading the book right now, and one of the amusing things about it is that the actors they found for the movie are objectively less attractive than the original people were. Seriously, the woman whom Roberts is playing was a petite Marilyn Monroe-style bombshell. Wilson himself, from the photos, looked like a giant, healthy, Texan Jean-Paul Belmundo.

Also, reading this after having read Ghost Wars (which is excellent), I find myself aghast and hysterical with laughter most of the time. Even though the book is sympathetic to Charlie, it's impossible not to read him as something of a monster.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 7:48 AM
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38

i mean her smile is great but now i understand that her eyes fail to act correctly, those orbicularis contracting whatever
her eyes are wide open as if she is illuminating from within and everybody around should also, not all her smiles of course
just when i think it's required by the scenario or something
she is of course great in pretty woman and erin bronkovich


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 7:51 AM
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39

32: Totally different. Jimmy Stewart was a genius. When I was a kid, I'd only seen him in IaWL, of course, so I thought of him as the Tom Hanks of his day (which is totally unfair, because he's pretty genius in that, too). But then I saw more of his work and realized that dude can act.

37: Mmmmmmm, Jean-Paul Belmondo. As of last week, my eternal hard-on for JPB has, however, shifted to Alain Delon. It's probably temporary. JPB is forever.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:18 AM
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40

The Alfred Hitchcock/Jimmie Stewart movies are amazing. The thought of Tom Hanks in those roles is kind of laughable.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:21 AM
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41

for a white bear
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkJ6lLvMXZw


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:25 AM
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42

i'm sorry, A White Bear
just love this song and wanted share


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:26 AM
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43

Is there a dispensation available for liking Joe Versus the Volcano?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:34 AM
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44

40: Yes, and also, Philadelphia Story cemented my respect for Stewart. He's so so good in it. But the thing about IaWL is that, although we've all seen it about a thousand too many times, and it is true that it indulges in Extreme Treacle, there are several scenes in it in which Stewart is shockingly good. The way he paces his lines is incredible. Can Tom Hanks deliver a line like Stewart? No. No, he cannot.

42: Thanks, read. I am semi-ashamed to say I found that last week while stalking the Alain Delon of 50 years ago. His kind of cool didn't last in the way JPB's did, though.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:39 AM
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45

43: Yes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:40 AM
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re: 39 and 44

Belmondo and Delon are both suitable objects for man-crushes. Ineffable coolness.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:47 AM
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Wayne, Stewart, Grant, Hudson, Heston, Fonda

Depp, Cruise, Pitt, McGregor, Hanks

Why are the current set of stars so very small?

(I know Hanks is tall, but he feels small)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 8:58 AM
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Both IaWL and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are politically radical movies, especially the latter. They are complex roles to play because the main characters are very tightly wound, almost a little hysterical, and pretty complex, but Stewart manages to make them seem both simple and sympathetic. Both those movies could easily have failed.

No way IaWL gets made in present day America -- probably we'd make a movie about how Mr. Potter was held back in his rise to riches by welfare cheats and suspicious bureaucrats.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:00 AM
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Mmmmmmm, Jean-Paul Belmondo.

The very words spoken dreamily and spontaneously, while staring off into the distance, by my college GF when we were in bed after going to see Breathless. Uh...hon?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:10 AM
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46: My host at dinner last night was telling me that he has a student who wrote, on the first-day "getting to know you" index card, that his favorite movie is Godard's Breathless, upon which my friend began to observe that this kid seemed to think he actually is Jean-Paul Belmondo. He'd wander into class absurdly late, sit coolly fidgeting in the back corner, and never say a word unless he got you alone, when he'd spew forth endless random thoughts. He had to sit down with him at some point and say, "You have to choose between being JPB and passing my class. JPB is incredibly cool, but JPB wouldn't pass American Lit either." He chose the JPB route, with a shrug and a wry smile.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:12 AM
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51

American Lit wouldn't pass JPB's standards either.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:15 AM
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i mean Dalida's face is beautiful there


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:16 AM
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53

49: And so you said something about Jean Seberg, I hope.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:19 AM
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Mmm, Jean Seberg.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:20 AM
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The very words spoken dreamily and spontaneously, while staring off into the distance, by my college GF when we were in bed after going to see Breathless. Uh...hon?

Fine Jesus, but how many of our girlfriends have spoken your name dreamily and spontaneously while in bed!??!?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:22 AM
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And so you said something about Jean Seberg, I hope.

I hadn't the presence of mind, I'm sorry to say.

Fine Jesus, but how many of our girlfriends have spoken your name dreamily and spontaneously while in bed!??!?

Reminds me of the joke: What's the worst thing about being an atheist? No one to talk to when you're having an orgasm.



Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:27 AM
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56:

I dont know.

If you can make someone say "Sweet Universal Morality with no basis in a patriarchal God!" you've really accomplished something.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 9:33 AM
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Evidence for the Mormon's contention.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 10:31 AM
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58: Holy smokes, is that what Julia Roberts looks like now? In my mind's eye she was less symmetrical and more natural.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 10:42 AM
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||
I've been saying this for a long time: the Democratic Parti is captive to mercenary consultants who don't care whether the Democrats win or not. (Shrum almost never wins!)

To date I've had little factual evidence for my belief, it's just been a rational conjecture, but this piece fleshes the story out a bit.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 10:54 AM
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Wayne, Stewart, Grant, Hudson, Heston, Fonda

Depp, Cruise, Pitt, McGregor, Hanks

Why are the current set of stars so very small?

Because they're allowed to choose what roles they play and feel that it's creepy to be an archetype?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 11:45 AM
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Just saw The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (w/ Stewart and Wayne) for the first time yesterday, and I have Philadelphia Story (with Stewart and Grant) lined up for tonight (also for the first time). What weird timing.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 11:53 AM
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61:I meant physically short, and talking about moviegoers tastes, altho I am not sure if you answered my question or not.

54:Yeah, Seberg was special, and more of a gamine than Hepburn. Hepburn always seemed mature even in Roman Holiday

Just saw Delon in L'Eclisse with Vitti. Beautiful, sexy couple. Besides Breathless, which has been in rotation on TMC and Sundance for what feels like years, I don't remember seeing much of Belmondo.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:00 PM
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Hepburn's experiences as a heroic resistance fighter at age 3 gave her a hard edge. In the same way, men were intimidated by Hedy Lamarr's experience in weapons design. (Oddly, no one ever seemed to give a shit about Skunk Baxter's accomplishments in the same field.)

But Seberg was a wholesome young Wobegonian, a perfect Justine for the Sades and Svengalis and Valmonts of Old Europe.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:09 PM
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And for Bob, of course.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:10 PM
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Actually, Hepburn was 15 or so when she was killing Nazis. She seldom talked about her experience.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:15 PM
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We regret the error.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:15 PM
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Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston[1] on Rue Keyenveld/Keienveldstraat in Ixelles/Elsene, a municipality in Brussels Belgium, she was the only child of the Englishman Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston[2] and his second wife, the former Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch aristocrat who was a daughter of a former governor of Dutch Guiana.[2] Her father later appended the surname of his maternal grandmother, Kathleen Hepburn, to the family's and her surname became Hepburn-Ruston.[2] She had two half-brothers, Jonkheer Arnoud Robert Alexander 'Alex' Quarles van Ufford and Jonkheer Ian Edgar Bruce Quarles van Ufford, by her mother's first marriage to a Dutch nobleman, Jonkheer Hendrik Gustaaf Adolf Quarles van Ufford.[2] She was a descendant of King Edward III of England[3] and Mary Queen of Scots' consort, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell,[2] from whom Katharine Hepburn may have also descended.[4] This made Audrey a distant cousin of Diana Princess of Wales, who thought of her as her favorite actress. This also made her related to the other notable distant cousins including Humphrey Bogart and Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Besides being a heroic resistance fighter, Hepburn was the biological daughter of an actual Nazi. During the war she witnessed summary executions, including the executions of family members.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 12:19 PM
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I was raised on the Hitchcock/Jimmy Stewart canon and will brook no comparisons between Stewart and Hanks. Hanks couldn't make Rope, and couldn't hold the neurotic tension of Rear Window, and he could never be the starving writer in Philadelphia story. He doesn't have the rawness. And IaWL is a gorgeous movie when you let yourself get past the syrup---Capra threw in all kinds of little goodies. It's sort of like a Dickens novel---sure the plot is sappy, but it's the texture which is genius.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 12-26-07 1:59 PM
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I...will brook no comparisons between Stewart and Hanks

Hear, hear!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-27-07 7:24 AM
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Re CWW - I liked it a great deal, actually. Phillip Seymour Hoffman stole the entire show, as is his habit in such things, but overall, I thought the entire thing was a great, fun romp. And Julia Roberts was very good - I'm not in the mood to pity multi-millionaire movie stars but I can't imagine how difficult it is for her to be trying to evolve past giant-toothy-grinned heroine to giant-toothy-grinned supporting character. But there's a sequence where she and Hanks have this lovely exchange at her home, starting with her taking him to her room upstairs and ending with her leaving him in the tub. In the middle there's a harrowing scene involving her mascara and you realize there ain't nuthin' like a Southern woman to put the regime in beauty regime.

BTW, see The Savages for more Philip Seymour Hoffman goodness. And Laura Linney is extraordinary, as usual. The movie itself is probably not as good as everyone says it is, but it's full of some lovely still moments.


Posted by: Moira | Link to this comment | 12-27-07 10:02 AM
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