Hollywood Comrades

Why the Soviets were such lovable movie villains.

Long before everybody else figured out the truth from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s samizdat books, from an empire-crushing economic collapse, from a stream of defecting citizens, and from vodka’s role in the death of the martini, Hollywood recognized the central flaw of the Soviet Union: It was boring.

This is not to disparage the great Russian people nor to slight their empire. If anything, the combustible mix of bloody tribes and fierce hatreds that comprised first Czarist Russia and then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not boring enough. It’s a tribute of sorts that the Soviets managed for 74 years to make it all seem unspeakably dull. 

That dullness, I think, is the best explanation for one of the most puzzling lacunae in movie history. Why was Hollywood unwilling or unable to make compelling narratives about the horrors of the Soviet system?

This question has been asked repeatedly since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. In the June 2000 reason, Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley wrote that Tinseltown’s many communists had succeeded not so much in putting active red propaganda up on screen as in blocking films that might have explored the USSR’s murderous and criminal nature. In a 2007 article for the American Thinker, J.R. Dunn called Hollywood’s ignorance of its own anti-communist legacy—neglected films like Elia Kazan’s Man on a Tightrope and Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street—“inexcusable.” Recently, MGM reopened the question by announcing its intention to remake the one film everybody agrees depicted the Russians as thoroughly bad guys: John Milius’ Red Dawn (1984), in which Soviet and Latin American communists conquer the United States through force of arms.

With great respect for Red Dawn’s endurance as a camp touchstone (notable in recent years when the team that captured Saddam Hussein was revealed to have drawn many of the code words for its mission from the film), the movie actually reveals why the Russians made such poor cinema villains. Even at the time, with the Soviet war machine bogged down for a fifth year in Afghanistan, the idea that the Russians could invade and hold a big portion of the United States was preposterous.

Nor was Red Dawn totally anomalous. ABC ran its own version of the Soviet occupation of America in 1987, just four years before the extinction of the Soviet Union, with Amerika, a 14-hour miniseries made glorious (though not plausible) by an all-star cast headed by Kris “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” Kristofferson. And evil Russian military officers turned up all the time. A Soviet Svengali in communist Vietnam tortured Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985); in an unforgettable two-parter, a brainwashing intelligence officer named Ivan intruded on the homoerotic idyll that was Magnum P.I.; and so on. 

But against this record are countless screen depictions of the Russians as OK folks who are just stuck in a bad system. Sometimes they were lovable lugs of the sort parodied by John Candy in the SCTV sketch “Hey Giorgy.” Usually they were stiff-limbed bureaucratic types in need of a little loosening up. But always they were objects of pity, not rage. 

This is the factor that unites such disparate works as Norman Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three, and Ernst Lubitsch’s Ninotchka (probably the only movie to get big laughs out of Marxism’s turgid vocabulary). In 1976 Ivan the Terrible, a summer replacement sitcom created by Alan King, depicted impoverished Muscovites suffering deprivations and corny bread line jokes while living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment. Nielsen viewers, even in the gulag archipelago of three-network television, decided they had better options, and Ivan was canceled after five episodes, over the strenuous objections of a nine-year-old Tim Cavanaugh.

Actors made lucrative careers playing put-upon Russians, their own charisma helping to soften the edge. Think of Walter Gotell, the Gorbachev lookalike whose character, “General Anatol Gogol,” kept bumping up against James Bond (usually as a grudging ally) throughout the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton eras. Or Saveli Kramarov, the pallid, wall-eyed comedian who left the Soviet Union to play harried apparatchiks in Hollywood and brought the laughs in a TV commercial where he searched for a “big American car with tailfins.”

Taking a strictly ideological view (never a good idea in judging entertainment), this sentimentalism is indeed inexcusable. Post-Soviet history has made clear that gulags, show trials, and mass murder were not accidental outgrowths of an unsuccessful system; they were central parts of a very successful system whose purpose was to imprison, enslave, and kill people. And yet as a matter of popular communications, the myth of the good ol’ Russkies and their laughably inept bureaucracy was the perfect model for a period when there was broad consensus that the USSR presented a problem nobody at any end of the political spectrum wanted to go to war over. The misery of living in a place where having a smart mouth or unusual tastes can get you disappeared is something the majority of Americans have never contemplated.

But everybody has spent time at the post office or the DMV, and it’s a short hop to imagining a nightmare world where every place you go is exactly like that. This was the function of Hollywood Russians. You could call it repellent, or horrific, but the central trait of Soviet life was that it held no attractions of any kind. Under communism, the nation that would go on to lead the globe in exporting beautiful mail-order brides couldn’t produce so much as an ounce of the sexiness Hollywood generates almost as a waste product.

If there is a benchmark anti- Soviet film, it’s Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson (1984), in which Robin Williams plays a defecting saxophone player. The movie’s case for the United States has nothing to do with strength or national purpose; it has to do with something most people don’t realize until their deathbeds is more important than those things: fun. Williams gets seduced by visions of street freaks, punk rockers, and de- signer jeans. He learns that the pains of U.S. life (unsolved crimes, general indifference to your existence) are outweighed by the pleasures (overflowing supermarkets, a pepper-pot girlfriend). Saveli Kramarov shows up as a KGB agent who finds contentment as a Big Apple hot dog vendor. After detente and the noisy dead ends of Apollo-Soyuz and the SALT agreements, it turned out Americans and Russians actually could unite—in the pursuit of happiness.

Contributing Editor Tim Cavanaugh (bigtimcavanaugh@gmail.com) writes from Los Angeles.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    How timely, I was just telling my daughter that McCarthy may have been an asshole, but the Hollywood types he was exposing sure loved them some Soviet Union.

  • Ratko||

    Timely indeed, I just was on the phone with my uncle, last night, and said the same thing to him.

  • Harry Dean Stanton||

    AVENGE ME, CAVANAUGH!!!

  • ||

    White Knights

  • ||

    I was thinking the same thing.

  • The Man||

    Ditto.

  • Jeff||

    Likewise.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Nielsen viewers, even in the gulag archipelago of three-network television, decided they had better options, and Ivan was canceled after five episodes, over the strenuous objections of a nine-year-old Tim Cavanaugh.

    You were the other viewer besides me?

  • ||

    Is it possible I've seen all the wrong movies, because I can think of very few from the 90's and early 2000's that shed a favourable light on the Russians. Regardless, how many more evil Russian films would it take for you to be happy? 10, 20, all of them? If nothing else, the movie industry should applauded for not falling into a series of cliche 'Russian enemy' propaganda movies, and having left the portrayal of historical accuracy to books and documentaries, where it belongs.

  • ||

    The NEA doesn't intend for movies to stay out of the propaganda busines under Obama.

  • Zeb||

    Fortunately nobody watches movies that get NEA funding.

  • ||

    I think his point was that communism wasn't generally portrayed to be problematic, but rather goofy or misguided.

  • Ratko||

    Is it possible you are commenting on the wrong article, because you seem to have missed the point (and Line 1, paragraph II as well).

    I'm not much of a movie watcher, maybe you list some these films you're referring to so I could check them out. Otherwise I'm left to marvel at how anyone including yourself could appear to stand up for a system in which murdering, torturing, and oppressing it's citizens was an routine daily business.

    It is a little perplexing how I know and have known so many people personally who can tell first hand accounts of how bad it was, yet Hollywood has no interest in showing that was the case.

    You'd think a couple hundred million people murdered, alone, would warrant at least a few films depicting how bad such a system is.

    Then again, maybe you have a point, leave it to books (if it's in a book it's fact) and documentaries (Michael Moore should give those a shot).

    BTW, is your last name Penn?

  • ||

    I can think of quite a few movies in which the Russians are the bad guys, but usually in a military setting. There are very few films that take place in Russia and depict the horrors of living under the Soviet system. I'm pretty sure that's what the article was trying to say as well.

  • John Markley||

    Jorgen,

    Precisely. There were movies with Communist villains, but there was generally little or nothing specifically Communist about them- they could have been replaced with Nazis or Middle Easterners or Klingons without significant changes to the story or theme.

  • ||

    By no means was I attempting to defend the Soviet regime, the atrocities committed by Stalin (and his successors), or the communist system in any way. And I fail to see how my comments could possibly be construed as defending these points! You seem overly eager to lump me in with some left-wing establishment...

    All I was saying, is that maybe hollywood is not the best platform for a discussion on the obviously nefarious communist government, but then again, neither does anyone mention that it was Stalin who played the largest role in defeating Hitler!
    Perspective is everything.

  • John Markley||

    "...but then again, neither does anyone mention that it was Stalin who played the largest role in defeating Hitler!"

    It's not getting mentioned here because it's irrelevant to the issue of how communism is portrayed in film, which leaves me wondering why someone with no desire to communism would see any reason bring it up out of the blue.

  • John Markley||

    So, if someone made a realistic film based on Elie Wiesel's "Night," or the autobiography of Frederick Douglas, or the horrors of the Belgian Congo, you would deride the attempt to make such a movie as "cliche propaganda," I assume?

  • ||

    Why are you always on about Magnum being homoerotic, Tim? I just don;t see it, except for the weird 80s shorts, but that was endemic to the period, I fear. Anyway, that was a great episode.

    Wasn't there a movie about the gulag experience? Maybe with Malcolm McDowell, though I can't remember.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    There was one with Willie Nelson. He taught some kid how to catch, drown and cook rats to survive. Wait, same one. Malcolm McDowell and another guy escaped with a weaker prisoner student so they could eat him when they ran out of food.

  • ||

    Yeah, I think it was called Gulag. The star was the guy who played the Okie in An Officer and a Gentleman. Malcolm McDowell was one of his campmates; I remember them getting into a contest over who could sew the most gloves.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Wasn't there a movie about the gulag experience? Maybe with Malcolm McDowell, though I can't remember.

    Oh man. Great movie. With David Keith (the caucasian Keith David). That ending, where they're so snowblind they don't realize they're already in Finland and running toward the USSR, still freaks me out.

    Spoiler alert above.

  • ||

    It's so weird--I know I watched that movie, but I can't member a damned thing about it. Except Malcolm McDowell and, now that you mention it, the Okie.

  • ||

    Okay, that was funny. Spoiler alert above, indeed.

  • ||

    Don't forget about Drago!

    The Reds in Rocky IV were strong, efficient, technologically advanced, and merciless.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    That Soviet boat in Hunt for the Red October was too crazy advanced. It was like they recycled the Starship Enterprise or somthing.

  • ||

    I was wondering how someone could write an article such as this and not mention Drago.

  • Yuri||

    Hollywood recognized the central flaw of the Soviet Union: It was boring.

    Rand's novel We The Living isn't at all boring. But it took Italian movie-makers, under the very eyes of Mussolini, to bring it to the screen. Hollywood could make a decent movie about the horrors of Soviet Russia; they have made many about Nazi Germany, for instance. They simply choose not to, for well-documented reasons. They have, however, made many pro-Soviet propaganda stinkers. In this regard, and through their silent negligence of the real USSR, Hollywood is complicit in the suffering of millions.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Is it too early to get something like Hogan's Hero's about Soviet something-or-other? Maybe a Gulag sitcom? A factory would work too.

  • ||

    Lavernka and Shirleyski?

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Even better. A Soviet women's gulag drama. Like a women's prison theme except with Eastern European chicks.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Long ago, some guy gave me his pitch for the Hogan's Heroes movie. (Which, by the way, why are we still waiting?) It's the greatest pitch of all time:

    It's 1946. Hogan and the boys have reunited for a barbecue at Hogan's California ranch, when they hear on the radio that Klink and Schultz are being tried in the USSR for war crimes. After all, if nobody ever escaped from Stalag 13, that must make Klink the most brutally efficient Nazi of them all.

    What can Hogan's men do? They head over to Moscow to testify on behalf of Klink and Schultz. We get mega slow burns from Klink as Hogan on the witness stand reveals the extent of the heroes' Stalag 13 network.

    But Stalin is furious at the Americans for ruining a show trial. The NKVD arrests Hogan, Kinch, Klink, et all, and throws them all in the gulag.

    And wackiness ensues all over again, with Klink, Schultz, and maybe Gen. Burkhalter joining up with the heroes for the history's greatest one-last-job comedy.

    I have no idea who the guy was who came up with this pitch. But I hope he was Charlie Kaufman or Christopher Nolan or somebody, because he was a genius.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Most excellent!

    Now, how do we segue to the women's gulag and threadbare outfits in the brutal cold?

  • The Comedian||

    At the very least, this should be a ten minute comedic film.

  • ||

    It sounds like a good idea to me, but I'm an old Hogan's Heroes fan.

    I suggested a Hogan's Heroes knock-off with (a captured) Osama bin Laden in a blog post a while back. Fun for the whole family! The Mother of All Sitcoms!

  • monkeys||

    WANT TO SEE !!!

  • Yakoff Smirnoff||

    In Soviet Union, excellent article reads YOU!

  • Doggie Style||

  • Jesse Walker||

    That list seems to consist mostly, maybe entirely, of documentaries and foreign films.

  • Doggie Style||

    So what is your friend Timmy (and you)? Some sort of Nationalist?

    The point is that there are serious films being made about the Soviet Union. Have been for decades. That Timmy would complain that they're not being made by "Hollywood" is silly.

    Broadway isn't doing shows about the Soviet Union either. Will Timmy be writing about them next? Or maybe it will be about the lack of material vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in the shows produced by Disney on Ice.

    This whole piece reeks of something, I'm just not 100% certain what.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Zzzzz....

  • 44 Magnum||

    No doubt a deep sleep.

  • ||

    Broadway isn't doing shows about the Soviet Union either.

    And the last time they did one (1988), it flopped.

  • anonymous||

    What Broadway (or foreign filmmakers) do is irrelevant in a piece talking about Hollywood's attitude toward the USSR, isn't it?

  • eMarkM||

    I thought 1991 film "The Inner Circle" was quite good. Tom Hulce playing a film projectionist who gets plucked out of bed in the middle of the night, thinking he's off to the gulag, only to become Stalin's personal projectionist.

    It definitely shows the horrors of the Soviet system as depicted by a Jewish family being taken away in the middle of the night and the paranoia of everyone thinking they could be next at the slightest offense, real or imagined. All while the Hulce character devolves into total abject worship of Stalin, even professing his love of Stalin above that of his wife (who is eventually forced to whore herself out to Beria). Definitely worth checking out.

  • ||

    Not necessary since you were kind enough to tell the whole freakin story;)

  • eMarkM||

    Heh, well, it is 18 years old. You know, Bruce Willis is a ghost, too.

    Apparently not available on DVD, either. It pops up on cable from time to time

  • ||

    You jerk! Now you've totally spoiled Die Hard for me!

    ;)

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Brotherben, the Inner Circle is the kill-yourself movie of all time, and I can assure you emarkm has not even begun to tell you the horrors in store for poor Mozart and Lolita Davidovich.

  • ||

    Love the ad. "Hail to the king, baby."

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Airwolf!

  • ||

    Whoa, hold on, Tim. What about Spies Like Us?

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Epi,

    That depicted the Soviets as loveable and our guys as evil or as bumbling dopes.

  • ||

    Who apparently thought it was a good idea for the first test of their brand new laser anti-missle system to be a live Russian nuclear missle.

  • Urkobold™||

    AS A POINT OF CLARIFICATION, LET THE URKOBOLD NOTE THAT THE SEMINAL SPIES LIKE US BROKE LEGAL AND TRADITIONAL BOUNDARIES IN SHOWING THAT RUSSIAN WOMEN ARE, IN FACT, TOTALLY HOT.

    PICTURED HERE IS AMERICAN ACTRESS, VANESSA ANGEL, DEMONSTRATING THE AWESOME SEXUALITY OF THE TYPICAL RUSSIAN WOMAN. SADLY, AN ACTUAL RUSSIAN BABE COULD NOT BE USED DUE TO COLD WAR POLITICS AND THE CIA'S THEN-CURRENT CAMPAIGN TO MAKE WESTERNERS BELIEVE THAT RUSSIAN WOMEN WERE SHORT, FAT, AND BEARDED.

  • ||

    Thank you sir, may I have another?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Almost all Russian women are hot. And the ratio is somewhere near 7 to 1. When last I visited Moscow (2006) I was completely stunned to see copious amounts of fine looking, young, and very well dressed women walking around everywhere. And 1 dude. I married a Russian and let me tell ya, if you get an imigrant Russian woman she is most likely to be even more Libertarian at heart than some of us.

    All HAIL!

  • monolith||

    I quite like Comrade Dad, a BBC comedy show
    Only lasted for one series though.

    Didn't James Bond regularly kill beat up or sleep with soviet agents?
    There was john La Carre TV series as well.
    "the myth of the good ol’ Russkies and their laughably inept bureaucracy "
    wasn't that actually true though?

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    "the myth of the good ol’ Russkies and their laughably inept bureaucracy "
    wasn't that actually true though?

    I think the Putin-Medvedev-Putin era has called the "good ol'" part into question.

    (To be clear, I don't believe the racial science that Russians are naturally more susceptible to strongman worship than any other group. Just noting that they seem to have been more susceptible to it in recent centuries.)

  • hurly buehrle||

    It was about East Germany rather than the USSR specifically, but "The Lives of Others" was excellent.

  • ||

    Your comment does not appear to be written in an English script. Please comment in English.

    Anyone know how to say Fuck You Server Squirrels in German?

    An d what the hell is wrong with posting in non-English? This new system is BULLSHIT.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Fuck You Server Eichhörnchen

    Sorry, best I got.

  • ||

    Slight adjustment...

    Ficken Sie Server Eichhörnchen.

  • ||

    How about that cinematic classic of shlock Red Heat?

    C'mon Tim! Like Ahnold wasn't a walking sterotype for humorless Russk ruthlessness in that one.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I prefer this Red Heat.

  • ||

    Excellent!

    I was hoping someone would pick up that link.

    heh.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    That's what I was trying to think of earlier.

  • monolith||

    I think their lack of success in football (soccer) made it hard to take the soviet union too seriously.

  • ||

    Defending brits for letting government spy on them is one thing, but implying soccer success means anything is just too over the top.

  • Mad Ivan||

    Hollywood recognized the central flaw of the Soviet Union: It was boring.

    Ah, ignorance is a bliss, I guess, but I would expect better.

    >couldn’t produce so much as an ounce of the sexiness Hollywood generates almost as a waste product.

    True, what is considered "sexiness" in Hollywood would, indeed, be considered waste product in the rest of the world.

  • monolith||

    well if the USSR had won every football competition going( rather than just the olympic events that no one else really cared about) they would have communism a lot more respected in europe.

  • ||

    Back to the aticle..Hollywood will constantly remind you what a horrible country the USA is, was and will be. They will not give a bleak portrait of the thugs who run China or those who ran the USSR.

  • monolith||

    If there was money in it someone would.
    I don't think American tv shows or films really turn anyone of america.
    maybe its because local tv and film was so limited but I thought they protrayed america in a great light.

  • ||

    The Devil! It seems I've stumbled over Gogol!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I do so enjoy the inteligent ads at the top of this article.

    NO I DID NOT MAIL ORDER MY WIFE! In Russia, Wives mail order YOU!

  • Animation Lover||

    Well, Disney did pretty well at mocking the Soviets in its cartoon TaleSpin. The mythical country of Thembria was clearly modeled after the Soviet Union.

    In Thembria, the people are all anthropomorphic warthogs who are always having shortages of practically everything except bullets. (They did have a gunpowder shortage at one point, however, as revealed when they were trying to shoot down a plane and discovered their shells were blanks due to having been manufactured during that shortage.) Their leader, the Leonid Brezhnev-like High Marshall, is a cruel and humorless loser married to an equally ugly, cruel, and humorless amazon of a wife who's big enough to knock him out with one punch. Two other prominent characters are Colonel Ivanod Spigot, a short, vain, and incompetent officer whose general solution to any problem is to have the people responsible for it shot, and his dimwitted larger assistant Dunder, a long-suffering nice guy who's always getting blamed for his superior's mistakes.

    Among the more hilarious aspects of Thembria: the "Better Homes & Cockpits" government program that involves converting captured planes into housing for peasants, the game show "This Was Your Life" on which a Thembrian show host torments foreigners sentenced to death with a long and detailed examination of their lives before putting them in front of the firing squad for a public execution, and Spigot's explanation of the Thembrian justice system: "Thembrian trials are very swift. First you will be given a fair trial... and then you will be shot."

    In a way, TaleSpin is kind of a good satirical complement to Disney's DuckTales, which extolled a great many of the benefits of capitalism even while poking fun at the hero Uncle Scrooge for being notoriously tightfisted and greedy.

  • Anthony||

    There is a French film called "East West" that I think is one of the best about the horrors of the USSR.

  • ||

    13 Weeks was pretty good. It is about a young woman trying to get an abortion in an Romania where it was illegal at the time. What I found more interesting than the premise though was what it illustrated about life behind the Iron Curtain. The film was not made by Hollywood but by Romanians after the fall of the Soviet Empire. After having watched it I thought to myself that there was an unexplored goldmine of stories that could never be made here because they would depict communism in such a bad light. BTW, the villain in the movie had a racket going on very much like the one Ted Kennedy had for helping young ladies with their immigration problems.

  • ||

    Even Red Dawn had some fun with the Soviets' image-- remember that the small town movie theater during the occupation was showing Alexander Nevsky, the sure choice to win local high schoolers over to socialism (silly Commies, they should have started with Lyubov Orlova).

  • Red Menace||

    Don't forget the classic Wendy's commercial, "Soviet Fashion Show". Verrry nice...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CaMUfxVJVQ

  • ||

    Hollywood would have to make Reagan the hero, and that will never, never happen.

  • ||

    I don't think you give "Moscow on the Hudson" enough credit. It had a lot more to say about America and freedom than just being "fun."

  • ||

    "Burnt by the Sun"

  • ||

    At the high end of the consumer market, Hollywood was more apt to make movies demonstrating the evils of anti-Communism than the evils of Communism. As I remember it, the Richard Burton movie, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, was more revelatory of the moral ambiguity of our people than the stone evil of theirs.....Hollywood loves to dramatize the evils of such second string fascists as Mussolini, Franco, and Pinochet. The crimes of Hoxha, Ho Chi Minh, Ceausecu go down the memory hole. How about Battle of Algiers, Part Deux? In this movie we see how the FLN ruthlessly exterminates their opponents and settles into corruption and tyranny. How about a movie about an Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran who learns that he has been lied to by a bunch of Stalinists. The veteran goes crazy and shoots up a shopping mall. This dramatizes how wrong it is to send an idealistic young man into combat and how the experience brutalizes him.

  • ||

    I submit for your consideration the East Germans in "Top Secret."

    Brutal nasty bastards, but not exactly accurate. Well, maybe not accurate at all. But funny as hell.

    Glad to see the props for "Moscow on the Hudson." Great movie that never quite gets enough credit. (And proved that Robin Williams can actually act sometimes.)

  • Nagarajan Sivakumar||

    Oh C'mon Mr.Cavanaugh, you do know why Hollywood would never show the true side of communism and what it did to people who were unfortunate enough to "live" in the Soviet Union/China/Vietnam/Camobodia/Cuba.

    They share an idealogical kinship with communism-for Gods sake's, we have open apologists for Castro, Chavez and all the hoodlums in Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and other flaming Hollywood liberals.

    Since modern day liberalism and communism are both founded upon co-erced collectivism, why would liberals find anything to complain about? If anything, be glad that they have nt made movies "explaining" the "need" for gulags - it was all for the "greater good" !

    Anne Appelebaum had a similar question a couple of years back - while the evil of Nazism is well documented by Hollywood and the main stream press, why were the evils of communism left untouched ?

    That was simply because most liberals in Hollywood hated capitalism more than anything else and desparately wanted communism to counter it and eventually replace it.

    After the defeat of the Soviets, they did the second best thing that they could do - throw the catastrophic consequence of communism down the "memory hole"...

    You might as well wonder why the Taliban bans music or does not allow movies showing Islam in a negative light.

  • ||

    HBO made a movie named "Citizen X" in the mid-nineties that succeeded in portraying the horrors of the Soviet Union. It pops up once in a while on cable, I'd recommend it to any one.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112681/

  • ||

    Still down the memory hole. Both USSR and Germany (as allies) attacked Poland and meet in the middle to start WWII. Commies worked to keep USA out of war after Dec 7 when Germany declared war on the US. Still the Commies didn't help with the war until Germany attacked the USSR.

    Don't worry Hollywood will ruin the New Red Dawn just as they have ruined every film they have made about Iraq. First theyn supported Commies now they support terrorist. No matter what they are Anti-USA. And it is NOT because that is where the money is!! It is because that is where their hearts and minds are.

  • ||

    Billy Wilder nailed the U.S.-Soviet relationship way back in 1961 in the Jimmy Cagney film One, Two, Three (which for you Hogan's Heroes fans features Leon Askin as the sexually aroused leader of the Soviet delegation in East Berlin).

  • Bergholt Stuttley Johnson||

    We never had this sort of pingback spam before threaded comments.

    Adnotatiunculae bilicis delenda est!

  • Tim Starr||

    I can't believe I'm the first one here to mention "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," the only movie to ever portray the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

    There's plenty of topics rich for Hollywood blockbusters: the 1953 Berlin uprising, the Hungarian Revolution, the story of Col. Kuklinski, etc.

    The Bond movies never had him pitted against SMERSH, because SMERSH was KGB. They made up an independent non-Soviet agency, SPECTRE, for his villans to belong to. Even in "From Russia With Love," the villains really work for SPECTRE, not SMERSH. In "The Living Daylights," the villain is a rogue American arms trader, and the KGB officer helps capture him.

  • ||

    I figured we got Good Ol' Russkies in US cinema because by the late '50s, you know all the (hippie) kids were doing the opposite of anything that seemed Establishment.
    If you made the Communists out-and-out villains, then you'd get Russkie Madness!
    Actually, I think that is what happened, so Hollywood (aside from a few actors and writers, truly a haven for capitalism) realized it'd be more effective to portray Communism as dumb and silly than dangerous - dangerous is one step away from cool.

    Heh. Russkie Madness.

  • monkeys||

    Why is Telefon still not available on DVD?

  • los angeles acting school||

    there are a lot of good russian actors.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...

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    This piece is desingenous.

    The real reason why Hollywood will never make a serious Gulag movie is because, if they tried to have any historical basis, it would have to show the immense role of the jews in the Bolshevik party machine.

    "By 1934, when the OGPU was transformed into the NKVD, Jews `by nationality' constituted the largest single group among the `leading cadres' of the Soviet secret police (37 Jews, 30 Russians, 7 Latvians, 5 Ukrainians, 4 Poles, 3 Georgians, 3 Byelorussians, 2 Germans, and 5 assorted others)." (p. 221). "In January 1937, on the eve of the Great Terror, the 111 top NKVD officials included 42 Jews, 35 Russians, 8 Latvians, and 26 others." (p. 254).

    from "The Jewish century", a book by jewish author Yuri Slezkine

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