Stalin as Sam Goldwyn

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Remeber all the jokes about Reagan not being able to tell the difference between the movies and real life? This piece about Stalin's love affair with flicks--and his order that John Wayne be assassinated--is real-life black humor at its best (worst).

When he saw a movie about Catherine the Great's Admiral Ushakov, [Stalin] suddenly decided to build a vast fleet, quoting from the movie. When he decided to tax the impoverished peasants and was told they were too poor to pay, he pointed to one of his own propaganda films that had no resemblance to reality. Another time, the sight of some missile in a propaganda movie inspired him to order a whole new line of weaponry.

Whole thing here.

Reason's Charles Paul Freund commented on Uncle Joe's love of Tarzan movies in a review of Martin Amis' haunting book on the Soviet Union, Koba the Dread. Read Freund's piece here.

NEXT: Reagan as Liberal Hero

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  1. Writing of Stalin's oddities, I always found it interesting that Stalin did not have Bulgakov killed for writing "The Master and the Margarita" - apparently he enjoyed the work, despite its mocking and damning appraisal of the Soviet system.

  2. At least the guy had a passion and a vision about filmmaking. Unlike Hollywood.
    Visually, Ivan the Terrible ranks with Citizen Kane for stark ultra-crafted compositions. It seems that Joe was a man who appreciated style.
    With all the commies supposedly running Hollywood you'd think we'd get something decent once in a while.

  3. Then again, the second (and better) installment of Ivan the Terrible wasn't released until after both Stalin and Eisenstein were dead, precisely because of Stalinist censorship. And the planned third part was never made at all.

  4. Bulgakov was fucking bulletproof...he was supressed twice...and he was a fucking genius.

    MaM is one of my favorite books partly because of the subtext of loathing for writers who were more afraid of reprisal from the authorities than betraying themselves. that he included himself in this group makes him all the more interesting.

    he was also friends with Yevgeny Zamyatin, who wrote "We," a sort of proto brave new world that's very, very, very strange (sort of like watching a 50s disney vision of what the far off future of 1980 will look like). but recommended nonetheless.

  5. Wow, dhex and I have something in common; we both like Bulgakov and Zamyatin. 🙂

  6. Bulgakov was fucking bulletproof...he was supressed twice...and he was a fucking genius.

    MaM is one of my favorite books partly because of the subtext of loathing for writers who were more afraid of reprisal from the authorities than betraying themselves. that he included himself in this group makes him all the more interesting.

    he was also friends with Yevgeny Zamyatin, who wrote "We," a sort of proto brave new world that's very, very, very strange (sort of like watching a 50s disney vision of what the far off future of 1980 will look like). but recommended nonetheless.

  7. ahh, but you posted once and i posted twice! ha!

    i'm sure we have lots in common. i enjoy a nice sharp cheddar cheese, myself.

  8. Mark Steyn hinted at this in an Atlantic Monthly piece last winter. The article itself is inconsistant, but noteworthy is the defense of Elia Kazan as a man who was devestated by Stalin's execution of his film-making mentor

  9. For some irony, check out "Song of Russia" sometime. Released in 1943, it was our version of positive propaganda (approved by the State Department) toward our newfound friend who was then helping us solve the Hitler problem.

    Later, Tailgunner Joe, with help from Ayn Rand, went after the studio. A sign of Russian propaganda, she testified, was showing Russians smiling.

  10. Kree-gah! Dzhugashvilli bundolo!
    Bu lu gund!

    Kevin

  11. Holy cow, Regan, better than Stalin! I mean, seriously, if you need to find someone to compare Regan to and you come up with STALIN, it just looks like you could find anyone else.

  12. er, couldn't find anyone else. Isn't any comparison with Stalin bound to make one look bad?

  13. I heard both Reagan and Stalin also enjoyed eating food. Makes you think, huh?

  14. Does it trivialize the senseless deaths of 20M people to make jokes over Stalin's love for movies?

    I do not know.

    How do you live with the history of such a monster?

    And how have we learned so little from his legacy?

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