Supreme Court

Weekend Movie Link: Ultimate SCOTUS Godwin


Oliver Wendell Holmes haters and message movie buffs alike, take note: Stanley Kramer's high-fiber warhorse Judgment At Nuremberg contains what may be Hollywood's greatest slag at the statist Supreme Court justice. From the two-minute mark here:


This sequence was probably a bit daring when the movie came out in 1961, at the height of the liberal consensus. As Damon Root has noted, his views on involuntary human sterilization were just one ingredient in Holmes' stinky soup of grotesque legal philosophies, also including but not limited to amoral service to state power, contempt for free speech, and disregard for property rights. That's not even mentioning his authorship of that greatest of all non-sequiturs: the one about how taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

I wouldn't even give you 14 cents for Oliver Wendell Holmes.

I cannot in good conscience recommend Judgment At Nuremberg, though in addition to the above kick at Holmes, the movie provided gainful employment to Judy Garland and Monty Clift when they needed it; gave substantial pre-Kirk and pre-Klink roles, respectively, to William Shatner and Werner Klemperer; and is probably Stanley Kramer's best movie -- which admittedly is like talking about Ryan Leaf's greatest NFL season. Also, on one of the DVD featurettes the film's writer speaks for exactly 48 seconds before comparing the Holocaust to the blacklisting of Hollywood screenwriters -- a story in which Kramer's own role was less liberal than he wanted people to believe. Live by Godwin, die by Godwin…

And what's up with message movies today? Going strong, apparently: The Princess and the Frog ("No matter the race, or color of your skin, all dreams are possible") and Invictus ("It is not so much a sports movie as it is about the power of sports") are both said to be full of highly digestible bits of civic goodness.

And if you thought James Cameron's Avatar was just going to be about helicopters fighting dinosaurs, the director explains that his new movie contains at least $300 million worth of timely and topical message: "[C]ertainly it is about imperialism in the sense that the way human history has always worked is that people with more military or technological might tend to supplant or destroy people who are weaker, usually for their resources. We're in a century right now in which we're going to start fighting more and more over less and less. The population ain't slowin' down, oil will be depleted - we don't have a great Plan B for energy in this country right now, notwithstanding Obama's attempts to get people to focus on alternative energy. We've had eight years of the oil lobbyists running the country."