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Are You Interested in Financing a Documentary About Whittaker Chambers?

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Journalist Mark Judge wants to produce a documentary about Whittaker Chambers, the conservative icon who was a communist, then an ex-communist, and finally the author of the highly praised and influential memoir Witness (Chambers, best known for testifying against former State Department official Alger Hiss, also penned one of the most poisonous reviews of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for National Review).

Judge is trying to raise $20,000 via the website Kickstarter. Here's his pitch:

A one-hour documentary about Whittaker Chambers, journalist, theologian, and one of the great anti-communists of the 20th Century. Chambers was born in 1901 and died in 1961. His book, Witness (1952), is a political classic, but perhaps more importantly a spiritual classic. Chambers had insight into the human condition and the value of human suffering that transcended his time. He has been compared to Dante and Augustine. He was a member of the communist party after leaving Columbia University in the 1920s. he left the part in the 1930s and then, after ten years as an editor at Time, revealed his past—and fingered Alger Hiss, a prominent lawyer and government official. The Chambers-Hiss case was the trial of the 20th Century; the story had espionage, revenge, thrilling escapes and even a subtext of homosexuality. Chambers became a Quaker, and warned a young William F. Buckley about working with Senator Joe McCarthy. More than a simple spy story from the 1950s, the Chambers story touches on humankind's quest for utopias—and the role of suffering in triggering fanaticism.

At the Daily Caller, Judge adds,

"Witness" is…a story of clashing ideologies. The scenes where Chambers has defected from the communist underground and is evading potential assassins are harrowing, and will lend themselves brilliantly to film. But it is also the story of a soul. Chambers was a warrior, yes, but one who was a farmer who became interested in the Quakers. He also warned not only about communism but about any ideology that attempted to negate any meaning in human suffering. He warned William F. Buckley about making common cause with Senator Joe McCarthy, whom he was convinced would overreach and hurt the genuine cause of anti-communism. The film will feature interviews with key players and scholars of the case.

In short, we don't want to make "Left Behind II: Tribulation Force."

More here.

For my money, the best take on the Hiss trial (which Hiss started, by suing Chambers for libel) is from Leslie Fiedler in Commentary back in the 1950s. It's not online but it's worth buying for Fiedler's argument that not only were Hiss (and the Rosenbergs!) obviously guilty as charged, but that their support from the literary left stemmed precisely from that shared knowledge. Fiedler's perorations about Chambers' legendarily mangled teeth (which play a climatic role in the Hiss case) are worth the purchase price alone.

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  1. Are You Interested in Financing a Documentary About Whittaker Chambers?

    No.

    1. now, if it was Mike Judge…maybe

      1. Surely there’s a Judge Judge out there, somewhere. Like Major Major, but different.

        1. Roger Roger

          1. No, no, you’re doing it wrong. Sharif Sharif. Sergeant Sargent would also be acceptable.

            1. I once knew a Captain Captain. No kidding.

              1. No hope of promotion there. Who would ruin that?

                1. I agree. He should have joined the Navy so he could have reached name nirvana at a higher grade.

            2. Rear Admiral Rearadmiral

            3. I knew twin girls in high school whose father was an enlisted man in the USAF, their last name was Seaman, their dad was Airman Seaman.

              1. Twin girls. Seaman. Har har.

                Initials L and K?

        2. Yes there is. The Lord Chief Justice of England is Igor Judge aka Judge Judge.

          1. Awesome. The British are ahead of us in this critical area. Next SCOTUS appointment must address this name gap.

            1. Justice Justice sounds exquisite.

              1. There’s David Justice, the former MLB player.

    2. How bout a documentary on Kim Chambers? I’d fund that for a dollar!

      1. How about one on Marilyn Chambers?

  2. Witness is one of the great books of the 20th Century. It is like a detective novel, memoir and Dostoevsky novel all rolled into one. I read it in high school. Still one of my four or five favorite books.

    If we were a civilized country, every high school student in America would be required to read it.

    1. If we were a civilized country, every high school student in America would be required to read it.

      If every book that recieved this comment were piled on top of a high school student, they’d be crushed by the weight.

      1. Nah. In my mind there are only a few. Just enough to undo the communist indoctrination.

        1. I missed that day in high school. Of course, in Texas, I think communism is still a hanging offense.

          1. It is in Western Kansas. But it is shocking how bad my nephews’ civics and history books are. You can graduate public high school in this country and have no idea that communism was ever anything other than an alternative ideology to capitalism during the 20th Century.

          2. It is in Western Kansas. But it is shocking how bad my nephews’ civics and history books are. You can graduate public high school in this country and have no idea that communism was ever anything other than an alternative ideology to capitalism during the 20th Century.

            1. We had to read Night in Texas. That should come in a two-pack with Witness, with the disclaimer, “THIS IS WHAT LEFTISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE” (not the narrative itself but rather the background in which they take place, if you take meaning).

              1. Wow. Witness is a good book but there are others that would work as well. Night or Darkness at Noon would be just as good.

            2. If history was laid out in unblemished truth, I think some children would be so emotionally broken by the endless string of misery and death that coninues unabated that they’d be disfunctional for the rest of their life. Primary school graduates have no idea how bad it actually was.

              1. The Fixer would be my choice. That, and William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy.

            3. I say this as a history major: We need to stop teaching crap history in this country. It is goddamn embarrassing how bad our teaching of the subject is.

              History is interesting- kids should love the crazy shit that used to happen. In addition, kids should learn about not only our history, but the world’s. I took AP classes, but jesus, learning what non-AP stuff covers made me sad.

    2. If we were a civilized country, every high school student in America would be required to read it.

      In a civilized country there would be no state high schools and no required national or state curriculum.

  3. “Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.”

    Does anyone know of a good porn spoof of the Left Behind series. Come on guys, help me out!

    1. If there isn’t one, we can use Kickstarter to produce one.

      We’ll call it From Behind.

      1. Directed by Ben Dover.

    2. From Behind: It Looks Like a Crapshoot

      1. bravo *golf clap*

    3. Reft behind: Tri-fellation force.

    4. Cleft Behind

    5. I’m liking this more and more.

    6. From Behind: Trib Force? It’s the lesbian porn version

  4. Fiedler’s perorations about Chambers’ legendarily mangled teeth (which play a climatic role in the Hiss case)

    Global gnawing?

  5. and fingered Alger Hiss

    I would contribute, but this scene will make its way to RedTube eventually.

    1. By director Michael Bay?

      1. Wow, WTF happened to my comment’s placement?

  6. Chambers was a warrior, yes, but one who was a farmer who became interested in the Quakers.

    I became interested in the Fighting Irish, albeit not being a drinker.

  7. Starring Chuck Norris?

    1. Directed by Michael Bay?

      1. I guess those enigmatic squirrels got me; that was meant for John’s post below.

  8. Witness would make a great Hollywood movie. I think in the next ten or twenty years after the generation that held onto Hiss’ innocence the way the current one holds onto made made global warming has finally died, it might get made.

  9. The Chambers-Hiss case was the trial of the 20th Century

    I thought that was the OJ trial.

    1. I thought it was Sacco & Vanzetti.

      1. I thought it was that chick who killed her daughter.

        1. Casey Anthony, OJ, Penn State: hide you kids, hide you wife, they raping everybody!

        2. 21st Century, Pro

          1. Oh, right. My mistake.

      2. Leopold and Loeb.

        1. Lerner and Loewe?

          1. Huey, Dewey and Louie?

          1. Nobody ever asked the monkey how he felt about being my grandaddy.

  10. The review of Atlas Shrugged is actually very well written and a good read, even if you disagree with some of it’s conclusions. I’d recommend following the link.

    1. Chambers doesn’t even get the character names right.

      1. Missed that.

        1. To a gas chamber ? go!

  11. No. But I’d pony up for a documentery about Marilyn Chambers.

    1. especially if it included “lost” footage….

      1. So you’re into feet?

    2. Why do you hate women and disrespect them?

      1. Hmm. I took it that he totally loves and worships women…

      2. [citation needed]

        1. You’re a misogynistic chauvinist who has ZERO respect for women, wants them chained in the kitchen to the radiator, and thinks pants should be worn EXCLUSIVELY by men. Don’t you read any reputable publications, like Jezebel? Ugh, the NERVE! Bloody Tea-Baggers!

          1. Seeing that his previous play at sarcasm fell flat, the indomitable RPA gives it another go, clubbing his fellow commenters with the big stick of non-subtlety.

            1. Yeah, I should try harder

  12. I’ll gladly pay all $20k, but on the condition that he make a vicious, poison-lens documentary.

  13. also penned one of the most poisonous reviews of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged for National Review.

    Without actually having read it.

  14. How Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tipped of hedge funds of looming collapse of Fannie and Freddie

    After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” — a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.

    Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said.

    The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information — to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.

    There’s no evidence that they did so after the meeting; tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn’t possible using public documents.

    And law professors say that Paulson himself broke no law by disclosing what amounted to inside information.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/…..escue.html

  15. The Chambers-Hiss case was the trial of the 20th Century; the story had espionage, revenge, thrilling escapes and even a subtext of homosexuality.

    THE PUMPKIN! You didn’t mention the pumpkin.

    1. Oh, that reminds me. If I fund the movie, it has to be largely based on Chambers/Hiss slashfic, to be written by you-know-who.

  16. The pitch for the film doesn’t quite reveal that 1) Chambers wasn’t just a communist, he was a Soviet spy and 2) he “revealed his past” after waiting until the statute of limitations on his crimes had expired. He also lied about his crimes under oath and was technically as guilty of perjury as Hiss himself, though, strangely, he was never tried.

    Witness is a fascinating book, although full of lies as well as truths. Weinstein’s book is more than “essential,” and Tannenhaus’ bio of Chambers is excellent as well. Oh, and Lionel Trillings’ novel The Middle of the Journey. Yeah, definitely a lot of good material out there.

    1. “He also lied about his crimes under oath and was technically as guilty of perjury as Hiss himself,”

      Cite?

  17. Fiedler may have had the best take on it, but the cleverest had to have been the TV serial Smallville http://groups.google.com/group…..217a9df?q=“alger+hiss”+group:alt.tv.smallville

    The early years of Smallville were loaded by Gough & Millar (the folks who brought us the Shanghai movies) with allusions like this ranging from groaners to very subtle & clever.

  18. Somebody cut & paste the Leslie Fiedler Commentary piece. It should fit in the comment box and the editors won’t delete it.

  19. “But any newspaperman who applied Fiedler’s method to a workaday assignment, who sucked “facts” out of his thumb so blatantly, would in short order find himself on the street or teaching college journalism.”
    “Only the urban liberal intellectuals succumbed to the Hiss propaganda; the last bastion of Hissism today is manned not by the bourgeoisie but by Harvard and Columbia professors. . . .”
    ? two choice quotes from Ralph De Toledano, an Associate Editor of Newsweek in a letter to the editor of Commentary in response to Leslie Fiedler’s article.

    How things have changed with Newsweek and major print media news editors since 1951?

    http://www.commentarymagazine……ss-trials/

  20. Things are looking good for this project; it was selected as “Project of the Day” at Indiewire.com earlier this week, and today is in contention for “Project of the Week.” Please vote on Facebook! You’ll find the link at http://www.whittakerchambersfilm.com

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