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This movie tells the true story of John Reed, a radical American journalist around the time of World War I. He soon meets Louise Bryant, a respectable married woman, who dumps her husband for Reed and becomes an important feminist and radical in her own right. After involvement with labor and political disputes in the US, they go to Russia in time for the October Revolution in 1917, when the Communists siezed power. Inspired, they return to the US, hoping to lead a similar revolution. A particularly fascinating aspect of the movie is the inclusion of interviews with "witnesses", the real-life surviving participants in the events of the movie. Written by
The scene where Gene Hackman tells Jack Reed that Louise Bryant has lost her job, took exactly 100 takes to shoot. Hackman vowed that he would not shoot a 101st take and he did not. See more »
The Finnish doctor tells Reed that his blood pressure is too high, but at that time, hypertension was not considered a problem by most doctors, who did not even consider treating it. Not until the mid-'40s did doctors begin to understand the dangers of high blood pressure. See more »
Was that in 1913 or 17? I can't remember now. Uh, I'm, uh, beginning to forget all the people that I used to know, see?
Do I remember Louise Bryant? Why, of course, I couldn't forget her if I tried.
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As the credits roll, additional interviews with the 'witnesses' play. See more »
This movie was great, and I hope it comes out on DVD real soon. Beatty became Reed in more than one sense--not only did he act the part, but he directed the movie in a way reminiscent of the kind of "new journalistic" style that Reed and his fellow MASSES writers pioneered, mixing the drama with interviews of people who knew JR, Louise, etc.
The film also sort of puts forward the question, "What if, instead of running back to Russia (to die of kidney failure and mistreatment by the CP), Jack Reed had stayed in this country to build the CP? Would it have turned out to become Stalinist?" According to Howe and Coser, who wrote a good book on THE AMERICAN COMMUNIST PARTY, much like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in Germany, Reed was the ONLY leader who was independent, who had some real backbone.
The best part of the movie is when Emma Goldmann, played by Maureen Stapleton, tells Jack that "it doesn't work" (i.e. statist, bureaucratic socialism that the Bolsheviks were instituting as a grossly mistaken response to the economic crisis and Allied invasion of Russia after the Revolution). And then his rebellion against the lying propaganda of Zinoviev. Kind of hits me right now that Jerzy Kosinski should play Zinoviev--didn't he commit suicide when he was exposed as a plagiarist? Where is the line between art and reality, politics and life?
Of course I loved the romantic reality between Beatty, Bryant, and Nicholson (Reed, Bryant, and Eugene O'Neill). And the cynicism that Reed expresses about the Democrats and Wilson is certainly apropos today.
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