Not in This Town (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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I'm proud of my hometown
D B11 October 2006
First of all, in response to another message posted, Billings, Montana is NOT a town full of rednecks. I grew up in that town, and I was in high school there in 1993.

I thought the movie was okay. It does have an important message about how people standing together can help defeat bigotry. It shows how "silence implies consent," and that people doing nothing only encourages bigotry. When so many people stood together against bigotry, the incidents stopped, slowly but surely.

The movie does embellish a lot of details, and it leaves many details out. For instance, there is no mention in the movie about the bias incidents happening in the high schools around town about the same time. When the kids saw the adults standing up against the bigotry, many of them started doing that as well, and the number of incidents decreased.

The slogan was actually "NOT IN OUR TOWN" and it was posted on the billboard of a sporting goods store. One would think that the people making the movie would get at least that right.

Some things that happened were very much dramatized, and some things that didn't happen were added. I was a bit confused by the movie the first time I watched it, as so much was changed.

Overall, the movie does have an important message. However, take some time to learn the real story behind the movie.
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The film and the actual events
bramptonbryan21 January 2006
I've just been watching this film on TV, and agree that it is syrupy. However, it does follow the actual story quite closely, on the whole. The syrup is in the script and the production values, not the plot.

I wasn't clear whether the writers of the comments from the Isle of Bute and London thought that racism isn't like this in America, or that racism is just fine by them.

In the real Billings, the attacks were perpetrated by skinheads, the Klan, and the Aryan Nation. Those targeted were indeed Native Americans, Jews, and African-American churchgoers. Painters did stop work to help. Thousands of people did put menorahs, or pictures of menorahs, in their windows.

For web pages about what actually happened in Billings, see
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Should be aired more frequently and in prime time.
BBB-721 May 1999
Should be aired more frequently and in prime time.

People in all societies should be more aware of hate crimes and the reality that they can happen anywhere to anyone.
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A few good points are made...
MarieGabrielle29 November 2006
And Adam Arkin again delivers a very good performance in this film about racism and bigotry.

Based on the true story of Tammy and Eliot Scnitzer, we have seen the story before, but it is well-presented here. The scene in the church is a bit heavy-handed, as the people are singing "Lay my burdens down Lord", and the racist group backs down. Actually they were probably such cowards that they did all their vandalism late at night, anyway.

More recent films, such as "American History X" (Ed Norton) are extremely disturbing, and (for me anyway) a bit too violent to watch. Yes, we do need to know these issues exist. At least this movie does not have gratuitous violence and rape, and yes it should be shown more often on prime time TV.

The Ed Begley character (as Henry Whitcomb) is a white supremacist who seemingly recruits groups in the Billings, Montana area. At the end he tells the ineffectual racist cowards they have failed. People are now putting menorahs in the window, the newspaper has helped the community; people are now willing to fight back, which defeats the group. Ed Begley has a thankless role here (His father also portrayed the bigot in "12 Angry Men"). All in all this is a good film which deals with an important subject. 9/10.
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Uncomplicated Feel-Gooder.
Robert J. Maxwell6 August 2004
Something like this actually happened in Billings. Or -- I should put "something like this" in quotes because I doubt that the actual events were so thoroughly and theatrically scripted.

Montana gets a bad rep. Outisders tend to think of it as a lunatic asylum to which everyone who wants to "get off the grid" in order to oppose The New World Order (by which they seem to mean mainly Pakistani UN troops) migrates. I worked for the Indian Health Service in Billings for one summer, a few years before this incident, and found it a decent place, a lot more accomodating than any similar-sized city in, say, New Jersey. And you can find a decent pizza and get the New York Times at the airport, and they have a Montessori School -- so what do you want, egg in your beer?

We see a lot of hatred shown towards minorities -- Indians, blacks, and especially Jews. And we see the family at the center of all this turmoil, a nice Jewish doctor with a nice ex-Lutheran wife and their child. Some minor conflicts are built into the story in expectable ways. "If we ignore it, maybe it will go away." "But that's what they said in the Old Country." That sort of thing. We see some minor conflicts in the community too, although some of them are not too plausible. (Should the hospital administrator allow the refugees from a bomb-threatend Temple to take shelter in his lobby, or would the presence of so many Jews all at once alienate someone or put the hospital at risk or taint the air with the aroma of sweet and sour short ribs?) The bad guys are really BAD. You can tell because they're always smoking cigarettes. There is never a moment when the viewer is allowed the slightest doubt about the "right thing to do."

And that's too bad because this is an issue worth exploring. Will a normal loving middle-class community always have to put up with hate mongers? Is there a good reason why there has never been a human society free of internal conflict? Does goodness generate its opposite? Or, to put it differently, does a "thesis" always produce its own "antithesis", as Hegel argued? If so, why? The movie gives us no idea of the social dynamics involved in this confrontation between good and evil. The bad guys are outsiders and speak ungrammatically and are given lines like "this country belongs to White Christians," but we haven't the slightest notion of why they've been made to believe such baloney. It's not enough to dismiss them, as the doctor does, as "psychopaths." (Not too enlightening, Doc.)

It's a touching and interesting story and it's kind of dumbed down for people who might not get the point. At a meeting in the Temple, an old Jewish woman gets several minutes to tell the kind of heartbreaking story about having survived the Nazi genocide that the viewer is already familiar with. On top of that, when everyone is hustled outside into a rainstorm my the police, she seems about to faint so that people must rush to her side and help her. PLEASE! We get it, already.

Still, I don't want to hit this film with a sledgehammer. If I find it irritating, it's not just because of the way it's been executed but because of all the missed opportunities. For instance, is it possible that, for whatever reasons, some minorities willingly contribute to their own marginality. How do Jews, blacks, and Indians feel about the rising popularity of intergroups marriages? Conservative White Christians used to ask liberals, "Would you want your daughter to marry one?" Now that sort of objection is as likely to come from the minority group that does not want to lose its solidarity, its identity, its separateness.

The issue the movie deals with has to do with the heart of human nature, and it treats it like a soap opera with a happy ending.
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Avoiding taking a action does not protect you from the problem.
annboudreaux2 February 2007
Showed there was some risk of retribution if you are among the first to protest bigotry. That is, the first people to put up "no hate" signs were themselves made targets. Ed Begley's character was portrayed as very smooth. What he said seemed reasonable to appeal to people who were unemployed and who were not out and out bigots. The fact that it was based on a true story gave it credibility that a community can come together to fight a problem. Same thing could apply to combat street gangs or drug dealers in your neighborhood. The fact that the grandmother pulled back because her granddaughter had changed her religion is the same thing that happens when a child comes out as a homosexual in many cases.
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Embellished I Feel
Theo Robertson3 May 2005
This TVM takes it upon itself to inform the world what a terrible thing racism is . I had to stop myself from bowing down in front of the TV screen in praise and I'm sure that millions of people who have watched this on late night television are eternally grateful for being told that racism is a terrible thing . Oh yes I'm being sarcastic

The " true " story revolves around Tammy and Brian Schnitzer a Jewish couple who move into a town full of red necks . I said " true " story because I felt this TVM may take a few liberties as to how true things were . Okay it's a TVM which means the television company can't show or say things that would be offensive ( Notice graffiti doesn't contain the F word ) meaning three dimensional racist characters are going to be thin on the ground but the script makes them ridiculous caricatures and we're treated to ridiculous scenes where the racists go into a church and light a cigarette which leads to the black congregation to sing a song containing the lyric " Oh burn me down Lord " and the racists retreat at the fairly impressive chorus line and dancing . As I said ridiculous and this leads to more questions and answers

Racists smoke ? I thought neo Nazis were anti drink and smoking , but it's never revealed if the racists are neo Nazis or plain ignorant racists

Black people are good singers and dancers because they've got rhythm ? Inverse racism on the part of the producers is it not ?

Why is a church exclusively full of black people . Ah well that's because in certain American states churches are segregated something the producers only hint at . No doubt they didn't want to cause offence or start a debate

If you want a film featuring mans inhumanity to man try SCHINDLERS LIST or THE KILLING FIELDS
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Yes, ordinary people can win against bigots
brower825 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Commemmorating the decision of people in Billings, Montana to confront bigots who seek to make Billings an uncomfortable place for anyone not white and Christian, "Not in This Town" shows people that they, too, can stand up to hate-driven thugs. A racist agitator who prefers to let others do his dirty work and some of his followers come to town to harass "non-Aryans" with vandalism and insults against Native Americans, blacks, and Jews who, according to the rabble-rouser, supposedly 'don't belong' in Billings.

Repairing the damage, as with the "union job" performed on the house of an American Indian family desecrated with ugly graffiti, proves not enough. The thugs turn to more violent harassment, including disruption of religious services and property destruction. The worst case is a cinder block thrown into the window of a child's bedroom just because it has the display of a menorah in it. That deed, which could have killed the child, is exposed as evidence of the seriousness of the danger of bigotry.

It's a low-budget made-for-cable movie, intent more to deliver a message than to entertain. It is full of sentimental pathos and has some family conflicts woven into the plot. It's realistic enough to be credible. It does what one expects it to do, making a Western-like divide between innocent people and unqualified bad guys. This time the bad guys aren't cattlemen trying to drive farmers off the range or rapacious railroad builders, and the heroes 'merely' outsmart and discredit the bad guys. That's enough (anything further said is a spoiler).

It delivers its message.
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