• Brexit: South by South East?

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    Above, the “Vandamm house” in North by North West, an iconic film of late 1950’s style and sophistication.

    The Brussels Brainwashing Commissariat, aka the Bullshit Broadcasting Cooperative, but known to some as the British Broadcasting Corporation is an institution that many Brexiteers and Climate Realists loath as it is in effect a tax payer funded state propaganda machine. This is the sort of thing one expects in North Korea but here in Britain?

    Be that as it may, with all of it’s many faults, the BBC is an important institution in maintaining the culture of Britain for the simple reason that can be deduced from asking the question, what if there the BBC was closed down and no taxpayer funded replacement put in it’s place?

    The answer would be that the TV, radio along with internet broadcasting would be entirely dominated by the US broadcast networks.

    What this shows is the huge amount of shared art, culture and drama that exists in what is now called “the Anglosphere”. It is of course unbalanced due entirely by the fact that the USA had approx five times the population of the UK which has nearly twice the population of Canada and around three times the population of Australia.

    Having a shared language and also a shared history it is inevitable that not only “the arts” get passed around but also on the odd occasion the politics.

    This was demonstrated recently on two occasions. One was prominently reported and given much air time. This was the reports of “Black Lives Matter” protests staged by mainly black protesters. These protests however were not in the USA – following the deaths of certain black citizens by US police – but in the UK. Then of course there was the “Nigel meets Donald” – which this organ reported on here: http://www.british-gazette.co.uk/2016/08/26/nigel-farage-meets-donald-trump-this-is-how-you-do-it/
    Over the course of his so far brief political career, Mr Donald Trump has said many things. Most of these things will have had many profoundly disagreeing with him! However, when he called Nigel Farage, Mr Brexit, he was describing the actual fact. For like it or not, Nigel Farage was the pivotal figure in the Brexit campaign and the vote for Brexit was as a direct result of the Leave campaign adopting the strategy Nigel Farage was advocating.

    It is said that all political careers end in failure. Well clearly, Nigel Farage wanted to make that a lie in his case. In resigning as UKIP leader following the vote, he has ensured his legacy. This was a political career that ended up changing history. Not only of Britain but of Europe. Of course, Brexit has yet to be achieved.

    “OK then….” we hear you ask, “What’s the connection with Alfred Hitchcock’s film?”

    THIS: North by Northwest is properly regarded by many as the greatest of Hitchcock’s films (as victory in the Brexit vote was Farage’s greatest achievement). This is because it achieved what Alfred Hitchcock wanted it to achieve (ditto Leave campaign & Farage).

    Hitchcock set out to entertain the American movie going public of 1959 with a thriller that oozed style and sophistication – and he did just that. The scenes were glamorous (to a 1950s US audience) the fashion and the jewels of the leading lady were glamorous. The ultimate style symbol was of course Vandamm’s house perched above Mount Rushmore. The house was a studio creation that never existed. It was the most sincere flattery of Frank Lloyd Wright, the most famous Modernist architect in the world at the time. Mr Wright set his fee way above what MGM was prepared to pay so the film makers set about creating a house that Mr Wright might have built for a wealthy client – and saved themselves a ton (sorry Derek, tonne) of money.

    North by Northwest was very avant garde for the time (1959). Eva Marie Saint’s character Eve Kendall was ground breaking in not only maintaining eye contact with her suitor but taking control of the conversation in response to Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill character’s comments about making love to beautiful women he met. Her original response line was, “I never make love on an empty stomach,” but it was changed in post-production to “I never discuss love on an empty stomach.” It is said that the censors felt the original version was too risqué.

    Yet for all it’s creativity, North by Northwest had some fundamental flaws, incidentally not recognised by the detailed listing of errors at:
    http://www.moviemistakes.com/film909
    The above site is well known for it’s detailed analysis and for picking up the tiniest of detail errors. They are the movie equivalent of the proof reader! But always after the film has been screened! However whilst the site’s attention to detail is exemplary they have been looking so closely and in such detail they failed to stand back and see the obvious failings of the film that are screaming out!

    The first and PAINFULLY obvious is the LUDICROUS age discrepancy between Roger Thornhill and his mother Clara Thornhill!

    Cary Grant (born Archibald Alexander Leach) who played the male lead was born on 18th January, 1904 – one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men. In 1958 when the film was made he was was 54. Jessie Royce Landis playing Clara Thornhill was born 25th November, 1896 which made her nearly 62 when the film was made. In other words, she would have been 8 years old when supposedly giving birth! Clearly another actress with another dozen years at least was required. There were many ladies in Hollywood at that time who would have filled that bill admirably.

    The second major error was a failure to make a slight passing reference to any wartime service that the advertising executive Thornhill could have had. Mention need only have been light and passing – a possible comment to self along the lines of “This is like being back on Omaha beach!” when being strafed whilst taking cover amongst the maize on the prairie. It would however have given the character a depth that lent credibility by explaining the source of his courage and resourcefulness.

    Far more serious however was the third major error which is nearly as bad but not quite so glaring as miscasting Jessie Landis as Clara Thornhill, was the thinness to the background of leading lady, the femme fatale, Eve Kendall. Eva Marie Saint’s character was the leading lady and the second central character (after Thornhill) of the plot. She was the undercover agent about which the elaborate deception of “George Kaplan” – a “man who never was” – was set up to protect.

    Firstly there was a completely pointless misdirection of age. In the dining car, Eve Kendall gave her age at 26 when the actress was 34 at the time. This did two things. It detracted from the happy ending at the end for 54 and 26 is a wide age gap whereas 54 and 34 are what the Victorians used to suggest; half the man’s age plus 7.

    More importantly than that however is that it robbed the producer and director of the opportunity to add some vital depth to the character, which again could have been inserted quickly and in passing. A suitable time to do this could have been at the airport when “the Professor” (played by Leo G. Carroll) briefed Thornhill on Eve Kendall’s situation. Something along these lines perhaps: “We created Kaplan to protect our source. She’s a skilled undercover agent. She was 18 and living with her American parents in France in 1941. Later, before D-Day she was dropped into France by the SOE. After the war she came home and she’s been working for the FBI since.” Carrol’s British accent would have lent credibility to this. In fact he (serving in a senior role in wartime intelligence – SOE?) could have “come over” post WW2 and she with him. These additions would not have added much more than a minute to the film’s length and would have improved it no end.

    “OK! OK!” We hear you shout Dear Reader, “What has this to do with Brexit!”

    Answer: The clue is in the title! “Gone south” or “Going south” is an American term used to describe decline and failure. It alludes to the loosing Confederate side “the South” or the “Southern States” of the US Civil War. The corollary the term “North” as in “He earns north of $250K” is the opposite.

    South by South East – the opposite bearing of North by North West – indicates the direction of the UK’s economy should Nigel Farage’s Brexit recipe be followed. This being: Leave the EU AND the EEA enabling the UK to set up “an Australian style points based” immigration system. Note to Nigel – the Australian system is not points based but quota based.

    The result of Brexit on these terms will be on a spectrum of consequences. The best case will be deeply damaging to the UK economy. The worst case? Catastrophic.

    Our advice to Nigel?

    If the worst case comes to pass, stay away from Mount Rushmore! A fellow Brit’ might spot you!