Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"REDS"-The Movie-"Radical Chic"-The John Reed-Louise Bryant Romance

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of a trailer on "Reds"

Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some films that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. In the future I expect to do the same for books under a similar heading.-Markin


REDS, THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (ORIGINALLY RELEASED IN 1981), starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton

The important contribution of John Reed to the revolutionary movement here in America before World War I and later during the Russian revolution and its aftermath has never been fully appreciated. Thus, Warren Beatty, whatever his personal motives, has done a great service in filming the life of this “traitor to his class” (and his Harvard Class of 1910) and partisan of the international working class.

As usual with such commercial enterprises the order of things gets switched in the wrong direction. The love affair between Reed (played by Beatty) and budding writer and early feminist Louise Bryant (played by Diane Keaton)(and a little third party intervention by playwright Eugene O’Neill, played by Jack Nicholson) is set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution not the other way around, but such is cinematic license. More than most film depictions this one mainly gets the story straight; Reed's early free-lance journalism tied to the Mexican Revolution; the bohemian life of pre-World War I Greenwich Village in New York City including it patronage by socialites like Mabel Dodge; the socialist fight against American participation in World War I; the fight among socialists (and anarchists) over support to the Russian Revolution; and, an interesting segment on the seemingly bewildering in-fighting in the early communist movement between the foreign-language federations and the Reed-led “Natives” (which included James P. Cannon,later a founder of American Trotskyism)that that ultimately had to be 'resolved' at Communist International headquarters in Moscow.

Those ‘natives’, the likes of Earl Browder, James Cannon and William Z. Foster, in the course of events would form the leadership of the party through most of the twenties when the cadre still wanted to make a revolution here and not just cheer on the Russian Revolution from afar. A nice touch in the film is the interweaving of commentaries by those, friend and foe, who knew or knew of Reed or were around during this time. See this movie.

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