The Religious Ransom of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

I’ve watched hundreds of westerns over the years, and 48 years ago even wrote my doctoral dissertation on the politics of the genre from 1948 to 1962. I wasn’t surprised when movie watcher Hannah Long early this year called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) the best western ever made: John Ford’s film makes the top 10 on just about everyone’s list. Continue Reading...

“Saint Christopher”: Hitch at 75

He would, of course, have blanched—or barfed—if you had ever addressed him that way (probably the only blasphemy he’d refuse to utter). Yet is it really any more outlandish than the conversations we had about another adamantly avowed atheist? Continue Reading...

Beyoncé and the Neglected Downtrodden

Given that contemporary pop music is stagnant, Beyoncé’s country-inspired album Cowboy Carter was bound to be something of a sensation. Its chief significance is not aesthetic—the recordings are simultaneously too slick and underdeveloped. Continue Reading...

Man and Machine in World War II

Tom Hanks was the moral conscience of America in the ’90s, so far as Hollywood was concerned, and audiences largely concurred, because he’s like a new Jimmy Stewart: he exudes moral integrity and childlike innocence. Continue Reading...

Dune: Part Two and the Death of Freedom

Those who went to Dune: Part Two expecting a happy ending must have left the theater rather confused. For those unfamiliar with Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking sci-fi novels, the story of a young prince whose father is killed by a rival family and who must rally a bunch of oppressed rebels to stand against tyrants so as to claim his rightful kingship must have signaled to them that they were getting a rousing hero story such as found in Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Continue Reading...
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