Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saw "LBJ" & "Marshall" this week

Sort of ironic at roughly the same time two movies about these two pivotal historical figures of American history. Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th POTUS from the State of Texas and sadly elevated to the Presidency after the assassination of the 35th POTUS John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. As for Thurgood Marshall, after a long legal career especially as chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, President Johnson appointed Marshal to the US Supreme Court in 1967.

The events of both movies take place roughly 20 years apart. Marshall takes place in 1940 when he takes up the case of a Black man accused of raping a woman whose household employed him as a driver. As portrayed in the film he was going from town to town defending Blacks accused of crimes they didn't commit and doing whatever he could to insure they got fair trials.

In LBJ we see President Johnson campaigning behind the scenes for the Presidency. It seemed he was hesitant to really announce for the Democratic nomination in 1960 and expected to swoop in and steal it from the Kennedy. Well he had already been a powerful US Senator as Democratic Majority Leader. That unfortunately never carried him through and we see ultimately Kennedy - perhaps over the objection of his inner circle especially his brother Bobby - ask Johnson to run with him as Vice President.

While Marshall takes place during the course of 1940, LBJ basically takes place during the years 1959 to about 1963-64. And yes the assassination in Dallas was part of the story and then of course the aftermath of the assassination with Johnson taking over the Presidency in the wake of JFK's untimely death.

I want to share with you this column from a nephew of Sam Friedman - who was one of the main characters in Marshall. The columnist Roger Friedman takes time to reminds us that many of these movies that are based on real life events are fictionalized. The fiction of the stories told to us - especially since some of us weren't around to experience them first hand - are used to advance the plot.

Perhaps everything depicted in LBJ aside from what we know from history isn't entirely true. The same could be said for Marshall say for example neither Marshall nor Friedman got assaulted thanks to their involvement in this racially charged rap case. Also perhaps the future justice Marshall didn't actually tell his partner Friedman twice - "F*ck you". Those who do screenplays for historical movies or period pieces have to make them interesting to us the audience.

In my opinion both films had and they both relate to a certain period of American history. I could say Marshall the events took place before the Civil Rights movement heated up by the 1950s - 60s. Thurgood Marshall was already fighting the good fight long before Martin Luther King Jr arrived on the scene.

Conversely the end of the movie LBJ concerned President Lyndon Johnson's drive to pass his predecessor's - John F. Kennedy - civil rights legislation. The movie portrays Johnson as being able to relate to his fellow Southern Democrats to get them on board - though he likely didn't get them all on board. If it wasn't for his conduct of the Vietnam War, Johnson would've been one of our greatest Presidents.

Unfortunately I didn't see either film when they first came out. I can only wonder how received they were at the time of release. I could easily see Marshall as a Black movie, but it had a far more diverse crowd which isn't a bad thing. It's great to know a film like Marshall could potentially have broad appeal even if it's possible the intended audience had no interest. Especially at a time where there is further concern over the American justice system and their treatment of minorities.

Here are the trailers for both films.

Marshall [VIDEO]
LBJ [VIDEO]

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