The removal of one four-letter word from an Oscar-winning film created a panic in 2011.
The classic film “The French Connection” loses a brief but powerful sequence to appease the woke mob, and most film critics look the other way.
That wasn’t the case with “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth as the man who would be known as King George VI. The R-rated film won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and scored $138 million at the U.S. box office.
The Weinstein Company, hoping to lure even more movie goers to watch it, released a PG:13 version of “Speech” which clipped several “F-bombs.” The studio sought out families who might cherish the movie’s hopeful messaging.
The response was swift and furious.
Time Magazine reported that the decision “stoked spasms of outrage in the college of critics,” including famed movie reviewer Roger Ebert.
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips called the PG:13 version “pointless.”
The PG:13 version would not supplant the original, R-rated model. Still, Firth fumed over the decision to release a sanitized version of his film oh, so briefly.
“I don’t support it. I think the film has integrity as it stands. I think that scene belongs where it is. I think it serves a purpose.”
Then-Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman raged against the “new” version as well.
In the past, you might have thought that winning an Academy Award for Best Picture would be enough to save a movie from being censored by its own distributor. And you would have been right.
He wasn’t done. The critic savaged Harvey Weinstein (yeah, that Harvey Weinstein) for approving the cinematic nip and tuck.
The Weinstein Company, like Miramax before it, is a brand that means something. The quality, and integrity, of the movies it distributes is the cornerstone of what the company’s name signifies in Hollywood. Is the gain in short-term profit via a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech really worth monkeying with the film’s essence?
Gleiberman, a rock-ribbed liberal, now works for Variety. Does anyone think he’ll spare a syllable to defend “The French Connection” from woke censors?
Time explains why the F-words in question are an integral part of “The King’s Speech.”
And by uttering the ultimate vulgarism, Bertie begins to understand that a volley of obscenity can blow away the cobwebs of euphemism and misdirection that have accumulated around the royal rhetoric he’s been schooled in. He need not be separated from his subjects by language. The people’s rough speech can, for occasional cleansing purposes, be the King’s.
The same is true, of course, regarding “The French Connection.” Words matter. Screenwriters take great care in using them to shape the tone of a film and the measure of a character’s soul.
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Breitbart News’ John Nolte explains why in the case of Gene Hackman’s police classic.
[Hackman’s Popeye] Doyle is no hero. He’s a complicated, dangerous, and sometimes amoral obsessive pursuing a righteous cause (bringing down an international drug dealer). So, like many people in those days, he uses racial slurs—and not just ni**er….
I don’t know if the Doyle character is racist or a misanthrope. One of the endless pleasures of the French Connection is trying to figure Doyle out. One moment you empathize with him; the next, he betrays your empathy. One moment he’s a hero; the next, he’s a grade-A jerk. Great movies don’t give you all the answers. Instead, they challenge you to work through the complicated emotions that come with a complicated protagonist.
Nolte is on the right side of the ideological aisle, which means he’s eager and open to defending art and excoriating censorship.
Conservatives, by and large, are leading the fight against free speech suppression in 2023.
The Left’s embrace of the woke mind virus, and the fact that the vast majority of modern film critics, lean to the Left means films like “The French Connection” may have few defenders.
The times, they are a-changin’ and not for the better.