ZANE GREY AND THE BORGIAS
THE THIRD MAN AND THE 2004 REPUBLICAN TICKET
Probably no more than a thousand American movies examine, mostly without meaning to, our national preoccupation with, and devotion to, our own innocence. When generalizing about ourselves, we have no great investment in the notion of our sophistication, or even our competence. (Though we’d like to believe that we’re mostly competent.) We’re absolutely unyielding, though, on the subject of our good intentions. Sure, we’ve been willing to admit mistakesat least before our current administrationas long as everyone understood that we meant well. OK, we concede, we bollox up the occasional intervention, but why? Only because we were trying to help.
And what’s better evidence of that, we like to point out, than our attempt to get Europe back on its feet after World War II? Weren’t we right there, wallets open and hands out, ready to help Gunther and Pierre and Guido out of the rubble almost before the shooting stopped? And did we ask anything in return, besides a little cooperation and maybe some gratitude?
Well, yeah, some European movies, like Carol Reed’s The Third Man, suggest. We did. We do. Even if some of our hearts were occasionally in the right place.
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