FF148 - Exodus

Intro by John Roderick

I have so much to say about Exodus - of course I do -, but I can't really muster the courage. I want to describe in incredible detail my analysis of the Israeli project, the diaspora of Palestine, the history of Jews in Persia, the girls of the IDF, the lost tribes of Israel, the Sephardic flight from Spain, Golda Meir, the Balfour Declaration.

I want to describe King Abdullah of Jordan and the films of Anne Bancroft. I want to talk about drip irrigation and the Uzi submachine gun, but I am certain that if I do, I will attract some portion of the ire of the entire body of our listeners and I am just not feeling up to the task of reading your 100 emails explaining to me why I am a fascist, and by the way: "That is not how the chain of command works!"

Like anyone interested in military and cultural history, the 72 year old history of the nation of Israel is irresistible to me, and I have studied it voraciously and I wish I lived in a world different from this one where I could fix all the problems by unwinding time at my leisure and coaxing, midwifing the whole experience so that everyone involved - then and now - got exactly what they wanted, plus a little extra at the expense of the other guy, and now lives happily somewhere better than where they lived before. That is my fantasy, but - honestly - I am just as ready to dive in and try to help, aid, and abet a solution to a current situation that honestly cannot be fixed at any price.

Did you know that King Abdullah granted all Palestinians Jordanian citizenship and offered to administer the Jewish state as a province within his own kingdom? But there I go! I don't want to get into it! Do you, the listener, have a position on Israel? Probably! You probably can get pretty riled up about it, can't you? But do I want to hear it? No, of course I don't!

I have my own very strong feelings about it and if I wanted to stand around the student dining facility, arguing with you about it over a card table that you set up with a cardboard sign that said "Free Palestine!", then I would have done that back when I had the chance, and I did do it - in fact - and I learned nothing except to avoid people who carried a certain kind of Swiss Army surplus gas mask bag as a purse. I wanted to argue with you then because I still believed in ideas and in reason. Haha! What an ignoramus I was! You didn't care what I thought about it. You wanted to tell me what you thought about it, and I struggled to not think you were an idiot and I failed!

Meanwhile: Wars and wars and endless wars, but that is neither here nor there. Do people care about each other? Of course they do! Is the majority of the world racist and anti-Semitic? I frankly don't think so! I think that people are wired to feel like resources are scarce even when they are not, which is why so many of us order extra meat for a dollar, even when the regular sized portion of chicken fried steak has plenty of meat, and anyway: Meat is third on the list of reasons you even order chicken fried steak after the breading and the gravy.

So people get especially torqued when resources actually are scarce and there is no extra meat for a dollar or any price. And then the great schism becomes most evident, and I mean by that the divide between people who believe that to help other people - and by that I don't mean a lonely traveler who ran out of gas on the highway, but I mean, help fellow humans have a better lot in life. Well, some people think that's a mitzvah versus other people who feel in their hearts that helping other people comes at a cost of squandering the precious little that they have to survive themselves.

I mean, that is a reasonable position, and often the people who most generously aid a guest or fellow traveler are the least likely to believe that a rising tide of justice lifts all boats. So it can get confusing quickly when everyone imagines that they are very generous to other people, and why aren't most other people the same way? The fact is, though, that very few people have any interest in fairness until they feel that they themselves are being treated unfairly.

What does this have to do with Exodus? I am not talking about you right now, okay? I am sure that you, the listener, are very generous to travelers and to your fellow humans. I am not suggesting that any particular position as regards the nation of Israel is ungenerous or mean. I am just free-associating because I really, really desperately want to talk to you about Israel, and - frankly - this is my chance. I have the microphone plugged right into your ears and I could just delete any email I got with the header: "You are so wrong about Israel!", but just like getting an Israeli stamp in my passport and then having to endure the stink eye from some border guard in Yemen, I just don't have the strength!

Look, I had plans to go to Yemen and then this fucking endless war spilled over and now look at it! It is funny, you would think I would want to visit Jerusalem. You would think that, but frankly: Jerusalem gives me a headache! I don't believe any of it! What a load of bull! Human beings are ridiculous! Jerusalem, of all places! If you are going to fly to heaven on the back of a Buraq, which is a horse with a human face of all the godforsaken things, wouldn't you beg God to send you to a place with nice beaches or summer winds or peach trees, at least? Figs? Olives? Get out of here with that boujee crap!

I want to visit Tel Aviv! It seems like a place where your hotel room would have a sliding glass door and you could drink fresh-mixed fruit-juice with mint and wear a shirt with epaulets, and the person who invited you there would have a linen shift over her bathing suit and her hair piled on top of her head in a messy way. No one ever flew to heaven on a horse with a face from Tel Aviv!

I might even consent to debating about Israel with the young intellectual crowd in the hotel bar who came to hear my talk at the event sponsored by the embassy, and while they generally agreed with my thesis, they wanted to add a few clarifications about how the command structure works. (sigh) "Each person on board this ship is a soldier. The only weapon we have to fight with is our willingness to die!" Today on Friendly Fire: Exodus.


B: Welcome to Friendly Fire, the war movie podcast who's hosts, depending how you feel on this episode, you may count among the names of the dead at Yom Kippur. I am Ben Harrison…

A: That sounds scary! I am Adam Pranica…

J: I am John Roderick.

B: Fraught topics today!

A: That is what Friendly Fire does, though!

B: Yeah! We don't shy away! We get into it!

The setting of this movie in time between wars

J: You could argue that a lot of movies we have watched in the course of this show, particularly ones that are like: ”Is this a war movie?” are the spawn of this movie in a couple of different ways, but politically this is depicting the run-up to a conflict that has created a constellation of global fires that we watch movies about all the time.

B: I think that structurally this movie is so interesting because it positions itself in between conflicts. World War II has ended at the beginning and the wars that Israel fought with its neighbors have not totally begun yet at the end.

J: The very last moment of this film is the first day of the civil war in Palestine that leads to the 1948 war, so what makes this a war movie is that it is wars on both sides, a foot in each war!

B: Both sides! That is our happy place!

J: Hey, let's do it! Let's say there! Both sides! Both sides!

A: The film really draws a straight line between end of World War II and boats at Palestine, but what the film really made me think about a lot was: What other ideas were on the table? What a crazy moment in world history for the war to have ended and you have a Jewish population that has been traumatized the way that it has been. What do you do? What doors are open or shut? What can you make Germany do or not do at the end? Playing out the possibilities was a more interesting exercise than watching the film, personally.

B: Ouch! Wow! Fucking nuclear hot take there!

A: It makes me wonder how many other films set in this time period may have gone in different directions as far as what could have happened, what might have happened?

The choices made to fictionalize the story and what to leave out

B: I read a little bit about the actual ship that is depicted in this movie. This is a pretty heavily fictionalized version of this ship, but this ship sailed to France and the French authorities were: ”The Jews can get off the boat if they want to get off the boat!”

A: Just classic French passive aggression!

B: They were willing to have them, but it was pretty clear that the English were just trying to dump the problem of: ”Where will these people go and what will they do to survive?” onto the French and that is a big part of what they are fighting against. It is such a mindfuck! These people are running away from Nazi concentration camps and are then just put in other camps by other big nation states.

J: The real story of the exodus is a terrible one, not anything like it is depicted here. When the Exodus arrived in Haifa they didn't disembark, but they forced them to turn away and then it became this ship that nobody wanted and most of the refugees on the Exodus ended up in an internment camp in Germany where many of them spent several years. It was a publicity event that galvanized a lot of support around the world, but it did not have the happy ending or the patriotic ending. It was the worst! If you would made an actual movie about what actually happened to the Exodus it would be a super-downer, but this is based on a novel by Leon Uris that was a very popular novel and a great novel. I have read it and he is a great author! I remember reading it 35 years ago and thinking it was amazing! He is like a James Michener, writing historical fiction, basically, and the novel itself is much broader and it tells the whole story of Palestine, or at least Palestine as it confronts Zionism. What they chose to put in this movie and what they chose to leave out is super-weird!

B: If you haven't watched it yet we cannot stress this enough: It is a 3.5 hour movie, so the things that are left out are almost mind-boggling to contemplate!

J: That is what is crazy. There are scenes in this movie where they burn six minutes watching a guy open a can of soup, but then there are giant parts of the story that they just condensed. As soon as the British allow them to leave Cyprus everybody in Haifa is getting off the boat, high-fiveing on each other, and then we jump cut to basically a new movie.

A: Is that where ”high five” came from? ”Haifa”?

I don't know much about the mandate, but I do know the Jews were promised a homeland in Palestine.

J: We have this great movie set up where we are spending all this wonderful time with Ralph Richardson and this is great! Any time you get to spend with Ralph Richardson you are having a good time and then we never see him again. We get 40 minutes with him and we get set up thinking we are in one place, and then we…

A: It really feels like three films. It feels as much of a TV film as we have ever gotten with the long fade to black almost on the hour.

J: Right! That was a wonderful fade to black at hour two!

A: That is when you know you only had 90 minutes left.

J: Ralph Richardson and Peter Lawford are top-billed, they both go away minute 40 and then we are like: ”Who are our new friends?”

A: Especially when you are trained as a movie viewer to be introduced to characters that go through changes. You see the Major Caldwell character and you are like: ”Oh, this guy is troubling! I don't like him! Is he going to die or change?” and the answer is: ”Neither, he is just going to go away!” I teased a little bit earlier, I didn't feel like there was enough of that for me here.

J: Well, that is the thing: If you are going to fictionalize a story and also try and tell the true story, why wouldn't you fictionalize it so that we had Ralph Richardson also be the British administrator of Palestine, or have Peter Lawford continue in some capacity because we have British bad guys, but they are nameless, faceless, bad guys.

B: There is some casual anti-Semitism in those characters. What is really preventing the war refugees from having any hope for the future is this bureaucratic bullshit that is made a little bit easier by their casual anti-Semitism, but is not completely linked to that, and in the time we are watching this it is an interesting thing to think about, the way people’s racialized worldviews can undergird the injustices that they help support. If you went up to Major Caldwell and said: ”Hey, how do you feel about Jews?” - ”Don't care for them!” - ”Do you think that we should let these people rot in camps?” - ”Well, that is above my pay grade, so I am just going to keep doing what I am ordered to do!”

J: But that is what would have been so fascinating because it is really interesting to watch and it contextualizes the beginning of the movie, but there are no Arabs in that first part and we are watching low-grade anti-Semitism and bureaucracy impede the actual Exodus to Israel, but the real question of all of this is: Now we are in Palestine and the British have made contradictory promises to the Arabs and to the Jews and are trying to solve this problem by shuffling paperwork around and by saying: ”Well, the treaty says this and sorry, this one has to go here and that one…” Meanwhile the situation is spiraling out of their control, but we don't see any of that, but we hear it because Paul Newman is staring off into the into the middle distance, giving a ”I have a dream” speech every 15 minutes.

In this valley of Jazzwillwe (?) we dwell together as friends.

Casting white actors as Arabs and as Jews

B: This movie comes to us two years before Lawrence of Arabia and it is in that same weird tradition of just casting a Western white actor and putting boot polish in their beard to make them seem like an Arab.

J: Only a weird tradition if you were born after 1980. Prior to 1980: Standard form! If you look in the background you see a supporting cast of very dark people, in particularly the women, yet we never get a woman who steps forward into the light that has curly hair. We do get some dark-complexioned dudes, but like Sal Mineo is Sicilian. You know what it is? I bet you they just didn't have any Jews in Hollywood at this point that they could have used as lead actors.

B: That must be it! The background actors must all just be Israelis that they cast. This is all shot on location.

J: They went to the kibbutz and they said: ”Everybody line up!”

B: But is that a self-conscious choice to make it more palatable to an American audience that may have some misgivings about the Jews, or what?

J: The young girl that is the stand in for a Holocaust survivor has a hopeful outlook on life and her character arc is that she gradually realizes that Israel and the Zionist cause are her place and where she belongs. She doesn't want to escape to America. These are her people. She undergoes an identity journey until she becomes the martyr of the movie. Her being Jewish but Danish rather than looking like Sarah Silverman had to have been a choice, and there are just so many ways that you could have had a dark, curly haired girl in that role!

A: She was a non-professional actor plucked from obscurity from Otto Preminger. Wasn't that her story?

J: But casting her then requires that you ask and answer all these questions and we have that little moment where Eva Marie Saint says: ”Oh, so your father was Jewish?” when she looks at her in the camp and she is so blond and she is like: ”Why are you here?” and she said: ”Oh yes, and my mother, too!” and we get that little moment where our expectations… Kitty is our stand in for our surprise, like: ”Don't think that we all look a certain way!”, but at the same time, if you are going to have one girl as your tent pole Israeli, to choose to have her be from a minority of Jewish Danes is like having a Japanese girl and say: ”Well, there are Jews in Japan!”

B: She was in another Otto Preminger movie that is on our list: In Harm's Way, starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglas.

Israel’s situation in 1948

B: You are right, John! There is so much table setting, understanding what overcommitments the British Empire had made to people in this region that you can get through watching Lawrence of Arabia that this movie elides. You just have to take for granted that this is a very complicated geopolitical puzzle that needs to be solved by the United Nations and it is amazing how much that UN vote is referred back to over the course of the film. It is this momentous off-camera thing that we never see. We are never in Geneva in the movie, we don't ever hear anybody's opinion about it that isn't on screen. That vote just is a Damocles that is hanging over the action and their goal is to elicit the sympathy of the world, basically!

J: There is so much revisionism about this moment. The world now tends to think that Israel couldn't survive without American help, American arms and American aid, and yet in the early days all the way through the 1970s Israel was really on its own and didn't have any big patrons. The guns that they managed to put together to actually fight that war in 1948 they got from Czechoslovakia and they got it in defiance of an arms embargo. That scene where they are listening to the United Nations’ vote on partition and it comes down to what 1948 Paraguay thinks… there are a lot of nations voting in that referendum that are like: ”What the hell is going on even in Uruguay?”, and yet that is where the future of the Middle East and ultimately the future of the world, because this hotspot continues to be the flare-up point…

A: That would have been such an interesting third part to this film, to remove the second part, keep the boat, keep the Exodus in the beginning, move act three to act two, and then see in act three a country get its feet under itself. But the idea that the film ends with what no one agrees on is a really nice sentiment of these two people being buried together and eulogized in the way that Paul Newman does, but did anyone feel that at the end of this film at this moment in time? In 1960 as in now it felt hollow to me, it felt manipulative and untrue.

J: Taha is the only Arab we ever know by name, and his love for Ari Ben Canaan is one that we are told about over and over: ”We grew up together. We love each other. He is like a brother to me. (B: We used to be roommates in college!)”, but we never see it, really. We just see them together a couple of times and they don't seem to be too in love with each other.

A: The part that affected me so much more than the funeral was the moment where Taha was like: ”Look man, we have been brothers forever, but it has to be over for us. We are not going to be friends anymore. I am going to leave the room and I am never going to see you again!”

J: That is the story of 1948! The whole folley of a lot of the moderate Zionists was that they believed they could create a Jewish state and that the Arabs and the current residents of Palestine could continue to live on their land and continue to be now effectively a nonvoting minority in the new state of Israel. So many of that first generation believe that. Not all of them, but David Ben-Gurion believed it and it was (Menachem) Begin that didn't.

A: It was incredible to experience that moment in this film and be like: ”God, they really thought that, didn't they?” - ”Why isn't everyone celebrating with us? This is weird!”, that whole tonal shift!

J: No person in any leadership position on the Arab side ever for a minute agreed with the idea that this was going to be a pluralistic state where they went from being the majority to the minority in the space of an afternoon.

B: Do you think that that is because of the history of getting fucked over by various colonial powers in the region? They had been under the boot of the British and before that the Ottomans, and they never really had any political agency in that region, right?

J: This is where we are going to get into a place where a lot of people are going to write us letters!

B: What I am wondering about is: Did the Jews coming from Western Europe, having seen all of the extremes of Western nominally democratic governments, come with a different concept of how you might go about setting up a state than people who had been living in Palestine the entire time? All of their lived experience was based on being ruled from afar by imperial powers.

J: The British colonial period lasted for 30 years here, but the Ottomans ruled this region for 400+ years, and during the Ottoman period it was all part of the Ottoman Empire, there was no distinction really between the people that lived in what we think of as Palestine or Jordan or Lebanon. As it veered into Syria or into Iraq you started to get more nationalist identities in those places, but in general it was a varied Arab population, a lot of nomadism, and they were all ruled by Constantinople.

B: But you might consider yourself a member of your tribe as the top line in your concept of your identity first.

J: Well, first, second and third. This is true of the Jews that were living in Palestine to the idea that everyone in the world is a born nationalist and that they stand on their plot of ground and put up a flag and say: ”My primary allegiance is to my nation!”, that is a real 20th century overlay. It is widely understood that there was no Palestinian state or aspiration for there to be a Palestinian state.

B: That is one of the things that they covered in Lawrence of Arabia, that he is trying to gin up this sense of Arab nationalism so that they can make the Arabs a thing that the Ottomans have to deal with instead of just a part of the Ottoman Empire, right?

J: Yeah, and Ben-Gurion actually during World War I put a Jewish brigade together to fight for the Ottomans against the British, and then switched sides halfway through from the Arab perspective. There wasn't a clear recognition of what was happening until they perceived the threat of the Zionist intentions. The first Zionists to appear arrived and bought their farms. For a long time the Jewish plan was to just buy property there. It wasn't to form a state and fight wars. It was just like: ”Let's all move to Palestine and buy farms and when there is enough of us there we will have a community and when there is enough of a community we will put together a government and then eventually a state!”

How several characters have been underused for contextualizing the story

A: It feels like Taha would have been the perfect character to give voice to all of that context, and that is what I was aching for during this film: ”I have lived here forever and I have seen a change in these ways and what is happening now is pretty scary and I am going to tell you why and it is also going to be the reason why I can't be friends with you, Ari Ben Canaan.” and I really feel like his utility as a character was underused. I want to know that stuff and it sucks that the conversation is more interesting than the movie to me!

J: To have one British character who was sitting at a desk and at various times talking to Arab leaders and Jewish leaders, and trying to in their perfunctory way appease and explain and adjudicate this growing dispute where it is like: ”Well, wait a minute, we were all living here just fine, but now you want to do this and where are you going?” To just see one guy increasingly over his head would have been a great proxy for us because we spend all that time with the Israelis and Paul Newman never smiles in this movie, he is a super-pinched character in this movie, not a sympathetic one, but we only love him because he is beautiful and he is righteous.

A: I can't believe how they kept Paul Newman's character totally clean and quaffed throughout. He gets up out of the water after swimming off of that boat, his hair is perfectly done, and his hair never gets out a place for the entire film. He is on a boat full of people on hunger strike. He is not suffering. His uniform is clean. He gets to wear the suit on that date with Kitty. We talk about this in other films, how much we admire a willingness for an actor to drop their vanity a little bit, and to get down in it, and that was one of the ailments of the film: I want to feel more trauma from a traumatic story and if Paul Newman is not willing to go through that with me and for me, it is going to be hard for me to get there with a film.

J: That is why Sal Mineo got nominated for an Oscar for this role!

A: What a fucked up job interview that was, though! ”Tell me about a time you have been traumatized!”, one of those open-ended interview questions. Brutal!

J: ”What is your weakest quality as a manager?”


Otto Preminger and Paul Newman not getting along

B: Repeatedly Otto Preminger and Paul Newman hated each other's guts and had an extremely conflicted relationship on this film set.

A: Did you read the dummy story?

B: Yeah, it is a on-set prank where Paul Newman was pissed off at Preminger about something and had a scene on a balcony where he finished shooting the scene and threw this dummy off and made Otto Preminger think that he had slipped and fallen off of the building. Preminger had a heart attack and had to be carried off set.

J: That sounds fun!

A: We know how terrible dummies were in this era of Hollywood. I admire Paul Newman's ingenuity to make a realistic looking dummy!

The context the movie was made in

B: I wonder which side the cleanness of Paul Newman came from, though. Was it Paul Newman's vanity or was it something about the way Otto Preminger saw that character? Because I was reading about the novel. There is a really amazing quote from Leon Urris in The New York Post on the Wikipedia article about the novel: ”There is a whole school of American Jewish writers who spend their time damning their fathers, hating their mothers, wringing their hands and wondering why they were born. This isn't art or literature. It's psychiatry. These writers are professional apologists. Every year you find one of their works on the bestseller list. Their work is obnoxious and makes me sick to my stomach. I wrote Exodus because I was just sick of apologizing or feeling that it was necessary to apologize.”

J: Yeah, boom!

A: Wow!

B: And I wonder if that is what Otto Preminger is trying to do with this. This is a very unapologetic movie. It does not start the way I start every Friendly Fire, which is by apologizing for having an opinion. It very forcefully makes its case. He also hired Dalton Trumbo to write the screenplay, despite the fact that Dalton Trumbo is on the Hollywood blacklist. This movie is a ”Fuck you!” to anyone that disagrees with its stated opinion.

J: There are aspects of the movie where that is clear. It has a side, in fact it only shows one side, but there are other long sweeping portions of the movie where it just feels like a propaganda film. Every time somebody says: ”Everyone gather round!” they all do and they are all quiet and listen as someone gives them like a really inspiring speech, and that felt like it veered away from the story in order to be a sentimental long advertisement for Israel.

B: Do you think that that is partly because of when in history this movie came out? I am just trying to think about the American audience for this film maybe having a vague sense of what the Holocaust meant to the refugees at the beginning of the film?

A: How shocking was Dov's Sonderkommando story to someone like that?

B: Yeah!

J: Well, much more shocking was the sodomy aspect of it. This movie played a huge role in making an American audience aware of Israel and making Israel the the protagonist. Israel is only at this point 12 years old!

B: Pre Six Day War that this came out. There is an idea out in the world of Israel that is this country that is constantly besieged by its neighbors that maybe hadn't been fully articulated yet at this point.

J: The book and then the movie followed on the heels of the Suez crisis, and after 1948 the Israeli Defense Force just basically handed their asses to every other nation in the region.

A: You can see how that would have happened with all that stick fighting practice you see in this movie. Very formidable military on the way!

J: Right, one gun for every 15 people. No, the foundation story of Israel is that the Arabs outnumbered them, had more weaponry, more everything, and on a shoestring, basically with sticks and a bunch of trucks that didn't have anybody in them, but with this incredible sense of purpose, they defeated overwhelming odds because the Arabs didn't have at the time much of a collective sense, that they were working as a unit. But in 1956 the Suez crisis was a situation where Israel invaded Egypt when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal. They invaded Egypt as a the tip of the spear for this British plan to recapture the canal and it was a disaster, not militarily, but diplomatically. The USA and the Soviets both turned on the Israelis and the British. It was a huge humiliation for everybody and they had no international support and they had to back out. This movie was made in the context of this post-Suez sense that the Israelis had overstepped their bounds, they were part of this fucked-up conspiracy, their reputation wasn't that good at this moment.

No, no trouble at all.

J: But what is this? This is right before the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, …

B: Exciting time to be alive!

J: … and there was a lot of shit going on geopolitically, so even though we never hear about Russians, that is not part of the story of the movie, it is part of the story of the time the movie was made.

B: And there may be being some effort by the filmmakers to rehabilitate the image of Israel in making this film. If that is the first thing everybody remembers about Israel: ”Oh, they were involved in that weird Suez crisis thing! Urg!”

J: … and you put a bunch of American actors at the front as a way of saying: ”Israel is just basically like America. It has got Sal Mineo in it. It is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, except over there!”

B: You just replace the Cat and the hot tin with a fiddler!

J: Fiddler on a Hot Tin Roof

That is a hell of a combination!

Moment of pedantry

B: I got a goof for you guys from the IMDB goof section: ”This film repeats a historical error contained in the original novel when Karen tells Dov that King Christian X of Denmark publicly wore a yellow star of David in defiance of a Nazi order that all Danish Jews do so. In fact, this incident never occurred. Danish Jews were never ordered to wear the Yellow Star!”

A: I knew something smelled funny about that story. That is Rudy! That is the story of Rudy!

The relationship between Karen and Dov

A: That moment between Karen and Dov when she tells him that story and then she is like: ”Well, if you don't get it, then that is what makes you the fucked-up person you are!” was not sufficient enough to ruin her love for him. (J: She really loved him.) and I thought for sure that it would. She loved him even though he didn't get that story.

J: She was 15 when this movie was made and she is playing a 15 year old and she does such a wonderful job of being 15 and never more 15 than in that scene and in the final scene where he promises to marry her and then he says: ”Go back to the base! From now on you have to do what I say!” and she gets a look of absolute complete satisfaction: ”Yes!” (A: ”Finally I have lost my agency!”) She is so pleased!

A: It is such a strange change because in the first scene we get with them he has completely lost it in that tent, he smashes the milk glass and is ready to come and stab him, Karen diffuses the bomb that is Dav in that scene. It is so weird that she has so much power that she is willing to give up for him.

J: It is weird in 2020. In 1948 that would have been exactly the dynamic!

A: It is cool and normal in 1948, I get you!

J: Well not cool and normal, but that would have been the dynamic: ”You can't tell me what to do, I am going to kick your ass, but now that I am your wife…”

B: That just gave me a flashback to my wife going through our Ketubah with a red pen and crossing out all the parts about her submitting to my will.

J: In the style of the time, one thing we forget about marriages prior to 1990 is that there has always been play acting or role playing.

A: It always goes back to stories of your first marriage in 1990, John! It always does!

J: There was a little bit of a D/s shared conspiracy about what the gender roles are going to be in marriages where there was actual equality between people. I am not saying that this is true across the board, but that was a voluntary submission on her part. If you want to send me letters about institutionalized patriarchy, you can send them to ben@gro.nietsneknufmumixam|flesruoykcufog#gro.nietsneknufmumixam|flesruoykcufog

B: No! They will just hurt my feelings! If you do send them to me, my wife is going to be the one that replies because she handles all our correspondences.

J: Let her read them and then she can put the pen in your hand.

A: She wrote that into your Ketubah!

Does your husband have something to say about that?

Continuity problems, the movie not using scenarios it had previously established

A: One of the moments in the film that got me up out of the couch and was like: ”What?” Some things I don't feel like are very forgivable in a film that is 3.5 hours, and one of them is continuity breaks that don't make a lot of sense. One of them was: Ari Ben Canaan meets up with Kitty after a long while and they have that dinner outside and Ari Ben Canaan is like: ”Babe, I know this menu top to bottom! Let me do the ordering! I will get us a few more martinis while we are at it!” He does that and then he gets that fake phone call and then he leaves to go take that meeting. The next day in movie time, he still gets that ride from Kitty out to the farm and we get no resolution to the idea that he just fucking ditched her with the dinner and with the check. I spent the next 10 minutes going: ”Oh, any time now Kitty is going to drop this bomb on Ari Ben Canaan about how fucked up it was the night before!”, but: Nothing!

B: Adam really watches this movie through the lens of his own life!

A: I don't care what time period it is, you can't leave a dinner with a woman that you are interested in and expect there to be no consequences!

J: When he took that fake phone call and it was like: ”You got to go!” and he said:" "But wait a minute, I got to go say something to my date!” and they are like: ”Now or never!” and he leaves, you are absolutely right: The movie lit a fuse and what that established was that this was an important meeting, so important that he would bail on that. But also you couldn't leave that unresolved and I also spent 10 minutes going: ”Oh, the shit hits the fan!”

A: A movie like Goodfellas makes that moment Kitty's realization where all of a sudden Kitty is like: ”Oh, this is an important and powerful and dangerous man!” and it would have imbued the meeting with his parents with a different type of energy, too!

J: But I, unlike you, completely forgot it as soon as they were together again. I was just like: ”Herp-a-derp-a-derp! Along for the ride!” and now that you bring it up, I am outraged that the movie did not use that. The movie does that several times where it lays out a thing where it is like: ”When you come back to this, it is going to make this movie incredible!” and then they never come back to it.

Paul Newman’s stunt work

A: I want to call attention to one thing: I have been slagging on Paul Newman a lot in this conversation, but at the end of that scene he has hopped off the back of that motorcycle and in one unbroken take he gets off the motorcycle, climbs up that rock wall to the top and walks out of frame. One of the things I liked about this movie were scenes like that, where we are not cutting away during some action and I liked seeing Paul Newman physically climb up a wall when he had to. That wasn't the only example where he or other people were called upon to do something like that.

J: I would like to point out: This movie suggests that to live in Israel requires that you routinely scale a ten foot wall over and over!

A: Dov did it all the time!

B: Dov was doing parkour in the scene where he is running around the church.

A: Yeah, I don't know about you, Ben, but I don't have a lot of Otto Preminger reps in my movie watching and I really dug what he does with sequences. It always felt like a conversation was starting and then we were moving to two or three places within the room and then it rested at B with some sort of action in the background.

B: Yeah, his ability to mount a scene is pretty great! I felt like this movie really moved. I did not find it to be dull or challenging to get through the 3.5 hours. We sat down and watched 3.5 hours of movie. We did not pause. We did not take long breaks, we weren't looking at our phones. It really had us at my house and I think that part of that is scope and scale. We haven't even talked about the huge jailbreak set piece, which is probably a 30 minute set piece that is really fun and well done and has lots of great little moments. All the guys are using the smuggled-in parts to make grenades and shit while they are supposed to be sleeping.

A: It was neat to see the photographs of the actual jailbreak compared to what we got in the movie. it was really well done!

The sound being terrible

J: I felt like the sound was terrible. There was just a lot of room noise, it felt like the dialogue was being captured in the moment, not dubbed, but the mics seemed really far away in these echoey rooms where I am trying to make out dialogue and I am hearing people pouring water and walking around in leather soled shoes, but also so much of the dialogue went into people's armpits in this movie that it became a stress watch for me. There were a couple of moments where things were dubbed, one time really badly where the guy was calling the Mesuin (?) from the top of the minaret and he was like: ”<John makes an impression of what it sounded>”, but you can see his lips are not moving. He was really shouting that! (B: He was not that out of focus, movie!), but can you please explain to me what was going on with the sound, and did you guys also notice it? Admittedly, I was watching it on my phone and I was in the bathtub and I had the shower going, but it was hard to hear.

B: This movie does not have the same level of restoration care brought to it that for example Lawrence of Arabia did. The version of Lawrence of Arabia that we watched for this show was very recently remastered at great expense and with a ton of care, and this movie had been scanned in HD, so it has been digitized fairly recently, but there are still scenes where you can see damage to certain reels. If this movie ever got the Criterion treatment or had its place in history alongside Lawrence of Arabia as being considered one of the Important Films, we might have had a very different sound experience watching it, but this seems like analog sound that was as good as they could muster in 1960, but is crappy and LoFi by contemporary standards.

J: But we watched so many movies from this period where the sound is good!

B: There are some things like bad lip sync on dubs and stuff like adding dialogue when somebody wasn't talking or whatever, that you still would have noticed, but I think that the ”straining to hear what people are saying” thing may partly be due to a production house that was sent a bunch of reels of analog film and said: ”Digitized this in HD!” and just ran it through the system and didn't try and remaster the audio at all.

J: The reason I ask: I didn't want to out myself as not watching this on my phone because it is part of my brand, but I had just two days prior purchased a Sonos sound bar for my giant 75 foot television, so I have this sound bar now that makes everything seem like it is a Hip Hop video and I was like: ”Yeah, I am never going to have that experience again of watching a classic movie where I can hear people's sweat!”, which is different from being able to hear clearly, and then the sound bar just made this echoey indistinct audio worse.

B: It sounds like the good ship Exodus ran aground on a soundbar.

J: Rob, I hope you just leave that!

A: I couldn't hold it! I wanted to hold it so much longer!

I just keep thinking how scared he must be right now!

Ben’s take in relation to his Jewish family

J: I wonder, Ben: We often watch movies and have very different experiences. You must have been preloaded in the sense that when you talked about that this movie was next on your list, did you hear from your in-laws a lot, did you get a lot of pre-funk on it?

B: Most of my in-laws are non-podcast-listeners, but there are people in my wife's family that do listen to the show and one compliment I get from time to time is that they really appreciate that we have conversations on this show where we don't agree and that we still have good conversations. There is a feeling that disagreements are so intractable now in the world that you can't even have a conversation with somebody that isn't on the same page as you politically, and I think that is one of the strengths of this show, that I have lots of preconceptions about geopolitics and history that I am forced to test against your an Adam’s scrutiny and I think that that is true for all three of us. The folks that show up at Cedars in my wife's family are Zionists and I have never talked to them about this movie in particular.

A: But when you are in their homes, do you ever see the 3-VHS set of Exodus under their television?

B: The Exodus poster signed by Otto Preminger?

J: Yeah, well, now you are going to have lots to talk about, now that you have seen it!

B: Yeah. I never felt like I could form a really cogent personal viewpoint on Israel and Palestine. Part of that is that I just I feel like who in the world is asking for another non-Jewish Western white guy to have a really strident opinion about that, leave it to the people that live there to have their conversations!

J: People are not having a very good sense of what is going on here in this region… First of all: The more you know about it, the less of a good sense you have, but also that has never stopped anyone from taking a stance on it.

B: I have read a lot about it and the more I read about it, the less confident I am in my own ability to decide what a good solution seems like to me. Like I was saying before: If you have differences of opinion about this issue, it shuts the conversation down for a lot of people. There have been just in my lifetime pretty awful things done on either side of that issue and I don't know how to do the moral math of trying to balance the ledger. It may be a defense mechanism. Maybe if I stuck to the dictates of my political allegiances I might show up at a Secote (?) and have really strident opinions that were very much against the beliefs of my extended family, and that would be hard for me to deal with.

J: You would show up in your kaftia (?) with your Arafat T-shirt on.

A: Your mistake would be asking how your dictates!

J: Come on! You get five minutes in a time out chair, Adam!

A: Really? You were just talking about how it doesn't matter how much you know about this conflict, and it made me feel seen. It made me feel like a valued member of the show!

B: I watched this movie, knowing that it was a movie mounted from a viewpoint of an Austrian born Jewish American film director and a communist writer and I found the viewpoint of this movie very compelling. It is pretty clear that they greatly emphasized the valid concerns of the Arabs in this movie and essentially painted them out of the movie or showed them being shock troops that were aligned with the Nazis, which is not the most flattering depiction.

J: That was a pretty over-the-top moment!

The state of Israel

B: But also the problem at the beginning of this movie is: ”What the fuck are these people going to do?” I don't know that there was a way better solution that was not entertained. I just don't know! What about you, John? What do you think? I guess we are going to be entering the review portion of our show where we review the state of Israel!

A: Even I wouldn't come up with a rating system for that, Ben. It is all yours! I yield my time and my rating system!

J: One thing I have always avoided talking about in all of the podcasts I do is Israel, and over time I realized that the side that you take in this is almost arbitrary, just depending on where you heard about it first and where your sympathies lie and what your idea of land is, whether or not war is just, and whether identity is rooted in land or identity is rooted in something else.

B: I always wonder: If I call myself a Zionist, that means different things to different people and that is part of where my moral cowardice starts: I don't necessarily know what the word means to everyone that would hear it and therefore don't want to use it for fear of misusing it.

J: Just in having said that, I know that there are a bunch of people that are going to be mad. The Israelis proved themselves over and over militarily, they defeated all comerce, they fought overwhelming odds, and just in terms of whatever the rules of war are. They have demonstrated claim to that land, just because they took it, if for no other reason, in the same way that you could make a claim to any people having a nation, for any nation having a state, there is no reason that Hungary exists where it is, except for the Magyars came in there at a certain point and claimed it, and it happened long enough ago that we don't say: ”We need to get these Magyars out of here and push them back over the caucuses because they have no right to be here!”

A: I have lost friends over over my feelings about the Magyars, though, so I definitely know what a hot potato this is.

B: That is something I think about all the time: There is not that many pieces of land on Earth that don't have some history of somebody taking it from someone else at the point of a gun, sword, or whatever.

J: Nobody is from anywhere, ultimately! If you listen to Michael Chabon, the Jews should own Alaska and that would have been a wonderful solution to the whole problem, or Arizona and New Mexico, except there were people there already.

B: It worked out great for them in that book! You bring up the Magyars as a joke because it is long enough ago that nobody gives a shit about that anymore, or at least nobody around here, and this is such a hot conflict because there is a recency to it and still a lot of racialized tension around it.

J: In most cases, most of the wars we watch movies about are either wars where the invading army is there to either pacify or to steal or to destroy, but very seldom is it an army that has come to take, to displace people, and move in. But traditionally throughout history, that is a big part of what wars were. The Norman conquest was not just to take candlesticks back to Normandy. The Norman conquest was to conquer and actually push Anglo-Saxons into the channel. The European conquest of North America was a conquest to take and populate.

B: Well, that one is different, though, because God said we could!

J: God said we could and also: There was no one here! Completely empty country! We are doing a lot of revisionism now, we are looking back at, for instance, the European conquest of North America and we have a lot to say about it now, but that is as far back as anybody is willing to go. The colonial period globally is what we are examining now, but nobody wants to go back to 1200 and it is interesting that we are willing to go back to the 18th century, but not the 15th century. It is very much arbitrary.

B: Nobody is arguing that the Italians actually have a right to the land of Israel because it used to be part of the Roman Empire and that it was unjustly taken away from them when Rome fell.

J: Israel is the most recent example and maybe one of the only examples of a people that were stateless for 2000 years…

B: … and crucially: somebody tried to get rid of all of them right before this!

J: …, and the formation of the state and the belligerence behind it and the belligerence in Israel even now, maybe especially now? Israel is 70 years old! None of this is set in stone! There are no guarantees!

B: My dad is older than Israel! That is the thing that sucks: You really don't find people who are capable of changing their minds on this issue because if you are on the side of: ”I am pro-Palestine, anti-Israel. Israel is an apartheid state and rotten to its core!” and that is where my beliefs are, you can't rehabilitate your own image of that. It is possible to be pro-Israel and not pro the politics of Israel, necessarily. Especially in the US, if you are not avowedly pro-Israel, you can be accused of being anti-Israel. If you are think Israel has a right to exist, but don't agree with X, Y or Z, you can have the antisemite insults thrown at you pretty easily.

J: That whole thing of: ”My blood runs in the rocky soil of my father's olive orchard!” is just such a load of fucking mazurka-playing bullshit, in my estimation.

B: That is also where the religious import of Israel comes in and that is where all of the rationality goes out the window at that point.

J: Jerusalem should be an international city, right? Jerusalem should be a freaking space station!

B: Almost like the Vatican where it is its own thing inside of another thing?

J: Yeah, a city state that is open to the people of all the world. It should not be ruled by any one group and there should be a circle around it 50 miles wide and it should be unique in the world because it is the temple of the three Abrahamic faiths.

B: We should protect the place that gave us the three Abrahamic faiths, the three forces for good in the world!

J: Yeah, we should build a dome over it, another dome over the dome that is over the dome.

B: Wow! Triple Dome!


A: Well, I really wish someone would break me out of this conversational prison I have been in for the last 25 minutes. (J: I am so sorry!) I am looking around at all the contraband that has been sent to me. I am checking my cakes to see if anything is inside.

J: What about you, Adam? What about you? What is your take? What is your take? Where do you fall?

A: I am uninterested and untrusting of all religions equally. That is what I will say!

J: Yeah! Strong take!

Reviewing the movie

A: I read that Preminger thought the book was poorly written, but about an interesting subject matter, and the book has been called anti-British, but I did also read that the book featured a scene where British warships rammed the Exodus boat, and that would have been interesting in a 3.5 hour movie. This is what gets to the heart of what I feel like I am here to do. You guys did that thing that you just did…

B: You mean: ”got cancelled”?

A: Right! What is great about the review portion of this episode is that no-one is going to stick around to hear it. I know we have talked about films with depictions of Israel and Palestine and Turkey and Armenia and a host of others, and I did and do my best not to involve myself with the specifics of those conflicts, first because I am not educated enough about them and mostly because I am more interested in how a film handles those things. In a weird way, that is a film's job in a subject like this: ”Can you teach me enough about the subject matter to where I can form an argument and hang in a conversation?” I don't think this one does that particularly well. I read a lot of reviews of this film and ”epic” was a word thrown around a lot, but while the film is epic in length, I don't think the story matches up with it. It has elements that were of great interest to me. The boat and the prison break were exciting parts of the story that I will think of when I think of this movie, and as far as a rating system goes, there is a scene where they have gotten Dav arrested, which is a scene we are deprived of, we are told: ”We are just going to leave it up to Dav whether or not he wants to turn himself in to be the inside guy, to blow up the walls from the inside, ’I am not going to order him!’ someone says, it is going to be up to Dav!” We never see that. We see Dav being sent to prison and inside the assembled prisoners are given the tools they need with which to break out. These tools are contained in all manner of things: We got… Are those cows? What are the big meats carried in on shoulders into this prison?

J: They have to be goats, right?

A: They look so big, though!

B: They seem too small to be cows.

J: Big goats, small cows.

A: They are smuggled in via animal parts, there is a scene outside the prison where the people are waiting to have their visits and they are getting their sausages cut up and their cakes. All other gifts are just being slashed by these prison guards. It sucks! All these cakes getting ruined! But the cake filled with explosive is what we see later specifically. Non-specifically we see envelopes being pulled from animal parts and stuff, but it is inside the cake where we see the makings of an explosive device and the contraband cake is going to be the review system for Exodus. 1-5 of those will be how we determine how we feel about it. Getting back to the idea of the truth of a story versus its film depiction: One of the things that Exodus doesn't really do to my satisfaction is really take a side. I think that works fine for war movie podcasts, but maybe less so for the war movies, and I was shocked at how down the middle this thing played out, up to the point where we finally get a Nazi leader that we can all agree to hate. I feel like we started writing the story at the gravesite. I know all of these incidents are based on reality, but I feel like in a screenwriting perspective we start at the gravesite and work backwards, and that is a very unsatisfying way to sketch out a story. There is a genre for films that don't take sides and that play the stories from the middle, and those are called documentaries and I wish Otto Preminger chose that as his project instead of this, because when you are a filmmaker it is your duty… Especially when you have a stated opinion about a source material the way he did. He thought the book sucked and he thought the story was more interesting. Well, make something better, Otto Preminger, and don't leave out cool stuff like boat ramming. I felt exhausted by the end of this movie and not in a way I like to be after movies that I love. It feels like an achievement in technical storytelling and there are a lot of technical things that I like about this film, but it is an exercise in that rather than one that is evocative in the way that I like my films. I know this film and this story has a special meaning to a lot of people, but the duty of a filmmaker is, especially if you don't like your source material, ”Make it good and interesting!” and I was not interested in it. So I am going to give it 2.75 cakes.

B: There is a lot I disagree with about what you just said and a lot I agree with, but I have a hard time imagining watching this film and feeling like it didn't take a side. It felt very pointed to me. It felt like it was very much yelling from the rooftops. It wants the state of Israel to be available to both people, that felt like the whole point of burying Taha the same grave as Karen. I may be in the minority here, but I really enjoyed watching this film. It was interesting and entertaining and I didn't have the experience of finding that it dragged or that it was losing my attention. I loved the language in the dialogue. I thought the dialogue was was particularly well-written, and it was really interesting that aside from the Nazi and the Arab stormtroops there wasn't a Big Bad. This movie does not posit a world in which all problems come from mustache-twirling evil people that are avowedly evil. It says that there are evil people in the world, but a lot of the evil in the world comes from bullshit, like lightly anti-Semitic British officers trying to find a bureaucratic solution for a problem that doesn't really have a bureaucratic solution, and the heroes in this movie are taking matters into their own hands and cutting through that red tape and making it their business to found a state. I got a lot out of watching this one. When we roll the dice and it lands on a 3.5 hour movie we all have a lot of misgivings about continuing to have a podcast when that happens, like: ”Fuck, really!”, but I was totally pleasantly surprised by this one and I am going to give it 4 cakes.

J: There are quite a few movies in this movie. We talk about this a lot. Sometimes you can have a 3.5 hour long movie like Lawrence of Arabia, and there aren't a lot of movies in it. It is just one movie. And then there are other movies, sometimes really short movies, that still have a lot of different movies in them and this one does. The movie sets up the Haganah as the moderate revolutionary group that is more politically inclined, but still aggro, and Paul Newman takes this group of refugees and turns them into a political football. We are pitted then ”Hagana against the British occupation” and the post-war British global colonial project spiralling out of their control. That is all really interesting and there is a lot of history there and a great opportunity to tell this sweeping story. At the same moment on the other side of the world India and Pakistan are also partitioning, also representing a place where Britain has been a colonial power for centuries, also creating two new countries in a place that had been basically a shared space for thousands of years, and in the case of India and Pakistan within a year of the events of this film, 15 million refugees were produced in that partition, 7 million Muslims walked from what were their homes in India to the new state of Pakistan, and 7 million Hindus walked on opposite sides of the same roads and over a million people died just in the transfer. The events here are not only not unprecedented, but this was happening globally. The expulsion of Germans from all of Eastern Europe, Germans in some cases who had lived there for generations at the end of World War II, is a story that never gets told, the German expulsion of all these people that were living in Bulgaria for 200 years: ”No more Germans! I am sorry. If you are a German, you are back in Germany. Fuck you, guys!” I know that I am going to get letters from people being an apologist for Bulgarian Germans. I think you know the email address. But then this movie turns into basically a soap opera between the Haganah and the Irgun, and basically what they are are two different philosophies of how to resist the British. The Haganah want to take a diplomatic route, and the Irgun have decided that terrorism is the only way and we pivot to this story of two brothers estranged, one who believes in car bombs and one who believes in the kibbutzim, the acoustic guitar, and big mustaches. Then we spend the rest of the movie on the kibbutz, both supposed to luxuriate in its equanimity and also get ready to fight for its existence, and the movie just wanders off into the desert. As somebody that really cares about this issue and this story, and I don't mean to make myself sound unsympathetic to the Palestinians. Like I say: I have chosen a side and it is not that I don't have tremendous sympathy for the cause of the other. I don't think there are very many people in this world, unless you are completely indoctrinated, who can look at either side of this conflict and say the other side doesn't have almost exactly an equally good case. It is just that if it is a 50:50 split on which way you are going to go, you have to just decide that it is 49:51. Just looking at the partition of India and realizing that 15 million people made that transit and over a million died, and then compare it to this situation in Palestine and you are talking about 700.000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced. This is the other side of this story that you don't hear very often: After the formation of Israel in 1948 the Jews that lived throughout the Arab world were largely expelled from Morocco and Iraq and Iran and Syria, in some cases communities of Jews that had been living there for centuries at least. They were expelled from those countries because suddenly there was so much anger in the Arab world about this that although 700.000 Palestinians were expelled from Palestine, at least 700.000 Jews were expelled from other places and went to the new state of Israel because they weren't welcome in the rest of the Arab world. It is a very similar partition story to Pakistan and India, it is just that Pakistan and India was an exponentially larger number of people.

A: Are there any other global controversies you want to include in the conversation? I don't want to leave any of them unreferenced!

J: I was just about to get to the Trail of Tears. The Native American population of Georgia in 1805… No, I am not going to go there. I can't think of another instance where I am going to sidle up next to Adam. I really feel like there is so much in this movie that is great. This is an example of a movie that everyone should watch, but cognizant of its flaws, so 2 slices of bomb-laden cake and then 3/4 of a slice that I am going to try and get away with, saying I didn't have a third slice: ”No, I cut off a little bit over here, I just evened it up!”

A: You are really playing with fire when you stick bomb-making materials into a cake and then that cake is cut by a guard. What are the chances?

B: I was just thinking about baking a cake that has gunpowder hidden in it!

A: I like the strategy of putting it into the heel part. If you can cosy (?) the material as close to the heel as possible, most guards aren't going to cut through the heel.

J: We saw the guard cut the sausage, but I think that that cake came pre sliced, like sliced bread basically, and the guard looks at it and if somebody is bringing bread through and you are a guard, you don't want to manhandle the bread too much, you want to show some respect.

B: I liked seeing that sausage. Somebody went to Zabar's and got a little present for the prisoners!

J: Send a salami to your boy in the army!

Who is your guy?

A: I got to pick a guy before the show is over. Ben, who is your guy?

B: My guy is an early-in-the-film character, Dr. Odenheim. He was the chief medical officer of the Vienna School of Medicine who winds up on the boat.

A: He has the epiphany that maybe children shouldn't be a part of a hunger strike. Cool, dog! I think we have all learned a valuable lesson here!

B: I love that guy! I love that he is just like: ”Hey, why don't we put some bathrooms and stuff in here? What do you think?”

A: I like that idea!

B: He would have been your greatest advocate, had you been a war refugee on the Exodus, Adam!

A: He would have been a hero to me!

B: And to everyone around you!

A: Yeah! My guy also comes from the boat. We get to know a few side characters during these scenes and my guy Lakavitch was introduced almost in the first shot in the film, he is cued up, he is one of the guys playing chess. He would rather trade his shower time with someone else than quit the chess match he is in, and I have at times been so involved in the game that I haven't wanted to quit for any reason, so I feel that, Lakavitch, it is going to make you my guy!

B: I feel like that chess game is going to get worse and worse as they get more and more malnourished, right?

A: Yeah, they are going to be making some bad moves!

J: Playing chess takes a lot of energy. You burn up those those bomb breads pretty fast!

A: Who is your guy, John?

J: My guy also is from the early part of the movie and I have to think that because the three of us all have guys from the early part of the movie, that that was at a time when the movie was promising to be a different movie, but when Paul Newman…

B: I didn't watch anything after the boat stuff. What happened after that?

J: Early on in the movie, when Paul Newman puts on his British army officers outfit and is arranging to procure a convoy to rescue all of the refugees and he goes into the logistics office and sits down at the desk of some junior officer and hands him a piece of paper with some forged signatures on it, demanding 14 lorries. The guy gets on the phone, he is like: ”I got to call my superior!” and Paul Newman, super-chill in this moment: ”Sure, call him!”, he picks up the phone, this beautiful black 1940s telephone, and he rings up his superior, and for whatever reason Preminger decides to make the voice on the other end audible. Now, what any other filmmaker would have done in this moment is: We would have watched Paul Newman while the guy on the phone went: ”<indistinct noise>” and the officer sitting at the desk did a Bob Newhart and was like: ”Oh, yes sir! Okay! Well, yes sir!”, but instead we hear the captain: ”What? What does he want? Oh, well, does he have the piece of paper? Was it signed? Well, did he use a pencil or pen? Well, then if it is signed and he has got a piece of paper, then give it to him. Why are you calling me?” This inane vaudeville dialogue of a guy who is super-mad. When he picks up the phone he is like: ”What?” He is like a caricature of a super-angry British officer and - that is why this movie is 3.5 hours long - we sit through the entire conversation and instead of focusing on Paul Newman's cool, instead of letting that actor have his Bob Newhart moment, we are all sitting there, trying to make out what this guy is saying, and in the end it is just three minutes of our time as movie watchers. The whole time I was like: ”Oh, that is my guy!” I hate that guy, and I hate that that guy is in this movie, I hate that they hired a guy to do that, I hate that they put a mic on that, but that guy for sure!

B: In the director's cut there is actually a scene with that guy on the other side and he has just lost a game of chess to Lakavitch.

J: It is a split-screen that splits over and: ”Does he have a piece of paper? Well, is it signed? Well, God damn it, man!”


Choosing the next movie

B: John, you want to roll that bone?

J: Well, normally under our regular circumstances we record this show in the morning. Usually I show up having only just awakened, and by this time in this show I have consumed my coffee and I have an empty coffee mug to roll the die, but today we had some technical problems earlier and now we are recording the show at night and I don't have a coffee cup because I am not drinking coffee at this hour.

B: What the heck! What are we going to do?

J: Well, what did happen today was: I got an envelope in the mail because I had ordered on eBay some Star Wars figurines for my daughter who loves Star Wars, and the Star Wars figurines came in a priority mail envelope. Now, I have to say that the figurines themselves are Clone Wars based figurines, not original eps, because she is very into Clone Wars, so we got young Anakin here. The person that sent these, though, did not turn their arms around right, so their arms all look screwed up. Anyway! So I don't have the coffee cup, but I do have this plastic bag and I am going to roll the dice inside the plastic bag. Ready? What is even more messed up is: It seems like the person that sent these sprayed the inside of the bag with Febreze just to make the figurines smell fresh or something. There is also a Lando Calrissian!

A: Covering up that they had lived in a smoker's household?

J: I don't know, they don't smell like smoke, but they do smell like Febreze. There are two Dark Vaders, which seems weird. Then there is that guy from the Trade Federation. Who cares about these? But she will, she will love them! Okay, anyway, here we go: In the bag, ready?

A: I don't know why, but my mouth is watering!

J: 94!

B: Big 94 is a 2011 film set in World War II, directed by Adrian Vittoria, it is called Age of Heroes.

J: Age of Heroes!

B: Interesting, this is maybe going to be another espionage based World War II film because according to IMDB this is the true story of the formation of Ian Fleming's No. 30 Commando unit, a precursor for the elite forces in the UK.

J: Mmmm, what do you know about them apples?

B: And it has got Sean Bean!

A: I do like a Sean Bean. I do not like this title, though. It sounds like a video game.

B: It does kind of sound like a video game! I have never heard of this movie before.

A: It sounds like the name of an iPhone game that you see a weird commercial for, a 10 second commercial that says Download Age of Heroes.

B: And it looks like fucking amazing, but then you download the game and it is almost entirely unlike what you saw in the commercial.

A: And then you need to buy a bunch of shit. It is not free. It says it is free.

B: It says that James Darcy is playing Fleming. Remember James D’Arcy from Master and Commander? He was the lieutenant that is made captain at the end.

J: He is wonderful!

J: I like that guy!

A: Cool!


B: That will be next week on Friendly Fire, but we are going to leave it with Robs Robs Robs Robs from here on, so for Adam Pranica and John Roderick I have been Ben Harrison. To the victorg go the spoiler alerts.

R: Friendly Fire is a MaximumFun podcast, hosted by Adam Pranica, Ben Harrison and John Roderick. The show is produced and edited by me, Rob Schulte. Our theme music is War by Edwin Starr, courtesy of Stone Agate Music, and our podcast are is by Nick Dittmer. If you need more Friendly Fire, take a look back at our episode covering Beasts of No Nation, which we released this time last year. It is a film that follows a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country. Feel like supporting our show? Head to maximumfun.org/join, and for as little as $5 a month not only will you receive our bonus pork chop feed, you will also get all of the bonus content from MaximumFun. And don't forget, you can now follow us on Twitter and Instagram under the handles FriendlyFireRSS. Thanks for listening! We will see you next week with another episode of Friendly Fire!

J: Well, I hope that Robs is able to keep us from getting completely cancelled!

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