Saturday, 7 July 2018

thrones and dominions or patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel

Though thwarted by the rise of fascism and its spectacular failure in Europe with the film being kept out of circulation for seventy years along with other laudable efforts of the Warner Brothers studio to make sure that the politics of totalitarianism weren’t glorified in North America as well (more here), the 1933 pre-Code Hollywood (the era before the Hays’ rules on self-censorship that curtailed what had previously been rather frank depictions of profanity, violence, illicit drug-use and promiscuity as well as rhetorically dangerous and subversive points of view, unchecked) production of Gabriel over the White House, starring Walter Huston, father of director John Huston. With the financial backing and creative input of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, the bizarre political fantasy, wish-fulfilment piece, named for the archangel, depicts a typically partisan United States president transfigured after a near-death encounter (resulting from a automobile accident) by divine intervention.
Congress makes good on their commitment to impeach the president (please visit this link if the video does not display), who responds by first nationising the production and sale of alcohol—the country’s ill-fated experiment with Prohibition (previously) having just concluded—then dissolving the legislative and judicial branches and declaring himself dictator (presumably in the imperial Roman sense, or perhaps not) and seizing absolute power. In order to speed the US recovery from the Great Depression in the interbellum period, the president directs the creation of a corps of construction workers to be employed improving national infrastructure and creates a federal police force of ‘stormtroopers’ to enforce martial law. Threatening to destroy the world with America’s new secret weapon, the president successfully lobbies global powers for a lasting peace and having accomplished his divinely-appointed mission, the president is quietly assumed into the bosom of heaven.