Niall Ferguson Political Prophet and Cinefile. American Writer comments

Headline:Seven days in August tell us ‘We’re not Rome’

Sub-headline: The US president is no Caesar, and the imperial moment lies in the past

Recall that Mr Ferguson opened his August 11, 2019 column with this, framed in the above headline and sub-headline :

‘A republic, madam — if you can keep it.” That was supposedly Benjamin Franklin’s reply to a woman who asked him the result of the constitutional convention after it adjourned in 1787.

But later in his essay he mentions his bedtime reading:

My bedtime reading last week was Seven Days in May, a bestselling novel by Charles W Bailey and Fletcher Knebel, first published in 1962, when John Kennedy was president. It’s a reminder that “We are Rome” was a much more plausible claim in the early phase of the Cold War than it is today.

Mr. Ferguson’s essay then evolves into a discussion of the 1964 film, Seven Days in May, starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, Ferguson can’t resist the temptation to engage in a bit of what? Hyperbolically charged Movie Criticism?

The president, Jordan Lyman, is a bookish former governor who has signed a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. The would-be emperor, General James Scott (played with wolfish charisma by Burt Lancaster in the film), regards Lyman as a weakling and a dupe.

The pungent characterization of Lancaster’s performance as displaying ‘wolfish charisma‘ demonstrates that Ferguson possesses literary prowess?

In his August 25, 2019 essay Mr. Ferguson opens it with this headline and sub-headline. He frames this essay with another American Movie reference:

Headline: From Trump’s trade wars to Brazil’s fires, the world is on the brink

Sub-headline: Global games of chicken are frying our planet

‘Hey, Toreador! . . . We head for the edge, and the first man who jumps is a chicken. All right?” In Rebel without a Cause, Jim (James Dean) and Buzz (Corey Allen) play the most famous game of chicken in Hollywood history, driving their jalopies at full speed towards a Californian cliff. At the last minute, Jim jumps. Buzz, his sleeve caught on the door handle, plunges to his death.

Mr. Ferguson is catching up on his American Movie viewing, which seems to favor Hollywood political potboilers and melodramas!

Mr. Ferguson has missed one of Lancaster’s most unmannered and memorable performances in ‘The Sweet Smell of Success’, in which he plays newspaper columnist J.J. Hunsecker, modeled after Walter Winchell.

American Writer




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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