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« "Phil Sheridan standing guard over the Stonewall Inn" | Main | Can we just call the narcissistic bastard what he is? »


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The other fictional character I thought of whilst reading this is from Robert Bolt's valentine to his imaginary Thomas More; More's would-be syncophant and ultimate betrayer Richard Rich.

Rich, too, is essentially a mediocre nonentity who longs for greatness that he is self-evidently unprepared and unqualified for. Rich, too, mooches his way to worldly success by becoming a useful tool to a genuinely evil (but superbly competent evil) Thomas Cromwell.

The difference is that More as Obi-Wan is a more worldly-wise teacher and tries to make Rich understand that there are glories to be found in humble callings that are sorely lacking in glorious position for which the occupant hasn't the capacity; he tries to convince Rich to be a teacher.

Sir Thomas More: "Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one."

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

Of course, on the page you miss the wonderful voices. The agonized whine of John Hurt's Rich lamenting that the real pain of being a great teacher is that no one would know him, and Scofield's dry, sorrow-infused reply that those who would know would be, indeed, the only ones worth knowing.

And, of course, when Rich lies in Milleresque style and More knows he is doomed, he stops Rich on his self-important bustle off the witness stand and notes that Rich is wearing a chain of office. What is it? The red dragon?

Cromwell answers for Rich in his self-satisfied, bullying way "Sir Richard has been appointed Attorney General for Wales." And More looks up at Rich with his eyes full of rueful knowledge that those who betray can expect only betrayal themselves in the end and says, lightly:

"Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world..."

and then, perfectly weighted with the arid Scofield scorn, adds:

"...but for Wales?"

Lance Mannion

Chief, I can't tell you how glad I am you brought up A Man for All Seasons. Thanks for taking the time to quote it at length. And as you probably know, Steve Bannon has compared himself to Cromwell.


Well, who better to be the proto-Tangerine-Toddler than the original blustering, gluttonous, impulsive pussy-grabber, Henry VIII? And by that I mean the Holbein Henry, not the shining prince Young Hal, but the immense despot of the 1530s; massive, truculent.

I'm fascinated that Bannon sees himself as Trump's Cromwell, given the similarities between the immense man-babies and how easily a single royal tantrum can result with your head on a pike (or your ass out in the street...) While I'm not surprised that Bannon has the ego to assume that he won't make the mistakes Cromwell made, I'm not sure that he hasn't made the same mistake that his predecessor made; assuming that because the weasel is smarter than the tiger that he can and will buck the tiger.

But one day he is likely to turn and find the tiger's huge jaws, open above his head, and in that last horrible moment realize that all the smarts and cunning in the world are helpless within that ruthless maw.

El Jefe


To call back a phrase from your Army days, if our gracious host will permit me the, uh, emphasis: each of those two comments was a thing of fucking beauty. It doesn't get better than Scofield's More, who was I fear often an unctuous twerp in life but not as written, not as written. I sometimes wonder if, with his own encyclopedic theatrical mind, Alec Guys ness had Man in mind during scenes like the one where he first gives Luke his father's light saber. Bannon is a Thomas, among the many Thomases who were around Holbein's Henry, but Howard I think, not Cromwell. With Kelly-Anne his Catherine pledged to the corpulent throne in trade for the coming power. That ended even worse.


And as a note re: "The Fall and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker, by George Lucas" I wrote this seven years ago; Anakin/Vader as Othello:

"We didn't get it, back in 1977, that the story we were seeing wasn't the beginning of the coming-of-age hero tale of Luke Skywalker but the middle of the grand fall-and-redemption tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. That we weren't watching young King Arthur or the Dambusters or Kurosaqa's "Hidden Fortress" but The Tragedy of Othello, with Ian McDiarmid as Iago."


El Jefe: My understanding is that the actual More was a more complex man than the wry humanist Bolt wrote and Scofield portrays. He seems to have been a very loving father and husband, a learned man and a fairly decent author, and an honest and diligent public servant.

But More was also a virulent and rabidly partisan Catholic who seems, at the very least, to have pursued at least one Protestant to the stake. He was not anything like the tolerant man in Bolt's play or in the film where religion was concerned. And, obviously, his intransigence on the issue of papal supremacy cost him his head.

I'm not sure where Conway fits into this one. Perhaps the spiteful courtier Lady Rochford, who betrayed Catherine Howard to her death? Seems Kellyanne's style.

However I think her model is from another tale of dramatic goings-on and high drama, which is why I call her Grimanne Wormtongue.

El Jefe


This. This is a true thing you have said. And I'd have paid with my own kidneys to see McDiarmid in his prime actually play Iago.


"Except that “middle America” is always a way of saying white America and the ethnicity of the men and women whose plight is of utmost concern to the speaker,..."
Makes everything written thereafter Fake News.

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