Tag: Hollywood

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

by Susan Orlean


A Little Rin Tin Tin History

rin tin tin

On Sept. 15, 1918, an American soldier named Lee Duncan discovered a litter of German Shepherd puppies in the wreckage of a recently shelled German WW I encampment. He kept two of the young puppies, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, and managed to get them onboard when he shipped back to the United States from France at the end of the War.

I felt there was something about their lives that reminded me of my own life,” Duncan later wrote of the puppies. “They had crept right into a lonesome place in my life and had become a part of me.

Lee Duncan

The lonesomeness in Lee Duncan developed because he’d spent part of his young life in an orphanage in Oakland when his father abandoned his mother and his young mother simply could not feed or support Lee and his sister.

Lee loved his dogs and seemed to have quite a knack for training them. The thought entered his mind that perhaps, his dogs could become canine movie stars. He always thought Nanette was the smarter of the two, but there was something about Rin Tin Tin.

After the war, Duncan pursued his dream, taking Rin Tin Tin to California, where the dog got a big Hollywood break when one of his spectacular 12 foot jumps was caught on film at a dog show. Rin Tin Tin’s first part was a small one in a 1922 sled-dog picture. Then in 1923, “Where the North Begins,” based on a story written by Lee Duncan, gained the dog national attention.

rin tin tin

And as they say, the rest is history! I can still remember those Rin Tin Tin TV shows! Much better than Lassie …

Now, about the book …

I must admit, however, I was a little disappointed in Orlean’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her book actually has very little about the dog, Rin Tin TIn, or the training techniques that produced the original Rin Tin Tin’s amazing skills and feats.

On a side note, as a German Shepherd owner myself, I was not that surprised to learn that the heroic German shepherd who could leap 12 feet, crashing through plate-glass windows was buried with his squeaky doll! That fits the German Shepherd perfectly!

rin tin tin

But Rin Tin Tin is strangely absent from most of his story. Orlean tracks down loyal fans who now own descendants of the original Rin Tin Tin. She talks to many of Lee Duncan’s family members like ex-wives and or his daughter. She writes about business associates and Rin Tin Tin’s co-stars.

Susan Orlean’s story seems to be more about how family members profited by selling off everything related to Lee Duncan’s dream and his dog. She writes about people looking for some way to capture past glory, or perhaps the means to create new value from an old piece of intellectual property.

Susan Orlean also writes about the many tangled legal disputes such as the one between Daphne Hereford and Bert Leonard, the producer of “The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin,” and the confusing story of Lee Aaker, a child actor who played the dog’s TV sidekick, and who might or might not have become a special-needs ski instructor in the Eastern Sierras, but who was once definitely sued for impersonating himself.

You also learn that, since the death of the original Rin Tin Tin, this American canine hero has been played by no less than 20 other dogs.

What became clear to me from reading this book, is that the leap from heroic canine fame to mundane triviality is much shorter than 12 feet.

My thoughts …

rin tin tin

On the whole it is not a bad book, that is … if you want to read about everything surrounding Lee Duncan and his efforts to make a good living with the German Shepherd he trained to do really amazing feats, and how tough that actually was.

Maybe it was naive of me, but I wanted to read about the dog, Rin Tin Tin!

I wanted to read about his movies and his TV shows, and how he was trained, and to have the author paint a picture in my mind of this heroic German Shepherd leaping 12 feat and crashing through a plate-glass window to save the day.

On that, score, I was badly disappointed. And for that reason, I gave this book two stars …

I did love the cover …

Michelle Obama Says, “Let Them Eat Cake!”

Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Obama and...

Well, not in so many words … but actions really do speak so much louder than words. Of course, Michelle Obama is just like her husband. Barack Obama says one thing, which his drive-by-media propaganda machine dutifully reports! And then, he proceeds to do something entirely different, which his drive-by-media propaganda machine never, ever call him on. So Michelle Obama shows up at the Oscars to present the “best movie” award in a dress costing more the two months salary for most Americans and where a bunch of narcissistic, arrogant socialites are given $45,000 (more than the average annual salary of many Americans) gift bags. As Billy Crystal so aptly stated, “Nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires give each other golden statues.”

Don’t you just love how the “Hollywood élite” look down their collective noses at us and arrogantly spout liberal progressive political maxims at Americans who love their country, and then ask for massive handouts from their pal Obama and his administration to subsidize their next movie? Millions and millions of dollars are given to Hollywood millionaires to help them make more movies, and thus making themselves even more wealthy. And … they want to point at Mitt Romney for being one of the “evil rich”?  Are American voters so stupid they actually buy this crap!?

Did I watch the Oscars … no, I did not! Most of those people make me sick to my stomach!

So while Michelle Obama is out schmoozing with her rich socialite liberal buddies … Barack is enlisting Janet Napolitano, Nancy Pelosi, and other major league liberal liars to run around screaming the world is coming to an end because of sequestration (which by the way, was Obama’s brain child). It is hilariously and yes, sadly, funny! Most Americans know we need to cut federal spending! But, the first time there is actually a chance that a little cutting may actually happen … the government screams doom, gloom, and the end of civilization as we know it … and the Obama’s loyal media lap-dogs gleefully spread the “official nonsense” around. And, of course, the cool aid drinkers dutifully join in Obama’s next manufactured national catastrophe and they begin their moaning, and wailing, and gnashing their teeth!

Meanwhile, back in the real world that most of us try to live in … here is the truth about the proposed sequestration numbers. It is not even a cut … it is barely a slowing of growth of federal spending!

Courtesy of Obama’s own Congressional Budget Office:

Sequestration Cuts?

Hollywood Elitists Still Trashing Christians?

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...
The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hollywood strikes again!  The sad thing is, I love good movies!  Hollywood just rarely makes them anymore.  I really did like Captain America and The Avengers.  But those must have slipped past the liberal-elitist’s “don’t release anything remotely pro-American or fair to Christianity” filters.  Isn’t it amazing how The Avengers movie is doing so well at the box office …. smashing all the records!  Some of those oh-so-very-intelligent Hollywood elitists just don’t really seem to have a clue!!

Prometheus, however, is another story!  Hollywood got their “let’s put out another mindless, sort of quasi-religious questioning movie that proves how shallowly deep we Hollywood elitists really are” game face on right this time.  I read this review of the movie which really tickled me.  No … I have not seen the movie!  I saw the previews … they were enough!!  I enjoyed this guys critique, though, very much.  I just had to include it in its entirety below.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

by        Kurt Schlichter19 Jun 2012143post a comment

In space, no one can hear you scream, “I freaking paid $17 a ticket for this?!?”

It’s no secret that the “Alien” sorta-prequel “Prometheus” is a gorgeous fiasco, a visually stunning yet substantively ridiculous outer space epic that makes any fan of the 1979 classic want to rip out what’s left of his hair in frustration at what might have been. I had eagerly anticipated it, saw it on opening night, and left understanding what Hell must be like.

“Prometheus” can and should spur many discussions – including one about how plots should make sense – but it also raises the question of whether Hollywood has any institutional understanding at all of what religion is and what the tens of millions of, well, alienated believers/potential audience members who it wants to get back into theater seats actually believe.

Sadly, when it comes to religion, Hollywood has that same deep, enduring connection with normal Americans that led them to believe there was a tsunami of demand to see Tom Cruise as an ’80s hair rocker.

Caution: light spoilers lie ahead. Avoid them if you wish to see the movie with the dewy-eyed sense of wonder of an ever-optimistic film lover. Read them if wish to avoid wasting $17 a ticket and two precious hours of your life.

“Prometheus” represents all that is wrong with Hollywood’s conception of religion. For one thing, it doesn’t really have a conception of “religion” at all – instead, it embraces a vague concept of “spirituality,” which is something quite different.

To the extent Hollywood does conceive of religion, it kind of lumps all religion together into a generalized cult best described as “Footloosean,” in the sense that Hollywood sees all active religious adherents as falling somewhere along the scale from “Kind of Silly” to “The Full Lithgow,” where their central theological concerns are banning dancing and hunting gays for sport.

Hollywood much prefers spirituality, because spirituality doesn’t actually ask you to do anything while allowing you to sort of take comfort in an unarticulated sense that there is some higher power out there, probably “nature” or “the universe” or another amorphous notion that fills the role that God would if they were talking about religion instead of metaphysical mush.

A religion, in contrast, would actually require that you believe something concrete or, worse, actually do or not do something. Religion imposes obligations and makes moral judgments. You can’t have those; they could spoil the party!

Better to embrace spirituality – the welfare state of theologies. It asks nothing of you but supplies you with whatever you wish. If spirituality adherents sang hymns, their favorite would be “Generic Grace.”

Now, the characters in “Prometheus” spend a lot of time talking about seeking “answers” to the Big Questions about where man came from and, well, where man came from. And here’s director Ridley Scott’s inspiring answer – from a bunch of freaky, giant, pasty-faced folks who look like they should be asking, “You rang?”

In the first couple minutes, one of these Lurch-looking dudes is on a planet – maybe Earth, who knows – and he swallows some goo then sort of decomposes and his DNA breaks up and I guess he is seeding the planet with life or something.

Yeah, we kind of start the movie with the punchline.

Oh, and then these giant dudes decide they want to kill all human life, and that becomes another Big Question, except it really isn’t a Big Question because you kind of can’t create a Big Question of human existence from within the context of your own stupid movie. If people didn’t wonder about it before walking into the Overpriced Cinemaplex 16, it really doesn’t count as a Big Question.

Noomi Rapace plays the spiritual scientist, and she raises a lot of questions, like what kind of name is “Noomi?” She wears a cross, which becomes a huge symbol of, I guess, her spirituality. It’s certainly not a symbol of, you know, Christianity, because Christ doesn’t get a mention. I’m not even sure if God does.

It wouldn’t do to have her be an actual, you know, Christian, because in Hollywood’s eyes her main focus would then be barring the other characters from having fun – after all, that’s what Christians do. So she’s a generic believer unfettered by actual theological imperatives or obligations, a waify free spirit sampling from the sacred smorgasbord that is spirituality.

At one point, the movie flashes back to a childhood chat with her widowed father about life after death. He explains his spirituality thus: “I choose to believe.” Leave it to the theologians of Hollywood to dispense with the faith component that plays a teensy, tiny part of Christian doctrine.

God, apparently, is just another lifestyle choice. And, to the extent it supports rather than undermines its liberal social agenda, Hollywood will rule it a valid one.

“Prometheus” is a hot mess with good visuals and good performances in the service of an incoherent plot and an even less coherent message. It wants to ask those Big Questions, but the vocabulary that its stunted sense of spirituality provides is simply too limited to do so. The answer to “Where did we come from?” turns out to be some guys who are marginally taller than us and who have the complexion of a back-up singer for The Cure. And we, the audience, are sorry we asked.

When Hollywood takes religion seriously, it’s actually not Hollywood at all doing it – “The Passion of the Christ,” for example, was made by Mel Gibson almost completely outside of regular production channels.  It hit a chord and made a mint. Whether you like his theology or not isn’t the question; there is no question that he took Christianity seriously, and there’s no question audiences responded.

Hollywood might do well to do the same, but there’s not much room for optimism. For example, there is an Internet rumor that Ridley Scott wanted one of these giant guys to turn out to have been Jesus.  Seriously.

Apparently he sobered up before making one of the few conceivable choices that could have made “Prometheus” worse, but someone please let me know where the sequel goes with it.

They don’t have a prayer of getting my money again.