Just watched the end of a movie in which Lawrence Olivier was strutting about in Napoleonic-era admiral’s uniform with an empty right sleeve, which could only mean he was portraying Lord Nelson. And there was Vivien Leigh talking about Lord Keith and St. Vincent and the rest, so I was hooked to the end of it. Saw a highly melodramatic rendering of Nelson’s death at Trafalgar.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, and Lord Nelson was Jack Aubrey’s hero. In the books, Jack is the one to whom Nelson said, “Never mind maneuvers, always go straight at ’em.” In reality, he said that to Lord Cochrane, upon whom Aubrey is largely based.
Here’s the kicker: After the movie, the guy who introduces the features on TCM said the movie was so chock-full of homilies about the importance of standing up to dictators that the director was summoned to Congress — still gripped by isolationism — where our lawmakers were investigating pro-war propaganda by Hollywood. He was scheduled to appear on Dec. 12, 1941, so he lucked out there. By his appearance date, isolationism was no longer quite the thing, you know.
Imagine that — Hollywood being investigated for pro-war propaganda.
I’d better go to bed now.