By Steve Berman
They’ve done it by eviscerating him in fiction, but calling it “history.”
From 1947 to 1952, Ronald Wilson Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild. He helmed the organization during the height of the Red scare. The Democrat-run House Un-American Activities Committee sent ten Hollywood actors to jail for contempt of Congress. HUAC was wrong to do that, but Reagan understood the violent strikes and Communist ideals some in the film industry had adopted were dangerous.
He and Walt Disney both hated the violent and strong-arm tactics of avowed Stalinists like John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo, two of the “Hollywood Ten” who are frequently referred to in hagiographic terms as “martyrs” of McCarthyism. But they were in fact Communists or at least sympathizers.
Trumbo is less well known for a script that never made it to the screen: An American Story, whose plot outline, in the words of film historian Bernard F. Dick, goes like this: North Korea finally decides “to put an end to the border warfare instigated by South Korea by embarking upon a war of independence in June 1950.” (In his papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Trumbo says he “dramatized” Kim Il-sung’s supposedly righteous war for a group of fellow Communist screenwriters, including at least two Hollywood Ten members.)
Fast forward to the 1980’s, when Reagan was embroiled in the Iran-Contra scandal, that featured Marine Col. Oliver North funneling cash for arms to oppose communism in Nicaragua.
This is the playground of fake facts and invented history that the movie “American Made” plays in like a class of pre-schoolers at recess after an all-you-can-eat M&M’s binge.
Somewhere in the background of the 80s drug war was a petty drug trafficker who was caught by the DEA and turned into an informant. Barry Seal, former TWA pilot, is played by Tom Cruise as a super-secret, jet-setting CIA plant deeply embedded in the arms-for-cash deals and subterfuges of the mid-80s.
According to National Review’s Kyle Smith, the only part of this that’s even close to true is that Seal was a TWA pilot (who was fired in the 60s, not, as the movie shows, dramatically walking off a departing flight because he was “bored” in the late 70s), and he flew drugs for the Medellin Cartel. Oh, and he was caught by the DEA and ratted out the drug lords (who were in turn, very unhappy with him).
The rest is Communist revenge on Ronald Reagan.
How does Smith know this? He reads.
Was Seal being run by the CIA? Former FBI agent Del Hahn, who was involved with Seal’s case and published a book on him, says no, citing Seal’s own sworn testimony and interviews. “There is not one iota of credible evidence that Seal ever worked for the CIA or assisted them in any operations,” Hahn told Vice. But Liman and his screenwriter Gary Spinelli badly need a much stronger CIA connection than Seal’s merely having had spy cameras on his plane during that DEA sting because that’s the conduit they have for bashing Reagan and tying in the Iran-Contra scandal, to which this entire movie is supposedly the back story.
The unhappy end of the real Barry Seal was due to his own dimwittedness. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Ronald Reagan, but the premise of the movie was to show that it did.
LIMAN’S SHOULDER CHIP
Did I mention that Doug Liman, the producer, who has some good street creds (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), is the son of the late Arthur L. Liman, chief counsel for the Senate Iran-Contra hearings? It’s almost like there’s an element of revenge here. Did I also mention that Liman directed “Fair Game,” about the Valerie Plame affair, in 2010? Apparently, Liman—a Jew—didn’t realize his project was about a virulent Jew-hater. But then again, like all good Communists, Liman is an atheist.
Actually, Liman himself is (probably) not a Communist. He’s as opportunistic as any film producer, but he’s got a chip on his shoulder for Ronald Reagan, and wanted to have fun smearing communism’s greatest foe on screen.
“We’re not making a biopic,” Liman has said*, confessing that during filming he would dream up on the spot entertaining new exploits for Seal: “Wouldn’t it be fun if we did this, or funny if we did that?” He calls the film a “fun lie” in publicity notes.*
In Hollywood today, Ronald Reagan would be blacklisted, just like Nick Searcy or Tim Allen or Jon Voight. In 1969, then-Governor Reagan called out the National Guard to quell riots in Berkeley. Today, Governor Jerry Brown encourages them to riot in the name of “Free Speech” while shutting down speakers with whom they disagree.
They march under a neo-communist banner called Antifa, that many in Hollywood openly praise and fund, with their black balaclavas and jars of excrement and bricks to hurl at police.
In Hollywood, communism and Che Guevara T-shirts are in. Doug Liman is in. Ronald Reagan is out.
In “American Made,” Hollywood invented, Doug Liman produced, and Tom Cruise starred in an entire narrative, complete with a real historical figure, real news clips featuring Ronald Reagan, and real historical events, in order to smear the memory of a dead president.
They have immersed themselves in indelible shame in doing so.