Aug 21, 2008

The Wheeler Dealers

The lovely Lee Remick costarred with James Garner in this movie back in 1963. Garner plays a Texas oilman, except he’s not really from Texas. It turns out that he was born in Boston and educated at Yale. What’s interesting here is the light that the film throws on Hollywood’s attitude towards Texas and Texans.

  1. You have your heroic, western Texans. These aren’t shown here, but show up in films like The Searchers, The Alamo, and almost every Western with a Texas setting.
  2. There are wheeling, dealing oilmen who are larger than life, and turn their planes around at a moments notice.
  3. Texans have a different set of values, and aren’t as cultured as Easterners. They don’t know beans about Kandinsky or art or music.
  4. An Eastern born and educated person, particularly a Yalie, who chooses to live in Texas, and who accepts the values of Texas is strange and exotic.

Does any of this sound familiar? Lenny Bruce once said that we’ve been kicking the white southerner in the ass since Appomattox. He went on to say something to the effect that LBJ was probably smarter than Einstein, but that his sound chilled it for him. “Folks, I think nuclear fission....” “Shut up, schmuck, you don’t think nothing.” So we’ve had almost 50 years, at least, of putting down the South, Southerners, Texas, and Texans.

Can anyone say. “Remember the Alamo?”