budget movies, which are one of twontypes. First, there is the movie about thenfamily in the mountains and their love ofnand struggles with nature. Second, andnmore predominant, is the gore movie,nwherein imaginative mutilations arenkey. Basically there exists, overall, anbipolar situation: “grand” (sic) moviesnand garbage.nHigh Road to China is a mediocrenmovie. Thus there is something to bensaid for it. It is light entertainment:nadventure (sometimes contrived)ndominates the plot; humor is evidentnwhile seriousness isn’t. It could haveneasily turned into a variation on BlakenEdwards’s The Great Race (1965) asncoundess other period movies didn(High Road to China is set in the laten20’s), but Mr. Hutton avoids that cheapnpitfall. This movie could mark the returnnof ordinary movies {not films), but it’snunlikely: too many want to grow up andnbe George Lucas and too many othersnwant to show that punk a thing or two.nMore’s the pity. In this age of extremes,nit’s a good feeling to be able to chewnpopcorn and watch a mediocre movie.n(SM) nnThe Agony andnSome DentistrynSophie’s Choice; Written by Alan J.nPakula (based on the novel by WilllamnStyron); Directed by Alan J.nPakula; Universal Pictures.nSerious consideration was given tonskipping Sophie’s Choice. But, as Mr.nStyron gave a nod to the film—^an extraordinarynevent in that fuzzy area thatnseparates Novel-land and Hollywood—nas one of the better American actressesnperforms in the film, and as we are drivennby a prickling of conscientiousness, wengave in. We also visit our dentist on anregular basis. The dental visit is typicallynpainful but worthwhile. Sophie’s Choicenlacks the latter characteristic. Dn46inChronicles of CulturenPOLEMICS & t:xciiNc;i:snAgitprop Division: Hollywoodnby Herbert I. LondonnEver since the Committee of Ten and the subsequent publication of VictornNavasky’s Naming Names, Hollywood and its many subsidiaries have been in thenthroes of an anti-anticommunist ground swell. This movement, which began as anmodest effort to counter extremely naive interpretations of communist sabotage,nhas become a frontal assault on almost all aspects of bourgeois-capitalist culture—^itsneconomic system, military policies, and cultural values. A film director may notnalways have a direct and easily discernible message, but he will have a message.nIn some respects 1982 is a landmark year since the film campaign against our societynhas hit the financial jackpot. Propaganda pays. Before I overstate the case, let menpoint out that although Costa Gavras’sMissing—a misguided and misleading attacknon CIA activities in Chile—was not a financial success in the U.S., it was abox-ofi&censmash in Europe. Its theme is consistent with current rhetoric at European universitiesnand the suppositions of the Green Party in Germany. However, the films thatncount financially and artistically are targeted at the values of Western culture and,nfrom the looks of things, have hit the bull’s-eye. Let me begin my list of the five mostnpropagandistic films of 1982 with the one that will be the biggest financial success innthe industry’s history: E T.nThis film by Steven Spielberg, which is advertised as appealing to the child in everyone,nis an attempt to characterize government oflScials as heartiess creatures andnto attribute to the extraterrestrial an intelligence, sensitivity, and warmth that presumablynwe cannot find in ourselves or ^mm^^imi^^i^i^m^^^i^^^i^a^^nour neighbors. The film begins with thenalien and fiiends engaged in plant recultivation;na more benign activity for “saventhe earth” types cannot be found. Appearingnon the scene are some ominousncharacters whose faces are not seen, butnwhose motives are perfectly clear fromnthe close-up of their keys. These are thencaptors—government captors it turnsnout—^with ice running through theirnveins and a malevolent yen to experimentnon these creatures from outernspace in their thoughts.nE.T. is thus a combination of teddynbear, St. Francis, and Wemher Von BrauiLnHe can be a doU at one moment, a lovingnsaint the next, and then a scientist reachingnacross the galaxy to contact hisnfriends. What more can one ask from thisncontinued on page 47nDr. London is a dean at New York University,na director at the Hudson Institute,nand the author of the forthcomingnClosing the Circle: A Cultural History ofnthe Rock Revolution.nnnI Disagreenby Stephen MacaulaynAlthough well-intentioned, DeannLondon’s examination of what he termsn”the five most propagandistic films ofn1982″ is an example of the kind of polemicizingnthat should be dropped fromnthe agendas of conservative individualsnand organizations if they intend to partakenin serious cultural discourse. First,nthe form. It is the popularity list, the kindnof thing that makes People magazinenpossible. “In” or “out,” “hit” or “miss,” or,ninPeop/e parlance, “Picks & Pans”—aU ofnthese are meant to be orgatiizationalnpoles which are ready-made and alreadynhung with the current artistic feshion.nNo personal cerebration is required.nThe message is: here’s what to think; believenus. The selection of the worst—nDean London’s approach—^is just thenMr. Macaulay reviews movies for thenChronicles.n