Mike Wallace Reporting

DATELINE: Titan of TV

Mike Takes on Bette!

Mike Wallace is no longer here with us, but thankfully we have an astounding biographical documentary called Mike Wallace is Here.

He took on all kinds of interviews: politics, show business, crime, and assorted miscreants. He didn’t always as the hard-as-nails interviewer: he started out as a pitchman and game show host. He thought he had a face for radio.

There is some truth that he was more showman than journalist, but he ultimately played a journalist until he lived the part. Many hard-nosed CBS types did not respect him at first, and he suffered an interloper’s reception from them.

Yet, his early black and white smokey interviews on late night raised the bar for insider insights. Whether it was Eleanor Roosevelt, Drew Pearson, or some Mafia thug, he asked the questions you never expected. Perhaps it was the start of rude journalism, but he took umbrage of the Bill O’Reilly school of shout and shake.

It was with 60 Minutes that Wallace will likely be remembered mostly. But interviewers like Barbara Walters and Morley Safer owed their styles to him. When they turn the tables on the old Wallace, he is undaunted. He was shocked when CBS abandoned its muckraker style because of checkbook journalism. Mike was never that.

Questions he might ask Larry King or Barbra Streisand are not in his personal repertoire of response. He suffered personally because he put career ahead of family. He knew it and operated in full cognizance of his luck.

When he became depressed in old age, people were shocked. Didn’t he have ice water in his veins? Johnny Carson said he had that taken out years earlier so he could function in public. Wallace treated Gen. Westmoreland and Putin alike, as he was a democrat of truth.

If you were not interviewed by Mike Wallace, you may have lost something in history. He had a knack of putting celebrities and historical personages like Nixon in their perspective of humanity.

This is Mike Wallace is a stunning, delightful documentary, and we have to miss him. He nailed Trump before he was 40 and showed us what was in store.

 

Love, Fame, Adoration, All Fail Marilyn Monroe

DATELINE: LEGEND OF A GODDESS!

Love, Marilyn builds its subject out of her own words, based on recently discovered diaries, jottings, poetry, and other musings written by Marilyn Monroe.

A dozen actors read her words and the words of those who knew her—those friends and associates usually caused her great consternation and pain.

Marilyn Monroe still today plays heroine and victim at once, misunderstood still, and exploited at every turn.

The footage of her acting, both on and off screen, grows more desperate. She herself regarded Marilyn as a separate creature she had to play for the media and public.

In fact, Marilyn created her own Frankenstein’s Monster out of body language and platinum blonde hair that ran amok out of the Hollywood studios and was chased down by the media with cameras instead of pitchforks.

Director Liz Garbus does her best to take the luminous star and catch it falling from the firmament. Only in death has Miss Monroe touched more people than in life as a movie star.

No one who tied his wagon to Marilyn comes out of this documentary unscathed. Her two husbands, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, knew her better than anyone else in the world—and knew her not at all. In later years they regretted the way they treated her.

No one attempts to explain why Monroe wrote down so many feelings in couplets and free verse on dozens of pieces of paper. Was she planning to write a script? Did she plan an autobiography later in life? Was it merely an attempt to exorcize her demons by putting them on paper?

No one in 20th century America comes close to her iconography and her ability to become a goddess walking in our midst for a few years. (We see James Dean as a male counterpart.) She glowed on screen with some magic that defies explanation.

This little documentary, using her own words, may be the closest attempt to doing her justice and giving her the platform she may have hoped to employ if her life had not been snuffed out so young.

Marilyn herself pegged the trouble to trusting too easily, too many, too often. How sad indeed.

http://williamrusso.us/