Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Society • J.Edgar—A Fascinating But Deceptive Work
As compelling as FBI founder and Chief J.Edgar Hoover was portrayed, especially his relationship with his mother, his loyal secretary Helen Gandy played by Naomi Watts, and his partner, Clyde Tolson played effectively by Armie Hammer, the film misrepresented the “G-Man” as a man of honor and a patriot, which might have resulted by the FBI peeking over Eastwood’s shoulder as the film was being prepared and filmed.
Production standards are good, Leonardo DiCaprio outstanding with his carbon of Hoover, Clint Eastwood’s directorial hand firm and the cast itself made it real. But the scriptwriter did not make it ‘real’ enough.
For example, Eastwood glossed over Hoover’s cross dressing, showing only that he put on his mother’s clothing while he grieved over her death, like he was wanting to identify with her, rather than identifying with women, period, which he did, according to photos of Hoover in drag at a party.
His patriotism may have been in part sincere, but his real thrust was to have power over all people, having boasted during his early years that he intended to have a file on every man, woman and child in America. This was extremely ambitious since there were no computers in those days.
He was obsessed with the personal lives of everyone. He harassed Charlie Chaplin, had an affair with Dorothy Lamour (?) and was fixated on all famous people with whom he determined to have his name attached to, adding more allure to his stature.
And God help you if you ever got on his “enemies” list. He would use every resource he had to destroy those on that list. And most of those on the list were not in any way a threat to national security.
One of his agents, Jack Ryan, finally reached a point where he refused to continue spying on private citizens. Hoover was outraged over his “rebellion” and fired him six months before he would retire, which forfeited his right to any earned pension.
I was one of those on his enemies list even though it was not clear why. It may have been over my knowledge that Marilyn Monroe did NOT commit suicide, but was murdered. I had the proof including who did it. That is when my own life was turned upside down. Then it came out that I was a cousin of The Kennedy Family whom Hoover despised. My great great aunt was the sister of Rose Kennedy. So either each, or both provided the possible motivation.
At that time I was in show business and was doing well. Suddenly anybody who booked me, or was about to, was visited by the FBI saying they were investigating me (even though absolutely no reason was given). I could no longer negotiate contracts. The producers let me know that they were doing me a favor letting me be on a show with this ‘shadow’ over my head.
Everybody began to view me suspiciously. There was no way I could lead a normal life to pursue the American Dream. Doors opened to me were suddenly slammed shut. Neighbors avoided me.
When my call to the ministry was re-confirmed, Hoover sent his agents to the various churches I was to preach in and contacted pastors, many times on Sunday mornings before I arrived for the service, determined to sabotage the ministry God had entrusted to me.
I appeared on The Joe Franklin TV Show in New York with Eartha Kitt. Since we had similar experiences with Hoover, we talked after the program. I knew that the FBI had tried to wreck her career over a harmless remark she made at the White House. They began contacting all producers and managed to virtually stop her career in America. She went to France and managed to work there.
Like the Soviet Union, the U.S. Government would make their perceived enemies “non persons,” meaning their name would be erased from history, no news stories written about them, and they would be blacklisted from any kind of public career.
Jack Ryan (his name was used in a fictional spy series) appeared on a radio program I was on. We talked afterwards. He was familiar with my case which stood out since I had been, among other things, a well known circus ringmaster.
When I mentioned how everyone became suspicious of me due to the bogus FBI investigations, he said, “Yes, I could make your neighbors absolutely fear you thinking you would blow up at any moment.”
Ryan became a Christian after he was fired from the FBI and started an international ministry called, Swords to Plowshares. I mentioned how the FBI had virtually wrecked my life, and since he was involved, what was he going to do about it? Of course I was thinking of him making public statements regarding the falsity of the ‘investigations’ of me and the false rumors they spread.
“Oh,” he said, “that’s all under the blood since I received Jesus.” “Really!” I responded. “I would think there would be an obligation on your part to make things right, or restitution, to those you have harmed so badly with such misrepresentations.” No, since he had been born again, all was forgiven. Is that so?
I do think that Screen Writer Dustin Lance Black and Clint Eastwood whom I thoroughly respect, sincerely sought to make this a truthful, accurate biopic, even though they toned down Hoover’s homosexuality and his cross dressing.
But a vital part of the story was missing; the Napoleanic drive that drove the little man, his determination to be a dictator of America and the horrible violations of law and trust as he hammered down everybody that had gained recognition in order to stroke his enormous ego.
The movie was viewed yesterday with a good friend who also had been on Hoover’s ‘enemies list’ and hassled by his agents over nothing. We both agreed that Hoover was portrayed sympathetically instead of the tyrant he actually was.
Many good, law abiding citizens were relieved when J.Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972.
Rev. Austin Miles is a chaplain in Northern California and free lance writer whose stories appear in 26 countries. See his 11 part series, God and Animals on this website.