My Favorite Libertarian Movies

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Captain
Blood

(1935)

Captain
Blood stars Errol Flynn at his swashbuckling best. Flynn deservedly
shot to stardom as Peter Blood, a 17th-century physician
turned pirate after escaping unjust imprisonment for devoting his
medical skills to rebels against the English tyrant King James.

Spirited action
sequences, highly intellectual dialogue and skilled direction combine
to make this film a delight.

Unlike
the recent pirate films starring Marxist-Che Guevara sympathizer
Johnny Depp, the art and charm of this movie lies in its well-selected
background music and acting, not in special effects and buffoonery.

Radiant Olivia
de Havilland is Flynn's ideally cast co-star and romantic interest.

Watch for Flynn's
stirring and eloquent speeches to inspire his pirate crew. Flynn's
superb diction and command of the English language alone are worth
the price of admission.

Filled with
action, drama, passion, romance, and a story of heroic (and successful!)
rebellion against tyranny, Captain Blood is a tale lovers
of liberty will enjoy and treasure.

Talk
of the Town
(1942)

If you have
not yet seen this film, you are in for a real treat…and then some.
It is as witty, charming, and engaging as any libertarian – and any
American – could hope for.

The moral background
portrayed contrasts strongly with the profanity, violence and explicit
sexual innuendo that have become standard in many of today’s films.

Cary Grant
stars as Leopold Dilg, an outspoken civil libertarian, wrongly imprisoned
for arson and murder. To avoid almost certain execution, Leopold
breaks out of jail to gather evidence to prove his innocence.

The
bad guys of the movie are a corrupt judge and mayor of a small New
England town, who make Leopold the fall guy for their insurance
scam.

During
his escape, Leopold encounters legal scholar Michael Lightcap, played
admirably and incomparably by Ronald Coleman in one of his finest
roles. Their friendly intellectual exchanges on the nature of the
law make the film especially worthy of attention. For example, Leopold
says, "What is the law…it's a gun pointed in someone's face."
Lines like that are seldom heard in current-day movies.

The professor
and the escapee team up with lovely and feisty local schoolteacher
Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur) to find justice.

The academic
theoretician becomes a man of action. In a dramatic and suspenseful
courtroom scene, he demonstrates why the right to keep and bear
arms is vitally important to the cause of justice. The corrupt politicians
are indicted.

In the end,
Nora gets her man, but which one? You will need to watch the film
to the very end to discover the answer to that most intriguing question.

Unconquered
(1947)

Legendary
film magnate Cecil B. DeMille captures on the silver screen an important
period in American history in this stirring tale of pre-Revolutionary
settlers on the frontier.

Gary Cooper
stars as peace-loving Chris Holden, a colonial militia Captain who
buys and then frees beautiful indentured slave Abby Hale on their
voyage to Virginia. Abby had been convicted in England for killing
one of the King's men while successfully defending her honor from
attempted outrage.

The
action shifts to western Pennsylvania. Slave trader Garth, having
failed to have a law passed in England to prohibit settlement west
of the Allegheny mountains, ignites a battle between Indian tribes
and a small outpost of brave settlers. The film is filled with libertarian
nuggets. For example, when Abby (stunning natural redhead Paulette
Goddard) is re-taken into slavery, she wistfully remarks, "You
don't know what freedom's worth until you lose it."

A first-rate
historical drama, this film features Howard Da Silva as the treacherous
villain Garth and Boris Karloff as the Indian chief Guyasuta. Richard
Henry Lee of Virginia and Colonel George Washington are also included
as the action unfolds.

Gary Cooper
saves the fort, rescues the girl, and defeats the villain in the
suspenseful final scene.

Watch for the
Ben Franklin quote at the conclusion: Where liberty dwells there
is my country.

Tailor
of Panama
(2001)

No review of
libertarian movies would be complete without at least one that takes
a skeptical view of misguided American foreign policy. The Tailor
of Panama obliges.

Harry Pendel
(Geoffrey Rush) is the eponymous tailor of Panama. Born an Englishman,
he is a former convict turned tailor to the rich and infamous in
Panama. Harry is happily married to Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis), who
happens to be the assistant to the Canal director.

Harry plies
his trade as tailor with considerable success, notwithstanding the
occasional harmless fabrication – for example, a 40-inch waist
is recorded as a "36 plus," the plus being lunch.

Pierce Brosnan's
Andy Oxnard is a dapper British spy, whose only character resemblance
to James Bond is his penchant for the ladies. Having been discredited
for his numerous indiscretions in Europe, he is exiled to Panama
where it is thought by his superiors, that he can do little harm.

Here is where
their paths cross, or more accurately, double cross. Andy intimidates
Harry to eavesdrop on the Canal director for whom he serves as tailor.
Harry’s tales and whispers of an impending Chinese take over of
the canal are gladly accepted.

Harry is a
better tailor than investor. A thieving foreman and a crooked banker
conspire to push his real estate investment into failure. Tempted
by generous cash gifts from Andy, courtesy of British taxpayers,
Harry spins fiction upon fiction. Andy soaks it up, passes it on
to London, and keeps the money flowing.

When
lack of substance or documentation threatens to end this lucrative
scheme, Harry foolishly thinks he can bluff his way out of the deal.

Using this
inaccurate and unconfirmed data, the Brits persuade the American
military to send in the helicopters. The film clearly portrays the
war-hungry Pentagon commanders as a group of inept, almost childish
and certainly ludicrous, contemptible men.

Thankfully
the combat mission they order is discontinued, but not before a
bombardment of innocent civilians and peaceful Panamanian neighborhoods.

If you are
looking for an entertaining venue to expose the incredible folly
of a foreign policy of intervention by force of arms, this is the
film for you.

December
9, 2009

Thomas
Clark [send him mail] is
a medical researcher, university professor, and an ardent foe of
the Federal Reserve.

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