Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bert Schneider: 1933 — 2011

“Who???”  I hadn’t heard of him either until I saw his obituary a few days ago.  But his work lives on.  Bert Schneider brought us “The Monkees,” “Easy Rider,” “Five Easy Pieces,” “The Last Picture Show” and “Hearts and Minds.”

I never watched the Monkees’ TV show but I liked a lot of their songs (there, I’ve admitted it).  Quite a leap from TV pap to heavy hitters like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show.

Heaviest of all was his Oscar-winning “Hearts and Minds” (1975) about the Vietnam War.  The movie was named after Lyndon Johnson’s speech where he said we need to capture the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people if we want to win the Vietnam War. Or maybe it was unofficially named after Charles Colson’s “grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.”

It’s one of those movies where you’re glad you saw it because it’s so deep, but you’re reluctant to recommend it to anyone.  It’s too much of an emotional roller coaster.  The movie was mostly a series of short interviews and film clips, juxtaposed for maximum emotional impact.  A person is sitting there, giving an emotionless recital of all the bombing runs he made, all the people he’s killed.  Then the camera moves further away and you can see for the first time that he’s in a wheelchair.  Another scene shows a Vietnamese funeral.  Bereaved relatives are sobbing, stamping their feet, clawing at the casket.  The next scene is General Westmoreland saying “You know, Orientals don’t place the same high value on human life that we do here in the West.”

Stuff like that.

Sometimes you just want to tune that shit out and watch The Monkees.

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Blogger Suzan said...

I watched "Hearts and Minds" too and thought everyone should see it.

Thanks for the tribute to a fabulous producer.

Easy Rider,


December 17, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I thought "The Last Picture Show" was odd but very good when I first saw it. Very distinctive in the way it was done. And that was a looong time ago. I haven't seen "Hearts and Minds," but will if the chance comes up. Sounds worthwhile.

I'm sorry Schneider is gone. Good post, to point him out.

December 18, 2011 at 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always told my friends who didn't like the Monkees to go see "Head". They will never look at them the same way again.


December 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

I have watched the Monkees on TV Land and never really got it. Way before my time I'm afraid and I like schmaltzy tee vee shows. I've seen Easy Rider only. Too many people died this week. First Hitch, the this guy and today Vaclav Havel. Who, if nothing else, made me like him when I found out he made Frank Zappa an ambassador. The world has lost a lot of IQ and coolness factor points this week.

December 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Suzan: It was a depressing movie, but it's the kind of thing people should be exposed to.

SW: I like The Last Picture Show also. A little bleak, but it had a lot of substance to it.

Erik: I'd never heard of "Head" until I read about it in the Wikipedia article on Bert Schneider.

Jess: You're right, this has been a bad week for losing great people.

December 18, 2011 at 6:34 PM  

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