Would it be unfair to compare Trump campaign CEO to Nazi shill Leni Riefenstahl? Not at all, say some film experts. Photo credit: WikiCommons


What is it about conservatives and Hollywood? They moan and whine that TinselTown bigwigs are mostly blithering, blathering bleeding hearts — which is generally true; see for example, the wonderful movie Team America — but a lot of them long to be hot shot producers and directors too.

I recently wrote here about the short, less than illustrious producing career of Trump’s recently resigned top campaign advisor, Paul Manfort. Now I’ve learned, from an alert Washington Babylon reader whose name I don’t know, that Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon is not only off his rocker but he also produced what may be the worst movie in history: The Undefeated, which was released to scorn and derision in 2011 and which chronicles “the rise from obscurity of one of America’s new generation of leaders,” Sarah Palin.

“The Undefeated” is one of only 371 films in American history to receive a rating of zero on Rotten Tomatoes. Do you have any idea how rare that is? Do you know how many movies have been made in American history? Me neither, but I’m confident it’s a whole lot more than 371, which makes “The Undefeated” a statistical anomaly and total loser of a movie.

“In one stump speech shown near the end of The Undefeated, Palin exclaims brightly, ‘There’s nothing wrong in America a good ol’-fashioned election can’t fix’!”, wrote Anna Marlan of the Village Voice, as noted at the Rotten Tomatoes website. “That’s about as honest as this piece of propaganda.”

Another reviewer was less restrained. He called the film “Triumph of the Shrill,” in a reference, for you youngsters who may not recall this, to Hitler’s propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who during the Nazi years directed “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia.”

Anyway, also take a look at that list above of 371 zero-rated movies. “The Undefeated” admittedly has some stiff competition. For example, and h/t here to reader Matt Snow, there’s “Ed,” which tells the heartwarming saga of a chimpanzee who plays baseball with Matt LeBlanc, a star of the godawful TV series “Friends” along with fellow dipstick and repeat rehabber Matthew Perry.

In any case, hats off to Bannon. He’s running one of the worst campaigns in presidential history — you know it’s awful when it looks like you’re gonna lose to Hillary Clinton, the candidate so bad she’s spending $2 billion on TV ads in her desperate bid to be president — and he’s produced one of the worst films in history about one of the worst vice presidential campaigns in history.

That is a rare trifecta indeed and merits a 5-Star rating for Bannon.

  • TheaterGeek

    Comparing the cinematic artistry of Bannon to Riefenstahl is like comparing Tiny Tim’s musical oeuvre to Beethoven’s.

    Riefenstahl’s foolish youthful consorting with Hitler and the Nazis dogged her to the end of her very long life, but cinephiles are nearly universal in their admiration of her talents as a filmmaker.

    Leaving aside “Triumph of the Will”, consider her movie “Olympia,” in comparison to the recent NBC Olympics coverage.

    As I’ve gotten older, my patience for network TV has dwindled to the level of a misanthropic curmudgeon. I simply refuse to be held hostage to virtually anything the networks broadcast, for two principal reasons: the constant barrage of advertising, and the lowest-common-denominator level of the programming itself.

    My fond memories of TV date from the 60s and early 70s, and I specifically recall watching the ’72 Olympics on a tiny black-and-white Sony with rapt attention.

    Since then it’s been all downhill…

    So, when we sat down to watch some Olympics coverage recently, I felt like Alex from A Clockwork Orange being forced to watch something with my eyes forcibly pried open with specula: the treacly schmaltz coverage, combined with the relentless farrago of ads just ruined the whole thing for me.

    In contrast, I asked my wife if she’d ever watched Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, her acclaimed film of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. She had not, and so we watched a good half hour or so.

    Olympia has no narration and no dialogue, though it was made well after the advent of “talkies”. It’s widely admired in cinematic circles where it’s been called one of the greatest films ever.

    The fly in the ointment of this near-universal celebration of Leni’s talents and of this film in particular is, of course, that Leni — who died in 2003 at age 102 — was a great friend of der Fuhrer, who returned the favor to such a degree that rumors have run rampant since the 30s that there was a romantic relationship between them.

    Many tomes have been written about Leni, and the movie The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl is well worth watching

    But if you want to watch moving pictures that celebrate the beauty and skill of elite athletes, without a lot of annoying back stories about them tailored to the tastes of Harlequin Romance readers, Olympia is worth a look. In my ideal world, all sports coverage would be done with its level of aesthetic sophistication, and respect for the physical gifts and rigorous training of the athletes.