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Produced in 1970 during the Hippy Era in the USA this departure of a film attempted to portray a "Deep South" KKK type plot. However the English actor used and others appear to be "putting on the drawl". The rather depressing sub plot of skid row characters is too false and morose. The whole thing was too late after "Rights"and was out of synch with the mood of the time. It does however portray the liberal sympathiser as a swivel eyed fanatic whos passion for his idea of justice ends in his gunning down of KKK style Party leaders with a pistol.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Rush to judgment19 Jan. 2011
a movie fan
- Published on Amazon.com
A few comments on the film (the DVD isn't out as of this writing) for those who haven't heard of it, which may be many since it has kept a low profile over its 40 year existence. As I recall, the film was largely dismissed at the time of its release, and there were many negative reviews. Some of the criticisms, e.g. pretentious and wide-of-the-mark, were not entirely wrong, but, in retrospect, the film's virtues were dismissed as well. Paul Newman may seem miscast as an amoral drifter who, indifferent to the consequences, becomes a rising star at a right-wing (actually, proto-Fascist) radio station in New Orleans that not only reports the news with a hard slant, but works secretly to manufacture news that will inflame its listeners, but I thought he did an excellent job. Anthony Perkins is the somewhat unbalanced voice of conscience who can't get through to him and, in an odd choice, essentially plays Norman Bates. Newman has a relationship with another drifter, Joanne Woodward, which also highlights how callous he is about the suffering of others. The film is well-acted, and weaves about, often more restrained or eccentric than you expect. None-the-less, it is unsatisfying, possibly because we don't get enough of WUSA, either its news or Newman's on-air persona. Obviously, the draw of this film now is the degree to which it outlines the mechanics and popularity of right-wing radio (then relatively uncommon). But that's largely what's missing, although the station owner, played menacingly by Pat Hingle, gives Newman a blunt and frightening talk about his intentions, including a cryptic reference to what's coming next. Not a great film, and parts of it just don't work, I think, but well worth seeing. It was probably meant to be scary but came out a bit too disorganized. In the end, reality trumped it by orders of magnitude.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
WUSA Overlooked gem11 Feb. 2011
J. D. Amos
- Published on Amazon.com
40 years ago, Paul Newman made a most prophetic film about the future of talk radio and America. The film and its characters were so exactly on target, the public overlooked the film because it lacked the normal cheerleader mentality of our films. Newman and Woodward are up to their standard performances, meaning excellent. Joanne Woodward is one of the most talented and beautuful women ever in American films. Too few films allowed her to showcase her sexuality and beauty, WUSA and The Stripper were two exceptions. Newman is perfect as the cynical intellectual who knows he is telling lies but like all of America is doing what is necessary to survive. The last scene in the movie is especially forward looking, when he says "Don't worry about me, I am a survivor. Ain't I lucky?" For those of us who lived through the era of JFK and RFK we know how the films portrays a drop in our nation's expectations from Camelot to survival. It is the perfect political film.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Downbeat Film That Was Ahead Of It's Time..29 May 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
WUSA was Paul Newman's follow-up to the highly successful BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and was a complete 180 compared to that film. It was also one of his biggest flops and today it's easy to see why. The film was way ahead of its time not only in its portrayal of the nature of right wing radio but in it's use of unsympathetic, self-centered, and amoral characters led by Newman who emerge unscathed while the inherently good characters played by Joanne Woodward and Anthony Perkins suffer for their goodness. The script by Robert Stone of DOG SOLDIERS fame (made into the movie WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN? a few years later) brilliantly captures the apathy and the disillusionment of the country after the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy two years earlier. Unlike M*A*S*H which came out the same year, there is not an ounce of comedy in WUSA and that's what makes it so difficult to accept. It's cynical look at the effects of looking the other way was just too much for audiences in 1970. Today it looks like a prophetic period piece.
Paul Newman plays a drifter who winds up in New Orleans and gets a job at a right wing radio station appropriately called WUSA. He doesn't believe the stuff they preach, it's just a job to him, a way to keep him in drinking money. He takes up with down and out floozie Joanne Woodward and encounters Peace Corps dropout Anthony Perkins who doesn't realize that's he being used by the right wing powers that he despises. In addition to those three, WUSA has a strong supporting cast of capable players including Pat Hingle, Robert Quarry, Moses Gunn, and Laurence Harvey as a fake preacher. In later years Newman felt that the film failed from lack of studio support and because it wasn't political enough. He was half right. Paramount hated the movie and did little to promote WUSA but the film makes a powerful statement even if it's a downbeat one. It's much easier to appreciate the film today than when it came out 40 years ago. This is its first ever appearance on home video of any kind. Thanks to Olive Films for making it available since Paramount wouldn't release it on their own.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Olive did not do it right...14 Aug. 2011
D. A. Nicastro
- Published on Amazon.com
Even though WUSA is a downer, to say the least, one should be able to enjoy the DVD, right? Wrong! Even though the video is 2.35:1 and visually great, the audio leaves something to be desired. The audio is in 1 channel and one either gets drowned out by the music OR cannot hear the actors. The audio dialogue is at a very low volume and yet the music drowns out any dialogue. There is even a scene between Newman and Woodward where the dialogue is drowned out by a fountain. It might be tolerable IF there were subtitles...but there are NO subtitles! Paramount has leased several of its titles to Olive Films. That would be great if the quality stood up to Paramount's. But in this case, it doesn't. Olive did not do it right...in my opinion. This was a very disappointing experience.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As Current as Ever, for All its Many Flaws22 Aug. 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Warning: Spoilers, and not for the weak of heart or head.
"WUSA" is kind of about this guy who works at a southern radio station with a ring-wing slant, and it drifts hazily through some sort of story winding around a corrupt preacher (Laurence Harvey) and a voice of conscience (Anthony Perkins, who might have been more believable in this role before "Psycho"). And it twists its way into a labyrinthine (and never quite explained) right-wing conspiracy to a kind of assassination at the end (though I won't tell you of whom). And Paul Newman launches into an impromptu speech against Kennedy's war in Viet Nam, which he totally misconstrues because either he or his scriptwriter did not care to do any genuine research. As they said in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
If this review seems vague, it's because "WUSA" is vague. Its characters wander around and appear to do things, but their motivations and actions are never clear (or even sensible). One supposes, erroneously, that the various threads of plot will, as the Beatles said, "Come Together" in the end. This may be because "WUSA" was cut by almost half its pre-release test length, and what hit the cutting room floor was character and plot development (if any) in favor of making sure they got good hits at all the left's favorite targets.
Make no bones about it, "WUSA" is really a manifesto of wacky notions from the political left. It has no other purpose in life. After a Democrat president got caught in -- according to what's posted on my wall at work -- severe sexual harassment (including nonconsensual groping and perhaps intercourse)-- his wife immediately said it was all a plot by a "vast right wing conspiracy"; and since she was afterwards appointed to high office on the strength of that, we shall use her words. They apply to this movie (made, remember in 1970! How many of you were even born then?)
"Vast right wing conspiracies" started at least as far back as the sixties. The left, wobbly on their axis to begin with, seized control of a Democrat Party that had always been home to "progressives" (the so-called "party switch" is another legend often printed; their presidents, Wilson, Roosevelt, etc. were all proudly "Progressive" -- whatever the hell they meant by that -- as were failed candidates like William Jennings Bryan, the Al Gore of his day; only JFK differed in being a supply-sider economically and pro-American in his views, and then he went and got himself killed).
Following several important assassinations in the 60s by darlings of the left (JFK by a committed Communist who emigrated to Russia until he found they don't take in trash; RFK by an anti-Israel zealot; MLK by an Illinois-born petty criminal who hated the USA and wanted to emigrate to Africa even before he tried to take it on the lam), the uber-left, now fully at the helm of the Democrat Party and with McGovern as their candidate, came totally unhinged. And when McGovern lost, they went into total destruction mode, like the robot on LOST IN SPACE.
Since the Republican party was founded in the 1850s (by the sort of people who would be written off today as religious zealots because they wanted to, and did, end Democrat slavery) political violence in America has invariably emanated from the left, and from Democrats. Yet since the 1960s the left has been living in a la-la land of "right wing" violence. And to hunt down this mythical beast and prove it exists, they have made movies about it. After all, if it's in a movie it must be true, right? Print the legend.
The leftists making "WUSA" are not all in front of the camera (in fact, despite Paul Newman and his wife being strongly associated with the left, I tend to absolve actors from blame since they are only parrots paid to recite back words written by others). Setting the scene in a southern town at a right-wing radio station lets the filmmakers cram in all their petty prejudices -- against southerns, Christians, people who like the USA (and the freedom it represents) and, of course, their constant bugaboo, talk radio.
We can note here that Rush Limbaugh did not start the American left's distaste for radio, the only medium upon which they were unable to get a chokehold. "WUSA" came out in 1970, twenty-five years and more before Rush first sat behind the golden EIB microphone. No, they had the horns and the tail all ready to paste on anybody for a quarter of a century. Mister Limbaugh simply happened to step in to the crosshairs at the left's shooting arcade.
So what do we make of "WUSA"? Well, the makers set it in a place they hate among people they hate. For their right-wing characters they set up cardboard cutouts painted with the left's own colors.
For all it tawdry pandering to its target audience, "WUSA" might still have been a decent conspiracy flick -- that is, for people who have the sort of mind-set that believes in REAL conspiracies and right-wing assassins and alien abductions and unicorns. Unfortunately they got mired in the slime of hate for people of Otherness. After producing a long movie (which must have been a lulu!) their simple-minded fearmongering trumped all that time-wasting story and character development, which may (or may not) have taken up its third hour.
Yet despite its age and the creakiness of its notions, the film has a very current feel. It might have been made today, since the left has not mentally matured since at least 1970. They still throw around the same canards and make the same despicable and unfounded allegations, they've just changed the names. This is a movie every conservative and Republican should see, for a clue into how the other Party thinks. But don't reward them by buying a copy. Just rent it and watch aghast. Fortunately, it's far too flimsy to take umbrage at.
On the really plus side, Laurence Harvey makes the most of his juicy role as, -- what else? -- a hypocritical preacher. Could there be any other kind in a modern movie?