The Not-So-Funny True Comedy Story Behind the Movie Stan & Ollie

Laurel and Hardy fans who rewatch the legendary comedians’ 1934 take on Babes in Toyland every Christmas now have the opportunity to see them in another movie: the new biopic Stan & Ollie, starring Steve Coogan as Laurel and John C. Reilly as Hardy, out Friday.

The movie is a fictionalized take on the comedians’ British tour in 1953 and 1954. Their third such tour, it which would end up being their last tour together, due to the declining health of the duo TIME once described as “two of America’s few genuinely creative comedians.”

The funnymen were introduced to the public in the mid-1920s by Hollywood film and TV producer Hal Roach, who thought putting together a skinny Englishman and a rotund American would be comedic gold, says Simon Louvish, author of Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy and a visiting lecturer at the London Film School. Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, England) had been an understudy for Charlie Chaplin and a member of the London Comedians troupe run by Fred Karno, who is credited with having a role in launching Chaplin. Hardy was the son of an Atlanta politician, and studied law at the University of Georgia before he decided to pursue a career in singing.

Together, as TIME put it, they became Laurel — “slim, sad-eyed master mime” and “the brain behind the gags and the on-screen butt of them all” — and Hardy, “the master of mime and the bowler-bouncing doubletake” and “the withering glare.” They made dozens of silent film shorts in the late 1920s, such as Duck Soup, and began doing talkie shorts in 1929 and feature-length talkie films in the mid-’30s. Their seamless transition from silent to sound pictures was notable, winning them recognition as “virtually the only silent comedy stars to repeat their phenomenal success in talkies, probably because their miming spoke louder than words.” And the hard work that Laurel & Hardy put into lugging a piano up a staircase in The Music Box clearly hit the right note with the Academy, as the film won a 1932 Oscar.

And their popularity went even deeper than their talent. They rose to fame at a period in history when Americans needed a good laugh. “During the Great Depression, people are so desperate, and they need comedy,” says Louvish. “Here are two bums wandering about. They come from nowhere. They have no money. They’re always trying to do the right thing, but get into a fine mess. They take failure and make it into something you can laugh about.

Their relatability was a key part of what made them funny. They were “interested more, as Hardy once said, in ‘human appeal’ than in ‘straight clownish antics.’” Describing what made them special in 1965, TIME noted that “they were lovable caricatures of the dolt in Everyman, a bow and fiddle striking delightfully dissonant chords in a mad world. Witless innocence was their hallmark.”

But when their health was failing, they had trouble being funny.

Stan & Ollie is based on that point in their career, during the post-war period.

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While filming the movie originally entitled Atoll K in 1950 (later released as Utopia in 1954), Hardy’s general health worsened, exacerbated by his obesity, and Stan Laurel’s pre-existing diabetes was worsened by prostate issues and colitis. And yet they continued to tour.

“They embraced these demanding tours which were quite physically exhausting,” says Louvish. The film depicts the period as one of intense disagreement between the two; when asked whether they had a notable falling out, Louvish, who has not seen the film, says that if they argued in real life it was probably less because they didn’t like each other anymore and more because they were running on fumes. “They were both very ill in their later years,” says Louvish.

Even then, Laurel and Hardy never lost their commitment to self-deprecating humor, as opposed to put-downs. At an appearance in Newcastle, England, in 1952, they “looked down their noses at the modern generation,” TIME reported. “Present-day comedians, particularly those in America, gain laughs at the expense of someone else’s discomfort. Insult gags are a crudity we avoid,” they said.

And yet, they were determined to keep performing. “They had run out of stuff, yet they’re trying to do material and buoyed up by the fact that people love them,” says Louvish. “They can’t make more movies, yet they want to continue until death.”

Montifraulo Collection—Getty ImagesStan Laurel (left) and Oliver Hardy (right) shortly after performing at the Empire theater in Nottingham, England, in Aug. 1953 during their U.K. tour.

It wasn’t just for their own benefit, though. Their British tours came during the difficult period of post-war shortages in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the laughter they provided was able to serve the same purpose it had served during the Great Depression.

And yet the recognition they received was more honorary than monetary. “The two men did not own their films, and thus did not reap any income from reruns,” TIME reported in 1967. “During their last years—Ollie died at 65 in 1957, Stan at 74 in 1965—neither was independently wealthy.” When Laurel received an Honorary Academy Award for “creative pioneering in the field of comedy” in 1961, he was too ill to accept it himself.

“They made us laugh because in them we kind of saw ourselves – ridiculous, frustrated, up to our necks in trouble, but nevertheless ourselves,” Danny Kaye said, accepting the award on his behalf. “Oliver Hardy delicately tipped his derby hat with his pudgy little fingers and left us a little while back. But the thin, sad-faced one, the one from whose fertile mind sprang many of the universally humorous notions that have been borrowed so freely by the comedians who have followed is still with us.”

Indeed, Jonathan Winters, Dick Cavett, Dick Van Dyke and Soupy Sales were all members of Sons of the Desert, a Laurel and Hardy appreciation society founded by fans in 1965. In light of the biopic, it’s recently been fielding an increased number of membership inquiries from young people. Before he died, Laurel had some parting advice to such fans, advising them to “have a hell of a lot of fun,” and avoid taking themselves too seriously — even when things get tough.

“Don’t sit around and tear comedy apart. It is like a fine watch, and you’ll never get it together again,” he said. “And don’t ask me why people laugh—that is the mystery of it all.”


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The True Story Behind the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Movie On the Basis of Sex

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is having quite a year at the movies: In May, the documentary RBG offered a new look at Ginsburg’s life through interviews with the “notorious” Supreme Court Justice herself as well as family members and scholars. And on Dec. 25, a new movie dives into another chapter of her career. On the Basis of Sex, directed by Mimi Leder and starring Felicity Jones as a young Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her husband, Martin Ginsburg, hones in on her early years as a mother, student, professor and, finally, lawyer. Though the film spans more than a decade, it focuses on Ginsburg’s first gender discrimination case, Moritz v. Commissioner. In the case, which took place in 1972, the Ginsburgs argued as a team that Section 214 of the United States tax code—which denied Charles Moritz, a never-married man, the right to deduct expenses for the care of his ailing mother—was unconstitutional.

On the Basis of Sex is an origin story,” Leder said at the New York premiere of the film, with an audience that included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem (whose work has a few hat-tips in the film) and Ginsburg herself. “But Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not a superhero. She’s a woman.” Mortal though she may be, the Ginsburg Leder depicts is certainly a woman who is super: she takes care of her young daughter, Jane, while acing her own Harvard Law School classes and making sure her husband passes his, even after he is diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Viewers might be surprised to find that for a biopic whose subject was involved in its development, On the Basis of Sex is somewhat fictionalized. “This film is part fact, part imaginative—but what’s wonderful about it is that the imaginative parts fit in with the story so well,” Ginsburg told NPR’s Nina Totenberg following the New York screening. The screenwriters, who include Ginsburg’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, clearly decided that strict adherence to fact didn’t always serve the story.

There are some moments of the film—namely, sexy scenes between Ginsburg and her husband—that might raise eyebrows. But when Totenberg asked Ginsburg about these scenes, Ginsburg smiled and responded, “My children are in the audience: I think they probably would agree with me that their daddy would have loved it.”

Here’s what’s fact and what’s fiction in On the Basis of Sex.

Fiction: Ginsburg attended her husband’s classes for him while he underwent cancer treatment

Jonathan Wenk—Focus FeaturesFelicity Jones stars as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s ‘On the Basis of Sex.’

In the film, when Martin “Marty” Ginsburg is diagnosed with testicular cancer—a grave diagnosis in the 1950s—he and Ruth agree that they’re going to fight it together. Soon after, Felicity Jones’ Ruth arrives late, briefcase and books in hand, to a class full of men. After explaining that she’d be attending her husband’s classes in his stead, she responds affirmatively to the professor’s incredulous question: “In addition to your own?”

Though the cancer diagnosis and the couple’s reaction to it is true to life, Ginsburg didn’t really attend her husband’s classes during his third year of law school. Instead, their peers helped out. His classmates took diligent notes and sometimes even tutored him. “That’s why I don’t think of Harvard as the fiercely competitive institution it’s sometimes described as,” Justice Ginsburg said in a separate interview with Totenberg for the Academy of Achievement. “When Martin became ill, my classmates, his classmates, they all rallied around us, and made it possible to get through that year.”

Ginsburg did type her husband’s papers and make sure he was able to complete his coursework in time for graduation. Finally, in the last two weeks of the semester, Martin Ginsburg was well enough to attend class, and he earned his best grades that semester.

Fact: Ginsburg graduated from Columbia after transferring from Harvard

After Martin Ginsburg graduated from Harvard Law School in 1958, Ruth still had one year left. But Martin was offered a job in New York City that he couldn’t pass up. Ruth decided that she needed to be in New York with him and their young daughter and couldn’t stay in Boston to complete her degree.

But the Dean of Harvard Law School, played by Sam Waterston in the film, wouldn’t allow her to complete a Harvard JD with courses from Columbia. The film’s depiction of Ruth’s rebuttal—that if students could transfer to Harvard after the first year and earn a degree, surely she could do the same by finishing coursework at Columbia—is in line with how that meeting really went down. Despite her protests, Ginsburg did end up earning her degree from Columbia Law School.

Later in life, after she had achieved great success in her career, the faculty of Harvard Law School wanted to grant her an honorary degree. But she declined: her degree would always be from Columbia, and, as she said about the incident, “You can’t rewrite history.

Partially Fact: Even with her outstanding resume, Ginsburg couldn’t land a job with a law firm

Jonathan Wenk / Focus FeaturesFelicity Jones as Ginsburg.

Once she graduated from Columbia Law School, Ginsburg should have been unstoppable. She was at the top of her class and had been on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review. But she was also Jewish and a woman, and finding work was not easy.

Though the movie shows that Ginsburg couldn’t get a job as a lawyer and joined Rutgers University Law School faculty as her first job, she actually clerked for a few judges before her position at Rutgers, starting with U.S. District Judge Edmond Palmieri. The discrimination Ruth faces in the movie during job interviews is not dissimilar from how Ginsburg has described those experiences. One judge, Ginsburg recalled in the Academy of Achievement interview, wouldn’t consider her for a clerkship because he didn’t feel comfortable swearing in front of a woman.

Once at Rutgers, Ginsburg wasn’t free from discrimination because of her gender, either. When she became pregnant with her second child, James, she did not yet have tenure. Fearing that if she told her colleagues, she wouldn’t be hired for the next year of teaching, Ginsburg hid her pregnancy with baggy clothing until she had received the next year’s contract.

Fact: Martin Ginsburg cooked dinner for the family

Jonathan Wenk / Focus Features—© 2018 Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.Armie Hammer as Marty Ginsburg and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The picture the movie paints of the Ginsburgs’ egalitarian marriage is true to the life they led. Martin, who died in 2010, loved to cook dinner for the family and supported his wife in all of her professional pursuits—an arrangement that was not particularly common for that time. Ginsburg has said that when she met Martin at Cornell, where they both earned their undergraduate degrees, she was drawn to him because he was the first man who cared about her intelligence.

At the New York premiere, Ginsburg said that the way Armie Hammer’s Marty chops vegetables as though he were on the Food Network was especially touching and representative of her beloved husband. Martin was such a talented cook that he often made dinner for his wife’s law clerks.

Partially Fact: Ginsburg’s first big case was a tax case

On the Basis of Sex suggests that the case the movie follows is Ginsburg’s first. And although Moritz v. Commissioner definitely was the first well-known case Ginsburg tried, it wasn’t her first.

What is true, as Ginsburg told Totenberg, is the movie’s depiction of how she came to discover this case. “I don’t read tax cases,” Ruth tells Marty in the film. But he encourages her to read this specific one about Moritz. Ginsburg says that Marty, who was a tax attorney, really did present her with this case, and she even said those exact words in response.

Once she read the case, she knew they had to take it on. Because the plaintiff was male, Ginsburg knew the judges would be more receptive to the concept of gender discrimination—and the notion that it was harmful.

Fiction: Ginsburg flubbed the beginning of her first opening statement

Jonathan Wenk—Focus Features(l to r.) Armie Hammer as Marty Ginsburg, Justin Theroux as Melvin Wulf, and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

One of the first things Ginsburg wants to clear the record on: she would never flub the opening of an oral argument. When Jones’ Ruth begins her argument for three intimidating judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, she pauses uncomfortably. “Whenever you’re ready, Ms. Ginsburg,” one judge goads.

But the real Ginsburg said this is one of the film’s moments of fiction. “I didn’t stumble,” she told Totenberg.

Fact: Ginsburg and her husband split the time when arguing Moritz v. Commissioner

The two Ginsburgs did split the time arguing this case before the judges. First, as the movie shows, Martin argued the tax aspects of the case, and then Ruth argued the gender discrimination aspects of the case.

The pair won the case. The 10th Circuit decided that the tax code was “invidious discrimination,” marking the beginning of Ginsburg’s mission to take down each and every law that discriminated on the basis of gender. (Despite the movie’s title, Ginsburg did use the word “gender” instead of “sex” in her brief for this case.)

Fact: Ginsburg was childhood friends with ACLU legal director Melvin Wulf

Jonathan Wenk—Focus FeaturesJustin Theroux as Melvin Wulf and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In the movie, Ruth’s childhood friendship with the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Melvin Wulf (played by Justin Theroux), is tantamount to her success in Moritz. This is true. The two attended a Jewish summer camp together, and when Ginsburg told her friend about the case she and Martin had found, he agreed that the ACLU would finance its litigation.

Fact: Moritz led to Ginsburg’s continued work with the ACLU

After winning Moritz, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Right’s Project at the ACLU in 1972, where she continued the fight to promote gender equality. Without Ginsburg’s work eradicating the laws that discriminate on the basis of sex, the country may not look how it does today: a country which, in spite of its problems, does have very few such laws that remain federally, according to Emily Martin, the vice president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “It’s definitely the case that as a result of the work that she led, what was once really common in the law no longer is,” Martin tells TIME.


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In true Musk fashion, Boring Company test tunnel opening pushed back a week

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Long criticized for his time management skills, billionaire inventor Elon Musk is once again behind schedule on a major project.

This time it’s the underground Hawthorne test tunnel for The Boring Company’s high-speed transit system underneath Los Angeles. A big public opening experience was scheduled for Tuesday, but a company spokesperson emailed over a new date set for Dec. 18.

Musk tweeted about the delay, expertly spinning it as an improved event that just needs a bit more attention and time to pull off. He promised “more than a tunnel opening” with autonomous transport cars and car elevators. Maybe something like the elevator approved for under a Hawthorne home the company purchased? Guess we’ll find out later this month. Read more…

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‘True Blood’ 10 Years On: Too Much Sex Killed It

Vampires were having quite the renaissance in 2008. In cinemas, director Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel Let The Right One In was proving an unexpected hit. In a similar vein – pun absolutely intended – enjoying an even richer level of success was another page-to-screen adaptation, this being the year in which the first Twilight movie debuted in cinemas. Twilight was a phenomenon. If the source material was popular, author Stephenie Meyers’ books selling well in excess of 100 million copies, the films were something else, pulling in over 3 billion dollars.

Within the world of TV, the CW’s adaptation of writer L.J Smith’s young adult series The Vampire Diaries was gearing up to be launched in the September of the following year. The BBC’s brilliant Being Human, a kitchen-sink drama about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost taking part in a Bristol-based flat share, was already there. And then, in September, from HBO and the pen of Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, tapping into the pre-existing audience of Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels, from which the show was adapted, there was True Blood. Vampires were everywhere.

In True Blood’s case, ‘everywhere’ mostly means ‘in bed’. From the opening credits onwards, country singer Jace Everett’s swampy 2005 single “Bad Things” purring the shows desire to do ‘bad things with you’, True Blood was absolutely filthy. There were threesomes. Foursomes. Fivesomes. In forests. In cemeteries. Glowing fairy orgasms! Werewolf-on-werewolf action! And there was an awful lot of industrial metal. It took just seven episodes of Season 1 for two characters, Jason and Amy, to have sex on V (that being vampire blood, a drug which appears to the precise meeting point between ecstasy and LSD), causing the two of them to have sex while flying.

Sexual Metaphors

“Vampires are total sexual metaphors,” said showrunner Alan Ball at the time, “there’s just no way around that”. It’s hard to argue otherwise. From the off, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a story about Victorian-era anxieties like syphilis and changing gender roles as much as it was about a dude who comes and bites you in the night. And with new eras come new concerns. Despite being pitched at a young audience, even Twilight’s success concerned sex, or rather the lack of it, Mormon Stephanie Meyer creating perhaps the first prudish vampire tale ever (of course, the more sinister reading, is that a woman’s lust (Bella being totally up for doing the thing) is to be regulated by a man (Edward blocking his own cock), but let’s save that one for another time).

True Blood, the story of what happens when vampires come out of the shadows, in the wake of the development and industrialisation of synthetic blood – the titular Tru Blood, note the lack of ‘e’ – was full of metaphor. The complexities of questions posed from the off was a huge reason why the show appealed. Some deduced this was all metaphor for people living with AIDS. Some thought it was about gay rights – the vampire-integration-protesting-Jesus-nut placards that roared ‘God Hates Fangs’ felt like it backed that theory up. Yet even away from sex, there was plenty of allegory. Maybe this was all about race. The fact the show was set in the deep south of America suggested it might be. Vampire Bill even fought for the confederates during the Civil War.

Where Did It All Go Wrong? Here…

In the end, True Blood wasn’t really about any of these things, or if it was, it approached such nuanced themes with the grace of a bulldozer. Scenes in which vampires were kidnapped and killed by humans opposed to their integration into society were obvious nods to the lynching of Jim Crow-era black people, a metaphor confused by the fact many of the vampires wanted a human holocaust, so who are we really rooting for here? Even when the show approached more personal issues it goofed up. It was hard to feel for anyone addicted to V when everyone on it was having such a bloody lovely time.

Ultimately, before the show could explore any of these themes further, it doomed itself by muddying the premise that had brought its audience in to begin with. We came for a show that had one central intriguing theme. We stuck it out through the introduction of werewolves, shapeshifters and witch doctors. We were really clinging on by the time Sookie realised she was a fairy (“I’m a fairy? How f—ing lame…” Yes Sookie, quite). But by the time the show decided to add werepanthers to the mix? Well, life’s too short, it really is…

Few TV shows’ descent into tedium have been as disappointing as True Blood’s was. In the beginning, there was much to love. Sookie was an extremely likable lead. Trying to work out what Bill’s accent would do on any given week was a lot of fun. Medium Lafayette (played with such charm by the late Nelsan Ellis) is one of the decades great small screen characters. The show gave the world Alexander Skarsgård. The character of a bequiffed 3,000-year-old ancient vampire king, Russell Edgington, was an absolute blast. But after three seasons, it was clear the show had absolutely no idea where it was going. After five — Alan Ball’s last season, incidentally — poor writing, reduced production values and key plot points that were picked up and discarded within an episode were becoming commonplace. Ultimately, True Blood lasted seven seasons, with former Friends writer Brian Buckner helming the last two.

Joss Whedon’s immortal Buffy The Vampire Slayer lasted one season more than True Blood. It was also a show that could be pretty sexy when it wanted to be, and yet rarely dragged, covered big themes well, and left a fandom aching when it ceased to be. Because here’s the thing with sex. It’s great and all, but after a while, it gets boring if you don’t have anything to talk about between the messy bits. Vampires should never be boring. By the end of True Blood, the only thing its fandom was aching for was to plunge a stake into its tired heart.

What the King of Horror Has in Common With the Master of Suspense

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The True Story Behind Outlaw King: What to Know About Scottish Independence Hero Robert the Bruce

Warning: Contains spoilers for the movie Outlaw King

Increasing anxiety about the U.K.’s preparations for leaving the European Union has some Scots talking about how, in a world of Brexit, they might be able to actually pull off independence.

And whenever talk of Scottish independence ramps up — not infrequently; a referendum on the topic failed in 2014 — people look for lessons in the story of the legendary king who led Scotland to independence in the 14th century: Robert I, also known as Robert the Bruce (Bruce being his family name). So it’s perhaps fitting that, amid the ongoing political turmoil, a dramatization of his story is in theaters and becomes available for streaming on Netflix on Friday. Outlaw King stars Chris Pine (and, yes, all of Chris Pine) and is based on a pivotal period in Scottish history.

The film begins with the English siege of the Scots’ Stirling Castle in 1304, as a Warwolf — a huge medieval trebuchet — lobs boulders at the stronghold, in a motion similar to “an overarm pitch,” explains one of the film’s historical advisors Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History & Archaeology at the University of Glasgow (who also served as historical advisor to the TV series Outlander). At that time, most of Scotland’s castles were already occupied by English garrisons, and the King of England, Edward I, was flexing his power as overlord of Scotland and demanding the Scottish elites give him their fealty.

A succession crisis in Scotland had empowered Edward I. There were no heirs to the Scottish throne left after the death of the King of Scots Alexander III in 1286, so the Scottish nobility put together a committee of guardians to keep the government running. After the death of the Queen of Scots Margaret, Maid of Norway, in 1290, the guardians asked Edward I to come serve as an independent arbitrator to evaluate claims to the Scottish throne. As a result, John Balliol became King of Scotland in 1292.

But his reign didn’t last long. After Balliol sought an alliance with France, England’s enemy back then, Edward I himself came back to invade Scotland and drive out Balliol in 1296.

Now the independent kingdom of Scotland was facing direct rule by the English crown. Hard up for cash after the invasion, having “stretched his resources to a breaking point,” Edward I tried to shake down the Scots — including seizing their wool, the country’s main export at the time, according to Dauvit Broun, a professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, who wasn’t involved in the film.

That’s when Robert the Bruce decided that enough was enough. He declared himself King of Scotland.

But in order to rule, Robert had to eliminate the competition. Scottish nobles who backed Balliol had been keeping a government going in his name. To be king, Robert the Bruce would have to get rid of anyone who challenged his own claim to the crown. So in February of 1306 at the church of Greyfriars in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce met with John “The Red” Comyn, one of the most powerful nobles in Scotland, who had been spearheading the effort to establish a Balliol kingship. Comyn didn’t walk away from the meeting alive.

There’s debate about whether Robert the Bruce killed Comyn himself or whether accomplices did, but he’s thought to have been in on it — and in the film, he’s depicted as murdering John “The Red” Comyn himself, which is what many people think happened. Robert the Bruce and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh were inaugurated King and Queen of Scots at Scone shortly after. Not a lot is known about de Burgh, and later in the year she was taken prisoner in England.

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But, though the murder of John Comyn secured his power in one way, it also made Robert the Bruce — who by then called himself King Robert I — a toxic figure in Scottish society. Soon enough, he was forced to flee.

“The most powerful nobles of Scotland treat him as a terrorist,” says Broun. “Not only is Robert I trying to establish an independent Scotland, but [also] he’s facing a civil war.”

In June of 1306, he struggled to keep up with the English army in the Battle of Methven, depicted in the film. “He’s basically an outlaw and the English are trying to bring him to book,” says Pollard. “[Robert the Bruce] comes close to being captured and beaten.”

His time as a fugitive is a mystery to historians.

“Nobody knows where he went when he was fugitive, but it looks like he thought hard about strategy,” says Broun. “He stayed out of a battle until he knew he’d have a better chance of winning, and that was controversial because kings were meant to be military heroes. He resolved that every castle he took he would destroy because he reckoned that, for the King of England to win, he would need to garrison Scotland, and you can’t do that unless you’ve got castles. It’s a bit like taking a bomb and destroying Buckingham Palace. But Robert I took the view that if he was going to win, it was only going to be because he had the support of the people, so he didn’t need castles.”

The film aims to depict Robert I’s military genius by highlighting the guerrilla tactics he used to overthrow the superior military force that was Edward I’s English army. One aspect of that involved creating what Pollard calls a “human porcupine” of sorts, with hundreds of men in one big group holding nearly 20-foot-long spears straight out in front of them.

The Scots also had a home turf advantage in terms of navigating the boggy, marshy battlegrounds. “Bruce deliberately picks land where the strength of the English Army can’t be brought into play,” says Pollard. “The English are knights in armor on horses, and Scots were men on foot, who didn’t have much in the way of cavalry.”

Robert’s first victory as king came in May of 1307 at the Battle of Loudoun Hill, close to his longtime family stronghold of Carrick (now part of Ayrshire).

“It’s significant because it means that he’s no longer just a fugitive,” says Broun. “But he’s still only someone who controls a small region of Scotland, his home region, which is not very different from being a noble — except he claims to be king.”

So the most famous and most important battle in Robert the Bruce’s career came even later, after the period of time covered by the film.

It was the Battle of Bannockburn, in June of 1314 that really paved the way for Scottish independence. Edward I had actually died shortly after the battle of Loudoun Hill, but at Bannockburn, Robert I defeated his successor Edward II.

“The Battle of Bannockburn is really the conclusion of the civil war,” says Broun,”[and] shows everyone who isn’t an inveterate opponent of Robert I that he’s in charge, that he can defeat the King of England. The few nobles who are still swithering say, ‘Okay, the reality is Robert I is in charge.’”

Elizabeth de Burgh is said to have been returned to Robert I after the battle as part of a prisoner exchange. Scotland’s independence from England would be official until the two nations signed the Treaty of Edinburgh in March of 1328. Robert I died the following year but Scotland would remain independent until James VI of Scotland inherited the kingdom of England after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 and became James I of England. Oliver Cromwell conquered Scotland completely in 1650, and the Scottish and English parliaments merged in May of 1707.

And yet Robert the Bruce’s reputation as a national hero endured.

“He was reduced to being a fugitive and yet managed to restore Scotland as a fully-functioning independent kingdom. This makes his achievement even more remarkable,” Broun says. “He had to improvise constantly and had to work really hard to be king, as opposed to being born into it and not having to struggle for it.”


Entertainment – TIME

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Former American Apparel Boss Named True Religion Interim CEO

C-SUITE SHUFFLE: True Religion said chief executive officer John Ermatinger is to retire and has installed former American Apparel ceo Chelsea Grayson as interim ceo as the board looks for a permanent successor.
Ermatinger was named to the top spot in 2015, bringing to the position experience after having been ceo of Tommy Hilfiger’s Asia-Pacific region, president of Gap Inc.’s Asia-Pacific division and Levi Strauss & Co. Americas president.
Grayson has been on the True Religion board of directors since last year and was chair of the audit committee.
Her time at American Apparel capped a rough stretch in the company’s history with the departure of its founder, layoffs and two bankruptcies. She had previously served as American Apparel’s general counsel and chief administrative officer before she was appointed to the ceo position in September 2016, succeeding Paula Schneider. Grayson would later find herself shuttling the company through its second bankruptcy filing less than two months after her appointment. Part of the business was ultimately sold to Gildan Activewear Inc.
Grayson, in a statement, said her focus would be to continue the momentum set off by collaborations with Bella Hadid and Manchester United.
TowerBrook Capital Partners paid $ 835 million for True Religion in May 2013.

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Godzilla vs. Kong Adds True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard

Legendary and Warner Bros. have reportedly cast Alexander Skarsgård in their upcoming film, Godzilla vs. Kong.

As reported by Deadline, Skarsgård will join Julian Dennison, Brian Tyree Henry and Demian Bichir in “the fourth installment of the Legendary and Warner Bros. cinematic universe.”

Skarsgård has starred in both television and movies in such titles as True Blood, The Legend of Tarzan, Big Little Lies, and Zoolander 2.

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Prince Harry Double Hand Holding With Meghan Markle Shows ‘True Love’ — Body Language Expert Explains

Prince Harry recently used both of his hands to hold wife Meghan Markle’s hand, and a body language expert EXCLUSIVELY told us why it means he absolutely adores her.

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The True Story Behind the Movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?

For a collector, the price of a celebrity letter is as much determined by its content as the name signed on the end. The juiciest letters, the ones that offer some hint of Ernest Hemingway or Dorothy Parker’s inner lives, fetch the highest prices. For Lee Israel, a celebrity biographer by trade and the subject of Melissa McCarthy’s new movie Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the best way to acquire such letters was to buy an old typewriter, do a bit of research and bang one out herself.

Israel had been a moderately successful celebrity biographer through the 70s and 80s, writing books about actor Tallulah Bankhead and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. But in the late 80s, Israel’s career went into decline and she began selling forged letters of dead writers and actors in order to get by. She was eventually brought to trial by the FBI and sentenced to six months under house arrest and five years probation, but not before she had forged more than 400 letters, some of which remain in circulation to this day.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which comes out Oct. 19, is based on Israel’s memoir of the same name. Directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and starring McCarthy as Israel, the film tells the story of her transformation from writer to forger after her career as a biographer goes into a tailspin.

Here’s what the movie gets right and what it doesn’t.

Fact: Israel had a former girlfriend named Elaine

Israel, portrayed in the movie as a depressed misanthrope with a drinking problem, refers again and again to what seems to be her one real human connection in the past — her relationship with her (ex) girlfriend Elaine (played by Anna Deavere Smith). Near the end of the movie, Israel and Elaine meet again, and it becomes apparent that Elaine has moved on even if Israel, who had pushed her away in the first place, has not. Like many of the movie’s characters, Elaine is a real person. In her memoir, Israel describes falling in love with “a brilliant, beautiful bartender named Elaine, a lapsed Catholic who now observed only Bloomsday and St Patrick’s — the first with solemnity, the latter with wretched excess.”

Fact: Israel had published a poorly received biography of Estée Lauder

Israel’s published Estée Lauder: Beyond the Magic in 1985. The book ended up contributing to the collapse of Israel’s career as a biographer. Lauder herself had offered to pay Israel not to write the biography, and when the author refused, Lauder published her own memoir, which undercut the sales of Israel’s book. Rushed out to beat Lauder’s book to market, Israel’s biography was poorly reviewed — in the The New York Times Book Review, Marylin Bender wrote that Beyond the Magic “comes off as a cut rate job.”

Fact: Israel began selling letters in order to pay for treatment for her sick cat

In the film, Israel takes her cat to the vet, but is short on cash to pay the bill. In her memoir, Israel also claims that she was unable to pay the vet bills for her cat Doris. While researching an article at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Israel says she stole three letters by Fanny Brice and sold them for $ 40 each. She claimed she felt no guilt for the theft; the letters “were from the realm of the dead. Doris and I were alive.”

Fact: Dealers began to get suspicious of Israel’s letters because they dealt too explicitly with Noël Coward’s homosexuality

In the film, the net begins to close on Israel when a dealer grows suspicious of her Noël Coward letters. In real life, one of Coward’s friends who was also a collector noticed that some of the playwright’s letters that Israel had sold referenced his sexual orientation. While alive, Coward had been extremely discreet about his private life. Many dealers began refusing to buy Israel’s letters after the fakes were exposed.

Fact: After dealers began to catch on to Israel’s embellishments and forgeries, she began stealing real letters

In both the film and the memoir, Israel decides to go into outright theft after her fakes are exposed. “I was going to take a crook’s tour of major university libraries,” she wrote, “replicate some valuable letters in their various collections, and then replace the McCoy with forged copies.”

Fact: A dealer demanded Israel give him money in order for him to not testify against her

In the film, a slimy rare books dealer tells Israel that he was approached by the FBI and demands $ 5,000 to buy his silence. In her memoir, Israel writes that dealer Alan Weiner really did ask for the money. Promising to pay him, she later sold him stolen letters, effectively making him buy his own silence.

Fiction: Israel destroyed the evidence of her crimes after being served with a subpoena that forbid her from doing so

In the film, Israel is served with a subpoena that explicitly forbids her from destroying evidence related to the forgery case. She immediately goes home and destroys all the evidence she can find. According to her account, Israel was only confronted on the street by a pair of FBI agents, which prompted her to go home and dispose of her research materials and typewriters. Of course, it might be fair to take this particular detail of Israel’s recollection with a grain of salt.

Fiction: Israel befriends Jack Hock at a bar after first meeting him at a book party several years earlier

The film fictionalizes much of Israel’s friendship with Jack Hock, a likable grifter played by Richard E. Grant. She befriends Hock at a bar shortly before beginning her forging escapades. In real life, the two had been longtime friends until Israel found out that Hock, who had been shopping one of her books in order to make a movie adaptation, had forged her name on an option extension.

Fiction: Jack Hock was homeless

The film strongly implies that Hock is homeless, or something close to it. But in her memoir, Israel describes staying at Hock’s “well-appointed Mitchell-Lama apartment.” After they begin stealing and selling letters together, Hock moved into an apartment on West 72nd Street.

Fact: Israel caught Hock trying to steal from her

In the film, Hock tries to swindle Israel out of her share of their ill-got earnings. This episode played out in real life remarkably similarly to the way it does in the film. Hock, claiming to have sold a collection of stolen letters for $ 1500, gave Israel $ 750. When she asked to see the rest of the money, it was revealed that he had actually been paid $ 2,000 for the letters. After the incident, Israel began accompanying Hock to their sales and waiting to meet him nearby when the deal was completed.


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Opinion: Trump says it’s a “scary time for young men.” That’s not true

Opinion: Trump says it’s a “scary time for young men.” That’s not true


Opinion: Trump says it’s a “scary time for young men.” That’s not true

Author Michael Arceneaux talks Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the absurdity of prioritizing the “fears” of young men before the experiences of sexual assault survivors.

As we’ve come to learn in his still relatively short but nonetheless exasperating, exhausting time as president, Donald Trump’s debasement of the office moves at a freakishly accelerated pace. Every single day of this ongoing nightmare, one has to wonder not if Trump will reveal himself to be an inhumane boob—but how many times that day and to what extent? On Tuesday night, the man who once defended Neo-Nazis by calling them “very fine people” and who endorsed a person credibly accused of pedophilia for the U.S. Senate decided it was time to up the despicable ante: He mocked the victim of an alleged sexual assault during a rally in Mississippi.

He mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—the woman who came forward to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during their high school years. Trump mocked Dr. Ford’s trauma to the cheers and laughs of adults. Children were present. I know that cable news pundits already bore the hell out of people with their trite, cliche-ridden newspaper columns about “both sides” showing selective morality, but there is only one major U.S. party that has its president mocking women who were sexually assaulted.

That cruel reality makes me think of the other remarkable thing President Trump said on Tuesday just hours prior: “It’s a very scary time for young men in America.”

It is perplexing (to say the least) that Trump would say this now given his history with those accused of sexual violence—notably, the time he infamously took out a newspaper ad calling for the death of the Central Park Five. Despite DNA evidence exonerating them, then-candidate Trump continued to profess their guilt decades after the matter had been settled. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about this hypocrisy, but as she often does, she forgoed facts and straight answers in favor of spouting fables about the wannabe tyrant she habitually lies for.

It would be easy to dismiss Trump’s remarks as the ramblings of a sociopathic buffoon, but like his racism, like his sexism, like his xenophobia, like his transphobia, and like his homophobia, Trump is the id of the Republican Party, and to some extent, a major bloc of the electorate. It’s not just his son Donald Trump Jr. echoing these sentiments, it is people like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and well, Republican voters themselves. But still, it’s not just conservatives who seem to buy into this notion that we ought to care more about the concerns of the accused than the accuser. This misogyny pervades our entire patriarchal society: The idea that we must worry more about what can happen to a man’s career before we can focus on the life of a woman whom his abuse has impacted. That ultimately, and simply, men matter more.

Veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz explained to the Washington Post that among Republicans, “There is a feeling of being guilty until proven innocent. In this era of #MeToo, there are a lot of men—and some women—who believe that justice no longer exists in America, that the accusation is enough to destroy someone’s career and someone’s life.”

In a new Quinnipiac poll released on Monday, the survey found that 51% of white voters believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed. Meanwhile, 80% of Black voters believe Dr. Ford over Kavanaugh. For, Latinx voters, it is 66% who believe Dr. Ford. Only 40% of white voters believe her account, and when split by gender, 46% of white women believe Dr. Ford and 43% believe Kavanaugh. In sum, Luntz has a point—no matter how irrational, delusional, and disgusting the viewpoint is among those who hold it.

In fact, despite the faux condemnation of Trump’s remarks by select Senate Republicans like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, it is still likely that Judge Brett Kavanaugh—the man Ford claims once tried to rape her 36 years ago—will be confirmed to the Supreme Court in light of continued support among Republican leadership and, per Gallup, most Republicans. And apparently, with the support of most white voters.

So, my question is, how exactly is it a “scary time for young men” in America? It is a far scarier time for women in this country given that we have an American president—one serially accused of sexual assault himself, no less—who will belittle a survivor of sexual assault.

It is a far scarier time for women given that a major political party has no qualms propping up a sexual abuser to a position of power—literally to the laughs of white voters.

As RAINN notes: “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”

Men are scared? I wish men were more afraid of facing consequences for abusing women and girls, but given the climate we live in and the longstanding statistics about sexual assault, why would they be? Look at the man who stands behind the podium with the symbol of the U.S. presidency and look at the support he maintains. I long for a better day, but no serious person would kid themselves into thinking we need to worry about young men in America.

And all that concern about men being falsely accused? About survivors “[wanting] to destroy people,” as Trump also said on Tuesday? Studies reveal that it is more likely for a man to be sexually assaulted than falsely accused of rape. “Unfounded” or false rape accusations only make up 2 to 10 percent of rape allegations. In an interview with Vice.com, University of Kansas Law Professor Corey Rayburn Yung said, “The false reporting rate [for rape] is lower than lots of crimes.”

We need to care more about the women and girls of this country who are not only susceptible to abuse, but burdened by a patriarchal system in which their abuser is still likely to harm without consequence.

Michael Arceneaux is the New York Times bestselling author of the recently released book I Can’t Date Jesus from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. His work has appeared in the New York TimesWashington PostRolling StoneEssenceThe GuardianMic, and more. Follow him on Twitter.

The post Opinion: Trump says it’s a “scary time for young men.” That’s not true appeared first on HelloGiggles.

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