Century 1981: Reds

Reds. Warren Beatty. 1981.

Most films I have on my shelf of unseen films I can pretty much figure out why I’ve bought. This one, I have no idea. Did somebody recommend it to me?

This is such a 70s film, and not in a bad way. If I had to make a guess at who the director is, I would have said “Robert Altman”, but instead it’s one of Warren Beatty’s very few directorial efforts.

“There was just as much fucking going on then as now. Only now, it has a more perverted quality.”

There’s so much interesting stuff in here (like about the Industrial Workers of the World (I’ve got all their hoodies)) and being a commie in the teens and so on. But every time they focus on the personal relationships it degenerates to Standard Drama Hysterics.

Just deathly.

An unfortunately, after a very promising start, that’s what large parts of this film is about. It’s like Beatty had an idea to make a film about communist agitator slash journalist John Reed, but then thought that he had to make the bulk of the film about his not very interesting love life to make it palatable to a general audience.

Still, I love the good bits in this film.

The odd choice of not saying who the old people who knew Reed and Louise Bryant are (they’re like a choir that comments on the proceedings, sort of) is an odd choice. But it works. Some of them are good people and some of them are assholes, but it takes a while to know who’s who.

It was nominated for all the Oscars and won a few.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

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