Alfred Hitchcock and the art of Enhanced Interrogation | Street Jazz

Alfred Hitchcock and the art of Enhanced Interrogation



While watching the brilliant Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent tonight on Turner Classic Movies, this scene came up when the Nazi villains have a man captive, and they are trying to get information out of him.

Okay, so nobody says outright that they are Nazis, but we all understand who they are, and who they work for. Maybe audiences were smarter in those days, and didn’t need someone to deliver messages with a hammer and chisel.

Digression aside, how are the Nazi devils trying to get the information they need?

Bright lights, the brightest they can find, are shone directly into their victim’s face, and band music is played at top volume relentlessly. Behind the lights, a group of grim-faced men watch the helpless prisoner as he begs for release, no pity on their faces.

Ah, torture.

No, I corrected myself - it’s enhanced interrogation. After all, haven’t the finest politicians, the most astute lawyers, and the lost eloquent cable commentators in our nation all declared that such practices - and other things too grotesque to mention here - are not torture, but merely interrogation of the most enhanced kind?

Sort of makes you wonder why the idea of Nazis enhancing their interrogations makes us so uncomfortable when we see it on screen. Except . . .

. . . Except that when a British reporter played by the inimitable George Sanders (who, by the way, gets all the best lines in the movie) is forced to watch as even more enhanced interrogation takes place - the looks of revulsion both on his face, and on the face of the woman who has brought him at gunpoint into the room are far more eloquent than any clumsy shots of an interrogator at work.

And the woman watching alongside George Sanders, who can barely stomach what she is seeing . . . is a Nazi.

It is a telling scene, both in the realization that our enhancers at Gitmo got their ideas from Nazis, and that even a Nazi (at least in a movie) might be repulsed by what was done in the name of her Homeland.

It is the sort of scene which makes me wonder how actual defenders of torture view the scene; are they even aware of their spiritual bond with Nazis, and do they even care?

Or do they just dismiss it with with a casual, “It’s only a movie.”


This blog is dedicated to the memory of Florine “Flo” Land, 1923-2015

Back in the 1970s, I worked for several years at the Campbell Soup Plant in Fayetteville. One of the women I worked with, and liked very much, was Florine “Flo” Land.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, I would often see her working the cashier at Luby’s Cafeteria in the Northwest Arkansas Mall.

She was a good person, and I was sorry to read of her passing a few days ago.

This one’s for you, Flo.


Quote of the Day

The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in Congress. - Hendrik Willem Van Loon

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