Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Gambler (1974)

If there is any single great example of an ‘auteur’ who is a much better screenwriter than he is an actual filmmaker with a talent for the strictly visual, it is indubitably rather loathsome and singularly sleazy Judaic degenerate James Toback (The Pick-up Artist,Harvard Man). Indeed, aside from his debut feature Fingers (1978), the greatest screenplays he ever wrote, The Gambler (1974) and Bugsy (1991), were directed by other filmmakers.  Notably, in his rather insightful essay Toward the Devaluation of Woody Allenoriginally featured in the May-June 1990 issue of the Jewish leftist rag Tikkun Magazine, Jonathan Rosenbaum, himself a Jew, more or less argued that Jewish filmmakers might have an innate handicap when it comes to the visual, noting, “[Woody] Allen is far from being the only comic director who thinks verbally more than visually; the same is true of Mel Brooks, and an overall orientation toward the word rather than the image may have something to do with the nature of Judaism as an oral culture.”  Not surprisingly, aside from Fingers, which derives the greatest part of its potency from lead Harvey Keitel's performance, virtually every single film that Toback has ever directed is either a celluloid abortion with interesting elements (Love and Money (1982)) or an awe-inspiringly atrocious joke (When Will I Be Loved (2004)), though—to the director’s credit—it is not hard to recognize a Toback flick, thus he must be recognized as an ‘auteur,’ even if he is not exactly a good one. After all, no many other filmmakers make cinematic works with such a shamelessly flagrant mix of pathetic pick-up artist posturing, racially schizophrenic eroticized negrophilia, proto-wigger fetishism, eccentric Jewish ethnocentricism, sexual neurosis, and cuck-ish Mike Tyson worship, among various other deplorable ingredients that put mainstream Hollywood to shame in terms of sheer Judaic degeneracy.

Somewhat ironically, Toback’s most overtly autobiographical film, The Gambler, was directed by someone else (who he apparently hated so much that he vowed to never work with him again), which was ultimately to the film’s great artistic benefit. Luckily for Toback, virtually everyone involved with the film was a fellow member of the Hebraic tribe, including Brit-Czech-Jew director Karel Reisz (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning,Isadora), stereotype-shattering Jewish tough guy star James Caan, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, degenerate jazz composer Jerry Fielding (notably, the film also features “Symphony No. 1 in D” by late-Romantic Ashkenazi composer Gustav Mahler), and even cinematographer Victor J. Kemper. Largely autobiographical but also loosely based off of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short existentialist novella The Gambler (1867), Toback’s film is, culturally/racially speaking, shamelessly Judaic to the core as a rare mainstream cinematic work where Jewish chutzpah, (sado)masochism, white collar criminality, blonde shiksa worship, and ethnocentrism are central themes. Indeed, no one cannot finish the film without coming to the obvious conclusion that Toback is an unsympathetic scumbag that fully deserves (and seemingly desires) the grand misfortunes that he masochistically sires via his own unhinged egomania. In many ways, Toback’s outstandingly assholish autobiographical antihero is an unintentional anti-Semitic racial caricature worthy of Julius Streicher’s National Socialist tabloid Der Stürmer and, were it not for lead Caan’s inordinate Hebraic handsomeness and stoicism, the film might be completely unbearable, even if Reisz is a very capable and even somewhat underrated filmmaker (indeed, for what it is, Reisz’s John Fowles adaptationThe French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) is nearly immaculate).  Although also a member of the tribe, it seems that Reisz highly benefited from coming from a European arthouse background (in fact, it is probably no coincidence that many of cinema history's greatest Jewish filmmakers, ranging from Erich von Stroheim to Josef von Sternberg to Stanley Kubrick, were either European-born and/or worked in Europe).

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