I think it’s brave when people sing even if they don’t have a very good voice or just don’t know how to do it very well. I thought of this while watching Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. It reminded me of Paint Your Wagon, one of the best movies ever made, which features Lee Marvin singing “I Was Born Under a Wandering Star.” (Lee comes in around the one-minute mark.)
The film also has Clint Eastwood singing “I Talk to the Trees,” but Clint actually sings pretty well. He did a duet with Merle Haggard called “Bar Room Buddies.” Turns out Sean Connery is a pretty good singer, too, as he shows in Darby O’Gill and the Little People when he sings “My Darling Irish Girl.”
It’s worth pointing out, though, that these other guys sing just a song or two. Russell Crowe sings all the way through a three-hour movie, which is a little different.
Whenever I think of Paint Your Wagon, I remember the terribly sad story of Jean Seberg, driven to her grave by your tax dollars, or those of your parents and grandparents. Seberg made many charitable contributions and unfortunately, one was to the Black Panther Party. The FBI, with the full knowledge of President Richard Nixon and Attorney General John Mitchell (may they rot in hell), subjected her to a systematic campaign of surveillance and harassment culminating in a planted story, published by the editorial staff of Newsweek (may they rot in hell, too) that Seberg, who was married, was pregnant with the child of one of the Panthers.
Here are some relevant paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry on Seberg:
“Romain Gary, Seberg’s second husband, called a press conference shortly after her death where he publicly blamed the FBI’s campaign against Seberg for her deteriorating mental health. Gary claimed that Seberg “became psychotic” after the media reported a false story that the FBI planted about her becoming pregnant with a Black Panther’s child in 1970. The child died two days after Seberg went into premature labor. Gary stated that Seberg had repeatedly attempted suicide on the anniversary of the child’s death, August 25.”
“The investigation of Seberg went far beyond the publishing of defamatory articles. According to her friends interviewed after her death, Seberg experienced years of aggressive in-person surveillance (constant stalking), as well as break-ins and other intimidation oriented activity.”
“FBI records show that J. Edgar Hoover kept U.S. President Richard Nixon informed of FBI activities related to the Jean Seberg case via President Nixon’s domestic affairs chief John Ehrlichman; John Mitchell, then Attorney General, and Deputy Attorney General Richard Kleindienst were also kept informed of FBI activities related to Jean Seberg.”
Jean Seberg was a beautiful woman and a beautiful soul, and those sons of bitches destroyed her. Since she was blacklisted in Hollywood, she went to France to find work, but at heart she was a small-town girl from Iowa, and she missed the good old USA.
“I miss that casualness and friendliness of Americans,” she told an interviewer, “the kind that makes people smile. I also miss blue jeans, milk shakes, thick steaks and supermarkets.”