Comment of the Day: “You’re A Marked Man, Charlie Brown!”

The Lone Ranger, a.k.a. Clayton Moore, unmasked.

The Lone Ranger, a.k.a. Clayton Moore, unmasked.

One of the satisfying aspects of this blog for me is how a post will occasionally spark one of its diverse and intellectually agitated commenters to take the original post in unexpected and delightful directions. This gem from Karl Penny is a prime example. In the article inspired by the legal problems faced by the owner of Charlie Brown’s now grown up cartoon voice, I mentioned the actor who was TV’s Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, prompting this lovely anecdotd from Karl. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “You’re A Marked Man, Charlie Brown!“:

“Your comments about Clayton Moore got me to remembering one of the reasons I became such a fan of Clayton Moore, the man, even more than his acting. It’s from William C. Cline in “Those Enduring Matinee Idols”:

“In conclusion, I want to describe a vignette I witnessed during the afternoon that illustrated why Clayton Moore has been so successful and well-loved during his 24-year stint as ‘The Lone Ranger’, and why those of us who cherish serials detected the quality of the man even before then.
As Moore stood talking–with occasional interruption to shake hands with fans, sign autographs, and even speak to a small boy about the dangers of handling real firearms–a young woman timidly approached him holding the hands of a little lad of about seven and a girl perhaps nine years old. The boy gathered up his courage and thrust out his hand boldly. ‘Hello, Lone Ranger,’ he blurted. ‘My daddy says you’re the best. How come you’re not on TV anymore?’

 The little girl just stood there.

‘Thank you, son,” Moore replied. ‘I’m sure your dad is a great fellow, too. Maybe some time later the TV stations will show the programs again. Then you and your sister can see Tonto and me in action like your dad and mother did.’ The little girl continued to just stand there.

Turning to her, Moore noticed the expression on her face–that unique, particular expression that indicates only one thing, blindness. Looking up at the mother, he spoke one word, softly: ‘Total?’ he asked.

‘Not quite, but legally,’ she replied. Continue reading

TV Ethics, Viewed From A Sickbed

This isn’t how I look. This guy looks BETTER than I look…

[ As regular readers here might have guessed, I am ill, and have been since Thanksgiving. I can barely read, can’t really research, and whatever appears below was composed in 10 minute increments with hours or days in between. I’m hoping to be catching up very soon. Thank you for your patience]

What do you do when any movement or exertion makes you cough your guts out, when you can’t sleep but have to rest, when your brain is so blurry from viruses and medication that you can’t even compose a blog post for three days? (Sorry.) If you are me, and I hope for your sake that you aren’t, you watch TV.

I got one jolt of legal ethics horror that I hadn’t remembered re-watching Kevin Costner’s “The Untouchables,” directed by Brian DePalma. In the movie’s climax, Al Capone’s trial on income tax evasion has come to a crisis point, as Elliot Ness (Costner) realizes that the jury has been bribed to acquit him. Despite documentation of that fact, the corrupt judge tells Costner that the trial will proceed, whereupon Costner extorts him to prompt “a change of heart.” Now the judge shocks the courtroom by announcing that he is trading juries with another trial next door. The new, un-bribed twelve will decide Capone’s fate.

This is, of course, beyond ridiculous. Adversary attorneys must be able to choose a jury in voir dire, where each potential juror is questioned. Trading juries just invalidates two trials. Even if they could trade juries, which they couldn’t, the Capone trial would obviously have to start all over again since the new jury wouldn’t know what was going on.

None of this occurs to Al Capone’s panicky lawyer, however, who, realizing that the jig is up, announces that “we” are changing “our” plea to “guilty.” Chaos reigns. Capone (Robert DeNiro) punches his lawyer in the face, and I don’t blame him one bit.  A lawyer can’t plead guilty against the wishes of his client! The judge couldn’t accept such a plea, and Capone wouldn’t be bound by it. This would be an embarrassing distortion of the justice system in a Warner Brothers cartoon, but for a movie based on historical figures and events to sink so low is unforgivable. (“Carrie” aside, Brian DePalma was a hack.) Continue reading