Wednesday, October 15, 2014

is Ronald Reagan in your bedroom?

Charlie Wilson to Jim Van Wagenen -- "The covert ops budget.  Double it."

In the movie Charlie Wilson's War, Congressman Wilson's ubiquitous cordiality -- a kind of flow of social politeness, respect, and kindness suffuses the mood of the piece.

"You're a very easy man to like, Congressman," the CIA guy says to him later on in the film, after Charlie has explained to him how the project is going to get funded in the future -- how the legislative "gears" will "mesh"....

In Crile's book, it says when Charlie Wilson was growing up in Lufkin, Texas, his mother taught him to always be on the side of the underdog.  Wilson sees the Afghan mujahideen as the "underdog" fiercely fighting what so far looks like a losing battle against Soviet might -- he tells Doc Long later in the movie that "they're fighting our enemies for us"...

Nicknamed by some people, "Good Time Charlie" because he's social, stays out late, and dates a variety of women, he also, according to the book, had a rule about never dating any woman who works for him.

The image is:  this is my congressional office, staffed by beautiful young ladies; we run a fun, friendly "shop" -- it's a sort of attitude, an image, a Southern thing.

The office staff in the movie:

The real Charlie Wilson, in the 80s, with his office assistants:

In the evening after meeting with Larry Liddell in his office, Mr. Liddell's daughter Jane is hanging out with Charlie in his apartment.  "I hope you won't mind -- I took off a few of my clothes," she says.

"Well Jane, I guess I'll just have to live w'that"; he hands her a drink.

She acts like he's a rock star and she wants to sleep with him and then cross his name off her list or something.

She wants to sing "Angel of the Morning" for him on the stairs; he wants to bring her out to the balcony and show her the view of the city.

Back in the living room on the sofa, she sort of foggily wants his romantic attention; he's contemplative, and seems to just want company.

The phone rings.

Charlie -- "Now that was predictable."

The female voice coming through the phone is intense, and imperious:

"That was an extraordinary thing you did today."
Charlie -- "Who is this?"
-- "It's Joanne."
-- Why, gosh, how nice to hear from you.  Could I call you back in a little bit?
-- Is Ronald Reagan in your bedroom right now?
-- No.
-- Then I'm considerably more important than whoever is.

Charlie -- "Okay.  I'm all yours.  What did I do that was so extraordinary?

"Double it."

-- What?
-- You told Jim Van Wagenen to double it.
-- Well, shit, Joanne, I don't know what you're talking about and if I did, it'd be classified, and I'd wonder where you got your information on the subcommittee.
-- Oh, what do you care, hon?


Julia Roberts, as Joanne Herring in the film

{Charlie Wilson's War.  Mike Nichols.  Aaron Sorkin.  2007.  Book - George Crile.}


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