In the middle of a summer of cultural and political discontent, there is a ray of hope—a few Hollywood films are showing respect for the intellect. Mindless films, usually so prevalent in the movie scene, have given way to a few mindful films. Take Hulk, for example.
Hulk? It is the sort of summer fare that would not normally call for serious intellectual reflection. Of course, comic book aficionados will insist that the best comic artists are anything but mindless, and will point out that many of the superheroes they create have their origins in literary history. Still, it would have been easy to rely on the latest special effects to draw summer audiences to Hulk. But as Peter Bart points out in a recent Variety column, Universal Pictures raised the bar when it hired high-concept artist Ang Lee to direct a film about “a brooding and brilliant young nuclear biotechnologist at Berkeley.”
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).