The Film Phantasmagoria

High Camp at Lower DeRoy


Fifth Estate # 14, September 15, 1966

WHILE BRAVE MEN DIE had its Detroit premier on Saturday September 10. Sharing the bill at lower DeRoy Auditorium was OPERATION ABOLITION, a right-wing expose of communists in the peace movement. As expected, the entire evening of film phantasmagoria was an exercise in high cinema camp and low grade stupidity.

Movie tycoon Fulton Lewis III, his hair pasted down with rubber cement, narrated WHILE BRAVE MEN DIE. Lewis spent five minutes identifying communists with all the sincerity of a Paul Harvey plug for Casite Motor Honey. Actually, the film was not as hard-core as the audience expected. The soundtrack was pretty dull and most of the footage was lifted from newsreels of the November March on Washington in 1965.

The high point of the film was accidental, when members of the audience spotted Al Harrison and Jerry Hunt. From then on, it was everyone trying to point out friends and relatives.

OPERATION ABOLITION was something else. It opened with a dying congressman making his screen debut putting down reds and lots of phlegm.

The congressman kept pointing out that which he didn’t want us to miss. As the girls were pulled down the steps and the cops turned on the fire hoses, two policemen suffered heart attacks!

The films were shown as a benefit for The Fifth Estate and the Detroit Committee to End the War in Vietnam. They were made to expose the peace movement, but on that particular Saturday night, the American right-wing was caught with its pants down.