Monday, March 19, 2007

Tarnished Silver Screen

Normally, our field agents have to keep a sharp eye out for upside down flags, remaining alert and diligent with camera at the ready. Sometimes, though, we don't even have to get up off of the couch.

Our recent mystery flag quiz puzzled our readers with a flag that wasn't necessarily upside down, it just wasn't right. With the star sewn on upside down, there was no way to fly it properly. At the time, it was a novelty, a real head scratcher.

Until now, that is. About a week ago, I was preparing for the SPPDFT convention in the Big Bend by watching the epic 1956 Texas-themed film Giant. The movie was filmed largely in Marfa, a quaint little town whose mysterious lights and minimalist art have put it on the map like James Dean never could.

And then it happened:

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is Rock Hudson appearing before an improperly manufactured Texas flag. The Warner Brothers set design people must have been too busy building a big, fake ranch house to take the time to look at an actual Texas flag.

Take them away.

Then, as if to reinforce their blatantly anti-Texas message, the filmmakers got a reaction shot of the lovely Elizabeth Taylor in the same spot. She looks genuinely shocked by the disregard for cinematic accuracy.

We feel your pain, Liz.
I was understandably excited to find this scene, as it makes great blog fodder. I couldn't believe my luck.

This next one really got me.

There it is, big as the Texas sky. It is probably the same flag, doing double duty. This scene makes it absolutely clear that there is something wrong with the flag in the foreground by helpfully providing a line of real Texas flags in the background. I can't believe this made it past the editors. Were they asleep or just drunk?

Apparently, Giant has been called out for its flag abuses before. According to the Internet Movie Database, not only is the star upside down (I promise that I found it on my own) on the Texas flag, but the array of flags in the Benedict's ranch house is backwards, with the U.S. flag on its own left (the observer's right). Also, the U.S. flag on the casket is displayed improperly in the train station scene but appears correctly in the funeral scenes. Hollywood.