It’s Independence Day, and there are many fireworks displays happening in the area of Akron. But, today marks an interesting Fourth of July. Considering the events of the past week, what with the Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding “religious liberty” and reproductive rights. It makes the celebration of freedom today seem slightly disingenuous. Not that we should not celebrate the birth of our country through the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we need to remind ourselves that the fight for freedom in this nation is a constant one. We are constantly interpreting and adapting our founding documents to our modern day circumstances.
Our Founding Fathers and Mothers knew that our nation would change with the times, and reminded us that adaption is key. Still, of the threats we have looked abroad about, we need to also look here. We are a republican democracy, but we live in a time in which from the higher up in our Congress and our Supreme Court, our freedoms that we have fought so hard for are being reduced to entitlements to be handed out not freedoms to naturally have and deserve. Those in Congress and the Supreme Court have stopped listening to the people and in turn, have legitimized and established the precedent that those with money be they interest group and/or big business have the right to dictate our freedoms to us because of monetary merit. They have the right to divide us through the means of media, to orchestrate candidates of their choosing to put their hat in the ring in elections and win. They have the right to encourage social chaos among the masses by dividing us by labels in social groups. All this is done under the guise of the threat they preach of the dangers of “big government.”
This brings to the message of the 1942 film Keeper of The Flame, starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Richard Whorf, Stephen McNally, and Donald Meek. The film stars out with a car accident, and reports that Robert Forrest, who is known throughout the country as a charismatic man-of-the-people, has died. The nation gives him an amazing send-off, and Steven O’Malley (Tracy) enters on the day of the funeral. Having just returned from Germany, he wants to write a book about Robert Forrest and his heroism to the American people. But, like any member of the press, he cannot achieve access to his widow, Christine Forrest (Hepburn). He tries to talk to Clive Herdon (Whorf) about getting personal access to her, but instead, gets brushed off and told that he was given no orders to allow people to see her. Steven meets a little boy, Jeb (Daryl Hickman), who believes himself to be responsible for the accident that killed Robert Forrest. Steven tells him that he can’t blame himself, and that there are bigger fish to fry (as there was as this was taking place during World War II). Jeb tells Steven of a shortcut, and he finally meets Christine Forrest, who is beside herself in grief. After they meet, she brushes him off, but Clive comes in after and tells her to make right and talk to him again to maintain the right look. Clive also asks for the keys to a house on the property, but Christine says that she doesn’t have it. Christine goes to the hotel and tells Steven exactly what he wants to hear, but Steven isn’t convinced.
You will have to see the film to see how it ends. But, how it will end will be right in front of your noses in the now. It is a great film, and one of Hepburn’s most enigmatic performances.