FROM THE PAGES OF AYN RAND: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie and the great Sergio Leone

The first time I was on television was on a commercial for the restaurant I worked for when I was only 16 years old.  I was a part of the filming and of setting up some of the shots and it gave me the opportunity to work with a crew from Channel 19.  The commercial just happened to air that week during “Tough Guy Week” where nightly they played movies from the toughest characters in Hollywood, people like Steve McQueen, Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and best of all, Clint Eastwood.  I had been familiar with Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns before, but on the night that my commercial aired it was the same night that For A Few Dollars More played on television, so I ended up watching the entire film so that I could see how the commercial turned out.

The “Man With No Name” character in the Sergio Leone westerns—the trilogy A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, Bad, and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood was a benchmark in tough guy films.  There had never been another character like the one that Eastwood played in those westerns in all of human history—including stage plays from the Renaissance.  Eastwood’s character was a brand new concept that few understood at the time—but loved.  That love continues 50 years later and has had an impact on cinema that has only escalated.

Eastwood would continue to work this personification of a male Übermensch conceived by Leone for several more films—particularly High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Sudden Impact.    To a smaller degree Eastwood played the same role in the contemporary comedy Every Which Way But Loose as a bare knuckle fighter.  Eastwood’s characters were so popular that they spilled over into other films like Star Wars where the characters of Han Solo and Boba Fett were direct embodiments of the Leone westerns that were only 10 years old at the time.  Kevin Costner would take on a similar Übermensch role in The Bodyguard which was the romance drama of 1992 that women swooned over.  Arnold Schwarzenegger would adopt Eastwood’s screen presence in films like The Terminator, Commando, and Conan the Barbarian, and following Eastwood’s movie production pattern at Warner Brothers did a comedy with Danny DeVitto called Twins—where his  Übermensch character could be played off the hapless antics of a much smaller man.

Progressives in Hollywood of course hated all this attention on these tough guy films and the actors who played them.  In 1989 Tim Burton tried to make a common everyday guy into a tough guy with his Micheal Keaton Batman film which attempted to stop the trend of these superhuman character films that were out of reach for the common man.  Progressives did not want these Übermensch types to steer the American public away from their social messages of interconnected reliance on each other, feminist causes, and sexual experimentation in gender roles–so they tried to get the situation under control.  The most obvious attempt was in the Batman films by Warner Brothers.  While the first film was visually stimulating, the sequel fell apart leading Val Kilmer to play in the 1995 version of a Batman reboot.  The movie was good, but Kilmer wanted nothing further to do with the role—likely from internal pressure within the Hollywood community to stop making Übermensch films.  The next Batman film was with the progressive George Clooney playing the caped crusader, which bombed and was a terrible film filmed with progressive slanted messages—which the public rejected.  This would cause Hollywood to return grudgingly back to the Übermensch concept by plucking the older material directly from comic books.  There was some experimentation with Spiderman to take the Übermensch concept and make him more altruistic which fell apart after Spiderman 3 in 2007 completely imploded on itself as Hollywood had lost the formula.  Christopher Nolan would dig deep into the roots of the Übermensch and get it right which has launched the current superhero parade of films from Ironman, The Avengers, The Hulk, Superman and all the good stuff that’s coming.

Meanwhile James Bond went from an obvious Übermensch in the late seventies and early eighties to a much more “progressive” and less secure secret agent in the 90s which nearly destroyed the character when Timothy Dalton took control after Roger Moore and showed that Bond wasn’t always so sure of himself—which audiences didn’t like.  The Bond franchise is still struggling to find itself as fans still love the old Roger Moore, Sean Connery version of James Bond over the newer—less sure of themselves—James Bonds.  Personally I find the new Bond films by Daniel Craig to be nearly unwatchable.  I enjoy them for the stunts, but the Übermensch Bond is not there.  Progressives love the new Bond and promote it actively—but it just doesn’t take to the American consciousness.

Then there is Quentin Tarantino who loved the old Leone films as much as I did and resurrected the Übermensch concept with a new spin to appease his producer Harvey Weinstein—he cast the lead as a woman and gave the origin for the special mystical power of the Übermensch to the East as a tribute to martial art films from the past.  The result was a fun romp through a bloody series of films where the heroine Uma Thurman was essentially playing Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” character from the Leone films.  It doesn’t matter in the least that Thurman’s character was a woman—what matters is that she was an Übermensch.  Angelina Jolie would take the Übermensch type of character into her portrayal of Tomb Raider where she played the video game character Lara Croft.  To this day even though critics panned the film as not very good, Jolie is known as Lara Croft even though she has made dozens of very good films.  It was her confidence—and Übermensch character in Tomb Raider that fans will always remember about her.

So what is the point of this little history of films produced by Hollywood?  Well, most of these stories lean back on the Leone films which were real breakthroughs at the time and indicated that mankind changed forever.  Human beings want their Übermensch in spite of what political or social forces wish to acknowledge.  And the first filmmaker to really get it right was Sergio Leone.  Without him, it is unlikely that any of the above would have happened—and Hollywood would be just another industry failing in America under progressive leadership.  Instead, Disney now has control of the Star Wars franchise and the world just spent a week wondering if Harrison Ford’s broken leg from the new Episode VII set would hinder his ability to resurrect his Übermensch Han Solo once again.  Disney is rumored to be planning a Boba Fett film which will essentially be a science fiction spaghetti western inspired directly from Sergio Leone—and it will make a ton of money—and progressives will be left scratching their heads wondering why.

So let me give you the secret dear reader.  Let me explain to you the reason why this trend has emerged and given birth to a comic book culture that is taking over today’s youth steering them away from the pacifism of progressivism.  When Ayn Rand spent approximately twenty years writing two books—one, The Fountainhead and two, Atlas Shrugged, she took Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch and completed the work that the German philosopher was unable to due to madness.  In The Fountainhead was the first real attempt to provide an Übermensch to ever occur as a fully functioning character.  The novel published in 1943 was part of a growing trend for human beings to grapple with the Übermensch concept.  In just 1938 the first Superman comic was produced based on a 1933 fanzine trying to take the overman idea as proposed by the socialist George Bernard Shaw and Nietzsche’s direct influence of Hitler’s National Socialism and complete the destructive nature of the incomplete philosophic principle.  The Superman comic was a direct reaction to the type of sentiment which led to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal ideals in America and had a bit of a liberal spin on it.  Ayn Rand further flushed out the Übermensch concept and put them on the pages of her novel, The Fountainhead—which to me is one of the greatest novels of all time.  Rand would then further perfect the concept into Atlas Shrugged which 60 years later is still selling like French Fries at McDonald’s.  It was in these two books that the Übermensch found the right philosophic balance and emerged as a new way of thinking.  It was this concept which found itself into the Sergio Leone films thus inspiring modern Hollywood in ways that would be inconceivable otherwise.  If not for Ayn Rand, her early work as a screenwriter for Cecil B. Deville, her casual associations with Walt Disney, and John Wayne and her deep work in philosophy with the fresh eyes of an immigrant who had seen the worst that communism had to offer—the movie For A Few Dollars More would have never happened, and likely Clint Eastwood would have remained an obscure actor doing bit parts on television shows.

Without Ayn Rand’s fleshing out the concept of the Übermensch there would not have been a Star Wars, there would not have been an Arnold Schwarzenegger in film, and Kill Bill would have never even gained the ability to be made.   Without question there would be attempts, but they would have failed.  When direction was given on how Han Solo should get up out of his chair after killing Greedo in the cantina, or how Boba Fett was supposed to walk down a hall, reference was pointed back to Clint Eastwood—“do it like the characters in the Leone films.”  And it was Ayn Rand who invented the type of Übermensch who appeared for the first time in The Fountainhead so that Clint Eastwood could have some sort of reference on how such a character should behave—since one had never been seen before in the history of the world.  Ayn Rand took the speculative theory of what an Übermensch was supposed to be and fleshed it out in her novels.  Filmmakers like Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood then brought that Übermensch concept to Hollywood which has changed the world.

There is no going back now.  It is only a matter of time that society acknowledges their intense desire for the Übermensch.  The evidence is obvious from the intense interest in comic book films, space odysseys, and an 84-year-old Clint Eastwood who is still tougher than men a fraction of his age.  It’s not the muscle which produce the toughness, it’s in the mind—the beholding of the Übermensch concept—something that became very real to me the first time I really came to understand it watching my first television commercial on Channel 19 during “Tough Guy Week.”  The world has been forever changed for the better in a tug-of-war between the Übermensch and the progressives who despise having to even hold a rope against the strength of such characters.  They have no choice.  Their years of progressive philosophy inspired by Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx are coming to an end in failure.  What is coming are the philosophies of the Übermensch brought to man’s mind through films inspired directly from the pages of Ayn Rand.


Rich Hoffman