Your RDA of Irony

Holy Ghostwriter

If you believe William Donohue of the Catholic Legion of Decency,  Hollywood hates the Church.  It is true that Friar Tuck is never as handsome as Robin Hood.  However, in “Angels With Dirty Faces”, I never suspected Father Pat O’Brien of molesting Huntz Hall or or burning alive Leo Gorcey.  Indeed, Hollywood usually dilutes and sanitizes any criticism or embarrassing history of Holy Mother Church. 

The 1947 film “Captain From Castile” takes place in 16th century Spain but the Inquisition is renamed “the brotherhood” and portrayed as just a nasty private club;  imagine the snobbish frat in “Animal House” with capital punishment.  The best-selling novel “The Golden Compass” was also rendered on film to an ecumenical blandness.    In the book, the world was controlled by a totalitarian theocracy with excellent artistic taste.  That obviously rules out Mormons, Southern Baptists and Moslems. You can bet your Bernini who that leaves.

Of course, “The Da Vinci Code” also was a target of Bill Donohue’s wrath.  He was outraged by the film’s premise that Jesus would have dated a Jewish girl, a scandal hushed up by the Church’s version of Neo-Cons, Opus Dei. For all of Donohue’s fulminations on the talk shows, he did not harm that film’s popularity. Neither did the contemptuous reviews of the critics.  The “The Da Vinci Code” was ridiculous. But that is exactly how Opus Dei planned it. If the nefarious organization couldn’t suppress its scandalous secret, at least it successfully conspired to have the worst possible director make the movie.

Opus Dei would have preferred Ed Wood, but his cryogenic chamber beneath the Vatican failed. The Society nearly picked Garry Marshall; he would have transfigured the sinister plot into a puerile comedy. But there was the fear that the public would love Julia Roberts as Mary Magdalene.

The French members of the Society wanted Woody Allen to do the film. His Jesus would be an elderly Jewish neurotic who fancied himself being pursued by attractive and much younger shiksas. No one would see the film because they had already seen it a few dozen times before.

The more enlightened members of the Opus Dei–the ones who concede Galileo was right–actually wanted Peter Jackson to make “The Da Vinci Code.” Yes, the film would be a hit–but no one would believe it. Furthermore, the Treasury really would have benefited from the commercial tie-ins (McDonald chalices, Da Vinci jeans with codpieces.) Cardinal Ratzinger (he would later be promoted) warned this faction, “Stop thinking like Jesuits.”

No, “The Da Vinci Code” required someone who could turn any plot into a catatonic muddle. And, when every other director in Hollywood was threatened with excommunication or another 2000 years of persecution, Ron Howard was offered the film.

Unfortunately,”The Da Vinci Code”  was so popular that Hollywood had to produce a sequel, and once again Ron Howard is perpetrating it.  According to the reviews, “Angels and Demons” has the same comatose pace but without the provocative interest of the first film.  (A cult of killer Phi Beta Kappas just is not as sensational as the thought of Jesus having a mother-in-law.) 

If the studio wanted an interesting plot for the sequel, I could have offered these possibilities:

The Ameche Code: When read backwards in Latin, the script of “Heaven Can Wait” reveals that all of the moguls of Hollywood were descended from the Virgin Mary’s older sister Marla.

The De Niro Code: Forming Greek letters, Martin Scorsese’s ear hair reveals the truth about Jesus’ death. He was not crucified but shot in the head six times and His body was left in the trunk of a chariot.

The De Grassi Code: The discovery of Jesus’ high school yearbook shows the picture of a Messiah who couldn’t cure his own acne. You can see why He was not picked to be His homecoming’s King of Kings.

And I can guarantee that Bill Donohue would have hated any of them!

  1. Patrick Williams says:

    All I can say is you are a genius, I am awed and inspired by your words.

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Such adulation! I wonder if this is how L. Ron got started. How does Satirology sound for the name of a cult?


  2. Patrick Williams says:

    Only if we get to wear goat fur leggings and little goat horns on our head. Can you play the panflute?

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