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Force of evil

Universal Pictures
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OKLAHOMA CITY – As we noted in our prior Dust Devil Dreams piece “Faulty tower,” New Yorkers – and all Americans – are excited to learn that on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, One World Trade Center (a.k.a. “Freedom Tower”) will begin accepting workers in the new offices on the site of the former World Trade Center site.

The Freedom Tower (we prefer that name – like “Freedom fries”) is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, coming it right at 1,776 feet, and just a bit taller than Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).

Yes, the height is deliberate.

Of course it was July 4, 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was signed.

And while watching the 1948 film noir Force of Evil the other morning, the numbers “776” really stood out to me – in both relation to America’s birth, but also to the height of the Freedom Tower.

As notes, this this polemical film about the rich getting richer and the poor getting bupkus, has a “dark view of capitalism and democracy” and is about a gangster who wants to control the numbers racket in New York.

The number “776” is quite significant in the film, as both the number of the winning lottery number, key to the film and that it takes place of the 4th of July, as ClassicNoirMovies notes: “Symbolically enough, the date chosen to perform (manipulation of the lottery) is 4th of July – Independence Day – using lottery number 776 (from 1776, when the U.S. declared their own independence.)”

Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune noted, in a piece headlined "Early wolves on Wall Street in 'Force of Evil'," reporter Michael Phillips writes that Force of Evil remains one of the "nerviest indictments of American capitalism ever produced in this country." I noticed this just a couple of days after watching the Robert Reich documentary Inequality for All

Ironically, the director of Force of Evil, Abraham Lincoln Polonsky, would later be blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, with a congressman calling Polonsky a “very dangerous citizen.” Polonsky, who had once been a communist, refused to testify before HUAC, a decision that hurt his career.Force of Evil is now considered a classic. Martin Scorsese’s recent Wolf of Wall Street is considered in the Polonsky vein.

And the lead actor in Force of Evil, John Garfield, was caught up in the Red Scare of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and the stress of congressional scrutiny regarding his political beliefs took a toll on his weak heart and his heart gave out in early 1952 at the age of 39.

In Back to the Future (1985), Doc Brown (the Zeus-resonating Christopher Lloyd) tells Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) how to set the DeLorean to select a date to travel to. The date this event takes place is early in the morning of Oct. 26, 1985 – exactly 29 years ago. 2+9 = 11.

Doc Brown: “First, you turn the time circuits on. This one tells you where you're going. This one tells you where you are. This one tells you where you were. You input your destination time on this keypad. Say you want to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence [Jul. 4, 1776] or witness the birth of Christ [Dec. 25, 0000]. Here's a red-letter date in the history of science: November 5, 1955. Yes! Of course! November 5, 1955! That was the day I invented time-travel.”

We urge readers to take a gander at the work of sync blogger and video master Joe Alexander. Joe’s incredible research reveals 9/11 predictions in the 1985 sci-fi film that has become an American classic. See Joe’s film here: “Back to the Future: 9-11 prediction.”

In Back to the Future Pt. II (in November 1989, in preparation for the release of the film – it came out Nov. 22, 1989, 26 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy), Marty finds himself in 2015 and also in an alternate 1985 where villain Biff Tannen has taken over Marty's hometown of Hill Valley and turned into a corrupt dystopia after California legalized gambling in 1979, following Biff's successful lobbying campaign. A world where gangsters thrive, as they do in Force of Evil and on Wall Street.

I won a radio contest where I received a Back to the Future Pt. II  T-shirt, travel mug and other film-related tchotchkes), Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer go forward into the future to Oct. 21, 2015, which is exactly 360 days, 12 hours and 23 minutes into the future, as I write this. Check it for yourself at the website

As New Yorker Lee Ranaldo says in the Sonic Youth song “Skip Tracer” from 1995, “Hello 2015!”

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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