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George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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This weekend's column: The Nixon/Obama Film Festival ...

Above: The Towering Inferno

- The Nixon/Obama film festival - George Pyle, The Salt Lake Tribune

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For sheer escapist entertainment, it’s hard to beat those big disaster movies from the 1970s.

This summer, the Utah Film Center’s annual series of free flicks at the Gallivan Center downtown dished up four of the best: "Airport," "The Poseidon Adventure," "The Towering Inferno" and "The Andromeda Strain."

Hours of mindless entertainment at its highest level. Things go boom. People go splat. Innocents are threatened. Heroes rescue. But only often enough to keep it interesting. Who will survive?!?

Unless, of course, you go with me. Then you run the risk of having the whole thing become a political seminar. Occupational hazard, I suppose.

The political angle probably wouldn’t occur, even to me, but for the fact that the atmosphere that was in place when these movies were new is very different from the environment today.

This is particularly true of the bookends of this collection, "Airport," released in 1970, and "The Towering Inferno," out in 1974. Each offered what the studios used to call "a galaxy of stars," made a ton of money and were taken seriously enough to be nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

But, without changing a word of dialogue or a frame of film, both of them have morphed from being Richard Nixon Republican pictures to Barack Obama Democratic films. And the main reason for this is that, in both films, the people from the government really are there to help you. [Read the rest ...]

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