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Tag: Clint Eastwood

A Detroit DEA Agent Talks About A Case That Became the Subject of the Clint Eastwood film, ‘The Mule’

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — In 2011, Kent Kleinschmidt, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, headed an enforcement group in the Detroit office that was investigating ties between a local drug organization and the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico led by the notorious Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The case eventually lead to some serious seizures of cocaine and  money and the arrest in October 2011 of Leo Sharp, an 87-year-old “mule” caught transporting 104 kilos of cocaine from Arizona to Michigan for the cartel. Michigan State Police, at the direction of the DEA, pulled over Sharp on I-94 in Washtenaw County and arrested him. Kleinschmidt was nearby watching.

Sharp was sentenced in Detroit to three years in prison. He got out early because of a terminal illness and died Dec. 12,  2016 at 92.

Now Sharp is the subject of a Clint Eastwood film, “The Mule.” (See the trailer.)

Kleinschmidt, an assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit DEA, talked about the film on Thursday, a day before the national debut.

Retired FBI Employee Who Helped Crew in “J. Edgar” Reflects on Movie and Power of Hollywood

Rex Tomb served in the FBI from 1968 until his retirement in 2006. For most of his career he served in the Office of Public Affairs, retiring as Chief of its Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit.
 

Rex Tomb

By Rex Tomb
for ticklethewire.com

About a year ago I received a telephone call from my former boss at the FBI. No biggie. Usually they call to tell me that a former colleague is retiring or that maybe someone I know is ill or transferring. This call however, was different. He told me that some people were coming to town and that they were producing a feature film about the life of J. Edgar Hoover. Would I give them a tour of Mr. Hoover’s old office? I immediately agreed to do so.

I am not a historian, nor can I claim to have known Mr. Hoover, though in a couple of those “my brushes with fame” moments, I did catch glimpses of him and even exchanged a few words with the man (very few). To say however, that I knew him? When he was alive, I worked in the mail room and conducted FBI tours. We weren’t on a first name basis. I served under him for the first four years of my FBI career which, by the way, stretched from 1968 until my retirement in 2006.

In the early 1970s, I was given an assignment that enabled me to obtain a very good knowledge of how Mr. Hoover’s office had been laid out: Who sat where, where the entrances were, where some of the furniture stood, etc. Mr. Hoover’s office was in the Department of Justice Building which is located in Washington, D.C. Several years ago the building underwent an extensive renovation. Much of the building’s interior was gutted and rebuilt, making it much harder for newer people to know exactly where things were. Since I live only a few miles away and was available, I was called.

While some parts of Mr. Hoover’s office suite no longer exist, I was still able to show them Mr. Hoover’s old conference room, his working office as well as his secretary’s office. The movie production people that I met with could not have been nicer. I liked them then, and I still do. They were intelligent, courteous and very kind. I also tried to recommend that they telephone some people who actually knew Mr. Hoover. Believe it or not, there are still a few around. They were appreciative, but it was obvious that they had already been in touch with some of them. Researchers who work on major film productions are notoriously efficient.

After the tour, I eagerly anticipated the film’s release, and several weeks ago, “J. Edgar” which was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer, came to Washington area movie theaters. The night I went to see it the theater was packed.

 

I was impressed with the production’s attention to detail. The cars, clothes, and sets were spot-on. Even the office scenes, which were filmed in a Hollywood studio, looked very realistic. An acquaintance of mine, who worked in that office after Mr. Hoover died, asked me if scenes were actually filmed there. I also thought that DiCaprio’s and Hammer’s performances were very good. The movie follows a timeline starting when Mr. Hoover and Mr. Tolson were very young and takes them well into old age. The actors had to convince us that 50 years had passed and I think that they succeeded. They certainly took me along with them. That was no small feat either. DiCaprio and Hammer had to do their work wearing a ton of makeup. They also had to change the way they walked, talked, etc. Hoover and Tolson looked, moved and sounded quite a bit different in 1972 than they did in 1932.

In the movie, DiCaprio probably pulled off the aging scenes a little better than Hammer did, but that might be because, in real life, Hoover aged better than Tolson. While watching Hammer’s performance I was reminded of the time that a colleague showed me a picture a young Clyde Tolson. He looked nothing like the shuffling, stooped figure I had just seen in the hall. Age and ill health had really taken a toll on him. In keeping with that progression, Hammer’s Tolson, looked nothing like the younger man he portrayed earlier in the movie. That took considerable skill.

The film also documents Hoover’s rise in the Department of Justice as well as the political turmoil faced by the nation in the early twentieth century. The film credits Hoover for his meticulous attention to detail as well as some of the innovations that he introduced to American law enforcement.

What I found less satisfying was the portrayal of Hoover and Tolson’s personal relationship. Mr. Hoover and Mr. Tolson were certainly close. When I first started at the Bureau, from time to time I would hear colleagues make snide remarks about them. It didn’t happen as much as one might expect though. Perhaps it’s because until relatively recently, women were largely excluded from clubs, schools and other organizations. Also, remember that up until 1973, only guys were drafted into an almost exclusively, all male U.S. military. Over the years, millions and millions of men were compelled to go through this male rite of passage.

Additionally, almost all professional work environments were male dominated. You could visit factories, churches, corporate offices, laboratories, newsrooms and even movie studios and see only a handful of professional women. Seeing two men regularly lunching together? So what? Restaurants back then looked like men’s clubs with plenty of lunchtime alcohol and dangerous amounts of cigar and cigarette smoke. Hoover and Tolson seen together back then would have looked like just about everyone else.

Since the release of the movie, I’ve read stories that Hoover and Tolson dressed alike, lived together and apparently went to great lengths to ensure that their private lives remained that way. My own observation was that they certainly dressed better than most. They also seemed to favor dark suits. That they dressed alike, though? I never saw or heard of it, and I don’t think something like that would have gone unnoticed in an organization like the FBI. Of course, back then conformity was considered a virtue, and tons of people including many of Mr. Hoover’s assistant directors, Agents and yes, even some of his super loyal, self-serving clerks (like me), wore dark suits too. Take a look at photographs of other government executives from that period. Hoover and Tolson fit right in, sartorially speaking, anyway.

As for their living arrangements, Mr. Tolson lived in an apartment near American University. Mr. Hoover owned a house several miles away. The only time that I am aware of Mr. Tolson ever staying with Mr. Hoover was the time just after he had had open heart surgery. Mr. Hoover had a live-in domestic who could look after Mr. Tolson during his convalescence. Under these circumstances, not allowing Mr. Tolson to stay at his house would have been pretty uncharitable. By the way, Mr. Hoover’s secretary, Miss Gandy, also lived within easy walking distance. There was plenty of help if Mr. Tolson needed it.

Were they more than just good friends? We’ll never know, but of the numerous people I’ve talked to over the years, who really knew them, all have told me that there was nothing more to their relationship than friendship. This, I guess, is why I’m so skeptical of all of this talk about them being secret lovers. I mean why should I accept the notions of those who never knew them, never saw them, never met them, never talked to them and in some cases weren’t even born yet?

In recent conversations I have had with some of my former colleagues, I don’t think that most of us really care about the nature of Mr. Hoover and Mr. Tolson’s relationship. I know I don’t. Many of us believe, however, that both Mr. Hoover and Mr. Tolson would care.

If this were a film about a ”fictional” FBI director, in the same way that “Citizen Kane” was a movie about a “fictional” press baron, I wouldn’t be too concerned. This movie, however, deals with real flesh and blood people and just to make sure we know that, they even used the main character’s name for the film’s title. Millions of people will see this movie and will draw conclusions from it. For the record, there is absolutely no credible evidence that J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde A. Tolson were either closeted or openly homosexual. Likewise, while there is a popular notion that Mr. Hoover blackmailed the Kennedys and others over the span of his very long career, I have never seen solid evidence that it actually happened. Indeed, I find it dubious that anyone could intimidate 535 members of Congress and every President from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon for nearly 50 years. This is America and not the Soviet Union. While the film does not come out and say it, it certainly does infer these things about Mr. Hoover. Is it accurate? Is it fair? What impressions will viewers take away with them, not only of Mr. Hoover, but of the thousands of men and women who over the years worked for him, and in some cases sacrificed their lives while serving under his leadership?

Hollywood rightly calls attention to the unchecked power of elected and career government officials. What I sometimes fear they miss, however, is the power of their own industry. They can re-write the entire life of an individual in several languages, and it will be believed, sometimes unquestionably, by a vast worldwide audience. With nothing but the box office or advertisers to serve as a check and balance, the entertainment industry has the ability to demonize or beatify almost anyone they choose. Now that’s power! I wouldn’t want it any other way. Censorship has no place in America. But still, we really place a lot of faith in the entertainment industry, and that puts a very heavy responsibility on their shoulders. What does the Bible tell us? “. . . unto whomsoever much is given, unto him shall be much required.”

So true, so true.

Retired FBI Employee Who Helped Crew in “J. Edgar” Reflects on Movie and Power of Hollywood

Rex Tomb served in the FBI from 1968 until his retirement in 2006. For most of his career he served in the Office of Public Affairs, retiring as Chief of its Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit.
 

Rex Tomb

By Rex Tomb
for ticklethewire.com

About a year ago I received a telephone call from my former boss at the FBI. No biggie. Usually they call to tell me that a former colleague is retiring or that maybe someone I know is ill or transferring. This call however, was different. He told me that some people were coming to town and that they were producing a feature film about the life of J. Edgar Hoover. Would I give them a tour of Mr. Hoover’s old office? I immediately agreed to do so.

I am not a historian, nor can I claim to have known Mr. Hoover, though in a couple of those “my brushes with fame” moments, I did catch glimpses of him and even exchanged a few words with the man (very few). To say however, that I knew him? When he was alive, I worked in the mail room and conducted FBI tours. We weren’t on a first name basis. I served under him for the first four years of my FBI career which, by the way, stretched from 1968 until my retirement in 2006.

In the early 1970s, I was given an assignment that enabled me to obtain a very good knowledge of how Mr. Hoover’s office had been laid out: Who sat where, where the entrances were, where some of the furniture stood, etc. Mr. Hoover’s office was in the Department of Justice Building which is located in Washington, D.C. Several years ago the building underwent an extensive renovation. Much of the building’s interior was gutted and rebuilt, making it much harder for newer people to know exactly where things were. Since I live only a few miles away and was available, I was called.

While some parts of Mr. Hoover’s office suite no longer exist, I was still able to show them Mr. Hoover’s old conference room, his working office as well as his secretary’s office. The movie production people that I met with could not have been nicer. I liked them then, and I still do. They were intelligent, courteous and very kind. I also tried to recommend that they telephone some people who actually knew Mr. Hoover. Believe it or not, there are still a few around. They were appreciative, but it was obvious that they had already been in touch with some of them. Researchers who work on major film productions are notoriously efficient.

After the tour, I eagerly anticipated the film’s release, and several weeks ago, “J. Edgar” which was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer, came to Washington area movie theaters. The night I went to see it the theater was packed.

Read more »

Forget Sexuality Issue, Hoover’s Overreach the Real Story

J. Edgar Hoover

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

So, about that whole gay thing…

Salon contributor Mark Feldstein does not care so much about the issue. In a brief but scathing response to the J. Edgar movie, Feldstein called the film a “brief defense of the FBI’s legendary director” which ignore’s Hoover’s “ruthless abuse of power.”

Feldstein credits Hoover, as does the film, with creating the modern forensics lab to nab bad guys, and even provides a credible rationale for Hoover’s obsession with communism. But Felstein’s first complaint is the film’s portrayal of Hoover as an ally of Senator Joe McCarthy. “In fact, the FBI director was a crucial ally of the Red-baiting demagogue,” he writes.

“During his lifetime he was Washington’s consummate master of sexual slander and political blackmail,” he writes of Hoover. “Given the known facts of Hoover’s life, Eastwood has painted his subject in the best light possible—better than he deserves and infinitely kinder than Hoover ever treated his many enemies, who included some of the most heroic figures of that tumultuous era.”

Feldstein has plenty more criticisms of Hoover, or of what the film missed. To read more click here.

Gay Rights Advocates Weigh in on Upcomig J. Edgar Hoover Film that Portrays Him as Gay

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

There has been an avalanche of opinions voiced by ex-FBI agents and current ones over the upcoming film “J Edgar” and his portrayal as being gay. Now, some Gay rights advocates are weighing in.

“I don’t know specifically why current officers object to the claim that Hoover was gay,” Jacob Appel, a New York-based lawyer that has written and advocated for gay and lesbian rights, told ticklethewire.com. “If their concern is solely for historical accuracy, and they don’t feel there is evidence to support that claim, then that’s certainly a reasonable position.”

“On the other hand, if these individuals actually believe that being gay would somehow tarnish Hoover’s image–and I sincerely hope that no one in the FBI holds such deeply misguided views today–then their positions would reflect the sort of bigotry and ignorance that have no place in civilized society,” said Appel.

Clint Eastwood is producing the film and Leonard DiCaprio is playing the legendary Hoover. The film, scheduled for general release on Nov. 11, reportedly portrays Hoover as having a romantic relationship with Clyde Tolson, his number two man in the bureau.

Some agents, and particularly some retired agents who still idolize Hoover, credit him with building a world-class law enforcement agency, and have expressed concern about his portrayal as being gay.

Many say there’s no evidence that Hoover was gay. Instead, they argue that he was married to the job and that he was essentially asexual.

“I find it interesting that Hollywood has no proof of Hoover being a homosexual, a story that was sparked by a discredited author,” former FBI official Anthony Riggio recently wrote in a column for ticklethewire.com. “Yet it tickled the media’s fancy and now the media can’t get over it, and every chance they get, they herald this unfounded suspicion.”

Then again, there are some FBI agents today who simply could care less.

Eastwood has caught some flack for the portrayal, but defends the film.

“It’s not a movie about two gay guys,” Eastwood told GQ. “It’s a movie about how this guy manipulated everybody around him and managed to stay on through nine presidents. I mean, I don’t give a crap if he was gay or not.”

DiCaprio says he’s not sure of Hoover’s sexual orientation.

“If I were a betting man, I actually don’t know what I would bet,” he told GQ.

Some gay rights advocates concerns are not just over the negative reactions from some FBI and former FBI agents, but of Hoover himself.

Rod Hearne, the Executive Director of the Seattle-based Equal Rights Washington,  comments:

“In 2011 it’s hard to imagine that two such powerful, unmarried, near-constant companions as J Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson would be seen as anything but gay.

“If the FBI and J Edgar Hoover’s friends and associates resist the notion that the blackmailing, extorting, empire-building, racist, homophobic man was gay, fine, whatever they wish to think. The straights can have him.”

Author Ronald Kessler, who penned the book “The Secrets of the FBI”, wrote in an article on the website Newsmax:  “Hoover and Tolson, both bachelors, were inseparable. They ate lunch together every day and dinner together almost every night. They vacationed together, staying in adjoining rooms, and they took adoring photos of each other.”

The relationship with Tolson, he wrote,  “points to Hoover’s being gay.  Most telling, when Hoover’s will was probated, Tolson received his estate  estimated at $560,000 … the equivalent of $2.9 million today. The bequest to Tolson was the final word on the closeness of their relationship and another indicator that Hoover was gay.” Kessler called the movie’s portrayal of their relationship a “legitimate dramatization.”

Appel, the New York lawyer, says if there is evidence that Hoover was gay, or for that matter, a cross dresser as some have suggested,  it would be a matter of “public historical interest…especially in light of his fierce and nearly monomaniacal persecution of gays and lesbians throughout his career.”

Bit what is far more important, he said, is “to remember the shameful legacy that Mr. Hoover left this country with in regard to his persistent hounding of ethnic, sexual and ideological minorities … Mr. Hoover squandered tax-payer dollars in a bizarre and longstanding effort to expose the supposed (and extraordinarily unlikely) homosexuality of Adlai Stevenson, one of our nation’s great statesmen and patriots.”

Appel called Hoover a “divisive and destructive figure, whether or not he slept with Clyde Tolson.”

But not all the gay rights advocates have such pointed views.

Christian Berle, the Executive Director at Log Cabin Republicans, which works within the Republican party and advocates for gay and lesbian rights, was far more cautious in his statement to ticklethewire.com:

“Speculation as to J. Edgar Hoover’s sexuality has a long history, and it is natural that Clint Eastwood might want to explore that angle in this film. At the same time, it is understandable that members of the FBI and those who value his memory would be concerned that Hoover’s story be treated with respect and dignity. Whatever Hoover’s orientation may have been, the world today is a much different place than when he was at the helm of the FBI, and Americans can be proud that today’s FBI has a solid record of nondiscrimination.”

Most certainly the controversy over the movie’s portrayal of Hoover’s sexuality will help bolster tickets sales.

Nontheless, Warner Bros.. which is producing the film,  is remaining equally tight-lipped about the portrayal.

“We respectfully decline to comment on the portrayal (of Hoover’s sexual orientation), “their online press spokeswoman Anne Chun told ticklethewire.com.

The film is scheduled for a limited release on Nov. 9 in  Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The film opens nation-wide on Nov. 11.

As Release Date Nears, More is Being Released on the Movie “J. Edgar”

warner brothers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As the November release date of the controversial movie about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover nears, the studio is releasing more material on the matter.

Recently, the studio released a trailer. And now  a poster of the movie is circulating (to the right).

The movie, which reportedly has a national release date of Nov. 9,  is likely to draw in a fair amount of former and current agents, who are curious about the film.

Some have expressed displeasure about the film directed by Clint Eastwood, which reportedly depicts Hoover as having a romantic relationship with his top confidante Clyde Tolson.

The official J. Edgar movie website says this about Hoover:

“During his lifetime, J. Edgar Hoover would rise to be the most powerful man in America. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for nearly 50 years, he would stop at nothing to protect his country. Through eight presidents and three wars, Hoover waged battle against threats both real and perceived, often bending the rules to keep his countrymen safe.

“His methods were at once ruthless and heroic, with the admiration of the world his most coveted, if ever elusive, prize.Hoover was a man who placed great value on secrets–particularly those of others–and was not afraid to use that information to exert authority over the leading figures in the nation.

“Understanding that knowledge is power and fear poses opportunity, he used both to gain unprecedented influence and to build a reputation that was both formidable and untouchable.He was as guarded in his private life as he was in his public one, allowing only a small and protective inner circle into his confidence.

“His closest colleague, Clyde Tolson, was also his constant companion. His secretary, Helen Gandy, who was perhaps most privy to Hoover’s designs, remained loyal to the end… and beyond. Only Hoover’s mother, who served as his inspiration and his conscience, would leave him, her passing truly crushing to the son who forever sought her love and approval.”

FBI Official Said Agency Did Not Try to Shape Outcome of J. Edgar Hoover Film

 

DiCaprio as a young J. Edgar Hoover/ mtv photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The chief spokesman for the FBI tells USA Today that he did not try to shape the outcome of the upcoming movie on J. Edgar Hoover, which is supposed to portray the legendary director as being gay. The film is set to be released next month.

Spokesman Mike Kortan, an assistant FBI director, told USA Today that he met separately with director Clint Eastwood and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Hoover, who both solicited information about Hoover’s sexuality.

Kortan told them there were “vague rumors and fabrications have cropped up from time to time, but there is no evidence in the historical record on this issue.”

“We provided information so that their story could be accurate,” Kortan said. “What they did with it, as with any production, has been entirely in their hands.”

Some agents, but more so, ex-agents of the Hoover era have voiced displeasure about the film that reportedly depicts Hoover as having a sexual relationship with his right hand man Clyde Tolson.

“There is no basis in fact for such a portrayal of Mr. Hoover,” William Branon, chairman of The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, wrote to Eastwood this year, according to USA Today. “It would be a grave injustice and monumental distortion to proceed with such a depiction based on a completely unfounded and spurious assertion.”

 

The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI fired off a similar missive, saying a “rumored kissing scene,” reported in early media accounts involving the actors portraying Hoover and Tolson, “caused us to reassess our tacit approval of your film.”

William Baker, a former agent and Hoover foundation vice president, told USA Today:

“We’re caught in a dilemma here. We don’t want to support something not based in fact, but we’re not against the new FBI and diverse workplace.”

Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, a former top aide to the FBI director, said he discussed the matter with DiCaprio, according to the paper.

“When the subject of homosexuality came up, I made it very clear that I never saw any evidence of it whatsoever. said DeLoach, 91, Hoover’s deputy director for more than five years. “I traveled with him, I ate in his home and he in mine. I knew Clyde Tolson to be Mr. Hoover’s companion and best friend. When you are somebody like Mr. Hoover, I guess you need somebody to talk to.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

Clint Eastwood: “I Don’t Give a Crap if (Hoover) Was Gay or Not.”

DiCaprio as a young J. Edgar Hoover/ mtv photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Leonardo DiCaprio and director Clinton Eastwood for J. Edgar seem to be very circumspect when discussing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s sexuality and their film on Hoover that is set to be released in November.

The film is called “J. Edgar.”

USA Today reports that in an interview in GQ magazine with Mark Harris, Eastwood says:

“I’d heard all the various controversies and gossip—that he wore dresses at parties. Everybody was saying, maybe he’s gay because he’d never gotten married. But that’s the way they did it back in the ’40s. If a guy didn’t get married, they always thought, Oh, there’s something wrong with him.”

Harris then asked: “But didn’t he have something approaching a long-term marriage with Clyde Tolson, associate director of the FBI (played by Armie Hammer)?’

“Well, they were inseparable pals,” says Eastwood. “Now, whether he was gay or not is gonna be for the audience to interpret. It could have been just a great love story between two guys. Or it could have been a great love story that was also a sexual story.”

DiCaprio explains, “What we’re saying is that he definitely had a relationship with Tolson that lasted for nearly fifty years. Neither of them married. They lived close to one another. They worked together every day. They vacationed together. And there was rumored to be more. There are definite insinuations of—well, I’m not going to get into where it goes, but…”

Interrupts Eastwood: “It’s not a movie about two gay guys. It’s a movie about how this guy manipulated everybody around him and managed to stay on through nine presidents. I mean, I don’t give a crap if he was gay or not.”

Adds Leo: “If I were a betting man, I actually don’t know what I would bet [regarding his sexuality].”