Once Aryan Skynet Goes Live It Doesn't Matter Who Pulled The Switch
Those in search of Christmas viewing off the beaten path this year might want to look up Agency, a 1980 Canadian thriller about media weaponization that a reader recently brought to my attention. Written for the screen by the nobody Noel Hynd and adapted from a novel by the equally obscure Paul Gottlieb, Agency was directed by Hungarian expatriate George Kaczender, who would spend most of the eighties making TV movies and directing episodes of forgotten shows like Night Heat and Freddy’s Nightmares. As its undistinguished pedigree would tend to predict, Agency is a fairly cheesy and artistically unremarkable piece of filmmaking – at least at the first glance – but does reward the close attention of those willing to sit through it.
Uncharismatically masculine Lee Majors stars as Philip Morgan, a copywriter for a major advertising agency who learns that mysterious executive Ted Quinn (Robert Mitchum) may be up to something sinister. The real hero of the movie, however, is Morgan’s hyper-Jewish paranoiac nerd buddy Sam Goldstein (Saul Rubinek, who in 1978 had appeared as a “young, starry-eyed Trotsky-idealist” in a TV movie called Love on the Nose), who just knows that Washington insider Quinn is utilizing the agency to further the (no doubt crypto-fascist) aims of some vast conspiracy. The apprehensions of frightened Jews must always be taken seriously – a truism Morgan learns the hard way – and Goldstein of course turns out to be correct about Quinn, who, it is eventually revealed, is embedding subliminal political messages into seemingly innocuous TV commercials for chocolate.
Jew-wise viewers will get a kick out of the over-the-top characterization of Goldstein, who, while obviously intended to provoke viewer sympathy, comes across nearly as pungently as some pushy, leering, and simpering anti-Semitic caricature. Rubinek’s features and curly hair and the character’s surname are already ultra-Jewish, but the movie, just to drive home extra hard the fact that the melancholic jokester is one of the Chosen, even includes a scene in which he slaps a yarmulke onto his head outside a church where a funeral is in progress. Genetically incapable of reverence in the presence of Christians, Goldstein disrupts the service when he enters the church and stumbles, creating a commotion. (Agency takes another swat at Christianity later in the movie when Morgan’s love interest, played by Valerie Perrine, outsmarts the henchmen sent to abduct her by feigning labor pains in a crowd of Christmas shoppers as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” can be heard in the background – a blatant mockery of the Virgin birth.) Goldstein, who even refers to himself as a “snake in the grass”, is also dishonest, telling Morgan that mealybugs have infested a plant in his office – only to later admit, “I lied to you; I’m just trying to get your attention.”
Telling little details like this – a Jew kidding about vermin infestation or joking about trapping his goy boss in a burning building or even drinking his blood – entertain on a meta level in a movie which is itself telling fibs to get the viewer’s attention. Agency dates from the period of the oil embargo, “Billygate”, the “Abscam” scandal, and movies like 1976’s Network and 1986’s Power, when Hollywood and the Jewish establishment had America getting the jitters over the rather unlikely prospect of inscrutable Arabs taking control of U.S. politics, business, and the media – getting the public squeamish over phantom mealybugs, in other words. It is here that Agency shows an unexpected level of cleverness, itself employing the sort of subliminal messaging about which it pretends to be concerned.
Malevolent advertising executive Quinn, whose shady dealings may have something to do with the company Banner Oil, is seeking to unseat a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and, although the specifics of the conspiracy’s long-term plan are never revealed, subtle semiotic cues suggest that Middle-Easterners may be mixed up in it somehow. In one scene, a figure dressed in what appears to be Arabian or North African garb can be briefly glimpsed strolling through the corridor outside Quinn’s office. In another scene, set in a bar, a picture of a camel just happens to be hanging on a wall behind Quinn – and, in the momentous confrontation when Quinn admits to his brainwashing scheme, a painting of pyramids can be seen to adorn his office – all of the subliminal clues adding up to some insidious Middle East imbroglio, probably (I’m just going out on a limb here) imperiling Israel.
Is Agency a good movie? No, not if we’re being honest; but it is a fun nostalgia trip and does constitute a revealing document of its time in our political history, so thanks for the recommendation, Les.
Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!