Undefended: Truths and Lies

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Undefended: Truths and Lies

FilmFisher is currently running a series of essays on the television series Mad Men, one of the core themes of which is the complex relationship between fictions and realities. According to Jean-Luc Godard, “The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second,” but according to Michael Haneke, it is “twenty-four lies per second at the service of the truth.” For this month’s Undefended, FilmFisher’s writers were asked to list five favorite cinematic truths and lies.

Evan Stewart

  1. Ms. Kubelik hears a loud bang and fears the worst, only to find Mr. Baxter with an open bottle of champagne. (The Apartment)
  2. Before the anticlimactic revelation that Marcello Mastroianni is not pregnant at all, we are treated to a delightfully funny advertising campaign for men’s maternity clothes. (A Slightly Pregnant Man)
  3. “She’s my sister. She’s my daughter.” (Chinatown)
  4. “You will _____ be happy.” (The Nice Guys)
  5. Steven Soderbergh conning Warner Brothers into making Ocean’s 12.


Joel Bourgeois

  1. Star Child looking directly at us, the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  2. Caden Cotard directing his unfinished play (Synecdoche, New York, 2008)
  3. Father Rodrigues’ cremation – or maybe just the entire film (Silence, 2016)
  4. The “Holy Moment” conversation (Waking Life, 2001)
  5. Darth Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father (The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)

Joshua Gibbs

  1. Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) crashes through the glass ceiling at the end of The Game (1997)
  2. From Some Like It Hot (1959) – JERRY: I can never have children! / OSGOOD: We can adopt some. / JERRY: But you don’t understand, Osgood! Ohh… (Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig) I’m a man! / OSGOOD: Well, nobody’s perfect!
  3. Two words: Keyser Soze.
  4. “I always thought it was better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” – Tom Ripley (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999)
  5. Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) explains to Lee why he was trusted to unload so much cola in True Romance (1993)

34-Ghost of Ben

Robert Brown

  1. “Mr. Carter, if the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough.” (Citizen Kane, 1941)
  2. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” (Return of the Jedi, 1983)
  3. “Will I lie to myself to be happy? In your case, Teddy, yes. I will.” (Memento, 2000)
  4. “We have protected innocence that I’m not willing to give up.” (The Village, 2004)
  5. “Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.” (The Dark Knight, 2008) / “It is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth.” (The Dark Knight Rises, 2012)

Robert Heckert

  1. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  2. Memento (2000, and everything else Nolan has done)
  3. The Witch (2015)
  4. Spy Game (2001)
  5. I, Tonya (2017)


Sean Johnson

  1. Vertigo (all of it, 1958)
  2. Royal’s illness (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)
  3. Howard Beale’s editorial – “I’m as mad as hell.” (Network, 1976)
  4. Rick describes Renault – “Like any other man, only more so.” (Casablanca, 1942)
  5. The realizations at Watanabe’s wake (Ikiru, 1952)

Honorable Mention: Royal’s tombstone (ibid.)

Timothy Lawrence

  1. Probably the whole movie, though who can say for sure? (F for Fake, 1973)
  2. Two-way telephone confession (Paris, Texas, 1984)
  3. The happiest day of David’s life (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, 2001)
  4. Deception of self and others as original sin (Atonement, 2007)
  5. Romance between K and Joi (Blade Runner 2049, 2017)


Tom Upjohn

  1. Communal participation in the delusion (Lars and the Real Girl, 2007)
  2. Shutter Island’s lighthouse scene (Shutter Island, 2010)
  3. The consequence of lying (Quiz Show, 1994)
  4. Feeding viewers’ cravings (Nightcrawler, 2014)
  5. Samwise talking about stories (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2002)

William Connor Devlin

  1. You just can’t trust Cary Grant and his multiple aliases in Charade (1963). Or can you?
  2. John Book trying to hide from corrupt police, trying to suppress his violent nature to blend in with the Amish in Witness (1986).
  3. Is it all a nightmare or is the horror very real in Carnival of Souls (1962)?
  4. Don’t trust anybody, because they might be a gory, tentacled monster in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982).
  5. What Betty Elms discovers inside the blue box might make you look twice in Mulholland Drive (2001).
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