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Doing wrong is his right

Making the argument for mass murder

The Kennedy assassination was still an open wound in 1966, the year that an angry New Yorker named Carl Bakal published The Right to Bear Arms. In it (and in his 1968 book No Right to Bear Arms) Bakal argued for gun control, and against the National Rifle Association’s insistence that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed every American’s right to own as many weapons as he wants. For more than 50 years, the NRA’s lobbyists have successfully beaten back every attempt to enact stricter gun laws, with the result that, today, there are more guns (393.3 million) than people (326.5 million) in the U.S. Living in an “armed madhouse” (in the memorable phrase of investigative journalist Greg Palast), our southern neighbours have accepted gun violence as a fact of life. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker website, there have been 44 such events in the first 78 days of 2019, resulting in 110 dead and 229 wounded. With grim regularity, gunmen (almost always male) open fire in homes, offices, shopping malls, nightclubs, rock concerts and, most notoriously, in schools and houses of worship. So common have such incidents become, that only the most egregious even make the national news. Viewed from the perspective of “free market” advocates, this represents the effective privatization of mass murder, once the exclusive domain of government. One might even note that it was on this day (March 24) in 1944 that a Nazi general asserted the State’s right to kill by ordering the Massacre in Rome, recalled in director George Pan Cosmatos’s 1973 feature film.


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When dreams go wrong

Providing a mind-blowing experience

A frequent player in the D.C. Universe in recent years, Michael Ironside is memorable in both good guy and bad guy roles. Born on this day (February 12) in 1950, he was the poster boy for explosive aggression in director David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi shocker Scanners.

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I saw an elephant fly!

A product of its time; a timeless classic

A master of the odd, director Tim Burton has taken inspiration from comic books (Batman), trading cards (Mars Attacks!) and TV soaps (Dark Shadows). Today (March 29), he releases a live-action feature based on a classic Disney cartoon, 1941’s Dumbo


In pursuit of the truth

Holding the Company to account

Following a screening of his 1980 feature On Company Business, director Allan Francovich sat down with me for an interview in Vancouver. Born on this day (March 23) in 1941, he talked about documentary filmmaking and the pressure that the CIA exerts on U.S. broadcasters.


Plans set, goals met

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

On October 4, 2013, the day that Reeling Back went live on the Internet, I thought I knew where all this was going. Five years, four months and 12 days later, I’m older, perhaps wiser and certainly more aware of the “innumerable confusion” of our times that Marshall McLuhan first noted in 1964.



A DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES is the Internet address of Michael Walsh, a Canadian living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman. While others covered the waterfront, I specialized in movies. As a film critic, I published my views in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, at conferences, conventions and in the occasional courtroom. It was my good fortune to cover 30 of the most exciting, innovative years in screen history (1965-1995).
Retired, but not inactive, I've launched Reeling Back in in order to recall and, perhaps, make sense of it all. Eventually, it will grow into an archive of the nearly 6,000 films I've reviewed to date. Because everything old is news again, each posting will include a note connecting these particular movie memories to the here and now.

And, yes, I intend Reeling Back to offer new material, including web-log commentary, reviews of current pop culture and additions to my own "works in progress" — four book-length projects still in the notebook phase.

From Will Shakespeare to Marshall McLuhan to Joss Whedon, the great thinkers have all reminded us that we live in a world of wonders. In this small corner of cyberspace, I'd like to share some of the wonders that I have seen.