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Wed to a greater mission

Setting out to change a people’s gods

In the sensuous shadows of Tiki bars worldwide, royalists are raising their Blue Hawaiians in remembrance of Queen Lili’uokalani, deposed on this day (January 17) in 1893. A vocal opponent of the 1887 “Bayonet Constitution” imposed on her kingdom by its mostly American business and land-owning elite, she attempted to reclaim the crown’s powers. The result was a regime change led by lawyer and pineapple plantation heir Sanford Ballard Dole, a coup that was tacitly supported by the U.S. minister to Hawaii and the 300 Marines standing by on the USS Boston, a cruiser conveniently anchored at the newly established Pearl Harbor naval base. He served as president of the new Republic of Hawaii until 1900, when the U.S. annexed it as a Territory and appointed Dole its governor. A century after allowing the planter’s power grab, Congress passed the “Apology Resolution.” Signed into law by President Bill Clinton, it acknowledged what historians already knew: Hawaii had been stolen from its native people. A statement rather than a policy, the bill offered nothing by way of restitution and, not unexpectedly, gave new impetus to a Hawaiian sovereignty movement that simmers to this day. For the most part, though, popular interest in the islands peaked just after 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state. Elvis made three movies there (in 1961, 1962 and 1966), and George Roy Hill went on location to film his 1966 adaptation of James A. Michener’s best-selling novel, the historical epic Hawaii.


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Domestic disappointment

Child bearing seen as a malicious act

Among the American actors who found work in Canada during the formative years of our feature film industry was Oscar-nominee Dyan Cannon. Born on this day (January 4) in 1937, she starred in director George Bloomfield’s 1974 domestic drama Child Under a Leaf.

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History made on the run

Dated comedy with a timely message

An enthusiastic practitioner of what he calls "Nouveau Shamanic" acting, Nicolas Cage is famous for making a meal out of every performance. Born on this day (January 7) in 1964, he exudes underclass discontent in director E. Max Frye’s 1993 men-on-the-run comedy Amos & Andrew.


An intense questioning

Pursuing a resolution by year’s end

It is raining in Vancouver today (December 31, 2019), providing a damp debut to the new decade in our corner of the world. It was raining in Normandy during the intense New Year’s Eve police interrogation featured in director Claude Miller’s 1981 French-language feature Garde à vue.


Resolute going forward

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Not just a new year, but a new decade begins today (January 1, 2020). The very thought of it — the challenges, the opportunities, the responsibility — is enough to induce creative paralysis. Or, perhaps, to invoke the title of Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s 1863 novel What Is to Be Done?.



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.