A Truly Important Movie That You Won’t See Mentioned On The Academy Awards Telecast And Why It Teaches A Valuable PR Lesson


Arthur Solomon

Don't Be Yourself: What the Oscars Teach about Effective CommunicationThe 93rd Academy Awards will be telecast on ABC Sunday night, April 25, during which Hollywood salutes itself by awarding Oscars that supposedly honor outstanding work. If form holds true, that will again be debated because like any other awards for best performance, whether it is in the entertainment or sports business, favoritism plays a role in selecting the winners. That why some major newspapers have banned their staff from voting in industry promotions.

However, in my opinion, a 1942 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, that I recently stumbled upon, deserves to be awarded in a new category, which I would call the “Never Forget Category,” because so much of its fictional plot resembles the dangerous non-fiction realities of the Donald Trump era of American politics.

The movie is “Keeper of The Flame.” The screenplay was written by Donald Ogden Stewart and was adapted from the 1942 novel of the same name by I. A. R. Wylie.

If the movie was produced today, because of the similarities to so many happenings since Trump first declared for the presidency on June 16, 2015, and what transpired during and after his presidency, it would have been marketed as “based on true incidents.”

Some elements of the plot are eerily similar to actions of the self-exiled, twice impeached former president, who now lives not far from the swamps of Florida.

Some similarities between the protagonist, Spencer Tracy in the move, and Donald Trump:

  • The plot involves a deceased individual who is a hero to a large segment of the U.S. population, who support him as a defender of American values. Sounds familiar? (This fictional hero was wounded while in the Army. Obviously that doesn’t fit the Trump we know because he was a five time draft dodger.)
  • The fictional character is a hero to thousands of Americans who believe in what he stands for.  Sounds familiar?
  • The fictional hero is financed by wealthy right wing supporters. Sounds familiar?
  • The fictional hero has people who are willing to kill for him. Sounds familiar?
  • The fictional hero is an admirer of dictators. Sounds familiar?
  • The fictional hero plans to use racism to divide the country in order to create conflicts among the U.S. populations permitting him to seize power. Sounds familiar?
  • The fictional hero is exposed as a fascist by an investigative reporter, played by Spencer Tracy. In real life, Trump’s fondness for totalitarian governments has been exposed by many investigative reporters. Sounds familiar?

The movie premiered at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in 1943 to mixed reviews. Republican members of Congress were outraged at the theme of the movie, claiming about its leftist elements, as today’s GOP Congressional members blame leftists for misinforming the public about Trump and are attempting to rewrite what happened when the Capitol was stormed by Trump’s supporters on January 6. Sounds familiar?

Even though “Keeper of The Flame” was produced almost 80 years ago, many segments of the plot are similar to what has transpired since Donald Trump began to disseminate his hate mongering.

Albert Camus, the French philosopher, author and journalist, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, said “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” “Keeper of The Flame” is proof of his belief.

“Keeper of The Flame” is an important movie because despite it being fiction it resonates with the truth as we live it today. 

Of course, the Donald Trump saga will someday be made into a movie. It will be a tragedy.

There is an important PR lesson to be learned from the movie and from the rowdy behavior of Donald Trump. The importance of an individual will not prevent investigative journalists from doing their jobs.

The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.