Film Review: The Night Strangler (TV Movie 1973) The Cost of Carl Kolchak's Genuine Journalism

Updated: Jul 24

FILE PHOTO: Carl Kolchak in The Night Strangler (1973).  ©ABC; composite ©Ryota Nakanishi
FILE PHOTO: Carl Kolchak in The Night Strangler (1973). ©ABC; composite ©Ryota Nakanishi



First of all, it's all about journalism in reality not about an ''elixir of life''. The 144 year-old strangler Dr. Malcolm/Richards (played by Richard Anderson) who commits groups of killings of girls within 18 days in 21 year-cycle since 1889 in Seattle is totally fictional. Thus it's meaningless to search for any resemblance between Dr. Malcolm and real serial stranglers in US on this. We should directly stick to the theme when analysing the valuable content for our reality. In other words, allegorically we should look at Plato's fire itself not the shadow casted on the wall of a cave in the famous allegory of the cave. The essence is the fire, reality, real social context; the shadow is the fiction, superfluous phenomenon, the film. The fire itself is the only reality. Therefore, film analysis or film review is supposed to point it out to the public.

As we know today, so called ''investigative journalists'' (''jiken-kisya'' in Japanese) are almost extinct under the global monopoly of political agenda-driven ''advertising'' mainstream corporate media and their best corroborators BIG TECH social media giants. In fact, ''advertising'' industry and real ''journalism'' are fundamentally contradicted and even unable to coexist with each other. What we can see in platform market can only be almost results of a concession between them if it has any better quality as some kind of ''journalist work''.

The term ''journalism'' means that the social functions of the third party ''media'' who investigate facts and monitor the policies of governments with independent thought and highly critical stance for the best benefits of the people. Meanwhile it will take actions against misdeeds of governments or capitalists or any criminals if it's necessary. Thus it is also activism to certain extent. Real journalists are not critics but they are activists who seek social solutions to issues. It's originally not just selling writings to media. For the new era, filmmakers and film critics should be more consciously ''journalistic'' toward their society instead of indulging in their fictional world, film style and selfish career opportunist social activities with political blindness. I should briefly introduce such instances here.

For example, Matthew Kadish, a novelist, pop culture critic, and filmmaker from the US wrote a brilliant film article on career opportunism in the industry in relation to the real political context in US. The title The Rock may back Biden, but most celebrity endorsements are career opportunism… which is why they NEVER come out for Republicans published by RT on October 4, 2020. It's genuinely a ''journalistic'' filmmaker's writing job as a social commentary not like a scholastic pedantism at film schools. True criticism must be made with critical attitude toward all political tendencies and biases that camouflage class war behind cultural phenomena.

His film review is also very progressive as a ''journalistic'' approach toward film and its cultural phenomena simultaneously. He wrote the article titled ‘Tenet’: How does a bad movie trick you into believing it’s good? By confusing the heck out of you! which also published by RT on September 9, 2020.

Tenet, at its core, is a convoluted movie that is more in love with its ideas than with telling a good story. (1)

This is also a point to this discussion on The Night Strangler (TV Movie 1973) as the producer/ director Dan Curtis told in his rare interview which can be seen on YouTube.

''It's all about story now.'' Good ''story-telling''(a good story skilfully told by creative teams) is everything for being a good and everlasting film masterpiece even though technical conditions of each work are inevitably different by time and place. It is still universal truth. However, ''story-telling'' (art of fictional fabrication) is not journalism at all. On the contrary, journalism must strictly stick to only facts and truth thus it should be called ''fact-telling'' or ''truth-telling.'' At this moment, we realised the dialectic contradiction between ''story-telling'' (fiction) and ''fact-telling'' (reality).

A film is Aufheben, synthesis of the contradiction. ''Truth-telling'' is synthesised into ''story-telling'' by artists thus it becomes fictional reality. In which, the truth exists as a form of enlightenment, realisation of truth, right decision, personal development of the protagonist in the imaginary reality.

For analytical work or review, the process of dialectics is quite reversed. "Story-telling" is synthesised into ''fact-telling''. In which, dialectical elements of the fictional work is abstracted and reconstructed into ''truth-telling.'' Status of being fiction is seen as a sheer fact. Thus, creating a fictional work and analysing the fictional work are all dialectical processes in the opposite direction.

From this point of view, what is the fake news? It's mainly produced by PR companies=advertising companies=marketing companies=almost all corporate mainstream media of today according to their ''political correctness'' which instructed by their ad clients and bureaucrats. It forms ''McCarthyism''; ''Red-purge'' like-social atmosphere, Gestapo-like social justice warriors and tendency of management teams. Such as cancel woke culture of today. Of course, not only it is blithely promoted but also it is total denial of basic ''fact-telling'', a death of journalism. ''Political correctness''(a.k.a. fabricated stories) replaced ''facts''. Nowadays even intelligence textbooks are based on ''political correctness'' and fabricated official narratives instead of factual truth unfortunately. This is why professional intelligence analysis is also dying.

One of respected RT writers Lee Camp wrote the best article on the issue which titled Lee Camp: Two massive new leaks show dirty underbelly of the empire republished on October 13, 2020.

Well, according to the leaked documents – “These UK-funded firms functioned as full-time PR flacks for the extremist dominated Syrian armed opposition. One contractor, called InCoStrat, said it was in constant contact with a network of more than 1,600 international journalists and influencers, and used them to push pro-opposition talking points.”

Sixteen hundred media people, many calling themselves “journalists,” were simply printing hack stories by pro-war government cut-outs?! Compare that number to those of us reporting the truth... I count, um, seven. Nine if you include the two who only do their 'reporting' on the telephone to telemarketers who are unlucky enough to accidentally call them. A single PR company used 1,600 people and millions of dollars pouring in from the US and UK. With that kind of money, they should’ve won a goddamn Oscar – like 'Schindler’s List'.