Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

All the Money in the World

(USA, UK, 2017)

Here we have the story of how John Paul Getty, at the time the richest man in the world, refused to pay a $17,000,000 ransom to get his grandson, John Paul Getty III, released from a gang of Mafia kidnappers, and got an ear and a threat to send the rest of the boy back piece by piece. But the film will always be known for the very strange thing that happened when it was already in the can and being edited. That would be the disgrace and ostracizing of Kevin Spacey after accusations of underage sex with a teenage boy, and being an opportunistic rapist and just all-around total asshole. Suddenly Spacey was radioactive. His last film, Gore, where he plays Gore Vidal, will probably never see the light of day. But this one was all but finished, a month away from hitting the theaters. What to do? Well, they hired Christopher Plummer to play the elder Getty, re-shot in just two weeks at great expense, and it squeaked into theaters that way.

I have to say, I find that rather creepy on several levels. Kevin Spacey is clearly a nasty motherfucker, and probably a felon, though the statute of limitations may have expired on his worst crimes. But I’m sorry, that doesn’t mean he is no longer a good actor. He’s still just as good as he ever was; should we stop watching his previous films? I know he will probably never work again, and I’m okay with that (who would want to work with him?), but this business of editing him out of the movie smacks of the old Soviet Union, where they would actually take photos of groups of people and blank out the men who Stalin had had liquidated. This inspired George Orwell’s vision of the Ministry of Truth in 1984, where people were declared “un-persons,” who never existed.

The movie is okay. Plummer is always good, though I will always wonder what Spacey’s performance was like. I mean, Getty was not only rich, he was a miser, a horrible, horrible man. A good case can be made concerning not paying ransoms … if you don’t give a shit about the abductee. Which Getty didn’t, it seems. I suspect that if it hadn’t been for all the bad press he was getting, the old fucker would have let the monsters send him hands, feet, a penis …