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Friday, December 29, 2017

J. PAUL GETTY

1973 was a monumental year:
  • Elvis's Aloha concert from Hawaii was the first worldwide telecast for entertainment, and was watched by more people than the Apollo moon landing
  • UK joined the European Union...and BREXITed this year
  • Miami Dolphins completed a perfect season in the new NFL, the only one ever (2007 Patriots lost the Super Bowl)
  • President Nixon announces we quit in Vietnam
  • the first energy crisis, doubling the price of oil
  • Secretariat won the Triple Crown, first in a quarter century
  • Roe vs Wade was passed (abortion became a right)
  • the Sears Tower (now called Willis) at 1,729 feet became the tallest building, until the World Trade Center (now replaced by Freedom Tower at 1792 feet) topped it
  • Sydney Opera House opened
  • the IRA, not Muslim terrorists, bombed King's Cross Station in London
  • Watergate, leading to Nixon firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, resulting in the eventual resignation of his presidency after saying "I am not a crook"--upcoming soon, Trump vs Mueller???
  • Lite beer introduced by Miller
In 1973, J. Paul Getty was the richest man in the world, worth $1.2 billion (today the equivalent of $5 to $16 billion), when his namesake grandson, J. Paul Getty III, was kidnapped in Italy, where he lived.  The senior Getty made his fortune in Saudi oil, married five times and had five sons.  When he died at 83 he was living with five mistresses.   He left $500 to JPG II and none to III.  After JPG I died, his sensible sons sold the oil company to Texaco and applied most the remainder to the J. Paul Getty Museum, Foundation (for visual arts) and Research Institute (advances visual arts)

All the Money in the World was loosely tied to the reality.  The screenwriting was abominable, linking events for drama, a huge mistake.  As for example, the final chase was preposterous and a sense was given that JPG 1 died the night when JPG III escaped.  Nope, JPG1 passed away three years later.  Mark Wahlberg's character seemed like a real hero.  Records show he botched the rescue effort several times.  Yet, Rotten Tomatoes bestowed scores of 77 (reviewers) and 74 (audiences), not bad.

Famous for his Alien films, Ridley Scott directed and Michelle Williams (mother of JPG III), Mark Wahlberg (former CIA operative who worked for JPG I) and Christopher Plummer (JPG I) starred.  Interestingly enough Charlie Plummer played JPG III, although they are not related.  Christopher had to replace Kevin Spacey, who got caught up in his misconduct problems, and how the film had to be re-filmed in such a short space of time deserves a movie of its own.  Above, real photo of mother Gail and son JPG III.

At first, authorities and JPG I felt that the kidnapping was staged to extract money from him, for JPG II, a drug addict, and his entire family (right), were deleted from any support list.  JPG I was quoted to say:

I have 14 grandchildren, and if I pay a penny of ransom, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.

After the kidnapping by the Mafia, JPG III's mother tried to embarrass JPG I using the media.  When the ear and hair locks arrived, only because her father, a judge, was able to talk to JPG I (this was not mentioned in the film), he agreed to a sum, but only an amount that met tax implications.  Whether it was $17 million (the initial demand) or $2.2 million (the total provided by JPG I), the money part was incidental to the principles involved.  No matter how you assess it, JPG I was frugal and, himself, hardly the model citizen.  

Coming next month you will be able to tune into FX for a 10-part TV series, Trust, directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) with Donald Sutherland as JPG I, Hilary Swank as Gail Getty, Harris Dickinson as JPG III and Brendan Fraser as James Flether Chace, the CIA guy.  My sense is, enough is enough.

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