Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 20, 2017

Clancy Sigal (1926-2017)

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film,literature,obituary — louisproyect @ 1:28 pm

I just learned on Facebook from Clancy Sigal’s wife Janice that he has died. Born in 1926, he was an important voice of the left and well known to CounterPunch readers for his many contributions over the years.

Although I never met Clancy in person and regret not having done so, I considered him a real friend like others I have met and communicated with through email and Facebook. It was Clancy who initiated contact with me 14 years ago over a cringe-worthy matter. I had written a hatchet job on a film titled “Frida” about the artist Frida Kahlo that must have gotten under the screenwriter’s skin:

When I write film reviews, I try to apply the dictum of my late father who used to say, “If you can’t say something good about a person, say nothing at all.” I made an exception last week for “The Quiet American”, which I regarded as a disappointment both in terms as an adaptation of Greene’s novel and the novel itself.

Now I turn to an all-out disaster, although like “The Quiet American” it received rather favorable reviews when it came out. “Frida” is a really stupid biopic based on the life of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist and feminist icon who was married to Diego Rivera, the famed muralist. Since it touches on modern art and includes Leon Trotsky as a character, two subjects close to my heart, it is necessary for me to address the profound injustice done to them and to the rather interesting personality of Kahlo herself, who is reduced in this film to a cursing, drinking and brawling eccentric whose motivations seem driven more by her sexual/reproductive organs than her brain.

The screenwriter was Clancy Sigal.

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  1. thanks for the clancy memories – we bonded, not over reform/revolution, but the chicago cubs – we’re both chicago bred&buttered – so glad he got to see them win the world series last year!

    Comment by pat o'hayer — July 20, 2017 @ 5:49 pm

  2. Part of your task as a film critic is to say a movie sucks if you thought it did, it doesn’t matter if your best friend made it

    Comment by Jon Swift — July 20, 2017 @ 8:18 pm

  3. Thanks for this Louis. I enjoyed it immensely and found it moving. And yes, I too agree however with Swift’s comment – the job of the critic is to be as brutally honest as possible. And sometimes the works we evaluate are…awful. But it is important for us to try to understand why. In any event, I am eager to read Clancy’s book. He was an extraordinary writer. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

    Comment by Den-LeRoy Kangalee — July 21, 2017 @ 2:49 pm

  4. As I have said earlier, I believe that “Frida” is an underrated, if flawed film. If only it were rereleased with the original footage restored.

    Comment by Richard Estes — July 24, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

  5. There’s an obituary of Clancy Segal in the Guardian of July 25 that’s worth reading for its incidental information. As an American in London in 1960, I can testify to the importance of hearing his Chicago voice as encouragement to the rest of us. He fought the good, or pretty good, fight with a grin.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — July 26, 2017 @ 7:44 am

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