July 4th Observance – Fridley Theatres Debate

posted by Ross Melnick on July 5, 2004 at 9:35 am

In nearly all other cases, Cinema Treasures is closed for public holidays.

However, we have received a large number of emails from moviegoers trying to contact R. L. Fridley and Fridley Theatres to either commend the owner of the mid-western theater chain for refusing to show Michael Moore’s new film “Fahrenheit 9/11” or scold him for his decision.

First, we would like to note that we are NOT Fridley Theatres and if you want to email the company, please visit their website. Second, we are more than happy to open a debate here on the news page, so please feel free to post your thoughts.

For more news about the film and its possible influence on Hollywood, read today’s New York Times, which also features a photo of the Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Gary Flinn has also sent us a link to the Ann Arbor News story covering Lila Lipscomb’s visit to the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor yesterday.

For more information about Fridley Theatres' decision to ban the film from its screens, read today’s Chicago Sun-Times.

Thanks and if you were celebrating, hope you had an enjoyable Independence Day.

Cinema Treasures

Theaters in this post

Comments (23)

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on July 6, 2004 at 9:10 am

Thanks for your comments Charles.

For the record, Cinema Treasures has no problems whatsoever with political viewpoints being expressed on the site, as long as they are in keeping with the subject at hand (a specific theater, a specific film, etc.) and that they are not racist, sexist, violent, threatening, etc. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of this country’s values.

This news posting was only set up to alert visitors looking for Fridley Theatres that we are not affiliated and that if they wanted to reach R. L. Fridley, they would need to contact him directly. We added some links in case anyone wanted to read about the issue further.

Having said all of that, we urge everyone to discuss this issue at will. From some of the emails we received, the fact that the film was not being screened there meant that the discussion was being kept out of these theaters.

As you note, since at least World War I, movie theaters have been used to sell bonds, encourage enlistment, and more.

The role of movie theaters has certainly changed since those days, but theater chains across the country still raised money for the victims of 9/11 and, on the flip side, it seems, many moviegoers would like to see them used as a forum for pro and anti-war films.

klebrun on July 6, 2004 at 4:01 pm

Ross, thanks for allowing us to expand upon the subject of the Michael Moore film. I agree wholeheartedly with you about comments about this subject being kept at a civilized and intelligent level. This is where I think Moore drops the ball. He tends to go a little too far out there sometimes, and I don’t know if he is helping or hurting his industry. There seems to be more talk about Moore’s fudging of the facts than his movies themselves. Even Richard Clarke, who served as a principal source for Fahrenheit 911, has said the central premise of the film is “a mistake”. We have a local Kansas City movie chain that is also refusing to show the movie. With all of the movies that have been shown over the last few decades that have an anti-war message, I seriously doubt that these movie theater chains are refusing to show Moore’s movie solely because it is anti-Bush or anti-war. Moore has a growing credibility problem, and I don’t think these theater chains feel that this is a true “documentary”. At the end of a true documentary, I feel that I have been given all of the important facts and am left to make up my own mind. At the end of a Michael Moore film, I feel as though he has tried to make up my mind for me.

Ross, thanks for running such a wonderful website and allowing us to “vent”.

Charles, my family and I thank your son for his courage and commitment to allowing all of us to live in freedom.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 7, 2004 at 2:17 am

For the record: “The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which books films to be shown on military bases around the world, has contacted Fahrenheit’s distributor to book the film,” TIME reports.

If this movie chain for military bases can show the film, it’s a bit absurd for civilian theater chains to avoid programming this award-winning work of monumental importance that millions have wanted to see and that is breaking boxffice records everywhere.

Klebrun speaks of a Moore “credibility problem.” Come now. Isn’t the credibility problem with the lying Bush administration which brought us into a war for spurious reasons, i.e. “weapons of mass destruction?” Moore is not a liar; he is an exposer of the Bush administration’s lies.

What Kelbrun says about documentaries is not true. Documentaries have often, throughout the history of cinema, advocated a particular point of view, from Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” series to Barbara Kopple’s “Harlan County, U.S.A.” Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” is no different.

klebrun on July 7, 2004 at 2:00 pm

Thank you for your response, Gerald.

It is difficult to discuss this without going in a totally different direction that would not allow us to stay within the spirit of this website. I will try to keep my comments more focused on Michael Moore’s impact on the film industry and less focused on my political point of view.

I think that Americans are ready for a detailed look at the reasons 911 happened. I think a movie or documentary covering the last 30-40 years of all of our presidential administrations during that time period would give a more accurate account as to what lead up to 911. I also think it would be a boom to the theater industry. If Moore had decided to go in that direction his film may be taking in twice the revenue it is now. Who knows?

You bring up a good point that the Bush administration has it’s credibility problems, and there are facts out there to back that up. That is why I hold Michael Moore to a higher standard. You can’t criticize Bush for his credibility problems when you have plenty of your own. I would dismiss the criticism of him if it were just coming from the conservative side. But the criticism is coming from both sides of the political spectrum, and I can’t ignore that.

A documentary is factual presentation given in artistic form. I feel that Moore lowers the bar, and it may have a negative impact on the film industry. There are bound to be Michael Moore clones in the near future that will follow his lead. If the industry as a whole or part starts to have a credibility problem, that can have a negative impact on box office receipts and hurt, if not cause closure of, some of the smaller theaters that are struggling to get by.

I will have to disagree with you that there is no difference between the works of Michael Moore and Frank Capra or Barbara Kopple. Mr. Capra and Ms. Kopple have earned their respect through integrity. Mr. Moore has yet to achieve that status. One only has to do a google search on each filmmaker individually to see the difference.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this, Gerald. Thank you for the spirited debate and best of luck to you.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 7, 2004 at 2:27 pm

No, Mr. Moore has achieved an enormous amount of respect for his work and he has a great deal of integrity. Read all the Imdb.com comments that praise him (as well as those that damn him, of course) and the Cannes Film Festival top award counts for something as well. I believe he has a cover feature in Time Magazine this week. Only a true artist can stir up such passions. If the responses had been tepid, he would not have done a good job. But clearly he has. As for Michael Moore clones in the future, why shouldn’t there be more? If they have the talent to do good work, then God bless them. There is a long tradition of constructive political muckraking in America, a la Upton Sinclair. I see Michael Moore as a constructive muckraker, not a destroyer.
Good to read your comments, and best of luck to you as well.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 7, 2004 at 7:13 pm

What could have been “left on the cutting room floor,” I wonder, that would have made Bush’s response to the attack on the World Trade Center appear more presidential? He just sat there for 11 minutes, reading “My Pet Goat,” bewildered, lost, not knowing what he should do. Utterly appalling. It is an apt symbol for a clueless president, out of his element, who governs via cliches, not intelligence. This is one of Moore’s salient points, and yes, it reflects Moore’s feelings and those of many millions of Americans. The movie is an op-ed documentary. A documentary can reflect a particular point of view. It does not have to encompass all points of view. It is meant to sway. And the issue of the war is larger than whether someone in particular is comfortable with what America is doing there. We were all lied to about the reasons for going there (WMDs), and now the administration, in the absence of those weapons, is forced to find new justifications, but polls show that the American public is catching on. And I hope that Moore helps them catch on even further.
But I ramble and rant…sorry!

Jakorns on July 7, 2004 at 9:38 pm

Gerald, I suggest you look at the slipshod and exploitative piece of work that is Bowling for Columbine (another Moore “documentary”). Michael Moore is purely interested in promoting Michael Moore, not in showing complete truth or in examining a subject thoroughly. As for the President reading the book to the students, what would you have had him do? When he was reading the book everyone thought the first plane flying into the towers was a horrible accident. Nobody, thought it was terrorists until the second plane hit. If the president had suddenly jumped up and walked out with all of the cameras on him he would have caused more panic and confusion among people who had no idea what was going on. Can you imagine how the press that was covering the event would have trampled and upset the students in the classroom if he bolted suddenly? The president cannot leap up and spontaniously do anything- presidents have to act on deliberation and with the facts that they have. No responsible president acts on impulse- unless you are talking about a certain president and his intern?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2004 at 4:38 am

Jakorns, for the record, “Bowling for Columbine” was highly praised by reviewers and public alike and went on to win an Academy Award. Many people, including myself, didn’t find it slipshod at all but very much on target about the nature of violence and gun-deaths in America.
Re: reading “My Pet Goat.” It is naive to think that the man we saw in those crucial minutes, including AFTER he is told a second plane has struck, was concerned with causing panic and confusion in the classroom. Puh-leeze! The man himself was panicked and confused. That’s what my eyes tell me. I don’t think students would have been trampled if Bush had simply left the school with his aides and went to immediately deal with the crisis. That would not have been acting on impulse. In regard to your allusion to Clinton acting on sexual impulse and lying about it: Bush has lied over and over about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about a presumed Iraq-Al Quaeda connection. His lies led to an irrational war against the WRONG ENEMY when he should have been going with equal vigor against Al Quaeda. And we see the results: the death of so many Americans and Iraqis in a bloody war of folly. Tell me, for these lies and deaths of which he is guilty before his country and his God, will he be impeached? How many deaths did Monica cause? Despite his sexual indiscretions, Bill Clinton was a brilliant president. George W. Bush is a dangerous ignorant fool who must be fought tooth and nail. If “Fahrenheit 9/11” will help more of the American people acknowledge this truth, it will have performed a valuable patriotic service.

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on July 8, 2004 at 9:57 am

Not to add more coal to the fire, but I thought you would all like to see this:

View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2004 at 10:33 am

In a way it is good that Mr. Fridley refuses to show the film, because now it will generate an intense desire on the part of many folks in his cinematic fiefdom to go out of their way to see it, despite his patronizing, backward attitude toward his customers. You cannot tell Americans for long what they cannot see or do before they will go out of their way to see or do it. Remember James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was once banned too. I hope folks will drive a distance to other theaters to see this gigantic landmark of a film or buy it when it comes out on DVD. It is worth the drive. It is worth the purchase.
To find out where it is playing in Iowa, Nebraska, or elsewhere, click:
And to reach award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore’s website, click:

Jakorns on July 8, 2004 at 11:34 am

Gerald, you forget one thing. F911 is propaganda, it was not a factual or unbiased look at events. Mr. Moore makes no secret of his bias- he did so at last year’s Oscars. The owner of Fridley cinemas has a right to decide what movies his business will show. Just because someone has the right to make a particular film does not automatically guarantee that anyone has to show it. The right to free speech does not curtail others' right to ignore it…

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2004 at 12:17 pm

Oh, I know it’s propaganda. And not unbiased. But whoa. Don’t dismiss it as UNFACTUAL. Bias does not of itself preclude factuality. That’s the whole point. Moore uncovered and underlined, in the opinion of many, some disturbing FACTS about the Bush administration. And he has challenged those who would to dispute those facts.

True, Mr. Fridley has no legal obligation to show the movie. But one would think he would show it simply because of its public demand and to make it part of a healthy discourse within our democracy. But his own bias has interfered with that notion. (In all courtesy, he’s probably a nice guy, but I don’t think what he has done is right.) It would be interesting to see if he plans to show Michael Wilson’s film “Michael Moore Hates America” (now there’s a biased title!) I think all the theaters showing F911 should indeed show that too and let the public benefit from the contrasting discourse. Discussion, not suppression!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2004 at 12:57 pm

How ironic is the following! While some theatre chains (see above) refuse to show “Fahrenheit 9/11”, one theatre in New Haven, the York Square Cinema, near Yale, can’t get it because the distributor gives priority for its films to a nearby venue. They write on their website:

In response to your many questions:
Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11
has been refused for showing at The York Square Cinema
This is another example of the situation which we have been
facing with our distributors, and illustrates the very case
which we have been pursuing in court, as shown below in
our letter from Robert Spodick.

For full story, see their website: http://azothgallery.com/yorksquare.html and check them out on Cinema Treasures.

klebrun on July 8, 2004 at 1:17 pm

Time will tell as to whether Mr. Fridley has made the right decision or not. However, I would not call anyone “backward” because they have a different point of view. Mr. Fridley is exercising his right just as Mr. Moore is, and that is what makes this country great.

I urge people to go see the movie and decide for themselves. However, I also think that people should educate themselves on the controversy surrounding Mr. Moore. Here is a man who has insulted our troops, called Americans “dumb”, and put down Capitilism. Yet he doesn’t seem to have a problem enjoying the freedoms that our troops fight for, or making millions of dollars off of a Capitalistic society filled with “dumb” Americans.

You can like Mr. Moore, or you can hate him. I am posting a link that is not kind to him. I would urge everyone to do a search on Michael Moore and look at the good as well as the bad and decide for yourselves. Then, please feel free to post your comments here. This has become a very interesting debate.

View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2004 at 2:04 pm

“Here is a man who has insulted our troops, called Americans "dumb”, and put down Capitilism."

Not so. He has praised many individual soldiers and shows great compassion for those who suffered as victims of an unjust war. And I mean he does it IN THE FILM. He doesn’t deal with Abu Ghraib, but frankly the troops who treated Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, deserve to be insulted. Heck, even President Bush was appalled by them! And we are appalled by the soldier we see in the film calling an Iraqi prisoner “Ali Baba” and grabbing the guy’s penis. There are good soldiers and bad, just as there are good people and bad. So let’s not generalize. Some Americans are indeed “dumb” if that is what he said. Some Germans are dumb. Some Chinese are dumb. There are dumb people everywhere on this planet. Why is America an exception? Depends who you are talking about. As for capitalism, there is good capitalism, and there is bad capitalism that makes things bad for the average man. Look at Enron…that’s capitalism run amok.

klebrun on July 8, 2004 at 9:13 pm

Gerald, some of Michael Moore’s comments:

  1. “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy’. They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.” (Moore’s message posted on his website April 14, 2004)

How are American soldiers supposed to feel when Moore calls them the “occupation” and says that they are going to lose to the Iraqis?

  1. “The kind of people who fly in airplanes want someone else to clean up their mess; that’s why they let hijackers take the plane.”

  2. “The passengers on September 11 were scaredy-cats, because they were mostly white.”

  3. To German fans about Americans Moore asked “Should such an ignorant people lead the world?”

  4. In England, regarding American intelligence: “They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet.”

As for comments 2-5, these are Moore’s generalized, racist comments, not mine. For whatever good Moore does, he turns around and hurts his own credibility by saying things like that. Add to that the people who claim that he has a problem getting his facts straight and that adds up to quite a controversy.

All of this info and much more is available on the internet for anyone who wants to take the time to check into it. You can choose to believe or disbelieve it. But does the controversy itself help or hurt the film industry? I guess we will find out in due time. Gerald, we may not agree on this, but if Michael Moore strikes a chord inside you than all I can say is more power to ya.

klebrun on July 9, 2004 at 12:16 pm

It will be interesting to see what Michael Moore has to say about the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report released today.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 10, 2004 at 9:40 am

“Add to that the people who claim that he has a problem getting his facts straight and that adds up to quite a controversy.”

But, Mr. Klebrun, nobody has yet been able to disprove the facts he presents in the movie. He challenges people to do it. So, disprove them.

“Moore calls them the "occupation”"

So? The U.S. is not an occupying force in Iraq?

Folks, here is an excellent assessment of the film by a viewer who posted his comments on the Internet Movie Database. It’s one of the best I’ve so far read on this great motion picture and diverse reactions to it, and if you are not tired of it all, please read this:

View link

klebrun on July 10, 2004 at 10:14 pm

I posted here on July 9th that I would be interested in hearing Michael Moore’s comments on the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee and, at the time of this posting, have seen no comments on his website regarding that report. Perhaps he will do so in a few days.

Here is a link to an article by Christopher Hitchens stating the facts that he thinks are wrong in F911.

As I have stated before, Richard Clarke has gone on record as saying that the central premise of F911 is “a mistake”. Mr. Clarke went on to say that he, and he alone, took responsibility for those Saudi departures. This presents an interesting dilemma for Michael Moore. If Mr. Moore says that Richard Clarke is lying, then his source for his central premise is flawed. If Mr. Moore says that Richard Clarke is telling the truth, then his central premise itself is flawed. I have yet to see or hear Mr. Moore comment on this, and Gerald, if you have any links that I can look at, please post them here. I would be interested in seeing them.

Mr. Moore’s use of the term “occupation” is not an innocent choice of words (word). His meaning is very clear. It is a force Iraqis will rise up to and defeat. I find it confusing that he paints the image in F911 that he is supportive of the American troops in Iraq and the victims of 911, yet makes the comments that I have previously posted. You would think that you were talking about two entirely different individuals, yet they are one and the same. It’s so sad, I don’t even think I could call it hypocritical.

I will continue to wait for Michael Moore to comment on the aforementioned controversies. If Michael Moore can meet that “challenge”, I think that it will be a good start to answering some of the more important questions.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 11, 2004 at 3:30 am

Mr. Clarke is hardly a defense of the Bush administration since it is he that excoriated the Bush administration, in his book and to the investigating committee, in regard to the woefully inadequate pre-9/11 preparations for potential terrorist attacks. He told us of Bush’s fixataion instead on finding an Al Qaeda/Iraq connection. The revelations this past week by the Senate committee investigating this issue underlined the fact that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and that there was absolutely no Iraq/Al Qaeda connection and that CIA intelligence in these matters was spurious. These pronouncements indeed support Mr. Moore’s contentions in the films. Bush and Cheney still stubbornly cling to both these myths that were rationales (or “irrationales”) for going to war against Iraq. Most nations of the world did not support the U.S. in this war. The Pope said it was an unjust war. But of course Bush flouted the U.N. and went it on his own with enormous arrogance. The polls indicate that more Americans believe that going to war against Iraq was a mistake. Now put the question to Bush instead of Moore: Why did you take us into a war that was against the wrong enemy and for the wrong reasons? Bush is the “villain” here, not Mr. Moore. The blood of the American and Iraqi victims of the war is on HIS hands. HE is the one who merits our anger, not Michael Moore and his eye-opening film.

klebrun on July 12, 2004 at 1:59 am

Gerald, I did not use the Richard Clarke example to defend President Bush. I am fully aware that Clarke does not like the President. So when Mr. Clarke goes on record as saying that the central premise of F911 is a mistake, the red flags go up. I would like to hear Michael Moore answer Clarke’s recent comment on F911.

At this point, the Senate Intelligence Committee has found the information that the CIA collected to be flawed. It has not stated that the Bush administration lied to the American people or the world community, only that they were given flawed information which resulted in the decision to go to war with Iraq. The committee is now focusing on the Bush administration but will not come to it’s conclusions until months after the election. The timing seems suspicious, but at this point, I don’t have any reason to believe the committee is corrupt, unless it is proven otherwise in the future. As far as I know, the 9/11 commission has not stated that President Bush lied, either. I would also like for Mr. Moore to publicly state now, not later, as to whether he respects the Senate Intelligence Committee’s current and future conclusions. If he supports them now, and they come to the conclusion that Bush didn’t lie, he’s stuck with it. If he waits, and they come to that conclusion, I suspect he will attack the Commission’s integrity. Is he willing to take the gamble?

I respect the right of Michael Moore to disagree with President Bush’s reasons for going to war with Iraq. However, unless Mr. Moore is privy to information that the aforementioned investigative bodies is not, I think it is irresponsible for him to lead people to believe that Bush lied until the Senate Committee releases it’s final conclusions about the administration itself. If at that time they state that Bush lied, he can scream about it until he is blue in the face for all I care.

I agree that if you have questions you think President Bush should answer, then he should do just that. That does not excuse Michael Moore from answering some of mine.

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