Quotes from ‘The International’

This has nothing to do with Lowell other than that we are consumers of the pop culture like everyone else. One of my favorite films of recent years is “The International” (2009), starring Clive Owen as Interpol investigator Louis Salinger and Naomi Watts as New York City Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman. It was the Saturday night movie-of-choice in our house last weekend. The film has a fabulous look and mood, along with snappy and loaded writing and a complex storyline. The settings are Berlin, New York, Turkey, and other places. I found these nuggets of dialogue from the screenplay online. If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest you give it a try.—PM


Jonas Skarssen: What do you want?

Louis Salinger: I want some f—g justice.

Wilhelm Wexler: Sometimes a man can meet his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.

Louis Salinger: Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn… I’m the one you burn.
Eleanor Whitman: We are just trying to get to the truth! New York D.A.: I get it! But what you need to remember is that there’s what people want to hear, there’s what people want to believe, there’s everything else, THEN there’s the truth! Eleanor Whitman: And since when it’s that OK? I can’t even believe you are saying this to me! The truth means responsibility, Arnie! New York D.A.: Exactly! Which is why everyone dreads it!

André Clement: I am more comfortable tense.

Wilhelm Wexler: We cannot control the things life does to us. They are done before you know it, and once they are done, they make you do other things. Until at last everything comes between you and the man you wanted to be.

Umberto Calvini: [In explaining the "true" nature of banking in the world] The IBBC is a bank. Their objective isn’t to control the conflict, it’s to control the debt that the conflict produces. You see, the real value of a conflict, the true value, is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.

Louis Salinger: Based on everything I’ve read about you, you seem like the kind of man who aspired to die for something more than this. Wilhelm Wexler: Well, this is the difference between truth and fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
Wilhelm Wexler: Character is easier kept than recovered.

Cassian Skarssen: When there’s no way out, you find a deeper way in.

Jonas Skarssen: [to his son regarding a board game] This is a game that rewards patience and balance. You must think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.

from Lowell High School’s ‘Review’ (April 1930)

from “Society Notes” in the April 1930 issue of Lowell High School’s magazine called “Review”:

“March 25th was a big day for Virginia Lord. She celebrated her eighteenth birthday with a dinner and dance party at the Nashua Country Club. The party was attended by ten couples who left Lowell in time to arrive at the club at around 7 o’clock when dinner was served. After this, dancing was enjoyed until a late hour, the music being furnished by a local orchestra. The chaperones were Mr and Mrs Harry C. Lord and Mr and Mrs Harry A. Porter. Everyone had a wonderful time, and hated to think that the long-looked-forward to party was over. — A crowd of girls gathered at ”Sug” Porter’s house on March 24th to spend the afternoon and evening. It was “Sug’s” birthday … The evening passed altogether too quickly and everyone hated to look at the clock which told them it was time to leave. — The only afternoon dance of the Lenten season was held on Monday afternoon, March 17, by the Sophomore Class. A large crowd attended. … The prize waltz was won by Pauline Bonneville and Eddie Bruce, while the fox trot was won by Alice Farrell and George McGuane. — During the past few weeks we have noticed several graduates home from college on vacations. It seemed good to see the old familiar faces back again. Elizabeth Knowles was home from Wheaton, Dan Sullivan from Roxbury Prep., Dan Cullinan from Bowdoin Prep., Donald Kimball from Hebron, Natalie Jordon from LaSalle, and Tillie Laurin from Smith. — The Tri-Hi girls entertained the blind people at the Whistler House on Tuesday, April 8. … Those participating were Carolyn Blanchard, Charlotte Keene, Bessie Johnson, Barbara Lord, and Virginia Byam. — Arthur Cantara is the president of this year’s Sophomore Class. Arthur is the son of Mr and Mrs Cantara of 118 Appleton St.  He was president of last year’s freshman class, which was one of the most progressive in the history of the school. Arthur is an accomplished musician. He plays solo clarinet in our band and also plays in the St Peter’s Cadet Band. … Mildred Scanlon, the daughter of David Scanlon, 844 Central St., is first vice-president of the Sophomore organzation. Mildred is very well known as a pupil of the Ethlynd-Naomi Russian Ballet School. From the time she graduated from St Peter’s School in 1928, she has figured prominently in many programs in High School. In the minstrel shows of both years and at various entertainments, she had done solo acrobatic dancing. She also was in Gym night this year. … [Note: In 1930, eight of the ten class officers in the Freshman and Sophomore classes were graduates of St Peter's School; the other two were graduates of St Michael's and Morey Junior High School.] … ”

Business advertisers in “Review” are Lowell Institution for Savings (full back page), The Bon Marche and D. L. Page Co. “at the clock in the square” (half page each inside front cover), A. G. Pollard Company ["Tell your parents about the wonderful value we are offering on Washing Machines--$2 down, $2 weekly"] and Wm. J. Burbeck Co., for milk and cream (half page each inside back cover). A sampling of inside page ads: Gordon Hand Styled Clothes, Macartney’s with New Spring Mac-Art Suits for $25, Barry’s Market, Chin Lee Company: High-Class American and Chinese Restaurant, Lowell Buick Company, Depot Taxi, YMCA, Faber the Jeweler, The Kimball School (for business), Webster’s Five Drug Stores on High, Bridge, Westford, and Middlesex streets and in the Sun Building, Old Lowell National Bank, Prince-Cotter Co. for L.H.S. rings, United Cloak and Suit Store, Hamel’s Portrait Studio, Sullivan Bros. Printers, F. and E. Bailey & Co. (“The only ethical Drug Store in Lowell”), Talbot Clothing Co.,  Lowell Ice Company, and Marion in the Fairburn Buidling, for Graduation Portraits (full page ad).

Tim the Treasurer on Trial

Lawyers will give their closing arguments today in Suffolk Superior Court in the case of the Commonwealth v Tim Cahill. The former state treasurer is charged with using state funds to run TV ads intended to boost his 2010 campaign for governor. While it may have been wrong to pay for the ads in this way, Cahill is by no means the first politician to use public funds to promote his or her own “brand” but the challenge is always knowing where to draw the line. Mostly the incidents that cross or come too close to the line are dealt with by the state ethics commission with criminal prosecutions pretty rare. Cahill’s case is different because he had a nasty falling out with his political consultants some of whom jumped ship to the campaign of his Republican opponent (Cahill was running as an unenrolled candidate). In the resulting civil litigation, emails that otherwise would have gone undiscovered burst into public view and the Attorney General’s Office felt compelled to prosecute.

Having spent a good deal of time in courtrooms dealing with juries in a prior career, I know better than to try to predict the outcome of a trial viewed only from afar. I will comment on one phenomenon seen in the Cahill trial which is the defendant taking the witness stand in his own defense, something that Cahill did.

At the end of the testimony in any jury trial, the judge instructs the jury in the law relevant to the issues in that particular case. In a criminal case, the judge tells the jury that the burden of proof is entirely on the prosecution and that the defendant has no burden. If requested by defense attorneys in a case where the defendant chooses not to testify, the judge will also instruct the jury that they are to draw no inferences from the defendant not testifying; that they are not even to consider it. Most people (including most lawyers) believe that notwithstanding such an admonition, the jury would have difficulty getting beyond the “not hearing the defendant’s side of the story” stage of analysis and would draw negative inferences, consciously or subconsciously, from that absence.

While that may be true, my experience was that a more powerful dynamic overcame that situation. People who serve on juries overwhelmingly tend to be conscientious and serious about their task. And their task really is to scrutinize the evidence placed before them during a trial. If the defendant does not testify, the jury’s scrutiny lands on the evidence presented by the prosecution. Because the prosecution’s burden is to “prove each and every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt”, the focus of the jury – directed by the defense attorney’s closing argument – is on the “reasonable doubts” that may lurk in the prosecution’s case. Often the jury will discover such a doubt and, as the law requires, the defendant is entitled to the benefit of that doubt and may be found not guilty.

When a defendant testifies, that entire dynamic shifts. The jury’s scrutiny lands upon the defendant, his testimony and his demeanor on the witness stand. Since most defendants are not accomplished politicians like Tim Cahill, they usually fare very badly on the witness stand. And even in the case of someone like Cahill, cross examination by a skilled attorney can make a testifying defendant look evasive, shifty or worse. Assessing the defendant’s performance on the witness stand becomes the primary task of the jurors and, when the defendant doesn’t do so well, it makes it tough for the jury to then go back and poke holes in the rest of the evidence. Those holes, which in the absence of the defendant’s testimony might lead to acquittal, become easier to dismiss and a guilty verdict is more likely to be reached.

If Tim Cahill is convicted, will it be his own fault for choosing to testify? Not necessarily, since as I said earlier, no one who hasn’t sat in the courtroom for an entire trial can really understand the dynamics involved in that particular case. Still, the “defendant taking the stand” phenomenon may have something to do with the outcome, whatever that may be.