Jack Goes Confidential: ‘Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER’—A Powerful Personal Journey

The Butler (2013) Forest Whitaker (Screengrab)I REALLY wanted to like “Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER.”

And guess what, I wasn’t disappointed!

Is it this year’s THE HELP? No. I wouldn’t elevate the film to that level but it does compare favorably to THE COLOR PURPLE.

“Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER” is a historical drama alright. But it’s really a fictional account of the real butler who served in the White House continuously from the early 1950’s right on through the Reagan Administration.

In other words, the storyline here is only inspired by true events.

The film is a racial melodrama beginning with Cecil Gaines’ (Forest Whitaker) backstory in the old south of the 1920’s where, as a young boy, he witnessed the rape of his mother (Mariah Carey) and murder of his father at the hands of the white cotton farm boss.

That’s when the bad guy’s older mother (Vanessa Redgrave) takes the boy under her wing and lays a path to what eventually would lead to Cecil becoming the top butler for decades at the White House.

Oprah-Winfrey-sported-an-afro-and-a-striking-black-and-white-outfit-on-the-set-of-film-The-ButlerAlong the way, Cecil married Gloria (Oprah Winfrey)—a union that produced two sons.

But it wasn’t an easy marriage with the civil rights movement, family grief and Cecil’s total dedication to his job taking its toll.

Fascinating to watch, here the dramatic changes of American society through the decades unfold, coupled with the butler’s perception of changes of Presidents in the White House.

It’s all there. from Eisenhower’s (Robin Williams) dealings withe the Little Rock school integration to JFK’s (James Marsden) assassination—and everything in between.

Best presidential (cameo) portrayal is that of Ronald Reagan by Alan Rickman with a special nod to Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.

Liev Schreiber plays a surprisingly believable LBJ, complete with the conducting of a staff meeting while sitting on the can.

Sorry, but I didn’t much buy into John Cusack’s portrayal of Richard Nixon or Nelsan Ellis as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Best line of the butler’s job description: “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.”

df-26130_lg--606x404While Cecil Gaines service ended with the Reagan administration, the film concludes a few days after Barack Obama takes office and Cecil is invited back to the White House to meet the first ever black leader of the country.

As he is being shown the way to the Oval Office, Cecil offers a great line: “I know the way.”

Quite an emotional conclusion to a life story that the film’s soundtrack best describes as:

“You served your country well.”

“Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER” earning a solid B rating.

(Reviewed at Cinemark’s Palace on the Plaza)


JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES every Friday morning at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on NewsRadio KMBZ Fm & Am.



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17 Responses to Jack Goes Confidential: ‘Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER’—A Powerful Personal Journey

  1. chuck says:

    I am gonna guess that none of us are in danger of breaking an ankle trying to follow the plot. Noble, dignified black man rises above petty, supercillious whites and brings meaning and substance to pouring coffee and handing out pastries.

    A cumbrous palimpsest of “The Help”, is now every couple of years, required viewing for any decent, ethnomasochistic, guilt ridden liberals who have elevated sycophancy to a Christian virtue when African Americans and the Civil Rights era are in the conversation. They should have shot it in black and white. That historical touch, along with the unspoken, but ever present sussurrus of white racism running throughout the script would have filled the coffers of what ever cause celebre Al and Jesse come up with before it finishes it’s run.

    Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the Hollywood pit vipers out in La La Land love this vehicle, it distracts the hoi polloi from the reality of the low level infitada taking place in real time on real streets. Harvey’s fame and fortune are tied inexorably to a narrative that has nothing to do with the real African American culture and the real folks breathing their last in those same streets.

    I think I am gonna skip it Jack.

  2. Jenna Brock says:

    Director Lee Daniels racist overtures are wearing thin. The entire cast of The Butler is heaping on the racist rot that is ruining this nation. Spouting lies and obscene falsehoods, they are the racists.

    Enough. Lee Daniels has officially killed The Butler with his racist rants aimed at white people. What looked like a potentially good movie has been ruined. It’s not just him. His cast of race baiting morons are making things impossible for average everyday people to truly grapple with the complexities of this movie.

    We just don’t understand our own racism. If it’s not star Oprah Winfrey having the audacity to compare the Trayvon Martin case to the horrific torture of Emmett Till in 1955, it’s someone else saying something even more idiotic. Like Lee Daniels racist berating of white people in America.

    Now who’s the racist? Oh wait, how could any white person forget, we are racist by default? Black people can do and say what they want, because we are guilty by just being born white. My bad.

    Well this white woman has had it. The time has come for these race baiting fiends to stop this nonsense. This is not 1950′s America.

    But amazingly, so many of our most famous black Americans still think we’re in that era, or still living in a time when slavery was commonplace. The richest, most successful black men and women of our time are shamelessly using the color of their skin for their own gain, to divide and conquer.

    And they don’t care that the only thing they are doing is tearing the fabric of their own race apart, making their own people believe the lie that every bad thing befallen on them is the white man’s fault. Excuses, cop outs, and lies. Call it what you want, but it is the deliberate attempt to diffuse their own behaviors. Not that white people are any better.

    But Lee Daniels racism is obscene. He is making Oprah look good. Oprah is just an opportunist and she’ll spin a story for her own personal gain. The truth be damned.

    Daniels said, “I want people from Oklahoma, I wanted people from Nebraska, I wanted people from Idaho who wouldn’t be so excited about going to see an African-American film with these African-American actors, people that understood some of these other folks, white folks that were celebrities.”

    Mr. Daniels is misinformed. Many white people from these parts of the country enjoy watching black actors on-screen. We know their names. Is he implying that white rural Americans are too stupid and uneducated to comprehend this kind of film, or that we too are still stuck in segregation? This is racist. But white people are used to it. And really we don’t care.

    Daniels and company are placating to their core base. This is a targeted campaign to reel in the leftist progressives in Hollywood. The ones who have the power to let a movie sink or swim. Like they strategically did last year with Zero Dark Thirty. The movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden was deemed too “offensive” to Muslims and was shut out of the Oscars. But the Hollywood hypocrites have the power to do this if they so choose.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Wow! Why don’t you come here more often? Stick around, we need commenters like you, sister! A female Chuck wordsmith!

  3. Sergent Shriver Stedenko says:

    So it looks like the movie version of The Secret Life of Desmond Pfeiffer. Yeah…

    Upper class liberals (not actually people who know any real poor people) love movies about servants because it relieves guilt about their rearing by nannies and maids.

    Oprah wants nothing more than to be one of those types, even though she will never be accepted.

    Her whole career seems to be built on creating a false, perfect image of herself for everyone to emulate. She is an ugly woman selling beauty tips. A closeted lesbian selling straight relationship advice. A fat woman selling diets.

    Frankly I dont understand why she has achieved such success.

    • chuck says:

      This is dead on the money, brilliant–

      “Her whole career seems to be built on creating a false, perfect image of herself for everyone to emulate. She is an ugly woman selling beauty tips. A closeted lesbian selling straight relationship advice. A fat woman selling diets.”

      Here is an exerpt from an article by Jeff Brown, that addresses “victimization” strategy in use so frequently by those who are anything but victims.

      “We have been recently treated to the rather obscene spectacle of Oprah Winfrey, a black woman who has achieved unlimited acceptance, success, wealth and power in the least racist nation on Earth, lecturing us on the mythical lynching of “millions” of blacks, while promoting a racially themed movie for which she was doubtless paid millions of dollars. How’s that for victimhood? For what it’s worth, the actual number of persons lynched between 1882 and 1968 has been calculated at less than 5000, and of those, it seems one in four were white. Can you guess the political affiliation of those doing the lynching versus those being lynched? There weren’t very many white Republicans in the South, thanks to Mr. Lincoln.

      Following closely on the heels of Ms. Winfrey’s historical lie, she has more recently found herself in the uncomfortable position of accusing someone of racism who is not accustomed to simply accepting the label, as most white Americans are conditioned to do. Apparently, the rules are different outside the United States, which Ms. Winfrey failed to take into account. Those in Switzerland who are not racist will actually object loudly to being branded for someone else’s amusement, or gain, and expose the lie. A Swiss store clerk has done exactly that, implicitly calling out Oprah Winfrey on a lie she thought she could get away with if she kept it vague enough, other than the whiteness of the accused. Now, embarrassed by the exposure, Ms. Winfrey is pretending it was all a misunderstanding, and saying she wished it had not gotten blown out of proportion. It seems that not every white has been taught they owe apologies and repentance when accused of racism by profiteers.”

      The entire article is well worth a read.


      This movie is as political as an info commericial for a candidate during an election. For us to pretend it is merely historical entertainment is engaging in the willful impercipience ingrained in all Americans by our liberal overlords in the media and 4th Estate 24/7.

      Taking notice of that fact is no more unpatriotic than wearing a rubber president mask at a rodeo for a few laughs.

  4. PB says:

    Jeezuz, people, it’s a fucking movie. How in the hell do people get so riled up about something they’re never going to see? Thanks, commentators, for protecting us all from the evil, liberal elite. What would us rational folk ever do without you all and guys like Lee Daniels doing the thinking for us? I’ll give you guys some credit though, you’re always good for a Chuck-le due to the absurdity of your posts. Even better when you neanderthals circle jerk each other. Not so hidden agendas aside, to me this movie just looks like shit, that’s why I’m not going.

  5. It’s great to read comments where common sense is still prevalent and being utilized. Movies such as this just perpetuate the divide; it’s as simple as that. As much as Yael’s column about the Obama mask at the state fair sickened me, it’s refreshing to come across some people out there impervious to the fourth estate and not buying into the new wave of yellow journalism and the blatant leftist Hollywood propaganda that is hellbent in widening the racial divide when it should be non-existent this day and age.

    The guy who wore the Obama mask now is banned for life and the rest of the rodeo association has to take “sensitivity courses”? Back in Nazi Germany and Korea they called those re-education camps. I wonder if these gatekeeper writers such as Yael are actually expressing their very own opinion, but rather assigned a stance to push an agenda for either a social agenda or just business. It’s propaganda no less, and the majority of us seem to take it hook, line, and sinker.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Common Sense + Facts = RACISTS!!
      You’ve seen how I get pimp slapped and Im the furthest thing from it. (yeah, spare me… if you have to say youre NOT racist… blah blah blah)

  6. PB says:

    Jeezuz, if what’s been posted in here is supposed to be common sense, then please give me a fcking lobotomy. Based on where this thread went, remember, it was supposed to be a MOVIE REVIEW…apologies to Jack for those zealots who high-jacked your thread…my equation reads more like this…Common Sense + Idiot Ramblings = Paranoia
    Again, if I didn’t find this all so humorous, (I’m still thinking some of what I read in here just HAS to be a put on), I’d actually be afraid.

    I can hardly wait for Libs Are Trying To Take Away Christmas threads in a few of months. Keep ’em coming, folks!

  7. jack p. says:

    Good God, if I were Catholic I’d be heading to confession about now. But since I’m a Protestant I’ll just take it all in with a grain of salt—and pepper.

  8. Patriot says:

    My grandparents had a black maid for over 50 years. She was like part of the family. Something the libs will never understand.

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