MovieChat Forums > Patty Hearst (1988) Discussion > Good source of what really happened?

Good source of what really happened?


I caught most of this flick tonight and it made me wonder - what really happened?

Some facts are not in dispute, but it seems a lot of it is conjecture or based upon biased statements by people involved.

It made me think I should read a book or something.

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The knowable factual stuff hews, with minor exceptions, very close to the actual facts: the kidnapping, the bank robbery, the incident at the sporting goods store, the shootout, etc.

What actually happened within the SLA during Patty Hearst's captivity is a lot harder to determine.

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John Waters commented that he really believed the story as Patty told it - which is what this is supposed to reflect. He said that if you knew Patty, you knew this had to be the truth. Since he's spent time working with her and getting to know her, maybe it can be believed? John Waters is sort of an outrageous character but he doesn't seem like a liar. (I do like his movies, in case that didn't come across.)

Samantha
"We're here. We're dead. Get used to it."

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This movie is a terrible, terrible source of what happened, and the way it was filmed documentary-style makes it just plain fraudulent.

The version of events given in the movie coincides 100% with the defense put on by her big-money lawyers. Bear in mind that the jury didn't buy it, the appellate courts didn't buy it, and she would not have been arrested in the first place if the FBI and US Attorney had bought into that self-serving fish story.

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Unless you're implying that the kidnapping itself was bogus, I thought the film kind of left it ambiguous as to whether Patty's involvement with SLA actions was purely voluntary, the result of Stockholm syndrome, brainwashing, or some mixture of all three.

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> the way it was filmed documentary-style

I'm not in any position to determine what actually happened behind closed doors within the SLA, but I'll just throw in a random observation:

What in this movie would you possible describe as "documentary style"? Much of the within-the-SLA stuff was actually filmed in a considerably more stylized manner than the typical movie.

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This is a reply for johnston.scot:

This was a stylish production overall, but the movie is documentary style through and through. I might be meaning to say "biographical" instead, but the point is that the producers are purporting to be telling you a true story, exactly as it happened, in the exact order in which it happened, and without leaving out any details. This was fully narrated by the main character who not only followed the details, but gave her thoughts along the way, to add in feelings that the general public could not have known she was having. The simulated point of this movie is to let you watch what happened with your own eyes, and to see it from the inside.

This is what makes it not only a fraud, but a moot point. There is really no reason for copies of this film to exist in 2010, because it was a self-aggrandizing promo/puff piece that served its purpose, softening the public so that she could be 1) sprung from prison early without serving even the incredibly light term she received and 2) have her record completely cleared with a full pardon. In legal terms, this #2 means that it never happened, that she can go out and buy a handgun, and that she can rob a bank with it and call it her first offense. This really makes it a literal #2.

I give a case of beer to someone when trying to win favor and preferential treatment, but if your name is Hearst, you just run out and publish a book, republish that book again, and have a feature film made. We all live on different levels in this society.

The father of Patty Hearst could get any sitting President on the phone within 24 hours. If I made even a reasonable attempt to get the President on the phone, I'd have the Secret Service at my door within 24 hours.

This movie is a story about the events of a convict as told by a convict. Such movies, traditionally, do not exist in the world of cinema.

This is not the story of DNA exonerating a falsely convicted and imprisoned rapist.

This is the story of a bank robber using personal fortunes, media control, and political connections to obtain a get out of jail free card and also to invent a new card too silly even for board games, the it never happened card.

I'll admit that I am the suspicious sort, but it would be insincere for me to speak at this great length without adding that I believe that the Hearst influence was used not only for Patty, but for everyone involved in this case. No one got any severe punishment for any of this SLA violence and treason, and I believe that was so that her incredibly light treatment would seem less unfair and preferential and somewhat in line with what the others received.

With this in mind, please review my original post in context:

This movie is a terrible, terrible source of what happened, and the way it was filmed documentary-style makes it just plain fraudulent.

The version of events given in the movie coincides 100% with the defense put on by her big-money lawyers. Bear in mind that the jury didn't buy it, the appellate courts didn't buy it, and she would not have been arrested in the first place if the FBI and US Attorney had bought into that self-serving fish story.

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Okay, I guess: I was just commenting on the notion that this film uses anything that one might call a "documentary style," which it clearly does not.

As a matter of substance, it is clearly supposed to be a biographical story about a real person, and I guess it's fair to say it's supposed to present at least a version of things that really happened. But it's no more "fraudulent" than Walk The Line, Marie Antoinette or dozens of other historical movies.

Wasn't Hearst released from prison long before this movie was made?

True, she was pardoned later, but I find it hard to imagine that this movie had much of an effect on that - or anything else. It was pretty much a complete failure commercially, and the number of people who have ever even seen it must be fairly small.

Whether it accurately portrays what happened behind closed doors is unknown to me, and probably largely unknowable at this point.

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I can comment on these points below:


Okay, I guess: I was just commenting on the notion that this film uses anything that one might call a "documentary style," which it clearly does not.


Let me change that yet again, and call it true crime, or something that is done in the style of true crime, where it is pretending to tell the story exactly as it happened. It wasn't a story told in the style of Austin Powers, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, or Beavis and Butthead Do America.

Documentary, docudrama, biography, it is all a blur now, when we've spent a decade seeing "documentaries" with actors doing reenactments on the History Channel, etc..


As a matter of substance, it is clearly supposed to be a biographical story about a real person, and I guess it's fair to say it's supposed to present at least a version of things that really happened.


Calling this "a version of things that really happened" is most generous.

Would you like to buy my script that posits that Elmo assassinated Malcolm X?

That is an equally absurd version of events, and one that is equally unsupported by facts that are a matter of public record.


But it's no more "fraudulent" than Walk The Line, Marie Antoinette or dozens of other historical movies.


It is totally more fraudulent!!! One biography might depict Jerry Lee Lewis as a bloodthirsty child bride killer while another will depict him as a gentle, but somewhat flawed man. These biographical stories are open to a lot of interpretation and stylized editorializing, because they are not drawn from 100,000 pages of police reports, court transcripts, and other public records.

Stories such as "Walk The Line, Marie Antoinette or dozens of other historical movies" aren't telling stories that are 100% a matter of public record.

Patty Hearst (1988) attempts to tell a story that is in fact 100% a matter of public record, and the version of events given is 180° opposed from what the public records tell us.



Wasn't Hearst released from prison long before this movie was made?


Released as in served her time and got out? No!

A brief look at the simple facts that answer your question only outlines my point even better:

She robbed a bank (among other things that could have gotten her a lot more time if charged).

She did the old "interstate unlawful flight to avoid prosecution" (it's a real thing Virginia, Google it).

As a fugitive, she was arrested for bank robbery.

She refused to accept responsibility with a guilty plea, demanded a trial, got the highest priced, most famous attorney in the United States (but only after her family hired and fired other prominent attorneys, Terence Hallinan---later the DA of San Francisco---being one of them, he was unable to talk any sense into her family).

She was roundly convicted and sentenced 35 years in federal prison. Please stop crying for her, this is a standard sentence for armed bank robbery.

(>>>here comes the fix via political connections and family fortune<<<)

She lost her appeals, but was soon resentenced to a drastically reduced term of seven years. This is less than any bank robbery term I have ever heard of in the world, but it is possible that some first offenders have finagled such a deal for themselves. Note that I said deal, which means begging and pleading for mercy and making a guilty plea deal with the US Attorney to save everyone the time and trouble of a trial. Demanding a trial, losing it with a bank robbery conviction, then getting sentenced afterward cannot possibly result in a piddly seven year term.

(Time for a short sidebar: This fat sentence followed by quiet resentencing to a term so short that it insults the intelligence of honest society isn't just for the Hearst family, it applies to other people who are super rich and politically connected. In 1989, Mike Milken was indicted on 98 federal charges for ripping off $2 billion, he made a deal to plead to drastically reduced charges, and the L.A. Times had a front page headline in bold letters two inches tall, "MILKEN GETS 10 YEARS". That was nothing for the charges and dollar amounts, and the further insult was that they let him keep a billion of it for his trouble. At the time, this meant that he would serve 8-1/2 years with good behavior and work credits, but no, it didn't end there. He was quietly and quickly resentenced to two years, then even more quietly sprung from jail and sent to a halfway house because he was---and I'm going to quote these liars---"dying of cancer". The L.A. Times reported this quietly somewhere in the middle of the first section of the paper, not even wasting part of the front page or the ink required for two inch tall bold letters. He had served 22 months and kept billionaire status for something that could have gotten him 150 years and left his family penniless. Here comes the punchline. Surprise! He didn't die after all! What a shock.)

She was pardoned by Jimmy Carter before even doing the reduced sentence of seven years. He didn't vacate the conviction, he just commuted the remainder of her sentence so that she could be released immediately. She had served only 22 months............for bank robbery! I absolutely defy you to come up with so much as a single example of someone getting 22 months for bank robbery like this. It is completely unprecedented.


True, she was pardoned later,


Yes, but not just in one fell swoop, it was a dual pardon. The Democratic Party split this unsavory task between Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It was impeached President Bill Clinton who finished it off like Lewinsky, issuing a full and unconditional pardon that expunged her record and said that it never happened. The "it never happened" concept was explored in the Orwell book 1984. At the time, I was hoping it would prove to be a work of fiction.

The Democratic Party doesn't have a monopoly on these types of despicable deals, though, Republican President George W. Bush gave Jimmy Carter-style sentence commutation to Scooter Libby, who had clearly committed the charged offenses, denied it and demanded trial, got sentenced to 30 months, appealed and lost, then Bush commuted his prison sentence. I don't know how much time he actually served, whether it was a few days or a few minutes, but he surely did a lot less time than Patty Hearst did. It should be noted, though, that making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice aren't even half the offense that a single bank robbery is.


but I find it hard to imagine that this movie had much of an effect on that - or anything else.


I completely disagree. Her book, which was published a second time under another name (you're welcome to give me a list of crappy, self-serving autobiographies that were published repeatedly under different names, then made into feature films, I'm getting paranoid here and starting to suspect that this Patty Hearst lady might have some kind of connections in the publishing industry...), and her movie that was based on the book, were made to soften the public to make the Presidential pardons palatable. Let me save myself the broken record typing and just quote myself here:

"The real problem with this film is the first 20 minutes. What is shown there is a totally unverified version of events where the only source is a wayward heiress bank robber who---and please keep this in mind---made this book and this movie and promoted them like crazy while trying to buy a Presidential pardon. Winning the sympathy of the public was key to getting Carter and Clinton to pardon her. Please note that they didn't pardon a whole lot of bank robbers."


It was pretty much a complete failure commercially,


Yes, and based on a garbage book. Coupled with the fact that it was a garbage script that you couldn't sell to a movie company if your life depended on it, it only outlines what I have been saying all along.


and the number of people who have ever even seen it must be fairly small.


I disagree completely, and wish to lump this book in with all her other media.

There is hardly an American who was alive in the 70s and 80s who has not done one or more of the following:

1) seen this movie in a theater

2) seen this movie on home video

3) seen this movie on cable TV

4) seen this movie on broadcast TV

5) read her book

6) read her "second book"

7) seen one or more of her countless TV interviews promoting her story and herself as a victim


The fix was in and it has clearly worked. You have absolutely nothing to contest this with.


Whether it accurately portrays what happened behind closed doors is unknown to me, and probably largely unknowable at this point.


Actually, no, it is very "knowable". There is a fact-finding process in place that is supported by 300 million Americans.

Let me finish by quoting myself again:

"The version of events given in the movie coincides 100% with the defense put on by her big-money lawyers. Bear in mind that the jury didn't buy it, the appellate courts didn't buy it, and she would not have been arrested in the first place if the FBI and US Attorney had bought into that self-serving fish story. That she is a socialite connected at the highest levels should not be in dispute now that two Democratic Presidents have put their own legacies at stake to get her out of prison and clear her name."


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yes she was convicted but she was given the 35 year sentence so that she could be given a psychological evaluation test, I know that is hard to believe with all the doctors she had already seen but that is what the judge did. After the test was completed then a different judge sentenced her to 7 years, which was standard at the time for a first offender no matter what their last name was.


Her sentence was commuted in 1979 the movie didn't come out until 1988 and the book came out in 1982. The book was republished in 1988 under the same title as the movie. Hardly the conspiracy you try to make it out to be, books are many times republished under different names when a movie is made from them.

As for the first 20 mintues being a totally unverified version that is also wrong. There is physical evidence that Patty was kept in two closet, there is also evidence has to how she was treated by the SLA. One of the SLA members wrote a letter to a friend telling them how they were treating her and the other members also told people how they treated her after they had kidnapped her. Also eyewitness accounts as to how Bill and Emily Harris treated her while on the run.

The movie Patty Hearst is subtitled Her Own Story, so there you go this is her story. No movie or book based on fact is really 100% true. But Patty has told the same story from the beginning while the living SLA members story has changed many times over the years.

OK this made me laugh "it was a garbage script that you couldn't sell to a movie company if your life depended on it"

Hello it did sell to a movie company and was made in to a movie, maybe you missed the fact that you wrote your post on the imdb page for this movie



Bitches be crazy

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Wowwwww the person who wrote that novel CLEARLY has WAY too much time on their hands and THAT about sums it up! Oh wait... In keeping with their ass hat traditions I just feel the need to point out that if the woman in question (barely yet a woman) who I believe (?) was only 19 at the time when this happened, throw in all the stories of trauma we hear from abuse victims which are also tragic, many of which do not have anymore physical evidence than the evidence (yes real evidence) of Hearst being in the two closets, the admitted testimonials of those group members admitting to her treatment, yes not much, but if a presidential pardon wasn't involved would anyone REALLY be arguing about how it's SO unfair that a (SUPPOSEDLY IN SOMEONE'S MIND) convicted bank robber got off too easy as u suggest? Have you EVER heard of Stokholm Syndrome ? Try Googling THAT haha besides anything else, many today credit Ms. Hearst to being one of the most pivotal cases that brought this TRAGIC illness to our attention... Must run now... No more free time to waste, :( must be nice to have all day to write novels ... Xoxo

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Wowwwww the person who wrote that novel CLEARLY has WAY too much time on their hands and THAT about sums it up! Oh wait... In keeping with their a** hat traditions I just feel the need to point out that if the woman in question (barely yet a woman) who I believe (?) was only 19 at the time when this happened, throw in all the stories of trauma we hear from abuse victims which are also tragic, many of which do not have anymore physical evidence than the evidence (yes real evidence) of Hearst being in the two closets, the admitted testimonials of those group members admitting to her treatment, yes not much, but if a presidential pardon wasn't involved would anyone REALLY be arguing about how it's SO unfair that a (SUPPOSEDLY IN SOMEONE'S MIND) convicted bank robber got off too easy as u suggest? Have you EVER heard of Stockholm Syndrome ? Try Googling THAT haha besides anything else, many today credit Ms. Hearst to being one of the most pivotal cases that brought this TRAGIC illness to our attention... Must run now... No more free time to waste, :( must be nice to have all day to write novels ... Xoxo

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zap644, i recommend "Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst" aka "Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army". It does a pretty good job of showing how many different points of view there can be looking at the same situation.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884842/

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