Kim Novak, Leon Trotsky, Claudette Colvin… Weekend repeats


morning menu

This week, meet people who made history and that history is sometimes forgotten, despised, underestimated or overrated. And don’t forget to blow out the tenth candle from “Critical Inquiry” with Elise Lucett.

When Stalin ordered the assassination of Trotsky

Portrait of Leon Trotsky in the 1920s.

Out of irony or simple malice, the Parliamentary Channel is rebroadcasting a documentary about the assassination of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), in the same week that we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the disappearance of its patron, Joseph Stalin (1878-1953). Operation “Duck”, which was carried out from Moscow, was aimed at eliminating the capital, the enemy of the “Red Tsar”. In October 1917, after Lenin’s death in 1924, he became an outcast, expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Trotsky, founder of the Red Army, established himself in January 1937, with his wife, Natalia Sedova (1882-1962), in Mexico City, in Casa Azul By painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

This is where Ramon Mercader (1913-1978) was killed with an ice ax on August 20, 1940, of the wealthy Catalan bourgeoisie by his father and the Cuban aristocracy by his mother. There is nothing missing in this romantic plot. An amorous affair with a Trotskyist militant from New York who met in Paris would allow Mercader to integrate Trotsky’s first circle. Archive photos and sober reconstructions evoke the slow convergence of two destinies, prey facing hunter.

One is surprised, however, at the unconditional benevolence of Trotsky’s polished image. Admittedly, the man hunted, betrayed, and afflicted by the disappearance of all his children, some killed in the Soviet Union (Sergio, in October 1937) and in Paris (Lev, in February 1938), arouses sympathy, but from there to erase any hint of his practice the oppressive and brutality of power… while we remain at a loss as to the personal motives of Mercader, who unconcernedly assumes a mission that he is paying for in twenty years of imprisonment and would be of no value, expanded in 1960, only a very discreet Soviet confession, embellished, under Another pseudonym, ordered by Lenin, without being treated like a hero. Ph. -J. against.

Leon Trotsky, A Man Will StrikeDocumentary by Marie Brunet-Depin, in collaboration with Elaine Kirschvink (fr, 2022, 52 min). Available on request at

Kim Novak, a movie star with a strong personality

Kim Novak in Alfred Hitch****'s Cold Sweats (Vertigo) in 1958.

Jessica Menendez paints a beautiful portrait of the 90-year-old actress, who entered the seventh art legend with cold sweat, by Alfred Hitch****, in 1958. Novak’s name was not highly recommended for a job in Hollywood in the early 1950s. Not glamorous enough, not American enough, and Eastern European connotations. In this unforgiving universe where glory, money and manhood intermingle, those who want to shine must accept everything, even to change their identity. One example among others? Divine Rita Hayworth (1918-1987), born Margarita Cansino.

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