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Secrets -- we've kept a few

July 26, 2006|Mike Armstrong | MIKE ARMSTRONG writes screenplays and television scripts in Los Angeles.

WHO SAYS the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times can't keep a secret? Oh sure, once in a while they casually divulge some government spy program designed to thwart terrorism, but when it comes to issues that really matter, mum's the word.

Does anybody remember "The Crying Game"? Vincent Canby wrote in his New York Times review: "The film's producers have pleaded with reviewers not to reveal important plot twists.... More from me you will not get." True to his word, Canby took that secret to his grave. Only he and the millions of people who saw the movie knew that the female lead was actually a guy.

After seeing an advance screening of "The Sixth Sense" in 1999, New York Times critic Stephen Holden was steadfast and resolute. "Let's not take the story any further lest its colossally sentimental payoff be compromised," he wrote. Thanks to Holden's bravery, moviegoers of all political stripes had no way of knowing that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.

Discussing "Million Dollar Baby," Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten wrote that many newspapers across the country had colluded in order to prevent moviegoers from knowing that the film involved euthanasia: "The reason you don't know is because the nation's film critics made a collective decision not to tell you...." But of course that was way back in 2005, a time of innocence and good old-fashioned Judeo-Christian values.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this list:

"The Crying Game" -- secret not revealed.

Government phone tapping program -- secret revealed.

"The Sixth Sense" -- secret not revealed.

"The Village" -- secret not revealed.

Government banking surveillance program -- secret revealed.

"The Usual Suspects" -- secret not revealed.

"Million Dollar Baby" -- secret not revealed.

Five out of seven times isn't too shabby in my book.

And the other two times? Well, maybe these newspapers are just trying to ruin the big surprise ending for the terrorists. Is that so wrong?

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