The Ballad of “Richard Jewell”

Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser are good actors in a bad-faith movie. (Warner Bros.)

Billy Ray, the screenwriter of Richard Jewell—director Clint Eastwood’s disingenuous dramatization of the 1996 case of a security guard falsely accused of a horrific crime—spoke to my screenwriting class at UCLA in 2002 or 2003. I hope that if he’s still doing this some student will ask him how can justify defaming deceased Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs in his new movie while giving the (also deceased) FBI agent he has depicted as tipping her off in exchange for sex the dignity of a pseudonym. That malicious act undermines everything in the movie that’s any good. My NPR review is here.

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