Picking up Eddie Willers: a cheat, or a good move?

Posted by $ Temlakos 6 years, 9 months ago to Movies
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AS3 ended, of course, with the rescue of John Galt. But I have this question: the last thing that happened, was that Ragnar sent a member of his Air Militia to pick up Eddie Willers.

I think that was a cheat. We ought to have seen him on the broken-down Comet outside of Flagstaff, Arizona. After which maybe he would make his way to Phoenix, or the sheriff of Maricopa County, who by then had declared his own revolt againt the Washington establishment, would make the pickup. But I really think we lost something by not at least having the demonstration of just how badly the collapse had gone.


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  • Posted by davidmcnab 6 years, 9 months ago
    It's little wonder that the AS trilogy spent 40 years in Production Hell - given its scope, scale and controversial themes, it would have been a nightmare to cast, script and finance.

    Artistic license might have been the deciding factor with adding the "Eddie Willers rescue" element at the end - the possible purpose being to finish on a more upbeat note. The final Eddie scene in the book is quite sad and somewhat contradictory to the moral retributive plot theme.

    While we're on the movie - I felt the movies suffered terribly from being compressed into 3 feature-length films. The sheer volume of plot material demanded more like 15-20 hours of screen time, and would have triumphed as a one-season TV series, marketed at conservative cable channels, as well as DVD buyers. This could have helped prevent the funding issues that triggered the ludicrous cast changes. Eddie's recasting in particular was bizarre.
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    • Posted by $ 6 years, 9 months ago
      I agree. Actually this could have gone on for at least thirty hours, with a special three-hour rendition of the John Galt Speech. One could even offer to stream that on the Internet, if they didn't think anyone would watch the whole thing on TV. That way, you could offer highlights of the John Galt speech in the broadcast version, and publish a link to the full speech, and a transcript.

      Back to Eddie: here is my own proposed revision of the end of Eddie's story:

      Eddie agrees to go out to San Francisco to try to sort out the mess with three warring factions, one of which seized the terminal and held trains for ransom. But he has bigger plans than that. He explains these to Dagny, in writing--in an envelope that he slips under her apartment door, or maybe surreptitiously passes to her in the office.

      The plans are these: the eastbound Comet will be his escape route. He plans to get off the train in Phoenix, Arizona, on the theory that the Washington boys don't dare send an escort with him, since the California warring factions would just as soon kill a Washington man as look at him. He gets a Comet going out of San Francisco, all right--only it breaks down outside of Flagstaff, as the novel originally reads.

      When the wagon train shows up, he gives them a destination, provided they take off everyone from the Comet and "settle up" at destination. Because he has already arranged to sign on with Dan Conway, who hopes to start the Phoenix-Durango RR back up. Dan Conway can do that, because the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, drawing inspiration from John Galt's speech, has revolted against Washington.

      As the wagon train draws near, a helicopter posse flies out and meets them. In the lead chopper: the aforementioned sheriff (it doesn't have to be Joe Arpaio if you really don't think he'd do it), and Dan Conway. All you need do, then, is hint at their plans: they'll get a line going up to Durango, Colorado--which is not far from Ouray, Colorado, which in this universe is now named, variously, Atlantis, Mulligan's Valley, and Galt's Gulch.

      So when John Galt says, "The road is cleared; we are going back to the world," you cut to Eddie Willers, riding a track motor car, going up the line to where the tracklaying train is busy laying rail through Durango. You know he and Dagny will meet again, this time as counterparts, if not equals, though the movie ends before you see that happen.
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      • Posted by $ winterwind 6 years, 9 months ago
        interesting thoughts. I have amused myself for many years by imagining various what-ifs: what might have happened if Cheryl didn't die? What might have happened if Rearden's hard-faced young coal supplier had prospered? What if, indeed, Eddie had rescued himself - although it was very clear, throughout the book, that Dagny and Eddie were not equals - he is necessarily, not vital.

        I do think it's entertaining intellectually to ponder all the alternatives. But I have to object to the strong word "cheat" in your original post. It implies a very specific premeditated action which I don't think happened to you - or anyone.
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    • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 9 months ago
      Movies, like everything else is run by money. We would all like to see A.S. as a TV series, but one would have to be able to show it could be profitable, unless it is financed by people willing to put out big bucks without a profitable return. Even then, if it doesn't attract a big enough audience, it most likely wouldn't even finish one season, let alone 5 or 6 which would likely be needed to do the book justice. However, when the book was published, no one gave it much of a chance to succeed. And that, would be its biggest selling point.
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  • Posted by deanhcross 6 years, 9 months ago
    It's a cheat. Rand meant for Eddie Willers to represent every man who knew how to work, while not being one of her supermen who could produce like a Rearden or a d'Arconia. She envisioned at the end of her story when the collapse happens that there would be many such men.
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  • Posted by Dan66 6 years, 9 months ago
    The trilogy should have been a mini-series, or a series that lasted about three to four years.
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    • Posted by Ranter 6 years, 9 months ago
      With new casting and screenwriting, that could still be done. I urge the Producers to think about doing that. Lining up advertisers to pay for the series shouldn't be a problem if the ad agency concentrates on companies with conservative leadership.
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      • Posted by BobFreeman 6 years, 9 months ago
        e Koch Bros. could probably handle that financing ... or are they religionists? I think Charles attended Andrew Galambos’ Volitional Science seminars in the 60’s-70’s.
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  • Posted by BobFreeman 6 years, 9 months ago

    The movie’s Eddie Willers Rescue was a major compromise of principle. While I can understand a blot of “practical reasons for the movie producers to make that change, I can also understand Rand’s reasons for wiring the story as she did. I’d probably use the descriptor “cheap” rather than “cheat”, ‘tho.
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  • Posted by $ puzzlelady 6 years, 9 months ago
    I was very pleased that they added the rescue of Eddie almost as an afterthought. It was the one grievous wound in the novel that always bothered me, to have a loyal, valuable and competent assistant, Dagny's place holder at headquarters, just thrown away with the riffraff. It always looked to me that Rand wanted to wind up the book quickly at that point and didn't want to spend more text on Eddie. Or was abandoning him a moral choice, that he just wasn't important or worthy enough because he was not of the Galt/Rearden/Francisco echelon and so was dispensable?

    It needs to be pointed out that the first tier of "heroes" are not desert islands. They need reliable people working for them and with them, whether in mines or factories or railroad management or any other enterprise, to make the heroes' vision a success in the world. Those good people, like Rearden's secretary, provide value and deserve to be valued in return.

    Of course, although Eddie, hopelessly in love with Dagny, had been willing to live for her sake (without being asked), that did not put an obligation on Dagny to lift a finger for him. The movie makers did right by him.
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    • Posted by cranedragon 6 years, 9 months ago
      In the novel, Dagny and Eddie were clear in their relationship. When Eddie left to go west, it was clear that he knew that Dagny would leave with Galt and that while she had reached the ability to walk away from the railroad, he hadn't. Eddie is one of the tragic characters in the novel, the others to my mind being Cheryl and Tony, the wet nurse -- the people who should have been rebels but found their principles [and their heroes] too late to save them.

      Remember that, unlike Eddie, Gwen Ives left when Reardon did. I have no doubt that Dagny would have made sure that Eddie Willers made it to safety in the gulch had he been willing to go. The choice was his to make, and he chose to set out on his own [at last?] rather than ride her coattails [as always?]. Cheryl and Tony died, but at least with Eddie there was the ambiguous chance that he could have survived.

      However, I think that the implication is clear that Eddie's survival would depend upon his finding a stronger, more decisive person to follow. He was an able second but his career and ultimately his life was always as a follower. Without a strong leader he floundered.
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    • Posted by khalling 6 years, 9 months ago
      it was also an important plot device in the novel. It was supposed to bother us. It wasn't for Dagny to choose, it was Eddie's choice and he made it. Good people will be hurt when the motor of the world stops. It was a disappointing giveaway in my opinion.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 9 months ago
      "It needs to be pointed out that the first tier of "heroes" are not desert islands. They need reliable people working for them and with them"
      Yes. I like to think people who took the oath didn't think of themselves as first tier or second tier. They were just people, people who sometimes needed/wanted things from one another and were free to trade what they had to get them.
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      • Posted by $ 6 years, 9 months ago
        The Gulch had quite a few bright-idea men--abstract theorists, I mean--who didn't so much go on strike as got "fired." They finally could come to the Gulch to stay, only after Ellis Wyatt, Dick McNamara, and a few others of that caliber could hire them. And hire them to do some pretty menial work. Remember the economist who became a lineman?
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        • Posted by CircuitGuy 6 years, 9 months ago
          I always think of the former motor company employee who tells the story of how people turned against each other when well-meaning owners set up an ill-conceived plan where workers would vote on who had the greatest need. Everyone was incentivized to come up with the best sob story and be angry at their neighbors who out-sob-storied them. The administrator of the program ended up on massive ego-trip doling out alms to needy (thanks to the program) workers.

          Anyway, I was thinking of the guy who recounted that story.
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          • Posted by $ 6 years, 9 months ago
            Yes, of course. Jeff Allen. Owen Kellogg found him a position with the TT. Evidently Jeff wasn't quite ready to throw the whole thing over--or else Owen would have showed up with Jeff by his side, and Jeff would have gotten the shock of his life, meeting John Galt once again.
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  • Posted by slfisher 6 years, 9 months ago
    I can imagine two scenarios:

    1. I don't know if they did test screening, but I can easily imagine people saying, "But, what about Eddie?" I've certainly seen people say that about the book.

    2. Given that the moviemakers chose to make Eddie black -- which I think was a great choice, given the paucity of obviously minority characters in the book -- perhaps they didn't want to open themselves up to criticism that for some reason a black wasn't welcome in the Gulch.
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