New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins

You get to meet political columnist and satirist, Molly Ivins, head on, in this eye-opening, entertaining documentary. It shows this screaming liberal as a force to be reckoned from, of all places, Texas, who told truth to power in the 1970’s, which is beyond relevant today. This highly educated woman was a fighter with no filter who loved to rile up conservatives, not only in Texas, but all over the country.

Writer/Director Janice Engel was inspired to do the film after her producing partner, James Egan, urged her to see Kathleen Turner on stage in LA in “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.” No film had been made yet on this political spitfire who was so truthful and funny. 

Ivins used humor and her sharp wit to hold people accountable with public ridicule if she thought they deserved it. The film shows how she just wanted people to fight hard for freedom and that it could be fun at the same time. And she wanted everybody to get involved. The names may have changed, but some of the corruption she took aim is still at it today. Engel says everything Ivins wrote and said is still relevant. Her motto? ‘“If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.” 

The film shows Ivins as an imposing figure, beautiful, but 6 feet tall by the time she was 12. She went to Smith College, the Columbia School of Journalism and even studied at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris. She gained notoriety writing for newspapers in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth Texas and as a political contributor to NPR and the Lehrer News Hour and became famous for her book “Shrub: the Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush.” Ivins went away from Texas but always came back. She was a powerful voice who was tough on those in her home state, but did so because she loved Texas and the people who lived there.

Boisterous, hard drinking and outspoken, she cut politicians down with a smile. Engel has dug up extraordinary footage in the archives of the University of Texas showing her spinning stories, and courageously going after the foolishness of politicians at speaking engagements. Interviews with friends, relatives, and fellow journalists, including Dan Rather, Rachel Maddow and Cecile Richards, complete the picture of this smart, savvy, woman. 

Molly Ivins died of breast cancer in 2007 and she even made jokes about that! She has been likened to being the Mark Twain of her era, picking on those in power because she said the truth about politicians is that “They’re scared to death of us.“ This film shows Ivins’ brilliance and she knew that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Magnolia Pictures     1 hour 33 minutes         Documentary

from Movies and Shakers

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