“I’m glad I’m the sheriff of this s------ f---ing town.” – Harvey Weinstein.
The disgraced and monstrous former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein made that “sheriff” comment after attacking a reporter at a New York City party.
It’s one of the more infamous stories about Weinstein’s blustering, bullying tactics during his reign as one of the most powerful and successful film producers of the modern era.
But as the Hulu original documentary “Untouchable” makes it clear again and again, often through the painful memories shared by one brave alleged victim after another, Weinstein was pulling that “I own this town” garbage as an intimidation tactic in the darkest and most nefarious ways for decades, all the way back to his early days as a music promoter in Buffalo.
“He came into bed, naked, and said did I really want to make him an enemy for five minutes of his time,” says Hope D’Amore, who had accompanied Weinstein on a trip from Buffalo to New York City in 1978.
“He just pushed and pushed … He’s huge. … I didn’t hit him. I didn’t try to scratch his eyes out. But I said no and I pushed him away, more than once … and then I just stopped.”
D’Amore, who was 26 at the time, says she didn’t report the alleged attack because she didn’t think anyone would believe her.
“He [said] he owned all the cops in Buffalo,” she recalls.
Director Ursula Macfarlane’s comprehensive and straightforward documentary features a series of interviews with Weinstein victims such as Rosanna Arquette, Caitlin Dulany and Paz de la Huerta, as well as comments from remorseful former colleagues, most of whom say they knew Weinstein could be a horrible human being and they were aware of rumors and stories about “affairs” — but they didn’t know the terrible truth.
A total of 87 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual abuse. The 67-year-old Weinstein is awaiting trial (scheduled for January 2020) on charges of predatory sexual assault. If convicted, he would most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. (Weinstein pleaded not guilty.)
It’s a Hollywood story of a spectacular rise to the top that was quite apparently a real-life horror story all along.
Even as the company founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob (“Miramax” is a combination of the names of their parents, Miriam and Max) was dominating the Oscars and establishing a reputation for championing rising talent and producing acclaimed films such as “The Crying Game,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” Harvey Weinstein was a serial abuser.
There’s a chilling similarity to the stories told by a myriad of accusers. Wielding a huge imbalance of power over much younger women, Weinstein would promise to help their careers, get them into one-on-one situations, complain of a stiff neck and ask for a massage, and then commit assault.
Weinstein’s reputation as a predator seemed to be something of an open secret in Hollywood. We see a clip of Seth MacFarlane hosting the Oscars and addressing the best actress nominees, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”
In another clip, from “30 Rock,” Jane Krakowski’s Jenna Maroney says, “I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions — out of five.”
“Untouchable” features some less-than-effective filmmaking decisions, from an over-the-top ominous score to an overabundance of driving-through-the-city segues to some murky shots of hotel corridors.
Of course, Weinstein isn’t interviewed for the film, but we see his image in black-and-white photos and we hear his voice in interviews, on answering machine tapes and in that now-famous hotel conversation in which Weinstein pleads with and cajoles the actress Paz de la Huerta, who says Weinstein raped her.
In one interview clip, Weinstein says he’s been an underdog his entire life, and “that’s why I like making movies about underdogs.”
All the while allegedly acting worse than an animal.