Flash of Blue Oval bashing

Edward Lapham is the executive editor of Automotive News.
I haven't decided whether I'll go see Flash of Genius or An American Carol when those movies open this weekend.

Flash of Genius is the story of inventor Robert Kearns and his patent infringement fight with Ford, Chrysler and other automakers he claimed stole his design for intermittent windshield wipers.

Having been a reporter during the era of all that litigation -- which started in 1978 and dragged on until 1995 -- I know that Kerns won two famous cases -- one against Ford and one against Chrysler.

Even so, there are those who still argue that there was no way Ford could have stolen the Kearns design and that Ford settled the lawsuit for $10.2 million -- twice what a jury originally awarded -- to end a tiresome appellate struggle in which neither the plaintiff nor the defendant had a preponderance of evidence.

Either way, you know it doesn't matter to Hollywood.

It apparently doesn't matter to Ford, either.

The official view is that it's just a movie so people who see it undoubtedly will realize that what they see on the big silver screen happened decades ago and they'll know the facts probably have been altered to enhance the storyline.

But if that theory is true, why do so many otherwise rational people suspend reality and succumb to Michael Moore's celluloid fantasies?

One Ford insider told me the movie probably won't be very popular, limiting any damage to the Blue Oval. That means the company won't need to buy out all of the movie theaters in select markets the way it did in Detroit in 1987 when Ford: The Man and the Machine presented an unflattering view of Henry Ford, as played by Cliff Robertson.

But this time, actor Greg Kinnear, who portrays Kearns, is already being touted as a probable Oscar nominee by some entertainment blogs. Flash of Genius may draw more attention than originally believed.

Come to think of it, it could be interesting and instructive to see just how evil Hollywood thinks Ford execs were back then.

On the other hand, An American Carol is a parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol that lampoons the snot out of Michael Moore.

Now that sounds like an Oscar winner.



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