Congresswoman Wants Clooney’s Support for Real Monuments Men

A congresswoman from Texas is working on gaining support for a bill that will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the five surviving members of the real-life “Monuments Men.” Representative Kay Granger (R-Tex.) is looking to the stars of The Monuments Men film to help her efforts to honor the men and women who worked to save works of art from the Nazis during World War II.

The Monuments Men has an all-star cast that features George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett. The film — which debuted earlier this month and was screened at the White House last week — was directed by Clooney, who also co-wrote the screenplay, adapted from the book of the same title by Robert M. Edsel.

Granger has already enlisted the support of Murray for her bill, which currently has 80 signatures, but she’d like Clooney to lend his voice, as well. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the highest honors available for civilians. Granger said in an interview with The Hill that the bill needs 290 signatures for the motion to pass.

When asked if she would ask Clooney to help out with getting those signatures, Granger said “absolutely,” adding that she has already spoken to Murray about the matter. “It’s gotten so much attention,” Granger said of the movie to The Hill, “so it’s really helped the effort enormously.” She said that the publicity from the movie has already helped her motion to honor the men and women.

Harry Ettinger would be one of the people honored for working to save valuable art from Nazi destruction. Ettinger, the only remaining real-life member of the division who is healthy enough for public appearances, spoke with The Jewish Daily Forward to discuss his work with the group. “What we had done was something that every American should be proud of. Instead of taking things, we gave them back,” he said.

The movie has gotten a lot of buzz due to all the big names involved but lackluster reviews, with a dismal 34 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Monuments Men slices off a sliver of a great World War II story and turns it into a lightweight entertainment that doesn’t ask you to think too hard,” reads a tepid review from the New York Times.

“It’s not only the great works of European art that have gone missing in The Monuments Men, the spark of writer-director-star George Clooney’s filmmaking is absent too,” according to a Variety review.

Fortunately for Granger, the quality of the movie matters much less for her efforts than the publicity surrounding it, drawing attention to the acts of the men and women she believes should be honored with the award.

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