"Does this go on a lot?" asked Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.).
No, it does not, but Gejdenson, being a freshman, wouldn't know that.
He wouldn't necessarily know that congressmen such as Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.) might get told to move on at the Kennedy Center by a park policeman under orders from retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Sam Jaskilka, who coordinated last night's benefit screening of the $46-million movie "Inchon."
Glickman had paused to explain to reporters why he had turned around at the last minute and decided not to see the movie.
"I just thought I was going to see a movie. I didn't want to be part of anything sponsored by a group which has not exactly been supportive of young folks in America."
The group Glickman referred to was the controversial Unification Church headed by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whence derives the name for his followers: Moonies. The church, according to a spokesman, contributed "significant" amounts of money to the movie, which shows North Korea invading South Korea and the U.N. counterattack, led by Gen. Douglas MacAruthur, at Inchon.
The movie's producers claimed it to be the most expensive ever made in the free world. They also hired Jaskilka as technical adviser, and, as it turned out, bouncer of congressmen.
"I'm a congressman," Glickman told a park policeman. The reporters claimed they had a right to interview him in a public place. The park policeman said the screening was under a permit which suspended normal laws. Glickman threw up his hands and went home.
This was not the only suspension of normal laws noted by Gejdenson. He picked up a press kit.
"Don't miss the section on the revelations," he said after the movie at a reception at the Watergate Terrace. "There's one page that shows a picture of the face of Gen. MacArthur appearing in a photograph taken by one of the movie people and they say that in a seance MacArthur appeared and told them he wanted them to make this movie."
Sure enough, the press kit contains a photograph of a reflection on a wooden door resembling a face. Also included is a photograph said to have been taken by a bomber pilot of the face of Jesus. The movie itself is generous with its facts as to divine intervention affecting the Inchon landing.
More dubious of the spiritual pedigree of the evening were 25 or so demonstrators outside the Kennedy Center. They came from the Citizens Freedom Foundation, Ex-Moon Inc. and the American Family Foundation, all of which said they opposed cults in general and the Moonies in particular.
"You Have Been Duped By The Moonies," said placards carried by pickets, while one protestor named Steven Hassan shouted at invited guests: "Do you want to support a cult group? Go in and let them use you." Originally freshman Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) was to have headed the benefit, but backed out from an appearance at the last minute. Mrs. Jouett Shouse, the honorary chairperson, was there, but other honorary committee members stayed away in droves: Rep. Barber B. Conable Jr. (R-N.Y.), Rep. Paul McCloskey (R-Calif.), Rep. Robert Garcia (D-N.Y.) and Gen. Robert H. Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps.
One source close to D'Amato said he did not know the Unification Church had funded the movie and felt he had been misled.
Glickman got as far as Jaskilka, who moments later told the crowd that 60 congressmen were in attendance.
"I only saw about 10," said Gejdenson at the reception after the movie.
Guarding the door of the reception was a ticket taker and member of the Unification Church who welcomed one reporter with the greeting: "What are you carrying that trash for?" The material in question was a book called "Gifts of Deceit -- Sun Myung Moon, Tongsun Park and the Korean Scandal," by Robert Boettcher.
Representative Jim Nelligan (R-Pa.) got past the gatekeeper, and commented that he thought the movie was "quite good though I was worried at first that Laurence Olivier might be spoofing Gen. MacArthur. I don't know anything about the connection with the Unification Church."
Olivier's portrayal of MacArthur as a petulant codger verging on dottiness at times evoked considerable laughter from the crowd, which had turned out for the benefit of the Carl Vinson Hall, a retirement home for officers of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Richard Roundtree, of "Shaft" fame, plays Staff Sgt. Henderson in the film and last night at the reception he said, "I never knew anything about the funding by the Unification Church until just prior to coming tonight."
Producer Mitsu Haru Ishii, a member of the Unification Church, said that despite the fact that he has $46 million tied up in this movie he is in no hurry to find a distributor, and spokesmen for One Way Productions refused to speculate on when or where the movie might open.
"No problem," said Ishii. "We have 20 nations who want this movie. Last night's screening, complete with Marine drum and bugle corps, should have provided a good sales pitch for the movie."
Said Rep. E. Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), "I thought it was remarkable -- a tremendous bit of patriotism. I don't think it was representing that church at all. I don't feel anyone's attendance here was in any way supporting the church."
In fact, the movie's producers got some cooperation from the Defense Department, which let U.S. Army and Marine troops take part in the movie as extras. For that cooperation, the producers were reportedly billed $77,000.
Asked his opinion of the whole affair, Gejdenson said, "I'm going to do a little more looking."
According to the press kit, Gejdenson had noticed, when a Korean psychic asked the ghost of Gen. MacArthur if he would support this movie he replied, "I will make more than 100 percent effort to support the movie." Which just goes to show that the old soldier did, in fact, die, but he may not have entirely faded away. What more could a movie producer ask for?