Phil Schreier knows everything about everything. Thanks to our mutual friend, Danielle, I’ve gotten to know him a bit over the last few years. He is the Senior Curator at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. There is no one who knows more about firearms, military history, film noir and probably lots of other things.
Schreier is a proud sixth generation Washingtonian and has written about firearms and military history for several publications. In 2003 he was an embedded reporter with the 101st Division in Iraq and in 2009 with the 1st MEB in Afghanistan. He has been at the NRA for over 20 years and appears regularly on the “Curator’s Corner” on NRANews.com. He recently wrote a book on the Hollywood Guns exhibit at the museum. Some of pieces on display include the rifle used by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, James Bond’s gun in License to Kill and Dirty Harry’s gun and badge. Schreier once told me that one of the most popular items is Luke Skywalker’s light saber from Star Wars (which is really just a rigged flashlight).
I’ve been to the National Firearms Museum several times. As you would expect, the Hollywood Guns exhibit is one of my favorites. CPAC 2011 attendees will have the opportunity to see some of the items on display, and, more importantly, meet the wonderful and very knowledgeable Phil Schreier!
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie
should it be?
SCHREIER: The Maltese Falcon–I could watch Bogey without tiring.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
SCHREIER: “Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love–they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” – Orson Welles
as Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949)
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he was “cured.” If you could give President Obama the “Clockwork Orange treatment,” what movie would you make him watch?
SCHREIER: Citizen Kane (1941) He would soon understand that all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
SCHREIER: Bizarre as it sounds, I actually own one of General Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting rifles. It’s either that or the pair of guns Clint Eastwood used in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
5. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
SCHREIER: “Mad Men” on AMC. Much like Cary Grant before him, Jon Hamm as Donald Draper exudes the adage that “men want to be him and women want to be with him”.
6. Which movie, television or rock star would cause you to lose your ability to speak if you ever met?
SCHREIER: Living or dead? Jimmy Stewart from the ranks of those who have passed and of those still with a semblance of a grip on the present I could watch Johnny Depp read the phone book.
7. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
SCHREIER: Pink Floyd at RFK sometime in the early 1980s. Went with a friend I haven’t seen in forever now and we sat close to the front. He owned a bar and had excellent connections for such things.
8. What do you remember most about going to the movies as a kid? How has that experience changed for the better or worse for your kids?
SCHREIER: First film I ever saw was Yellow Submarine (1968) during its first run in the theaters. I thought (at the age of 6) that it was an awesome looking cartoon about submarines. I wasn’t exactly disappointed but I knew when I left that I didn’t really understand what it was that I had just seen. Big fan of the Beatles ever since and I still am vigilant against possible take over’s by the Blue Meannies.
9. Many have said that Washington D.C. is like Hollywood for ugly people. How do you think DC is like Hollywood? How is it different?
SCHREIER: Truer words… I find it funny that my Hollywood friends are as interested and awed by my stories of celebrity sightings in DC as I am by their recollections of film stars they knew and set locations. They showed me where Rick said goodbye to Ilsa at the end of Casablanca and I show them where Marion Berry got busted for hookers & coke. The difference is that the crimes that people commit here in DC make for lousy screenplays as no one would believe congress could actually be that messed up.
10. What’s your favorite item at the National Firearms Museum?
SCHREIER: Right now it is the actual Maltese Falcon, on loan to us for an exhibit of movie prop guns. Once the ”dingus” flies back to its west coast roost at Warner Brothers, I think the coolest item on exhibit is Gatling Gun # 1040, used in support of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in their attack on San Juan Hill, for which TR would later be awarded the Medal of Honor.
11. If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2010 what would they be?
SCHREIER: Republicans – “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac
Democrats – “The Idiot Song” by Monty Python
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
SCHREIER: My Grandmother had returned from a visit to her home in New Orleans when I was 5 years old and brought back a copy of our family tree. I found out I was a direct descendant of General P. G. T. Beauregard, CSA. He had been Superintendent of West Point, Hero of Ft. Sumter and 1st Manassas and I was smitten with the bug for history and military science right then and there.