The Michigan Daily-Friday, May 12, 1978-Page 11
State cuts back Blues' increase
DETROIT (UPI) - The board of Michigan Blue
Cross-Blue Shield voted yesterday not to challenge a
state Insurance Bureau staff recommendation that
the Blues' $56 million requested rate increase be cut
by $25 million.
Richard E. Whitmer, Blues' executive vice
president, said the decision was made in an effort to
save time and money.
",f we contested the matter, it could take six mon-
ths to resolve," Whitmer said. "We'd spend more
time, effort and money - and we doubt the Insurance
Bureau position would change."
Under the staff recommendation, individual rates
would be hiked 17 per cent and small group rates
would go up five per cent, for a total of $31 million. In
all, about one million subscribers would be affected.
The Blues originally wanted to raise individual
rates by 30 per cent and small group rates by eight
The Insurance Bureau staff said the cuts should be
made in the Blues' request because it failed to justify
proposed administrative expenses, projected health
care cost increases and contingency reserves.
Although the board decided against contesting the
recommendation, it did authorize Blues'
management to challenge the various procedures
associated with the rate-filing process.
"The intent of this is to clarify concerns and
questions and to pave the way for a quicker and
smoother rate process," Whitmer said.
Whitmer also denied a charge by Insurance Com-
missioner Thomas Jones that the Blues failed to
complete their rate-filing work on time, thus possibly
delaying a final rate determination by the traditional
July 1 implementation date.
"This is false," Whitmer said, adding that the In-
surance Bureau began a new rate filing format and
turned it over to the Blues just a week ahead of the
due date for filing.
He also dismissed as "a flagrant disregard of the
facts" Jones' contention that the Blues are not doing
their best to control escalating health care costs.
Consumer hotline phones
WHERE TO CALL-Ralph Nader's mation to consumers with all types of
Public Citizen organization has com- housing problems, particularly those
piled a list of toll-free telephone hotlines involving discrimination.
where consumers may find assistance. -Interstate Commerce Commission:
k Here are some of them: 800-424-9321. Gives information on in-
-Consumer Product Safety Com- terstate moving regulations and
mission: 800-638-2666. For reports of in- receives complaints on moving
juries or deaths relating to hazardous problems and train and bus travel.
manufactured products and assists -National Highway Traffic Safety
consumers in evaluating the safety of Administration: 800-424-9393. Receives
products on sale, reports on auto safety problems and
-Fair Housing and Equal Oppor- gives information on auto recalls and
tunity: 800-638-6698. Furnishes infor- complaints about autos.
Superficiality undermines 'F.I.S. T. 'message
(Continued fro Pg9)
even try to answer such shades-of-gray
perplexities, in the process demeaning
its weighty subject into triviality.
THE FILM restricts its view of union
evolution to a fewv primitive over and
Johnny Kovak could and should have
been an absorbing mix of good and evil,
a modern-day Willie Stark or Charles
Foster Kane; In Stallone's tepid per-
ception he is merely a slightly tar-
nished white knight, a true American
nobleman who made a single error of
judgement and, largely through the
(Continued from Page 9)
ted his downtrodden station more than
his compatriots-he's the only one who
genuinely understands what they're up
against-yet remains equally indignant
over the abuses they endure. Although
there was supposedly a fair amount of
personal conflict between actors and
director during the shooting, one would
never suspect it from the dynamics of
the chemistry these three produce.
They give Blue Collar energy, and
above all, they lend.it a realism that in-
spires our belief in the futility of their
struggle, even if Schrader's contrived
situaions do not.
SCHRADER, SADLY, doesn't put
credibility very high on his list of
priorities. He'll set up any situation that
can score points for the film's thesis.
Particularly unbelievable is Pryor's
final about-face-not the fact that he
ends up selling out, but that he so ut-
terly loses his fighting spirit, his un-
willingness to be abducted into the
Schrader seems to derive little
pleasure from working through his
medium. His point comes through
crudely, contrivedly, and, aside from
nuances- in the individual performan-
ces, with litte flair. One feels that in
spite of all he's shown us, he still hasn't
genuinely reached the center of these
mens' lives, and explored why they are
so desperate to rectify their situation
(which, financially speaking, is far
frgrp byIrka}. eps tbs becuse
his characters are essentially vehicles,
corruption of his knave-like subor-
dinates, is forced to pay and pay. It is a
conception strikingly akin to Richard
Nixon's view of his own presidency, and
every bit as meretricious.
Even such a callow presentation of
Kovak seems too much for Stallone the
actor, who appears shockingly out of
his depth in this film. Perhaps Rocky
was beginner's luck, the story and role
fitting its creator like a glove. In
F.I.S.T. Stallone can still command a
charismatic presence, with that huge
hulk of a head towering on top of an
average-sized physique. But his
thespian tools prove severely limited:
never significant enough to supercede
Yet no amount of conviction can
compensate for the director turning his
characters into puppets, such as in the
final scene: Keitel, who's become an
FBI informer, marches through the
plant for the ostensible reason of
gathering the belongings from his
locker. He sees Pryor, now a foreman,
and the two get into a shouting match
(full of "honkeys" and "niggers") and
The whole incident is staeed simply
to make good Kotto's previous observation
that the system is designed to pit young
against old, black against white, etc.,
etc., It's at moments like this that Blue
Collar completely pushes its characters
aside for the sake of propaganda.
Perhaps Schrader needs a subject from
which he can remain one step removed.
For all of Blue Collar's assets, chances
are he has. the potential to make
something much more satisfying.
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He can cry on cue, make his voice
sound strained and weary in stressful
situations, but otherwise appears ut-
terly at a loss over how to portray this
most simplistic of protagonists.
His fellow actors fare little better:
The splendidly talented Melinda Dillon
is typically wasted in the miniscule role
of Mrs. Kovak, as is Peter Boyle as the
toadying F.I.S.T. boss Kovak even-
tually dumps. The more ample roles
are attacked with a near-unanimous
turgidityrbya cast which seems never
to have really had their hearts in this
vapid project in the first place. Chief
banality honors fall to Tony Lo Bianco
as the sinister head-honcho Mafioso,
whose manner and makeup job in his
early scenes comprises such a blatant
copy of Robert DeNiro's young Vito
Corleone that the viewer just wants to
cringe in embarrassment for him.
The New York Times' Vincent Canby
has attempted to justify F.I.S.T. with
the rather astounding assertion that the
film's profuse shortcomings are more
than counterbalanced by the fact that it
deals with such a "terribly interesting,
complicated subject," that its failures
don't really matter. In other words, in-
tent is everything, execution is nothing.
By such exercise of logic, the stead-
fastly comatose but devoutly well-
intentioned Stanley Kramer could
justly be proclaimed the greatest
director of all time.
I find nothing more offensive in films
than the systematic trashing of history,
the cheapening of a collective heritage.
At least such inanities as The Cassan-
dra Crossing or Smokey and the Bandit
didn't make themselves out to be more
than they v ere; For all its blustering
pretensions; F.I.S.T. isn't art, history
or even camp - it is pure con.
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