In response to my post about the Chicken Coop Murders, I received a comment from a reader who seemed to have inside information about the film Changeling. I have responded to him and feel that it is important enough to make a new post about it. Here is my reply to Dan Dassow and below my comment is what he had originally wrote to me…
I strongly disagree that Gordon Stewart Northcott played a minor role in Changeling. If not for his crimes, there would be no film. He and his mother were the ROOT cause of why Christine’s son disappeared. Clint Eastwood changed historical facts by excluding the mother from the crimes against Christine’s son and the other boys.
“Straczynski [the screenwriter] said she [Christine, main character of Changeling and the mother of one of the victims] was the only person in the story without a hidden agenda,”
This is incorrect. The children also had no agenda and they were victims of a crime. If they had a chance to tell their story, I am certain that they would want society to know that women often participate in violent crimes against children. Those boys deserve the whole truth to be told, not a watered down version that excludes a woman.
It matters not if Sarah Louisa Northcott confessed to the killings ‘only in an effort to try and save her son’ –even more of a crime. She lied to save a degenerate man who committed the worst atrocities on children. She mentally and emotionally took part in those crimes. Even if she never laid a hand on the boys, she did EVERYTHING that Gordon did to those boys.
The victims of Gordon Northcott were also victims of his mother’s silent complicity in the crimes; they deserve to have their entire truth told in all forms of media and entertainment.
Dan Dassow wrote: Sarah Louise Northcott confessed to killing Walter Collins. Because she confessed, her case did not go to trial. Superior Court Judge Morton sentenced her to life imprisonment on December 31, 1928, sparing her from execution because she was a woman.
The title of the film is Changeling (2008) not The Changeling.
Changeling was told from the perspective of Christine Collins. Gordon Stewart Northcott played a minor role in Changeling. The film was not about Gordon Stewart Northcott or his mother, Sarah Louise Northcott. That story would best be told through a documentary film or television program.
I will not argue the merits of excluding Sarah Louise Northcott from Changeling. However, this was not Clint Eastwood decision but the decision of the screenwriter, J. Michael Straczynski. He chose to avoid focusing on the atrocities of the Wineville murders in favor of telling the story from Collins’ perspective; Straczynski said she was the only person in the story without a hidden agenda, and it was her tenacity—as well as the legacy the case left throughout California’s legal system—that had attracted him to the project. He said, “My intention was very simple: to honor what Christine Collins did.”
According to the screenwriter of Changeling, J. Michael Straczynski:
“Yes, Louisa Northcott confessed to the killings but ONLY in an effort to try and save her son (with whom she was much closer than need be) from execution. After Northcott was executed, she recanted and the courts released her because other than her word, given to save Gordon, there was zero evidence that she had done anything. Another dead end that didn’t deserve screen time.
“You cannot — CANNOT — put every single detail of a case into a two-hour-plus movie without it turning into a twelve hour miniseries. I opted to leave out those threads which dead-ended, leaving out things that DIDN’T happen so that there was time to focus on what DID happen, precise in order to respect and show what happened to those kids. “