MIDWAY: Vicarious victory

Tom Cruise is promoting his new movie Valkyrie — you have to pronounce it Valk-eye-ree — in which he plays Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. To spell it out: we have Tom Cruise, Nazis, a movie whose pre-release buzz was so ominous that Tom has to promote the arse out of it in every TV studio in America.

He claims to have “personally — personally! — helped hundreds of people get off drugs” using Scientology’s preposterous sauna-based detox programme, Narconon. And in the course of interviews on this subject, he is given to denouncing methadone largely on the basis that it was originally called adolphine after Adolf Hitler. This week, the best stop on Tom’s Please Love Me Again tour is MTV’s sublimely sycophantic chat with him, in which the interviewer kicks off by equating Jews and Scientologists as “two sometimes-persecuted groups”.

Please! While you could say the Jews have had their awkward moments down the years, does any of that really compare to L Ron Hubbard’s investigation on tax evasion charges? We don’t get to have the argument, alas, because what the interviewer wants to find out is whether Tom’s membership of a group of ghettoised multi-millionaire entertainers informed his decision to make the movie.

“When I was a kid I always wanted to kill Hitler,” is the Cruise response. “I hated that guy and everything he stood for.” Nutzies! I hate these guys! Aside from the amazing glimpse into the child that became the man — let’s just roll out this week’s Rosebud reference right now — the above statement appears to imply that the young Cruise dreamed there might be some tear in the space-time continuum that would actually permit him to travel back to an unspecified point between the end of the siege of Leningrad and the D-Day landings, and personally dispense justice.

Whom he hated both as a guy and because of the stuff he stood for. Instead, Tom would go on to become the highest-grossing motion picture star of his generation, but what a hollow victory that now seems set against his evident desire to have rid the world of the supreme leader of the Third Reich in a time-travelling coming-of-age drama.