Documentary filmmaker Gilbert Monson has stirred controversy before but never to the extent that he does in his latest film, “Whos Dunnit! How the Grinch was Framed.”
Monson interviewed dozens at the heart of infamous 1957 theft of Christmas long believed to have been perpetrated by Michael Howard, better known as The Grinch.
Monson said he wants to clear Howard, who died in prison in 1975 while serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted by an all-Who jury.
“I admit it, I used to believe the story like everybody else, but then I started looking into it and I’ve never seen such clear injustice,” Monson said. “He got sleigh-railroaded!”
Monson first earned acclaim in 2004 with “The Good Wolf” in which he claimed proved that Little Red Riding Hood entrapped a peaceful woodland creature with a false tale of kidnapping. That paved the way for his 2010 Oscar-nominated blockbuster “Tragic Beans: Why Jack’s Beanstalk Was an Instrument of Imperialism.”
In his new film, Monson reveals startling new evidence in the case, including The Grinch’s medical records.
“I can’t tell you how I got these,” Monson says in an early scene where he pulls out several manilla folders from a briefcase. “But it shows right here that one Michael Howard suffered a severe lower-back injury in 1954 while working at a mine in Whatberg. He was on disability thereafter. Also, I have some school records that show Michael’s IQ was 82 and he took remedial classes up until he dropped out in eighth grade. Now you tell me, how’s a guy with a bad back and an eighth-grade education mastermind one of the biggest heists of all time?”
In another scene, expert crime-scene investigator Dr. Pembroke Andrews makes a startling discovery.
“I found some touch DNA on several of the packages allegedly found in Mr. Howard’s home and I can say with 99.7 percent certainty that the DNA belonged to someone with a full-sized heart,” Andrews said.
Also interviewed is a person in full shadow with a disguised voice who claims that he spent Christmas Eve of 1957 – the day of the crime – smoking pot with The Grinch.
“Why you think his fur was so green?” said the person billed only as Cabbage Man. “He never liked to smoke a joint ‘cause he was afraid his paw hair would catch fire, but, whoo-wee, he could work over this bong we called ‘the hundred hitter’ like he was Dizzy Gillespie playing a trumpet. The day in question, he was on my floor talking about ‘Man, why your ceiling eyeballin’ me?’ and ‘If God made a stone so big even He couldn’t lift it…dammit that mother [expletive deleted] ceiling is eyeballin’ me again!’ If that cat stole Christmas then I’m DB Cooper.”
Monson spends the second half of his film building a case against the true criminal.
“You ask the wrong question. It’s not the person, it’s the reason,” Monson said. “All the gifts and the big Who feast were returned the next day, so there really wasn’t a crime committed, at least not until they arrested Michael.”
The film goes on to show that Cindy Lou Who’s father, Whobaty Whobaty Who, was the mayor of Whoville. The elder Who, according to an article in the local newspaper, the Who Dis, hosted two unnamed men from Washington DC in June of 1957. The men were described as wearing all black, including sunglasses, and never smiling. Two months prior, an article in the newspaper disproved a local rumor that a crew of electrical workers had discovered oil while digging telephone poles.
“They did find something…but it wasn’t oil,” Monson said in the film. “You know what can cause your skin to turn fuzzy and green after prolonged exposure? Uranium!”
Previously unreleased environmental reports show that a large uranium deposit was found under a mountain near Whoville, land that just so happened to be in the Howard family for a century. Also shown is an op-ed, written by Max, The Grinch’s dog, entitled “My Master Was Innocent” in which he claimed that Mayor Who and others approached
The Grinch numerous times about selling his land, including once when two “government types” offered him a million dollars, but The Grinch always refused.
Max, who had been living on a nearby farm since Howard’s arrest, disappeared the next day with authorities claiming he ran away, though Monson found the dog’s leash in a police evidence locker. It appeared to have been cut.
“With Michael in hot water, he had to sell to pay his legal fees,” Monson says in the dramatic final scene. “Whoville Realty purchased the property, then immediately sold it for double the price to the Jensen Group, part of a consortium controlled by American General, which was based in the Cayman Islands. That, however, was a shell corporation owned by Gruber Inc. which is a division of Northrup Grumman – the leading manufacturer of nuclear warheads for the U.S. government from 1959 to 1992, and you can’t make nukes without what? Uranium! It’s plain to me, don’t you see, that this was a conspiracy!”
Cindy Lou Who, now 72, called the accusations “ridiculous.”
“This guy is clearly a provocateur. I wish the theaters wouldn’t show this garbage but I’m sure a lot of people will go see it,” Who said. “Yes, a lot of people will be watching. Maybe Mr. Monson will become even more famous than he already is. So famous that he’ll be recognized wherever he goes. So many people will know exactly what he looks like. Who is friends are. Where he lives. Where he buys groceries. The kind of car he drives. So many adoring fans, maybe even some who are obsessed with you and want to get close, or maybe some who are pretending to be fans who want to get even closer, Mr. Monson. So close.”