Best of Enemies


Action / Biography / Documentary / History / News

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

John Lithgow Photo
John Lithgow as Gore Vidal
Paul Newman Photo
Paul Newman as Himself
Kelsey Grammer Photo
Kelsey Grammer as William F. Buckley
Ronald Reagan Photo
Ronald Reagan as Himself
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
621.01 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 27 min
P/S ...
1.31 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 27 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gavin69428 / 10

A Microcosm of 1968 Debate

A documentary on the series of televised debates in 1968 between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley.

I am a bit confused by the use of John Lithgow and Kelsey Grammar for voices, but I suppose if you have to get anyone, you may as well get them. I don't know about Lithgow, but Grammar is a well-known conservative, so he is probably a fan of Buckley.

The film addresses homosexuality indirectly and I find it interesting that for the most part Vidal's sexuality is not a concern. It did not seem to hold him back. The film even briefly addresses Buckley's alleged homosexuality, which surprised me. Was he really gay as some have alleged, or was it the accent? (I suppose if we take his misogynist miniskirt comment at face value, he was straight!) According to the film, 1968 was the solidification of "identity politics" and the modern parties. I suppose that is true in many ways. More often people point to 1980, as this is when the religious aspects became so much bigger. With Nixon, the conservative party still had a number of things about it that today might be considered liberal. But if not 1980, then 1968 probably really did make a difference.

Reviewed by Quinoa19849 / 10

imagine these people on TV today!

Most people who come to Best of Enemies knows what the state of news media coverage is, especially in the realm of cable news. It's been bad for a long time (there's a very brief excerpt of the time when Jon Stewart called out Crossfire for the very problems that can be seem sprouting up in the film in the end credits). But what's so great about Best of Enemies is how you see that the groundwork laid at the beginning for what's been twisted into the barking (less talking) heads in coverage of the daily events (let alone political conventions) is seen as relatively cordial and sophisticated. Sure, William F. Buckley Jr and Gore Vidal might not be everyone's idea of a good time with a glass of beer (though that depends on what class system rank you're in),but, perhaps except for one major outburst from Buckley - which haunted him for years (or he just became obsessed with it like a cry-baby, you decide) - they were so evenly matched as far as their scope of intellectual prowess that it boggles the mind.

Over the course of Best of Enemies we get to see what these two men were like, before the debates in 1968 and then after, and there's this monumental point of view (probably totally correct) that the directors give which is that TV changed things for the public so much that two people arguing about this or that could change things, like concretely in people's minds. But past it being of interest in a sociological or political science interest is the emphasis that these two men *really* did not like one another. Perhaps there was some unspoken level of respect, that sort of look of 'hey, let's give them a show' (and apparently after one of the tenser debates, Buckley leaned over and almost paid a compliment that that's what they did). But watching the scenes here I can't imagine anyone walking away thinking it was just an act, and yet at the same time I think there was an element of the theatrical; one of the revelations is that Vidal tested some of his retorts to Buckley on staffers or crew before filming.

The documentary may be borderline on too much context in a way - the talking heads from (the late) Christopher Hitchens and Dick Cavett and Buckley's biographer shine some light on certain aspects of their personalities (how personally Buckley took things, and how Vidal kept things under lock and key what he showed on his face). It can even be said there isn't quite enough of the debates in the film, and that's the one thing keeping it from being a 10 out of 10. But sometimes the best movies are never long enough, and this is a case where I could watch another 30 to 60 minutes of this story, especially as it's set in the tumultuous time of 1968 at Republican and Democratic conventions (the latter being when Chicago went into a series of riots). As long as the filmmakers keep the focus on these two men looking at each other and sniping in sardonic and totally dead-serious ways, the film works wonders. And you also get thrown into the mood of the period through music that almost has the buzz of technology, of TV electronic-waves and such.

If the medium is/was the message, then having two men argue at a time when there were only three channels with ABC hosting it had to do something different to compete with Cronkite and the like (and as one person says in the doc, argument is sugar ans we are the flies) made the message clear: conflict and drama makes for much more enticing (and perhaps simply easier) viewing than watching straight, down-the-middle factual news reporting. Who needs the facts when you got the paragon of the Conservative right (Buckley, by the way, has that sort of smile and grin that is both charming and kind of creepy) and of the intellectual, hardcore left (Vidal, with his books making him like an unofficial if sometimes controversial arbiter of history). Check it out - and ponder if either of these men could last a minute on Fox news or even CNN.

Reviewed by LeonLouisRicci9 / 10

Historical Touchtone Effecting Television Journalism and Political Discourse

Considered a Pivotal Political TV Event that immediately and irreversibly Changed the way Television covered Controversy with Confrontation. Specifically Politics, Social Studies, and National Philosophical Divides.

William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal, two Popular and Influential Voices with Polarizing Opinions on just about everything, were Hired by ABC News to Flavor Their 1968 Convention Coverage to Opine on the "State of the Nation" and Connect it to the Republican/Democratic National Conventions.

It was New, Captivating, and Exciting Live Programming. What wasn't known at the Time was just how much..."The Whole World is Watching"...Slogan would have Resonated even without this Breakthrough Televised Event, because on the Streets of Chicago and Bleeding onto the Convention Floor, the Massive Demonstration by Anti-War Protesters became a Spontaneous and Iconic Video Record of a Nation seemingly in a Nuclear Meltdown.

It is not surprising the 9th Airing of the 10 Scheduled "Debates" that was Broadcast just after the Aforementioned Police-Demonstrators Confrontation, would Result in a Meltdown of its own.

Gore Vidal called Buckley a "Crypto or Neo Nazi" and Buckley, Outraged, and on Live TV shouted..."Listen you Queer, stop calling me a Nazi or I'll punch you in the Goddam face..."

The Documentary Centers around those Personal Attacks and the Ramifications and Confrontations between the Two that continued till "Death Put Them Apart." But it also Contains Footage Before and After and in a Limited Contextual Framework, the State of the Country on the" Left" and the "Right" at the Time.

Highly Recommended.

Note…The complete footage of all 10 Televised Debates is on YouTube.

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