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Best of Enemies (2015)Best of Enemies (2015)

Best of Enemies (2015)

An engrossing and entertaining look at an iconic series of American political debates in the late 1960s.

Documentary, History

best
THE VERY BEST

9.1

movie

United States of America

English

Discussion-sparking, Instructive, Smart

2015

Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon

Christopher Hitchens, Dick Cavett, Gore Vidal

87 min

Synopsis

A documentary about the legendary series of nationally televised debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance. Best of Enemies delves into the entangled biographies of these two great thinkers, and luxuriates in the language and the theater of their debates, begging the question, "What has television done to the way we discuss politics in our democracy today?"

Our Take

9.1
The Staff

Do today’s political talk shows often feel like meek, scripted, and predictable affairs to you? Would you rather have that euphoric feeling you get when watching someone smart and eloquent talk about important ideas? Multiply that by two and you get Best of Enemies. In 1968, ABC covered the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach and the historic Democratic National Convention in Chicago by airing a 10-part series of nationally televised debates between two ideologically opposed and sharp-minded public intellectuals: Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. The former was an ardent and openly bisexual liberal and progressive. The latter an elitist cultural conservative, whose magazine, National Review, vowed to always support the most far-right candidate viable for office. This confrontational set-up is not only credited with ushering in an era of pundit politics, but also with producing some of the most entertaining intellectual debate ever to be seen on TV. When’s the last time you saw anybody unironically being called a “crypto-Nazi” on national television?

Comments

T
Trevor

Goodness me. Gore Vidal did so much more than ‘write movies & books around gay sex back in the ’60;s’. He was a fiercely intelligent intellectual and admirable human being who just happened to be homosexual. I would certainly have thought twice before entering into any debate with him. I would love to have him around now to watch him lay waste to Mr. Donald Trump and his ilk.

Comments

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