The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover

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Rattling compulsively along through myth and history like some factoid TV mini-series, but constantly informed by a radical intelligence and humour, Cohen's analytical biopic surprisingly resolves into a complex investigation of the forces of realpolitik and sexual politics which created an arch-villain/monster from a moralist boy-scout lawyer. The movie may have the look of tabloid sleaze, but it never trades in the simplistic put-down or facile political optimism. If the idea of Hoover as a tragic figure hardly squares with the '70s consensus, then the playing, especially of Broderick Crawford as Hoover, does much to shift the prejudice; while at the point where post-Watergate cinema would usually present us with a revelatory crusader, Rip Torn's uptight FBI agent (our narrator) peters out into confused impotence. Genre fans can take comfort, however, since some expectations are happily served... Dillinger dies again.

By: PT

Release details

Duration: 112 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Larry Cohen
Screenwriter: Larry Cohen
Cast: Broderick Crawford
José Ferrer
Michael Parks
Ronee Blakley
Rip Torn
Celeste Holm
Michael Sacks
Dan Dailey
Raymond St Jacques
Howard da Silva
June Havoc
Lloyd Nolan
John Marley
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