In this hard-hitting biopic, renta-scumbag Woods plays Roy Cohn, known during the Communist witch-hunts of the '50s as 'Joe McCarthy's strong right hand'. On his sickbed, dying of AIDS, Cohn is haunted by the ghosts of those he persecuted as a result of his own twisted self-loathing - many of them Jews (like the Rosenbergs) or gays (like himself) - while reflecting on his headline-grabbing victories and behind-the-scenes defeats that 'I had to fight someone to stay strong'. Adapted from Nicholas von Hoffman's biography, the film emphasises Cohn's obsession with loyalty, a lesson learned early from his mother and one which (when he pulled strings to get his rich kid lover out of the army) was to sow the seeds of his destruction. The dialogue-heavy script and claustrophobic, over-dressed interiors betray the film's cable TV origins, but the direction is admirably controlled and the acting first rate, notably Baker's McCarthy and Grant as Cohn's domineering mother.
Cast and crew
James Woods Joe Don Baker Pat Hingle Joseph Bologna Frederic Forrest Lee Grant Josef Sommer Tovah Feldshuh Allen Garfield