Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Senator George McGovern
Photo: First Run

Directed & Written by: Stephen Vittoria.
Produced by: Frank Fischer & Stephen Vittoria.
Director of Photography: Patrick Kelly & Gilbert Yousefian.
Edited by: Jeff Sterling.
Music by: Robert Guillory.
Released by: First Run.
Country of Origin: USA. 125 min. Not Rated.
Narrated by: Amy Goodman.

In this fond remembrance of Senator George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, almost all of the usual suspects are here: Gloria Steinem, the ever-dry and blistering Gore Vidal, Warren Beatty, Gary Hart and Dick Gregory. Their colorful commentary is quite the contrast from the man they're praising. McGovern still comes across as the mild man from the South Dakota prairie, just as he did when he bucked the Democratic political machine and won his party's presidential nomination.

As an overview of America in the turbulent late '60s and early '70s, there's enough here to engage any news hound: the behind-the-scenes drama in both the '68 and '72 presidential elections; the infamous '68 Democratic Convention; the escalation of the Vietnam War; Kent State; and the Thomas Eagleton debacle. Though the overall view is flattering (the title says it all), the '72 Democratic Convention gets some drubbing. It's described as the most open political convention ever, but thoroughly disorganized. McGovern delivered his well-received acceptance speech late; it was in prime time - in Guam. The film barely touches upon the trails of the campaign itself, which was on the defensive after the convention and resulted in "the mother off all landslides" for the incumbent, Richard Nixon.

Narrated by Pacifica Radio's Amy Goodman, the documentary will appeal to those who like their political commentary with unbridled bite. Its introductory narration bemoans today's "morally bankrupt power brokers," while showing news footage of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. J. Edgar Hoover is described as "that pillar of American justice," and Democrat Henry "Scoop" Jackson, "the good senator from Boeing." Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright are also the recipients of criticism. The film's no-holds-barred approach is as opinionated as last year's political exposé Bush's Brain and, not surprisingly, Fahrenheit 9/11. Kent Turner
September 16, 2005



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