Best of enemies

American politics is so complicated compared to Canadian politics. And much more fun. Take the 1968 U.S. Democratic and Republican conventions, and ABC’s decision to broadcast a series of debates with William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal. Buckley is today considered one of most important figures of American conservatism of the time. He held views that now are considered racist, but were at the time the norm. equally controversial, Gore Vidal was a gay novelist (although he couldn’t stand labels like gay, homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual), author and essayist who was Buckley’s polar opposite. They hated being in the same room. So much so that it became the political TV event to watch, and put third-place ABC News finally on the map. The most memorable moment happened during the Democratic conventions as they discussed the violent mishandling of protestors by the Chicago police. On-air Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi”. And Buckley said “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.” That type of things were just not said on American TV in 1968. Buckley regretted having said it until the day he died. Best of enemies is so much fun to watch. It is the perfect film for a political junkie like me. Both Buckley and Vidal wrote newspaper articles about the debates, and it is voiced in the film by Kelsey Grammer (a Republican himself) as Buckley and John Lithgow reading Vidal. Great fun!

Quote: When Buckley died on 27 February 2008 at 82, Gore Vidal said “I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins, forever, those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.” Gore Vidal died on 31 July 2012 at 86.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Best of enemies

Directed by:
Robert Gordon
Morgan Neville

Screenplay by:
Robert Gordon
Morgan Neville

87 min.

Rated14A

 

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