The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover


1h 52m 1977
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover

Brief Synopsis

The life of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is dramatized. Some of the notable successes of his career with the bureau are shown, including the shooting of notorious gangster John Dillinger in Chicago and Hoover's first arrest. Hoover's homosexuality, his decadent private life, and his propensity for using blackmail to gain support are also explored.

Film Details

Also Known As
Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Drama
Release Date
1977
Distribution Company
American International Pictures; Itc Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

The life of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is dramatized. Some of the notable successes of his career with the bureau are shown, including the shooting of notorious gangster John Dillinger in Chicago and Hoover's first arrest. Hoover's homosexuality, his decadent private life, and his propensity for using blackmail to gain support are also explored.

Cast

Broderick Crawford

J Edgar Hoover

Jose Ferrer

Lionel Mccoy

Michael Parks

Robert F Kennedy

Ronee Blakley

Carrie Dewitt

Rip Torn

Dwight Webb

Celeste Holm

Florence Hollister

Michael Sacks

Melvin Purvis

Dan Dailey

Clyde Tolson

Raymond St. Jacques

Martin Luther King Jr

Andrew Duggan

Lyndon B Johnson

John Marley

Dave Hindley

Howard Da Silva

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

June Havoc

J Edgar Hoover'S Mother

James Wainwright

Young J Edgar Hoover

Lloyd Nolan

Attorney General Stone

Ellen Barber

Fbi Secretary

Lloyd Gough

Walter Winchell

Brad Dexter

Alvin Karpas

Jennifer Nicole Lee

Ethel Brunette

George Plimpton

Quentin Reynolds

Jack Cassidy

Damon Runyon

William Jordan

John F Kennedy

Henderson Forsythe

Harry Suydam

George Wallace

Senator Joseph Mccarthy

Fred J Scollay

Putnam

William Wellman Jr.

Dwight Webb Senior

Art Lund

Benchley

Mary Alice Moore

Miss Bryant

Jim Antonio

Senator Mckellar

Gregory Abels

President'S Aide

Dan Resin

President'S Adviser

James Dixon

Reilly

Pennie Dupont

Newscaster

Alvin Miles

Valet

John Bay

Heywood Brown

Brooks Morton

Earl Warren

Richard M Dixon

Richard M Nixon

James Dukas

Frank The Waiter

Ron Faber

Hijacker

Ed Masy

Fbi Agent

Hanns Manship

Dana Rowe

Fbi Agent

Colin Bremmen

Fbi Agent

Jack Drummond

Fbi Agent

Joe Norton

Fbi Agent

Ken Harvey

Fbi Agent

Paul Thomas

Fbi Agent

Sam Crew

Fbi Agent

Margolyn Curtis

Stewardess

Tanya Roberts

Stewardess

Larry Pines

Kelly

John Stefano

Harry

Wyman Kane

Senator

Gordon Zimmerman

Lepke

Marty Lee

Media Man

Reno Garrel

Officer

Frank Kohnbach

White House Aide

Marshall Gordon

White House Aide

Joe Mayo

White House Aide

Frank Arrowsmith

Newspaperman

Gwynn Gillis

Bruce Weitz

Film Details

Also Known As
Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover
MPAA Rating
Genre
Biography
Drama
Release Date
1977
Distribution Company
American International Pictures; Itc Entertainment Group

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover


Plagued with scandal and controversy, the life and career of J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, was rife with filmmaking potential. Five years after Hoover's death, Larry Cohen brought his story to the big screen with The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977). The film chronicles over 40 years in Hoover's life from his appointment as director to his death in 1972. High points include his war against gangsters during the Great Depression, his pursuit of communists (the Red Scare) and government homosexuals (the Lavender Scare), uncovering mafia connections and striking fear in the hearts of presidents and other people in positions of power. The film also sheds light on Hoover's fixation with his mother, his obsessive devotion to his work, his potential homosexuality, his close relationship with Clyde Tolson and his fascination with taping FBI targets during their most intimate moments. Hoover was known to say "there are no secrets in government," yet he himself was a fiercely private man. Cohen's film blows open the lid to reveal the man behind the myth.

For the lead role of J. Edgar Hoover, Cohen considered Robert Duvall and Charles Durning. George C. Scott contacted Cohen with interest in the part but by that point Cohen had already cast Broderick Crawford. In an interview, Cohen said, "Broderick Crawford was letter perfect, never missed a call and was always on time." This was a plum role for an actor who might otherwise have been considered past his prime. After his success with Born Yesterday (1950) and the TV show Highway Patrol, which ended in 1959, a leading part in a big production was an opportunity not to be missed. James Wainwright was cast as young Hoover, a television actor with only a handful of movie roles to his name. Both Crawford and Wainwright bore close resemblances not only to Hoover but to each other.

Cohen and his team took great pains to build a fine ensemble cast that would play all the key figures in Hoover's life. These include: Robert F. Kennedy (Michael Parks), John F. Kennedy (William Jordan), Martin Luther King Jr. (Raymond St. Jacques), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Howard Da Silva), President Lyndon B. Johnson (Andrew Duggan), Walter Winchell (Lloyd Gough), Senator Joseph McCarthy (George Wallace), Hoover's rival Melvin Purvis (Michael Sacks) and Hoover's mom (June Havoc). Fictional characters included spurned love interests Florence Hollister, a wealthy widow played by Celeste Holm and Carrie DeWitt, a prostitute played by Ronee Blakley. Jose Ferrer plays Lionel McCoy, Hoover's lifelong friend, and Rip Torn narrates as Dwight Webb Jr. In his final film role, Dan Dailey plays Clyde Tolson, FBI Deputy Director and longtime partner of Hoover. It's also the final film for Jack Cassidy who died shortly before the film was released.

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover was written, produced and directed by Cohen who worked his way up from writing teleplays and TV scripts to directing low-budget horror films and bigger productions. This movie combines Cohen's classic pulp style with a documentary style of filmmaking. The original plan to make a three-hour movie at $3 million was changed to a more reasonable 111 minutes and $1 million. Cohen hired composer Miklos Rozsa who wrote a dramatic score performed by the London Philharmonic Symphony.

For Cohen, authenticity was key. He hired John M. Crewdson, an FBI expert and writer as his technical advisor and even included figures from Hoover's life including his barber and the waiter at his favorite restaurant. Cohen wanted to film in Hoover's world but that was easier said than done. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Cohen wanted to recreate the RFK assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles but was denied by hotel management. Getting permission from the federal government to film at the FBI headquarters, the Department of Justice building and the FBI training Academy was no easy task. This is where the casting of Dan Dailey came in handy. When First Lady Betty Ford, a big fan of Dailey's, heard he was in town, she invited him and Broderick Crawford for lunch at the White House. Seizing on this opportunity, Cohen called the Department of Justice asking about access to the locations he sought and name dropping this recent connection with the First Lady. In an later interview, Cohen remembered, "they put me on hold and then came back to say, 'When do you want to come?' We filmed everywhere after that!" When not filming historical reenactments on the MGM backlot, shortly before it was demolished, Cohen shot at The Mayflower Hotel and The Sheraton Hotel, two locations Hoover frequented and Hoover's home. The film wrapped up in just four weeks and on budget.

MGM, 20th Century-Fox and Warner Bros., all liked the film but turned it down in fear of the FBI's potential wrath, so it was American International Pictures (AIP) that came to the rescue and picked up Cohen's film for distribution. They made the big mistake of screening it at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to an audience of government officials who didn't care for how the film painted the U.S. government in an unflattering light. The film was nothing if not politicized depicting politicians as dishonest and hypocritical. Cohen said, "there were no good guys, all bad guys." At the start of the film the following warning appears: "This motion picture was filmed on actual locations at the F.B.I. but without the approval or censorship of the Bureau."

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover had a limited run in five cities. It did not perform well and quickly moved to TV. It got mixed reviews with Variety claiming the film "may be the motion picture industry's first historical horror story." According to a 2017 interview with Larry Cohen, The Washington Post tried to destroy the movie. He said, "at the end of the movie it stated Woodward and Bernstein got all their information from the FBI. And it turned out years later that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, the acting director of the FBI at the time." Cohen was clearly ahead of his time. The film was deemed profitable due to some clever maneuvering on the part of AIP who sold the film to a tax shelter group. Cohen got a $150,000 bonus right off the bat and the film netted $400,000 in profits despite its unsuccessful theatrical run. Over the years, the film has enjoyed repertory and festival screenings in the US and abroad and is considered one of Cohen's underrated achievements.

By Raquel Stecher
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover

Plagued with scandal and controversy, the life and career of J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, was rife with filmmaking potential. Five years after Hoover's death, Larry Cohen brought his story to the big screen with The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977). The film chronicles over 40 years in Hoover's life from his appointment as director to his death in 1972. High points include his war against gangsters during the Great Depression, his pursuit of communists (the Red Scare) and government homosexuals (the Lavender Scare), uncovering mafia connections and striking fear in the hearts of presidents and other people in positions of power. The film also sheds light on Hoover's fixation with his mother, his obsessive devotion to his work, his potential homosexuality, his close relationship with Clyde Tolson and his fascination with taping FBI targets during their most intimate moments. Hoover was known to say "there are no secrets in government," yet he himself was a fiercely private man. Cohen's film blows open the lid to reveal the man behind the myth. For the lead role of J. Edgar Hoover, Cohen considered Robert Duvall and Charles Durning. George C. Scott contacted Cohen with interest in the part but by that point Cohen had already cast Broderick Crawford. In an interview, Cohen said, "Broderick Crawford was letter perfect, never missed a call and was always on time." This was a plum role for an actor who might otherwise have been considered past his prime. After his success with Born Yesterday (1950) and the TV show Highway Patrol, which ended in 1959, a leading part in a big production was an opportunity not to be missed. James Wainwright was cast as young Hoover, a television actor with only a handful of movie roles to his name. Both Crawford and Wainwright bore close resemblances not only to Hoover but to each other. Cohen and his team took great pains to build a fine ensemble cast that would play all the key figures in Hoover's life. These include: Robert F. Kennedy (Michael Parks), John F. Kennedy (William Jordan), Martin Luther King Jr. (Raymond St. Jacques), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Howard Da Silva), President Lyndon B. Johnson (Andrew Duggan), Walter Winchell (Lloyd Gough), Senator Joseph McCarthy (George Wallace), Hoover's rival Melvin Purvis (Michael Sacks) and Hoover's mom (June Havoc). Fictional characters included spurned love interests Florence Hollister, a wealthy widow played by Celeste Holm and Carrie DeWitt, a prostitute played by Ronee Blakley. Jose Ferrer plays Lionel McCoy, Hoover's lifelong friend, and Rip Torn narrates as Dwight Webb Jr. In his final film role, Dan Dailey plays Clyde Tolson, FBI Deputy Director and longtime partner of Hoover. It's also the final film for Jack Cassidy who died shortly before the film was released. The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover was written, produced and directed by Cohen who worked his way up from writing teleplays and TV scripts to directing low-budget horror films and bigger productions. This movie combines Cohen's classic pulp style with a documentary style of filmmaking. The original plan to make a three-hour movie at $3 million was changed to a more reasonable 111 minutes and $1 million. Cohen hired composer Miklos Rozsa who wrote a dramatic score performed by the London Philharmonic Symphony. For Cohen, authenticity was key. He hired John M. Crewdson, an FBI expert and writer as his technical advisor and even included figures from Hoover's life including his barber and the waiter at his favorite restaurant. Cohen wanted to film in Hoover's world but that was easier said than done. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Cohen wanted to recreate the RFK assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles but was denied by hotel management. Getting permission from the federal government to film at the FBI headquarters, the Department of Justice building and the FBI training Academy was no easy task. This is where the casting of Dan Dailey came in handy. When First Lady Betty Ford, a big fan of Dailey's, heard he was in town, she invited him and Broderick Crawford for lunch at the White House. Seizing on this opportunity, Cohen called the Department of Justice asking about access to the locations he sought and name dropping this recent connection with the First Lady. In an later interview, Cohen remembered, "they put me on hold and then came back to say, 'When do you want to come?' We filmed everywhere after that!" When not filming historical reenactments on the MGM backlot, shortly before it was demolished, Cohen shot at The Mayflower Hotel and The Sheraton Hotel, two locations Hoover frequented and Hoover's home. The film wrapped up in just four weeks and on budget. MGM, 20th Century-Fox and Warner Bros., all liked the film but turned it down in fear of the FBI's potential wrath, so it was American International Pictures (AIP) that came to the rescue and picked up Cohen's film for distribution. They made the big mistake of screening it at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to an audience of government officials who didn't care for how the film painted the U.S. government in an unflattering light. The film was nothing if not politicized depicting politicians as dishonest and hypocritical. Cohen said, "there were no good guys, all bad guys." At the start of the film the following warning appears: "This motion picture was filmed on actual locations at the F.B.I. but without the approval or censorship of the Bureau." The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover had a limited run in five cities. It did not perform well and quickly moved to TV. It got mixed reviews with Variety claiming the film "may be the motion picture industry's first historical horror story." According to a 2017 interview with Larry Cohen, The Washington Post tried to destroy the movie. He said, "at the end of the movie it stated Woodward and Bernstein got all their information from the FBI. And it turned out years later that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, the acting director of the FBI at the time." Cohen was clearly ahead of his time. The film was deemed profitable due to some clever maneuvering on the part of AIP who sold the film to a tax shelter group. Cohen got a $150,000 bonus right off the bat and the film netted $400,000 in profits despite its unsuccessful theatrical run. Over the years, the film has enjoyed repertory and festival screenings in the US and abroad and is considered one of Cohen's underrated achievements. By Raquel Stecher

George Plimpton, 1927-2003


George Plimpton, the wry, self-effacing author whose engaging film appearances enlivened many movies over the years, died of a heart attack on September 25 in his Manhattan apartment. He was 76. George Ames Plimpton was born on March 18, 1927 in New York City. The son of a diplomat, he was well connected to high society. A scholarly man of the letters, hip, urbane bohemians knew him for decades as the unpaid editor to the much respected literary quarterly, The Paris Review, which introduced emerging authors such as Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac. In 1963, the gaunt, unassuming Plimpton documented his time training with the Detroit Lions, and turned the antics into a shrewd, witty piece of sports fulfillment, Paper Lion. The film was adapted for the big screen by Alex March in 1968 with Alan Alda playing the role of Plimpton. That same year, he made his film debut as a reporter in Gordon Douglas' police thriller The Detective (1968) starring Frank Sinatra and followed that up with an amusing cameo as a gunman shot my John Wayne in Howard Hawks' Rio Lobo (1970). A few more cameos came up over the years, but it wasn't until the '90s that he proved he himself a capable performer and found regular film work: an appropriate role as a talk show moderator in Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate's (1991), the president's lawyer in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995); a psychologist in Gus Van Zandt's Good Will Hunting (1997); a clubgoer in Whit Stillman's discursive drama The Last Day's of Disco (1998); and a very comical doctor in Jean- Marie Poire's Just VisitingThe Simpsons playing a professor who runs a fixed spelling bee! He is survived by his wife Sara Whitehead Dudley and four children. Michael T. Toole

George Plimpton, 1927-2003

George Plimpton, the wry, self-effacing author whose engaging film appearances enlivened many movies over the years, died of a heart attack on September 25 in his Manhattan apartment. He was 76. George Ames Plimpton was born on March 18, 1927 in New York City. The son of a diplomat, he was well connected to high society. A scholarly man of the letters, hip, urbane bohemians knew him for decades as the unpaid editor to the much respected literary quarterly, The Paris Review, which introduced emerging authors such as Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac. In 1963, the gaunt, unassuming Plimpton documented his time training with the Detroit Lions, and turned the antics into a shrewd, witty piece of sports fulfillment, Paper Lion. The film was adapted for the big screen by Alex March in 1968 with Alan Alda playing the role of Plimpton. That same year, he made his film debut as a reporter in Gordon Douglas' police thriller The Detective (1968) starring Frank Sinatra and followed that up with an amusing cameo as a gunman shot my John Wayne in Howard Hawks' Rio Lobo (1970). A few more cameos came up over the years, but it wasn't until the '90s that he proved he himself a capable performer and found regular film work: an appropriate role as a talk show moderator in Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate's (1991), the president's lawyer in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995); a psychologist in Gus Van Zandt's Good Will Hunting (1997); a clubgoer in Whit Stillman's discursive drama The Last Day's of Disco (1998); and a very comical doctor in Jean- Marie Poire's Just Visiting

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States March 1979

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1977

Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival (Cohen Retrospective) in New York City (French Institute) April 24 - May 3, 1998.

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival (Cohen Retrospective) in New York City (French Institute) April 24 - May 3, 1998.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1977

Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Contemporary Cinema) March 14-30, 1979.)