Movie #181 The Best of Enemies

A documentary covering the once famous/infamous characters of the left wing Gore Vidal and the right wing William F. Buckley.

The documentary covers the now mostly forgotten Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley and their equally forgotten debate on ABC about the 1968 presidential candidacy. I have to say I was in the probably large group of people who had no idea who these two people were and the film went a long way to filling me in, a fact I am very happy about. These two, and the debate they had represent a tonal shift in how American news organizations cover politics, and I am sure to an extent how they cover all news.

Through the lens of the film we see the backstory of both debates and their growing enmity for one another. But more importantly we see how the spectacle of watching two men get into a shouting match with one another beat out the dryer, more boring but far less enlightening straight coverage of the Republican and Democratic primaries. “The Best of Enemies does a great job of neither demonizing or canonizing either Vidal or Buckley, making your personal political views hardly germane to your own enjoyment.

While it does not set out to make any statement on the ethical legitimacy of either the far right or far left, its ultimate message is that the sensationalizing of our news media has caused their to be a lack of shared ideas and ideals. I feel like there are many people, myself included, who stand to gain quite a lot from a viewing of this film.

Not only does the film deliver a very important message but it does it in a way that also tells you a complete story. Too many documentaries lose sight of the fact that along with having important information they need to have an entertaining film to watch. A favorite reviewer of mine (YourMovieSucks, check him out) once said that a documentary should be good even if you don’t care/agree with the issue being raised. I can say with a fair bit of certainty that “The Best of Enemies” accomplishes this goal for the most part. In fact my biggest complaint was them taking breaks between the various debates to fill you in on the backstory and behind the scenes squabbles between the two.

I recommend watching “The Best of Enemies” to anyone who finds they lean only one way politically and to those who have an interest in politics in general. But more importantly I recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing two highly spirited people bounce off of one another and nearly tear each others throats out. 8.5/10

Available on Netflix Instant