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Point of Order Movie Review

mccarthy political bully time

For anyone interested in the McCarthy era, Point of Order is a must-see movie! The filmmakers had to pore over 188 hours of kinescopes in order to make their selections and still retain all the salient points of the hearings; editing down this gargantuan amount of footage to a reasonable running time must have been a formidable task indeed. Joseph McCarthy, who died of alcoholism within three years of the 1954 hearings, was a political careerist and not particularly interested in Communism until he discovered (after a speech) that he could use the issue to build a power base for himself. His pugnacious techniques were not universally admired in the Senate, but as one more cultured colleague put it, sometimes you needed someone like McCarthy to shake things up. While McCarthy was making political hash out of his opponents, his days were numbered, and it took sharp, folksy Joseph Welch just a few exchanges to make political hash out of HIM in front of millions of television viewers. Welch was so good and so concise at the job that Otto Preminger hired him to play a judge in 1959's Anatomy of a Murder. See why your grandparents and great grandparents raced home everyday to watch a middle-aged bully with a gin blossom nose (and with young bully Roy Cohn always at his side) dominate the air waves. McCarthy set the standard for ruthless investigatorial tenacity, made his opponent's lives hell for a while, and finally lost his career and his reputation when he tried to bully the wrong man at the wrong time while the whole nation was watching.

1964 97m/B D: Emile DeAntonio, Daniel Talbot.

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