The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover | Chicago Reader

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover

The obsessions of B-movie maker Larry Cohen—sex and politics—happen to dovetail with the neo-Freudian, neo-Marxist interests of the new breed of film academicians, and at least one critic I respect a great deal, Robin Wood, nominated Cohen as one of the most important talents to emerge in the 70s. As much as I sympathize with Cohen's aims and grungy independence, that's one nomination I can't second: his ideas are audacious, startling, and more than a little wacko, but his execution is insufferably shoddy. This comic strip history of the FBI portrays Hoover (Broderick Crawford) as the ultimate anal compulsive, terrified of his own sexuality and obsessed with the peccadilloes of others. The potential is there for screaming, outrageous black comedy, but the film degenerates into a series of stiff historical tableaux, depicting Great Moments in Government Scandal. With Jose Ferrer, Michael Parks, Ronee Blakley, and Rip Torn (1977).

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