7.6/10
5,619
34 user 95 critic

Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (2015)

Best of Enemies (original title)
Trailer
2:33 | Trailer
A documentary on the series of televised debates in 1968 between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley.

Writers:

Robert Gordon (co-writer), Tom Graves (co-writer) | 1 more credit »
6 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This is an unashamedly opinionated film. In Gore Vidal's America, the political coup has already happened. The right have triumphed and the human values of the liberals have been consigned ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas D. Wrathall
Stars: Gore Vidal, Howard Auster, James Best
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When a noted white supremacist moves into their town, the residents of Leith, North Dakota do what they can to prevent him from taking control of the municipality.

Directors: Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker
Stars: Craig Cobb, Ryan Lenz, Amber Schatz
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary exploring the life and career of notorious Republican dirty trickster and longtime Trump adviser, Roger Stone, who helped create the real estate mogul's political career.

Directors: Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Roger Stone, Donald Trump, Paul Manafort
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In the final fifteen years of the life of legendary director Orson Welles he pins his Hollywood comeback hopes on a film, The Other Side of the Wind, in itself a film about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie.

Director: Morgan Neville
Stars: Alan Cumming, Peter Bogdanovich, Oja Kodar
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and other international artists of The Silk Road Project discuss their philosophies on music and culture.

Director: Morgan Neville
Stars: Yo-Yo Ma, Kinan Azmeh, Kayhan Kalhor
Comedy

Two lifelong enemies try to land the same sexy advertising client in a competition set up by their fathers, and in an all out war, the tomboy executives go from geek to chic, learning about themselves along the way.

Director: Donald Petrie
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A documentary looking at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.

Director: Alex Gibney
Stars: Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, Spanky Taylor
Weiner (2016)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An examination of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner's mayoral campaign and today's political landscape.

Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
Stars: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Jordan Zain Weiner
Only the Dead (2015)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Australian journalist Michael Ware's experiences in Iraq during the 2003 war and after.

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Michael Ware
Stars: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Michael Ware
The Wolfpack (2015)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Confined in an apartment from a New York housing project, the six Angulo brothers learned everything they know about the world through watching films and spend their time reenacting their favorite movies with intricate homemade costumes.

Director: Crystal Moselle
Stars: Bhagavan Angulo, Govinda Angulo, Jagadisa Angulo
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers.

Director: Morgan Neville
Stars: Fred Rogers, Joanne Rogers, John Rogers
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A family that survived the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Stars: Adi Rukun, M.Y. Basrun, Amir Hasan
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gore Vidal ... Himself - Debater (archive footage)
William F. Buckley ... Himself - Debater (archive footage)
Todd Gitlin ... Himself - Media Studies, Columbia University
Brooke Gladstone Brooke Gladstone ... Herself - Host, NPR's On the Media
Richard Wald Richard Wald ... Himself - Former President, NBC News
William Sheehan William Sheehan ... Himself - Former President, ABC News
Frank Rich ... Himself - Writer, New York Magazine
Sam Tanenhaus Sam Tanenhaus ... Himself - Biographer, William F. Buckley Jr.
Patricia Buckley Patricia Buckley ... Herself - Buckley's Wife (archive footage)
Lee Edwards Lee Edwards ... Himself - Historian, The Heritage Foundation
Reid Buckley Reid Buckley ... Himself - Buckley's Brother
Linda Bridges Linda Bridges ... Herself - Buckley's Personal Assistant
Fred Kaplan Fred Kaplan ... Himself - Author, Gore Vidal: A Biography
Matt Tyrnauer ... Himself - Vidal's Editor & Friend
Sam Donaldson ... Himself - Correspondent, ABC News (archive footage)
Edit

Storyline

'Best of Enemies' is a documentary about the legendary series of nationally televised debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance. 'Best of Enemies' delves into the entangled biographies of these two great thinkers and luxuriates in the language and the theater of their debates, begging the question, 'What has television done to the way we discuss politics in our democracy today?'

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Buckley vs. Vidal. 2 Men. 10 Debates. Television Would Never Be The Same.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$50,378, 2 August 2015

Gross USA:

$892,802

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$892,802
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film-makers shot an interview with Gore Vidal, but ultimately decided not to use it, so he only appears in archive footage. See more »

Quotes

Richard Wald: ABC was the third of the three networks. It would've been fourth, but there were only three.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a short scene after the credits showing footage of an interview with Buckley. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Provocative and terrific entertainment
9 August 2015 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

Gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions was still being offered by CBS and NBC in 1968, but ABC, lacking their resources, limited their coverage to a few hours in the evening and highlighted it with a ten-night debate between conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. and flamboyant liberal novelist and playwright Gore Vidal. These debates are chronicled in the powerful documentary Best of Enemies directed by Robert Gordon ("Johnny Cash's America") and Morgan Neville ("Twenty Feet From Stardom").

In addition to fully restored original broadcast footage, the film includes commentaries from people who knew Buckley and Vidal such as former TV talk show host Dick Cavett, journalist Frank Rich, authors Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan, Buckley biographer Sam Tanenhaus, Vidal's last magazine editor, Matt Tyrnauer among others, while actors Kelsey Grammar and John Lithgow read passages from the writings of both men.

Though both men had previously run for public office (Vidal for Congress, Buckley for Mayor of New York), their forte was not politics but writing. Buckley was the founder and editor of the influential conservative magazine The National Review, and Vidal was a controversial novelist and playwright whose sexually liberated views were in evidence in his novels "The City and the Pillar" and "Myra Breckinridge." Both men spoke in the accents of Eastern elites, what Neil Buckley, Bill's surviving brother, describes as "patrician, languid accents," yet both were erudite with acid tongues.

To say that Buckley and Vidal did not get along is like saying Bobby Kennedy and James Hoffa were not the best of friends. Vidal knew that Buckley had supported using nuclear weapons against North Vietnam and China, and called him "a bloodthirsty neurotic," while Buckley retorted, "We all know that your tendency is to be feline." The Democratic Convention was held in Chicago where protests against the Vietnam War and the subsequent police overreaction threatened to derail the nominating process, creating a highly-charged atmosphere for the debates that only enhanced the acrimony.

One of the highlights occurred in the ninth of ten debates where the debaters clashed over the extent of the police response against the demonstrators and both stepped out of their well-calculated cool, intellectual personas. The discussion began with the revelation that the police had removed a Viet Cong flag from the demonstration. While Vidal defended the right of the demonstrators to state their political views, Buckley noted that during World War II, people were free to ostracize pro-Nazi spokesman even though they were free to speak their views. Vidal responded by saying that "the only sort of crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself." Though the moderator Howard K. Smith warned both men against name calling, a red-faced Buckley, his hands trembling, shouted, "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in your goddamn face, and you'll stay plastered." It was a moment that Buckley regretted, though the feud continued with competing articles in Esquire Magazine and subsequent law suits. Best of Enemies is provocative and terrific entertainment but while the edited debates are pure theater, full of witty banter and relentless thrusts and parries, they are less than illuminating as a contribution to the troubling issues of the time and include no discussion of the most important issue of the day, the Vietnam War.

Although issues such as economic inequality, foreign involvements, and issues of morality and culture were discussed, the debates were not a conflict over positions on issues as much as they were a battle between two individuals convinced the other was a threat to the health and well-being of the country.

Many commentators in the film are full of nostalgia for the day when intellectuals were seen on television and point to today's cable news pundits screaming at each other (rather than the corporatization of the media and the over-dependence on ratings) as evidence of the decline of American television, but if the Buckley-Vidal debates are an example of the intellectual vitality of television in the sixties, I think I'd rather stick with Rachel Maddow.


11 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 34 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed