18 April 2012 | mobile707
First of all, I admit this is not really a review of "Vanished". I have not seen it. But I do want to comment on the real-life episode that reportedly inspired the novel on which "Vanished" is based: About 4 weeks prior to the 1964 presidential election, Lyndon Johnson's chief-of-staff -- a 46-year-old husband and father of six named Walter Jenkins -- was arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct following an incident in the men's bathroom of a YMCA located in Washington, DC. Jenkins had worked for LBJ since 1939 and had been his top administrative aide since 1945. It later emerged that Jenkins had been involved in a similar incident in January 1959 (while Johnson was Senate Majority Leader) but that had been covered up somehow.
In 1964, homosexuality was still such a taboo subject in American society that the media simply did not discuss the matter for about 7 days following the arrest, even though the reporters knew about it. Finally, after a week, the story "broke", even though most public discussion took place without mentioning the word "homosexuality".
Johnson's Republican opponent, Senator Goldwater of Arizona, actually knew Jenkins from their service in the Air Force Reserves and his comments were very restrained. Goldwater's VP-nominee, an obscure Congressman from Buffalo NY, was a bit less subtle, but even so the whole matter received a tiny fraction of the attention it would have received in later years. (Imagine if George W. Bush's chief-of-staff had been arrested for same-sex solicitation a month prior to the 2004 election. That would not have been simply "the lead" story in the national media, it would have been virtually THE ONLY story.)
The author Fletcher Knebel published the novel "Vanished" in 1968, about 3-4 years after the Jenkins episode, and then the TV-movie was originally aired in March 1971. So the movie was not -- as another reviewer wrote -- "filmed during the height of the Watergate scandal", which I think most people would place 2-3 years later.