Tail Gunner Joe (1977)

TV Movie   |  Not Rated   |    |  Biography, Drama

Tail Gunner Joe (1977) Poster

A dramatization of the life of Joe McCarthy, the alcoholic senator from Wisconsin whose tactics of accusing prominent people of Communist sympathies were initially designed to give him a ... See full summary »

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30 April 2017 | kevinolzak
| Peter Boyle and John Carradine
"Tail Gunner Joe" was a three hour blockbuster for NBC on Feb 6 1977, detailing the rise and fall of Senator Joe McCarthy, played by the imposing Peter Boyle, then riding high on his multifaceted Creature in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein." The left wing slant of the narrative shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but Boyle's inherent likability shines through, enabling the more unsavory traits of McCarthy's nature to slide by in somewhat engaging fashion. Even at this length it's never really boring, guest stars galore offering their version of events to reporter Heather Menzies, the first up being John Carradine's 'Wisconsin Farmer,' discussing Joe's background before going into politics: "they say he left his mark on this country, I don't know about that, but he certainly left his chickens!" Boyle was nominated for an Emmy for his performance, as was Patricia Neal, but only Burgess Meredith took home the trophy as Joseph Welch, the attorney for the US Army who tried to turn McCarthy's accusations back on him, saved for the climax. In actual fact, Welch had indeed hired a young lawyer, Fred Fisher, who truly was employed by a Communist front group, the National Lawyers Guild, so in hindsight 'Tail Gunner Joe' successfully called out Welch, though neither man lived long after these hearings. John Forsythe, Jean Stapleton, Ned Beatty, and Andrew Duggan's Dwight Eisenhower come off best, with Richard M. Dixon still typecast as Vice President Nixon!

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