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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6.7/10
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3 September 2003 | dtucker86
Peter Boyle is brilliant!
Peter Boyle is a truly amazing character actor! He is perhaps best known for his role on the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. He has an amazing body of work to his credit. He first became a star in 1970 when he played a hardhat bigot in the sleeper hit Joe and then in 1974 he gave a funny and yet at the same time rather touching performance in Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein. Three years after that, he starred in this television film as one of the most controversial political figures of the twentieth century, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. There are certain figures in our American culture, that defy definition or description. You could read every article and headline and book about them and they would remain a puzzling enigma and McCarthy was certainly one of these. Was he a true American patriot who just got carried away in his own crusade? or a selfish and brutal demagogue who only cared about the headlines that his wild charges made and got him re-elected to the Senate? McCarthyism became a byword of our culture, it began as a speech that this man made in my homestate of Wheeling, West Virginia when he waved that infamous piece of paper above his head and said that he had in his hand a list of 205 persons who were members of the Communist party who were members of the State Department and it snowballed into a tornado that shook the very fiber and walls of Representative American Government. This movie, or rather I should say that writer of this film has no love for this man. It presents him as an unalloyed sleaze and an almost Shakespeare like villian. You almost expect Boyle to say "Now is the winter of our discontent...." I recently read a more balanced biography of Joe that shed him in a different light. Its true that he did bad things, but his good was presented as well. Maybe McCarthy's greatest tragedy was his own recklessness. His motto in life seemed to be. He who does not live dangerously, does not live at all. Boyle still did an amazing job and Burgess Meredith is wonderful as the lawyer who opposed him at the Army McCarthy hearings.

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