Best of Enemies is a behind-the-scenes account of the explosive 1968 televised debates between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and their rancorous disagreements about politics, God, and sex. Masterfully directed by Academy Award winner Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story) and Grammy Award winner Robert Gordon (Johnny Cash’s America) Best of Enemies vividly portrays the two sides of politics that fought to claim America’s future, through the vicious rivalry of two of the period’s most gifted orators.
In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC USA hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement, a Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis. Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America.
Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummelled out policy and personal insult — their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed and a new era in public discourse was born.
1 x DVD
Run Time: 87 min
Rating: MA15+ (Infrequent strong course language)
Director: Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon
"Hugely entertaining. A must-view film for our media-besotted age."
- Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
"Not just a great documentary, it's a vital one."
- Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, New Yorker Magazine
"...a juicy and thrilling documentary about two intellectual titans who truly loathed one another."
- Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
"...a deeply felt illustration of the fury of late-'60s American politics, as seen through two men who couldn't have been more diametrically opposed."
- Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, Consequence of Sound
"...convincingly argues that the Buckley-Vidal debates marked the beginning of the end of the gray days of "objective" TV news."
- Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter