Tail Gunner Joe (1977)

TV Movie  |  Not Rated  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  6 February 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 126 users  
Reviews: 8 user

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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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Cunningham
Logan (as Heather Menzies)
Joseph Welch
Sen. Margaret Chase Smith
Mrs. DeCamp
Sen. Scott Lucas
Karen Carlson ...
Jean Kerr
Wisconsin Farmer
Charles Cioffi ...
Logan's Boss


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 national power base when he later planned to run for President. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Not Rated




Release Date:

6 February 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La chasse aux sorcières  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Burgess Meredith, who plays the attorney Joseph Welch who finally stood up to Senator McCarthy, was himself named an unfriendly witness by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which nearly ruined his acting career. See more »


JOSEPH WELCH: Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream that you could be so reckless, and so cruel, as to do an injury to that lad. Have you no sense of decency, sir; at long last, have you left no sense of decency?
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Crazy Credits

This program presents a dramatized interpretation of the life and times of Senator Joe McCarthy. Some of the names have been changed and the reporters and some of the persons interviewed have been created to serve as narrators of incidents based upon actual occurrences. See more »

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User Reviews

A Hatchet Job on an easy target.
30 June 2001 | by (San Francisco, California, USA) – See all my reviews

The title says it all. "Tail Gunner Joe" was a tag given to the Senator which relied upon the ignorance of the public about World War II aircraft. The rear facing moving guns relied upon a latch that would prevent the rear gunner from shooting off the tail of the airplane by preventing the gun from firing when it pointed at the tail. When the Senator was practicing on the ground one day, he succeeded in shooting off the tail of the airplane. He couldn't have done that if the gun had been properly aligned. The gunnery officer responsible for that admitted, in public, before a camera, that he was responsible -- he had made the error, not the Senator. The fact that the film did not report that fact, shows how one-sided it is. This film was designed to do one thing, destroy the reputation of a complex person.

A much better program was the PBS special done on him. He was a hard working, intelligent, ambitious politician who overcame extraordinary disadvantages to rise to extraordinary heights. He made some mistakes, some serious mistakes, but shooting the tail off an airplane was not one of them.

The popularity of this film is due to the fact that the public likes simple stories, one=sided stories, so that they don't have to think.

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