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

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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

Well made but slanted
24 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a great made for TV film, sporting a deep bench of wonderful actors. This is the kind of made for TV stuff above budget and vision of the major networks now. However, is this movie accurate history? Well, very few honest intellectuals could defend Joe McCarthy unless maybe after several big gulps of Jack Daniels. That said, a few facts? HUAAC was a House organ, not directly tied to the Senate in any way, and McCarthy was a Senator. Point being, there were lots of witch hunters back then. For purpose of drama, both this film and history have settled on McCarthy as the sole and thorough bad guy.

McCarthy directly hurt very few lives. He did amplify a current of nervousness already running through America, and this spawned many imitators. These Monkey-seers Monkey-doers were even more hurtful than Joe, by sheer force of numbers alone.

To honest intellectuals, it seems obvious Joe McCarthy couldn't catch a cold at the North Pole. As "The Haunted Wood" (Allen Weinstein) reveals, from briefly opened Soviet archives, there were plenty faithful Communist spies operating in the US. McCarthy...Keystone Cop versus Houdini basically.

If one can understand there were dangerous Communist spies working hard in the US in the early 1950's, but they weren't in Hollywood, they were in Washington. If one can understand early 50's Red Scare was kind of hangover from VE & VJ day, following Soviet detonation of A-bomb. If one can understand Joe McCarthy was not evil genius of persecuting many good folk who just held harmless unpopular views (personally, I wouldn't trust Joe McCarthy to mow my lawn) but only somebody who blew on something already smoldering? Then by all means watch this movie and enjoy it. It is well made with some wonderful actors. But it ain't accurate history.

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