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The Insider (1999)

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A research chemist comes under personal and professional attack when he decides to appear in a "60 Minutes" expose on Big Tobacco.

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Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 23 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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John Scanlon
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Mrs. Williams
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Storyline

Balls-out "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman sniffs a story when a former research biologist for Brown & Williamson, Jeff Wigand, won't talk to him. When the company leans hard on Wigand to honor a confidentiality agreement, he gets his back up. Trusting Bergman and despite a crumbling marriage, he goes on camera for a Mike Wallace interview and risks arrest for contempt of court. Westinghouse is negotiating to buy CBS, so CBS attorneys advise CBS News to shelve the interview and avoid a lawsuit. "60 Minutes" and CBS News bosses cave, Wigand is hung out to dry, Bergman is compromised, and the CEOs of Big Tobacco may get away with perjury. Will the truth come out? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Two men driven to tell the truth... whatever the cost. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

5 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

60 Minutes  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$68,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,712,361, 7 November 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$28,965,197, 23 April 2000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$60,289,912, 31 December 2000
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a scene in Bergman's office, Mike Wallace tells Lowell Bergman, "I don't plan to spend the end of my days wandering in the wilderness of National Public Radio." In reality, Bergman left CBS in 1998 (not right after the Jeffrey Wigand piece, as depicted in the movie) to work for Public Television. See more »

Goofs

In the scene when Wigand is leaving Louisville to testify in Mississippi, the airport shown is not Louisville International Airport; it is John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA. See more »

Quotes

Helen Caperelli: [Referring to CBS News] Our standards have to be higher than anyone else because we are the standard of everyone else.
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Soundtracks

Rites
Written and Performed by Jan Garbarek
Courtesy of ECM Records
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User Reviews

 
Intensity beyond intensity
29 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

The Insider is the only film I remember having seen where I walked out of the theatre with a headache because of the intensity of the story. Michael Mann is one of few directors who has such an in-depth understanding of both the subject of his film and the nature of that subject, that he is able to portray a realism that is nearly impossible to match.

There is real skill displayed in the way in which the Insider weaves through the aspects of both Bergmann and Wigand's lives. Whereas a lesser director would have thrown the characters at each other in an artificial collision, Mann introduces each character as being average professionals each living in their own respective stable lives. It is only when their chance encounter creates a subtext that could consume them both does the real chemical reaction in the story take place.

Bringing life to these fantastically written characters are two of the most talented 'big-name' character actors of our time, Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Surprisingly, it is Crowe that drives this film forward, and his portrayal of Wigand is spot-on perfect. His is an honest humanity, both a loving father and a flawed husband who never fully balances his life under the pressure of circumstance. Crowe nails the performance by not hamming-up the character, but rather by understating his personality. This works in that it is the character that is elevated while the actor disappears.

That is not to ignore the excellent work by the remainder of the cast. Pacino's performance is accented and accentuated beautifully by Christopher Plummer's portrayal of Mike Wallace. Most notably are several standout scenes mixing Pacino, Plummer, Philip Baker Hall and Stephen Tobolowsky that ground the underlying tensions of the film fantastically. And the juxtaposition between the cold, hard New York settings and the organic nature of Mississippi further press this film beyond standard non-fiction works.

Easily one of the best dramas of 1999, the Insider is a standout member of that elite club of great historical dramas such as All the President's Men that are few and far between. It is for that audience that appreciates skilled performances meeting skilled direction and restrained, mature writing.


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