The Pentagon Papers (2003)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Drama, History, Thriller  |  9 March 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 1,159 users  
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Defense worker Daniel Ellsberg seeks to publish a series of classified government documents detailing the true nature of America's involvement in the Vietnam War.



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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Patricia Marx
Anthony Russo
Harry Rowen
John McNaughon
Carol Ellsberg
Sean McCann ...
James Downing ...
Richard Fitzpatrick ...
Neil Sheehan
Jan Butler
Randy Kehler
Senator Fulbright (as George Robertson)
FBI Agent
Roland Rothchild ...
FBI Agent


Daniel Ellsberg, a hawkish analyst for the Rand Corporation think-tank and later for the U.S. government, supports the war in Vietnam until two powerful occurrences: the experience, first-hand, of combat and political turmoil in Vietnam, and the discovery of secret Defense Department documents detailing the deliberate fabrication of reasons to initiate and expand the war. Facing a crisis of conscience, Ellsberg becomes convinced that the American people have not been told the truth about the war, its justifications, or its likely outcome. He decides to expose the secret history of the war in hopes that the American public, its eyes opened, will force the government to end the war. In order to do so, he must risk his career and his freedom, perhaps even his life. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His greatest act of patriotism was an act of treason.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some war images and brief sexuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Pentagon-ügyirat  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The exterior of a bar supposedly located in Saigon clearly displays signs written in the Thai language, and some of the signs are from contemporary times, as evidenced by product logos, rather than from 1965. See more »


Referenced in Spook (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

History of Lies
24 October 2005 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In the 70s, the ambitious and brilliant Daniel Ellsberg (James Spader) aims to work in the Defense Department of the USA. His ambition destroys his marriage and he goes to Vietnam to fight. He meets Patricia Marx (Claire Forlani), the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer of toys, and they have a brief affair. Once back in the USA, he works as analyst for the Rand Corporation and he finds secret Defense Department documents showing that the American population was being deceived along four successive governments about the Vietnam War. With the support of Patricia and his close friend Anthony Russo (Paul Giamatti), he decides to disclose the documents to the American people, being accused of treason by the government of Richard Nixon.

"Pentagon Papers" is a surprisingly good political film about the history of lies of the Vietnam War. I did not expect such a good movie, indeed very recommended for students. The direction is excellent, the true story is very tense, and the conclusion, with the statement of the real Daniel Ellsberg is fantastic. James Spader and Claire Forlani show great chemistry in this good TV movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Segredos do Pentágono" ("Secrets of the Pentagon")

18 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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