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Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

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A portrait of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

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5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself - Narrator
Joe Cairo ...
New York Studio Shoot
David Carlo ...
New York Studio Shoot
Victor Ortiz ...
New York Studio Shoot
Gilleon Smith ...
New York Studio Shoot
...
New York Studio Shoot
Melissa Otero ...
New York Studio Shoot - Typist
Pierre Adeli ...
Taco Stand Shoot
Angela Berliner ...
Taco Stand Shoot
...
Taco Stand Shoot
...
Taco Stand Shoot
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Oscar Acosta ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
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Storyline

Fueled by a raging libido, Wild Turkey, and superhuman doses of drugs, Thompson was a true "free lance, " goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity, and a steel-eyed conviction for writing wrongs. Focusing on the good doctor's heyday, 1965 to 1975, the film includes clips of never-before-seen (nor heard) home movies, audiotapes, and passages from unpublished manuscripts. Written by Anonymous

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and some nudity | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

18 July 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hunter  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$191,942, 4 July 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,250,234, 9 November 2008
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When the film mentions that Hunter Thompson had a crush on Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, archival footage instead shows the Airplane's first female singer, Signe Anderson. See more »

Connections

Features Breakfast with Hunter (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Sympathy for the Devil
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Performed by The Rolling Stones
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User Reviews

 
Gonzo The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson...Buy the ticket, take the ride.
17 November 2009 | by See all my reviews

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson: 6 out of 10: Is Hunter S Thompson any more relevant to modern journalism than Joe Namath is to modern football? After all, both were men of their times. In addition, both faded badly by the mid-seventies. Thompson's early work is excellent (a copy of "The Proud Highway" sits on my bookshelf) and reached its pinnacle with Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

A mere three years later Rolling Stone publisher Jenn Warner had become so fed up with Thompson he basically tried to have him killed.

As Gonzo.org puts it "Then, early one evening in March 1975, Hunter was watching a nightmarish film of the evacuation of Da Nang on the evening news. The phone rang, and Hunter picked it up. It was Wenner, saying, "How would you like to go to Vietnam?" Hunter could not resist. The collapse of the American empire was a happening tailor-made for his talents. Within days, he was heading out over the Pacific. He arrived in Saigon hours after Thieu's palace had been bombed and staffed by his own Air Force. For a man who lived with the conviction that the world was going to end next Monday, this was an especially ominous portent. Thompson had the sense of "walking into a death camp." This was it. He would never get out alive. As it turned out, the fate that was in store for him was even worse. Thompson discovered that, even as he was on his way to Vietnam, Wenner had taken him off retainer - in effect, fired him - and with the retainer went his staff benefits, including health and life insurance." Also leaving him no way out of Vietnam... a one-way ticket if you will.

Dude that is cold...

And that is the very nature of the problem with this documentary. Why is not this story mentioned? Who knows? It certainly was a turning point in Thompsons life (He apparently became more withdrawn and paranoid afterwards... understandably so) Gonzo is a pollyanna look at Thompson. The abuse of his first marriage gets a glancing look and all the interviewees (Including Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan and Jenn Werner) seem hesitant to speak ill of the dead.

The fact that in a few short years Thompson turned from a well-respected writer into a Muppet and Doonesbury cartoon is not covered well. The fact is mentioned but the reasons are glossed over. It is as if the film is worried that by mentioning his failures it will reduce his significance.

Yet, I would argue that Thompson's effect on Journalism is larger than he gets credit for. Reporters nowadays often ignore facts, concentrating instead on how events make them feel. Anderson Cooper crying during the Hurricane Katrina coverage threatened to become a bigger story than the storm itself. (He was not helped when fellow Mensa candidate Wolf Blitzer said "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals…many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black") The documentary never really focuses on this aspect either. Gonzo seems to fear pulling back any of the masks its subject wears presumably scared of what it might find. Gonzo would have been better served concentrating on one period of time and focusing its energies.

That said, for those unfamiliar with Hunter S Thompson outside of his Muppet form this is a good start. Moreover, if it gets people to read his early work so much the better.


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