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An Unlikely Weapon (2008)

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In 1968, in 1/500th of a second Eddie Adams photographed a Saigon police chief, General Nygoc Loan, shooting a Vietcong guerrilla point black. Some say that photograph ended the Vietnam war... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Eddie Adams ...
Peter Arnett ...
Bill Eppridge ...
Kerry Kennedy ...
Thi Kim Phuc Phan ...
Himself (archive footage)


In 1968, in 1/500th of a second Eddie Adams photographed a Saigon police chief, General Nygoc Loan, shooting a Vietcong guerrilla point black. Some say that photograph ended the Vietnam war. The photo brought Eddie fame and a Pulitzer, but Eddie was haunted by the man he had vilified. He would say, "Two lives were destroyed that day, the victim's and the general." Other's would say three lives were destroyed. Eddie Adams, like most artists, was tortured by his need for perfection. Nothing he did ever satisfied him. He carved out many careers shooting covers for Life, Time, and even Penthouse. Yet, somehow, he was always pulled back into documenting wars, 13 all together. Finally he hit the wall and couldn't take it anymore. He began shooting celebrities because "It doesn't take anything from you." Eddie was comfortable with kings and coal miners. During his time with Parade magazines he photographed Clint Eastwood, Louis Armstrong, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul. Written by Isaac Hagy

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


1/500th of a second to get the shot...a lifetime to forget it





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Release Date:

10 April 2009 (USA)  »

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Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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User Reviews

The Adventurer
24 October 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When asked about the artistic nuances of the great war photographer and friend Frank Capa Henri Cartier Bresson aid he was not a photographer but an adventurer. The same may well be said for Eddie Adams a fearless war photographer who after having seen action in over a dozen went on to the much more sedate world of portrait work featuring movie stars, presidents and a pope for the ultra mediocre Sunday supplement, Parade and nude centerfolds for a racy challenger to Playboy, Hustler magazine. With the fun aspect aside it is more than evident that while he might have done photography for a living it is in his adventurous and courageous side we find the man in full.

Eddie Adams more than likely took the most famous photograph of the Viet Nam War; the execution of an enemy combatant on a city street. Unsparing in its graphic depiction and burned into the consciousness of a generation Unlikely Weapon gives us the heart and soul behind the eye in the abrasive personality of Adams. Not the easiest person in the world to get along with Adams in interviews had no time for pretense, was driven to be the best while displaying a self effacing gallows humor along the way of a man who "has seen more weeping than you could understand". Those that knew him (Jennings, Brokaw, Safer) as well as fellow photographers saw through the abrasiveness and they shower him with nothing but respect and awe as well as feelings of friendship in interviews. Adams gave back in a big way, helping the maligned commander he photographed to get into the US when the government wouldn't even lift a finger as well as set up free schools of photography.

Eddie clearly deserved his down time snapping popes and playmates. It is more than fitting he should decompress after what he witnessed but for the sake of the documentary his latter day assignments pale in comparison re-enforcing Cartier Bresson's point all the more; first and foremost Eddie Adams was one courageous adventurer first, a photographer second.

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