7.8/10
1,941
19 user 38 critic

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)

Trailer
2:32 | Trailer

WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of ... See full summary »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | History | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks.

Director: Anders Østergaard
Stars: George W. Bush, Ko Muang, Aung San Suu Kyi
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

"Which Way Home" is a feature documentary film that follows unaccompanied child migrants, on their journey through Mexico, as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like ... See full summary »

Director: Rebecca Cammisa
Documentary | Biography | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.'

Directors: Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman
Stars: Daniel McGowan, Lisa McGowan, Tim Lewis
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A redemptive tale of an aspiring rap artist surviving failed levees and her own troubled past and seizing a chance for a new beginning.

Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin
Stars: Michael Brown, George W. Bush, Julie Chen
The Garden I (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

From the ashes of the L.A. riots arose a lush, 14-acre community garden, the largest of its kind in the United States. Now bulldozers threaten its future.

Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Stars: Danny Glover, Daryl Hannah, Antonio Villaraigosa
Documentary | Action | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and ... See full summary »

Director: Danfung Dennis
Stars: Nathan Harris, Ashley Harris, The Marines of Echo Company
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets.

Director: Dror Moreh
Stars: Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A comprehensive look at the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war and its occupation of the country.

Director: Charles Ferguson
Stars: Campbell Scott, Gerald Burke, Ali Fadhil
The Pentagon Papers (TV Movie 2003)
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

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.

Director: Rod Holcomb
Stars: James Spader, Claire Forlani, Paul Giamatti
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The epic story of a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the chaos of the secret air war waged by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Kuras has spent the last 23 years chronicling the ... See full summary »

Directors: Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
Stars: Thavisouk Phrasavath
Documentary | Biography | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn't done for any reason other than he felt it was the ... See full summary »

Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Stars: Pat Tillman, Josh Brolin, Mary Tillman
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
Director: Gavin Millar
Stars: George Innes, John Grillo, James Donnelly
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Peter Arnett ...
Himself - Associated Press Correspondent (archive footage)
Ben Bagdikian ...
Himself - Editor, Washington Post
Ann Beeson ...
Herself - Associate Legal Director, ACLU
John Dean ...
Himself - White House Counsel to President Nixon
Daniel Ellsberg ...
Himself
Patricia Ellsberg ...
Herself
Robert Ellsberg ...
Himself - Daniel's Son
Richard Falk ...
Himself - Professor of International Law
Max Frankel ...
Himself - Washington Bureau Chief, New York Times
J. William Fulbright ...
Himself - Chair Foreign Relations Committee (archive footage)
James Goodale ...
Himself - General Counsel, New York Times
Mike Gravel ...
Himself - Senator (D-Alaska)
...
Himself - Supervisor, Vietnam War Study (as Mort Halperin)
...
Himself - President (archive footage)
Randy Kehler ...
Himself - Draft Resister
Edit

Storyline

"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of classified documents, decides to challenge an "Imperial" Presidency-answerable to neither Congress, the press, nor the people-in order to help end the Vietnam War. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg shook America to its foundations when he smuggled a top-secret Pentagon study to the New York Times that showed how five Presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing millions and tearing America apart. President Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America," who "had to be stopped at all costs." But Ellsberg wasn't stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. Ensuing events surrounding the so-called Pentagon Papers led directly to Watergate and the downfall of President Nixon, ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 October 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amerikas farligaste man  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,114 (USA) (29 January 2010)

Gross:

$453,483 (USA) (30 July 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Goofs

(at around 1h 19 mins) Three Black Hawk helicopters are shown disembarking combat-equipped soldiers, ostensibly in Viet Nam. While the first YUH-60 did in fact fly before the fall of Saigon, it was 1976 before three of them had been produced. Production aircraft were not delivered until 1978. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
about conscience over power
27 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the movie The Most Dangerous Man in America, we see what distinguishes very clearly a man like Daniel Ellsberg from a man like Richard Nixon. Ellsberg, when first presented with the position by the President, Lyndon Johnson, that America had to go into war in Vietnam (and a long-term one of course, despite what Johnson said to the media) he knew it was a lie but one he had to work in. He even got into the swing of things early on to give the first report of a heinous act done on an American soldier to McNamara, which was "just what he wanted to see". But it wasn't long after that, while still being a 'hawk' for the side of the Pentagon and the Rand corporation, that he gripped with what he knew from the start: what he was doing was wrong, and he was helping perpetuate a wrong going back to Truman through Nixon. There's a revelation that comes to Ellsberg, and it's there in the film as well

  • in order to do the right thing, sometimes, one may have to be


prepared (and practically be happy) to go got prison for a just cause.

Nixon, of course, never felt this way about his ties to the Vietnam war, and if anything, as heard in those oh-so cheerful tapes recorded with him and Kissinger, he wanted to go all out and bomb the "SOB's" into oblivion, to "think big" as it were. He didn't have a conscience about it, plain and simple, and it's this that we see makes out the hero/villain in this story in the film. Ellsberg was a key whistleblower of the 20th century, this despite the media latching more onto the persona of Ellsberg as opposed to the full-blown-holy-s*** content of the Pentagon Papers themselves. Nixon saw Ellsberg as a key threat - not ironically perhaps the reason why his administration tumbled down, this almost in spite of his landslide victory in 1972. I had almost forgotten until the film reminded me of a startling fact: the Watergate break-in was not just for the purposes of helping to sway the election, but to find any dirt at all in Ellsberg's psychiatrist's folders. That's just... mean.

Then again, Nixon doesn't become the antagonist in the film until after the halfway point. For the filmmakers, their documentary is poised on Dr. Ellsberg, a very intelligent man who rose up the ranks to become a key player in the Rand Corporation (a place for "free thinkers" to come up with "big ideas" as a think tank), and then into the Pentagon. But we also see how his level of trust and intuition with authority came into large question in his youth, when his father, whom he always trusted as an authority, was behind the wheel in a horrible accident that killed his mother and sister. We don't see how this tragedy of losing those closest to him changed him, per-say (I wondered for a while after the movie ended why this was, until later), but it does serve to show how his bond with his father was broken, how that coupled with the atom bomb drops a year before this left him disillusioned.

And if anything is the focus of this movie, aside of course from its protagonist, its about the way in which a person, in a society such as America's in the late 60s and wasn't 100% corrupted, could make a difference when nudged just a little. What not only Ellsberg but the New York Times and the press did gives us lessons today: sometimes a person who knows right and wrong, and knows the consequences both professional and personal (we see the latter especially in Ellsberg's friendship with his boss, the President of Rand, and a colleague who refused to testify at a grand jury trial), has to stand up and do something to break the mold. It's a stirring documentary, informative and full of sobering moments, seeming longer (in a good way) than 90 minutes. The only downside being a few cheesy 're-enactment' flash-animated scenes of some of the nefarious acts being done like photocopying and meetings at night.


29 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Ellberg + Randy Keller 2-shot profebc
new Ellsberg profebc
Ellsberg at Goucher futureprez2

Contribute to This Page