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The Nine Lives of Marion Barry (2009)

Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering drug-addled mayor of the nation's capital. He's the poster boy for corruption, a pariah. Yet to others, Marion Barry is a folk hero who... See full summary »
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Max Berry ...
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Marshall Brown ...
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Elona Evans-McNeill ...
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Mark Feldstein ...
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Carroll Harvey ...
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Jim Vance ...
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Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering drug-addled mayor of the nation's capital. He's the poster boy for corruption, a pariah. Yet to others, Marion Barry is a folk hero who has dominated Washington D.C. city politics for over 40 years. Today, Barry is once again in the political limelight. Who is Marion Barry, really? A hero? A scoundrel? For the first time, Marion Barry: Not Down for the Count reveals the complete unforgettable story. Written by Toby Oppenheimer

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10 August 2009 (USA)  »

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Marion Barry: Not Down for the Count  »

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Nine may not be enough
20 September 2009 | by (Oakland CA) – See all my reviews

This even-handed documentary may make you reconsider your opinion of Washington, DC, politician Marion Barry. Barry, a civil rights movement veteran with a healthy ego and an eye for the ladies, served four tumultuous terms as mayor of Washington and is now in his second term as council representative for the city's impoverished 8th Ward. His political career began in triumph as the white southerners who had traditionally controlled city patronage and purse-strings were swept into the dustbin of history; by the time of Barry's fourth mayoral term, however, the southerners regained control thanks to the GOP resurgence of the late 1990s--and to the mayor's taste for sex, drugs, and alcohol. There's no doubt that Barry did sterling work in the city prior to his first term in office, and no doubt that he was targeted and set-up by a zealous federal prosecutor who also happened to be a Republican. The film unfortunately skimps on the details of what he actually accomplished as mayor, but it's easy to understand why Barry became a neighborhood hero: he's the local lad who made good and overcame his own personal demons. Is that enough to warrant his continued presence on the city council? Barry's vigorous opposition to gay marriage (not discussed in this film) opens him up to charges of hypocrisy, and would certainly be the last straw for me. But it's also clear that, though now more of a follower than a leader, Barry remains a man of the people. Like him or not, he reflects the hopes and aspirations of his constituents.


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