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J. Edgar (2011)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  11 November 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 96,462 users   Metascore: 59/100
Reviews: 271 user | 386 critic | 42 from Metacritic.com

J. Edgar Hoover, powerful head of the F.B.I. for nearly 50 years, looks back on his professional and personal life.


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cheryl Lawson ...
Palmer's Wife
Palmer's Daughter
Brady Matthews ...
Head Secretary
Edgar's Father
Hoover as a Child
Labor Dept. Lawyer


Biopic of J. Edgar Hoover told by Hoover as he recalls his career for a biography. Early in his career, Hoover fixated on Communists, anarchists and any other revolutionary taking action against the U.S. government. He slowly builds the agency's reputation, becoming the sole arbiter of who gets hired and fired. One of his hires is Clyde Tolson who is quickly promoted to Assistant Director and would be Hoover's confidant and companion for the rest of Hoover's life. Hoover's memories have him playing a greater role in the many high profile cases the FBI was involved in - the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the arrest of bank robbers like John Dillinger - and also show him to be quite adept at manipulating the various politicians he's worked with over his career, thanks in large part to his secret files. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Most Powerful Man in the World


Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 November 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hoover  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,217,324 (USA) (11 November 2011)


$37,304,950 (USA) (17 February 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There was actually a huge fight between J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson in a hotel during one of their trips. According to Clint Eastwood, there are several testimonies of maids that talked about the room being destroyed after the discussion. However, writer Dustin Lance Black dramatized the content of the argument. See more »


Hoover tells Tolson they're going to Del Mar. But the scene is set in 1934, before the Lindbergh baby is found and before Del Mar actually opened, in 1937. See more »


[first lines]
J. Edgar Hoover: Let me tell you something. The SCLC has direct Communist ties. Even great men can be corrupted, can't they? Communism is not a political party. It is a disease. It corrupts the soul, turning men, even the gentlest of men, into vicious evil tyrants.
See more »


References 'G' Men (1935) See more »


Red Sails in the Sunset
Written by Jimmy Kennedy (as James Kennedy) and Will Grosz (as Hugh Williams)
Performed by Kyle Eastwood, Joe Bagg, Kye Palmer, Jason Harnell
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Reverent acting performances..."
25 January 2012 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

American actor, producer, composer and director Clint Eastwood's thirty-third feature film is an American production which was written by screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. It tells the story about J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), who grew up with his two elder siblings in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Washington. In 1917, after receiving his Master of Laws degree at the George Washington University, he was hired as a clerk by the Justice Departement where he meet Helen W. Gandy (1897-1988) who would become his personal secretary. J. Edgar Hoover was a very private, secretive and ambitious man who was totally dedicated to his job. He lived with his mother Anne Marie and didn't have much of a social life, but in 1924, J. Edgar Hoover became the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and during this period he meet a confidential secretary for the Secretary of War named Clyde Tolson (1900-1975), whom he hired as his vice director.

This biographical period film depicts J. Edgar Hoover's participation in the extensive investigation of the kidnapping of the one-year-old son of aviators Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), which took place in 1932, his ongoing fight against crime and communism, his private search for information which he could use to blackmail senator Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) and his unjustified attempts at undermining the reputation of American activist and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968). Precisely and engagingly directed and with a tightly structured narrative, this detailed and descriptive portrayal of a multifaceted man with some very bright and some very dark attributes draws an intriguing study of character with poignant depictions of the main character's relationship with his encouraging mother Anne Marie Scheitlin Hoover (1860-1938), his relationship with his loyal secretary Helen W. Gandy and a poignant though ambiguous depiction of his relationship with his devoted friend Clyde Tolson.

This fast-paced and dialog-driven drama is notable for its austere atmosphere which is reinforced by the prominent use of light and Clint Eastwood's tangible score, and the reverent acting performances by English actress Naomi Watts, English actress Judi Dench, American actor Armie Hammer and especially Leonardo DiCaprio, who delivers a variable and emphatic acting performance in an atypical role where he is transformed by the make-up. A dark and gripping mystery and crime story which is complimented by a low-keyed love story.

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