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J. Edgar (2011)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  11 November 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 96,493 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?


The closing lines of the film, "Most clearly I remember your eyes, with a kind of teasing smile in them, and the feeling of that soft spot just north-east of the corner of your mouth against my lips..." is a quote from a letter from Lorena Hickok to Eleanor Roosevelt. See more »


When Hoover and Tolson attend the premiere of "G-Men," it is projected in the modern "flat" ratio of 1.85:1 instead of the correct Academy ratio of 1.33:1. 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 »


Referenced in J. Edgar: A Complicated Man (2012) See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
Written by John Philip Sousa
Arranged by Lennie Niehaus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

What is Truth?
25 November 2011 | by (Phoenix) – See all my reviews

The infamous words spoken by Pilate to Jesus of Nazareth come to mind when one ponders the life of John Edgar Hoover. Was he a genius or a tyrant? A patriot or a dictator? A cross dresser or an uptight man with no sex life? Nobody knows for certain, and director Clint Eastwood does not offer a definitive answer to any of these questions, which is exactly as it should be. Life is rarely cut-and-dried, but moviegoers seem to have forgotten that fact in the face of media that state speculation as fact on a regular basis.

I find it not only surprising, but distressing, that a major criticism from those critics who panned the film is the lack of closure on Hoover's private life. Unless they are truly obtuse, they must realize that no film could possibly do such a thing, since his files were destroyed at his own bidding. All is speculation, and a fine speculation it is. Leonardo DiCaprio is superb (as usual) in the title role, never revealing more cards then he chooses to at any given moment. He receives fine support from Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, Hoover's Second in Command/Rumored Lover, and Naomi Watts as his endlessly loyal private secretary Helen Gandy. At a time when "red fever" ran high, Hoover's relentlessly tightening control on government investigations is shown in flashbacks that only underscore how supreme power can corrupt even the noblest of intentions.

In the end, the film answers none of the questions that seem so important to the very critics that disliked it, but in my humble opinion, a well made film is one that inspires debate or discussion rather than simply hand down a definitive 'this is the way it was' with an imperious gavel. With "J Edgar", Eastwood and his cast have succeeded well.

51 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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