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


2,068 ( 110)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 16 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

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 »


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 »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.16 (2011) See more »


Goldberg Variation No. 2
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Gennady Loktionov
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Great but not without its flaws
6 November 2011 | by (Vancouver) – See all my reviews

Just got back from a screening in Vancouver~ Thanks to Clint Eastwood, it was almost free (only one dollar per ticket) I will try to keep my review spoiler-free~

Personally, I thought it was a great film. Not exceptional in anyway, but still great. The tone reminds me a bit of Changeling. Makes sense since the stories are from the same period. I have to say, with Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Dustin Lance Black all on board, I was kind of expecting something a bit more than this.

I thought the weakest link was the script. It was interesting, but flawed. Also, the story was not very intriguing. Having watched Milk (also written by Black) and really liked how the story unfolded, I was expecting a great story about how J. Edgar Hoover rose to power and how he gradually transformed into the monster he became in the end. But instead, the story was told by shifting back and forth in time countless times, which at some point made me feel emotionally detached from the story and the characters. The bad bad makeup (I guess we can all agree on that~) was also very distracting. The elderly characters looked like wax figures to me.

That said, I really LOVED Eastwood's score. It was moving and really fit the mood of the film. His direction and camera-work were masterful as always. Leo was very convincing as J. Edgar, although I keep on seeing bits and pieces of Howard Hughes in his performance. Judi Dench and Naomi Watts were both great, however the same thing can not be said about Armie Hammer. I thought he was much better in The Social Network. There were a few good moments between him and Leo, but his performance as the elderly Clyde Tolson was darn right awful. I blame the horrible makeup.

As for the Oscars, this film will get a few nominations, but I doubt that it would become a strong contender. Though Leo's performance was not without its flaws, I thought it was more than enough to secure his leading actor nomination. Nods for best art direction, best cinematography and best score are also quite possible.

This film had the potential to become a masterpiece, but fell short of my expectations mainly due to the uneven script. While far from being one of his best, it is nevertheless a welcome addition to Eastwood's portfolio.


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Leo needs to break his habits.. bs-2010
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