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Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer (2010)

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Honest Man: the Life of R. Budd Dwyer is a movie about politics and corruption, suicide and survival. Four years in the making, it explores the scandal that led an honest, hard-working man ... See full summary »

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Title: Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer (2010)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Dyan Dwyer ...
Herself
Joanne Dwyer ...
Herself
R. Budd Dwyer ...
Himself (voice)
Robert Dwyer ...
Himself
...
William Smith ...
Himself
...
John Torquato
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Storyline

Honest Man: the Life of R. Budd Dwyer is a movie about politics and corruption, suicide and survival. Four years in the making, it explores the scandal that led an honest, hard-working man to take his own life. This independently produced feature-length documentary follows Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania politician who infamously committed suicide at a televised press conference. The film chronicles Dwyer's meteoric rise to political power and examines the bribery scandal and subsequent trial that pushed him to his breaking point. Honest Man also delves into the controversy and consequences of the uncensored airing of Dwyer's death on television stations worldwide. Honest Man reveals a story that has remained untold for over 24 years. The film features exclusive new interviews, including William Smith, the man whose testimony convicted Dwyer, and Dwyer's widow Joanne--her last interview before her death in 2009. Was Dwyer venal, or a victim? Did he kill himself because he couldn't live ... Written by Eighty Four Films

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This was the only on camera interview William Smith ever gave. See more »

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At long last, the story of the man before the blast
20 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

James Dirschberger's feature-length debut is an astounding portrait of R. Budd Dwyer, the Pennsylvania State Treasurer who committed suicide during a press conference in 1987. For the last 23 years, Dwyer's final moments have been talked about much more than his productive life; so much that it actually has become somewhat of an internet meme despite the event taking place years before people even knew what the internet was. Just three years ago, if you put Dwyer's name into a search engine, all you'd find were suicide related results. Even now it's somewhat difficult to find a picture of Dwyer without the .357 Magnum revolver in his hand… or, in his mouth.

Dirschberger attempts to do the man justice by creating a film that covers more of Dwyer's life than his death. In uncovering Dwyer's life, Dirschberger has brought to light many things that were shadowed during Budd's fight for innocence. The film becomes a tale of an honest man driven to the breaking point.

The 75 minute documentary covers a lot of the man's life and also the story behind the guilty verdict. Dwyer upstaged many of his achievements in life by the way he died, but he made us care enough to look deeper behind how and why he was found guilty… and, even prosecuted in the first place. What's most impressive about the film is that it gives Budd a second chance; it looks deeper into the CTA scandal and it doesn't allow the suicide to center around the plot like some sensationalizing news style article.

To exclude Budd's suicide would deny the impact the CTA scandal had on him, and to include it in its entirety would make the audience focus too much on his death which has already been done for too long. Dirschberger compensates by including the suicide, but taming it down so Budd's story can appeal to more people than just the gorehounds and the morbidly curious.

Interviewees include everyone from family, friends and colleagues to William Smith, the man whose testimony convicted Dwyer. It's a story so controversial and easy to misunderstand; hats off to the crew of "Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer" for making all the right moves.

**** (out of four)


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