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The Pentagon Papers (2003)

Defense worker Daniel Ellsberg seeks to publish a series of classified government documents detailing the true nature of America's involvement in the Vietnam War.




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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Daniel Ellsberg
... Patricia Marx
... Anthony Russo
... Harry Rowen
... John McNaughon
... Carol Ellsberg
Sean McCann ... John Mitchell
... H.R. Haldeman
Richard Fitzpatrick ... John Ehrlichman
... Neil Sheehan
... Jan Butler
... Randy Kehler
... Senator Fulbright (as George Robertson)
... FBI Agent
Roland Rothchild ... FBI Agent


Daniel Ellsberg, a hawkish analyst for the Rand Corporation think-tank and later for the U.S. government, supports the war in Vietnam until two powerful occurrences: the experience, first-hand, of combat and political turmoil in Vietnam, and the discovery of secret Defense Department documents detailing the deliberate fabrication of reasons to initiate and expand the war. Facing a crisis of conscience, Ellsberg becomes convinced that the American people have not been told the truth about the war, its justifications, or its likely outcome. He decides to expose the secret history of the war in hopes that the American public, its eyes opened, will force the government to end the war. In order to do so, he must risk his career and his freedom, perhaps even his life. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Based on a true story. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some war images and brief sexuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Pentagon-ügyirat  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(archive footage)| (archive footage)| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Anti War website says of this tele-feature: "The movie is not based on 'Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers,' (the script was written before 'Secrets' came out), and oddly, FX never contacted Dan ['Daniel Ellesberg'] about the film or consulted him in any way. (The only contact, an impersonal one, was to send Ellsberg.Net - along with hundreds of other websites - a mass email after the film was made, asking that we place their banner ad on the site, in exchange for a link from theirs, which we did). Someone with access to the film, who thought Dan should be able to see the film that portrays him before it airs, 'leaked' an an advance copy of the film (FX never gave it to him and was dismayed he had seen it before . . .". See more »


The exterior of a bar supposedly located in Saigon clearly displays signs written in the Thai language, and some of the signs are from contemporary times, as evidenced by product logos, rather than from 1965. See more »


References The Pentagon Papers (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Why you should read Ellsberg's memoir "Secrets"
22 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

I agree completely with jmuckian (above). I've just finished reading "Secrets", the memoir that this movie is based on. Did they do an okay job for a TV movie? Yes. Does it *begin* to convey the flavour of the book, and the creeping disenchantment that Ellsberg experiences over the course of his years spent at the Pentagon, in the Marines, and at Rand? No, and that's what makes the book an absolutely riveting page-turner. I think the most glaring error in the movie is the reduction of his time in-country to a gunfight or two and the surveying of a decimated village in the middle of a monsoon. In reality, his time on the ground and insistence on really seeing what was going on in villages that others only saw from the air made for the best parts of the story. So in balance, I think that if you were willing to sit through this movie, and find the story at all compelling, you really owe it to yourself to read the book.

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