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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 17 October 2009 (USA)
2:32 | Trailer

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"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of ... See full summary »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Peter Arnett Peter Arnett ... Himself - Associated Press Correspondent (archive footage)
Ben Bagdikian Ben Bagdikian ... Himself - Editor, Washington Post
Ann Beeson Ann Beeson ... Herself - Associate Legal Director, ACLU
John Dean ... Himself - White House Counsel to President Nixon
Daniel Ellsberg ... Himself / Narraror
Patricia Ellsberg Patricia Ellsberg ... Herself
Robert Ellsberg Robert Ellsberg ... Himself - Daniel's Son
Richard Falk Richard Falk ... Himself - Professor of International Law
Max Frankel Max Frankel ... Himself - Washington Bureau Chief, New York Times
J. William Fulbright J. William Fulbright ... Himself - Chair Foreign Relations Committee (archive footage)
James Goodale James Goodale ... Himself - General Counsel, New York Times
Mike Gravel Mike Gravel ... Himself - Senator (D-Alaska)
Morton Halperin ... Himself - Supervisor, Vietnam War Study (as Mort Halperin)
Lyndon Johnson ... Himself - President (archive footage)
Randy Kehler Randy Kehler ... Himself - Draft Resister


"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of classified documents, decides to challenge an "Imperial" Presidency-answerable to neither Congress, the press, nor the people-in order to help end the Vietnam War. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg shook America to its foundations when he smuggled a top-secret Pentagon study to the New York Times that showed how five Presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing millions and tearing America apart. President Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America," who "had to be stopped at all costs." But Ellsberg wasn't stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. Ensuing events surrounding the so-called Pentagon Papers led directly to Watergate and the downfall of President Nixon, ... Written by Anonymous

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

17 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amerikas farligaste man See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,114, 31 January 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$453,483, 1 August 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kovno Communications See more »
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Did You Know?


(at around 1h 19 mins) Three Black Hawk helicopters are shown disembarking combat-equipped soldiers, ostensibly in Viet Nam. While the first YUH-60 did in fact fly before the fall of Saigon, it was 1976 before three of them had been produced. Production aircraft were not delivered until 1978. See more »

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User Reviews

Ellsberg's Crusade in the search of truth in a really great documentary
19 January 2011 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

If now we have Julian Assange and his feared Wikileaks to tells us the truth behind powerful organizations and their secrets we must thank that one day a man named Daniel Ellsberg who saw what's going wrong with another gigantic corporation named United States and its affairs during the Vietnam war and decided to be one of the most important characters in history by leaking to the press the infamous Pentagon Papers, a Top Secret study revealing the whole truth about what was really happening in Vietnam and the U.S. involvement in it since 1945.

In "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" directors Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith interview Ellsberg and other people involved in Dr. Ellsberg's career and life before and after the Pentagon papers affair, from his work on RAND Corporation and his entrance working in the Pentagon under the command of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. After seeing how bad things were in Vietnam (and he was there himself), after plans and more plans of increasing conflicts and more attacks in Vietnam, seeing that his work was being perpetrated for wrong things Ellsberg changed his views of what he was doing; and after attending a protest against the war, he decided to do the right thing: show to the American public the truth about the war, what was going on in Vietnam and show that his country had nothing to do in there.

The documentary establishes all the risk this guy went through, how he executed the leaking giving the study to Senators who were opposed to the war and to 17 newsgroups, starting with The New York Times who was censored by Nixon because of the publishing of the papers, and all the medias who tried to publish the papers was censored until the Supreme Court decided that the censorship was wrong.

In less than two hours the movie displays lots of information without being boring or too much extensive, everything is very interesting to follow, very contrived and well put together (but the first minutes are a little bit slow, you have to be persistent to watch it). The most captivating part is when we see all the Ellsberg and his friend Daniel Russo crusade after they were charged of espionage, and the whole controversy about the publishing of the papers and that are still relevant today in a time where secrets can't be revealed otherwise there's always someone who'll try to impeach, to suffocate the freedom of speech, and the freedom of press; in a world where just simply stand for something and to have an opinion still it's too dangerous and might cause a war, and by war is mean not only the armed conflict, but the idealistic conflict, the words conflict.

Here's a film that shows us the man behind the act; a David among thousands of Golias; a man who worked and defended his country and was accused by it at the same time while trying to protect the country interests and lives; a man who changed things and fought for the right thing, taking all the necessary and unnecessary risks for it and even obtained more than he wanted. This is a real story with real persons and it's a great story to be seen. 10/10

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