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J. Edgar (2011)

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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.

Director:

Clint Eastwood
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Popularity
2,788 ( 328)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... J. Edgar Hoover
Josh Hamilton ... Robert Irwin
Geoff Pierson ... Mitchell Palmer
Cheryl Lawson Cheryl Lawson ... Palmer's Wife
Kaitlyn Dever ... Palmer's Daughter
Brady Matthews ... Inspector
Gunner Wright ... Dwight Eisenhower
David A. Cooper ... Franklin Roosevelt
Ed Westwick ... Agent Smith
Naomi Watts ... Helen Gandy
Kelly Lester ... Head Secretary
Jack Donner ... Edgar's Father
Judi Dench ... Annie Hoover
Dylan Burns ... Hoover as a Child
Jordan Bridges ... Labor Dept. Lawyer
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Most Powerful Man in the World


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hoover See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,217,324, 13 November 2011

Gross USA:

$37,306,030

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$84,606,030
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Armie Hammer appeared in 4 episodes of the show Gossip Girl (2007) that starred Ed Westwick. See more »

Goofs

The movie portrays the Lindbergh kidnapping as being the reason for the origin of the crime laboratory. In fact, according to the FBI website, the lab was much earlier. In addition, it was the New Jersey police and Schwarzkopf who did the work on the ladder, including the forensic work that led to the mill where the kidnapper was employed. Schwarzkopf, incidentally, is the father of General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of Desert Storm. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Bad Movies with Good Actors (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

My Blue Heaven
Written by Walter Donaldson and George Whiting
Performed by Gene Austin
Courtesy of RCA
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A True Life Historical Figure
24 April 2013 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

The best that can be said for this film is that it got made. The subject matter, about the life of a dreadfully dull and stodgy old bureaucrat from a bygone era, is not in line with Hollywood's usual mass-produced action films aimed at brash young boys. I credit Director Eastwood and lead actor Leonardo Di Caprio with enough star power to convince the money-men to fund this project. And it turned a profit.

But there are plenty of problems with "J. Edgar", not the least of which is a script that flips back and forth too much between the 1960s and earlier decades in Hoover's life. A lot of time is wasted on the gangster era of the 1920 and 30s, possibly because Di Caprio is so youthful looking, he fits a younger image of Hoover, in contrast to an aging old man in the 60s. Almost nothing is included about the JFK assassination and follow-up investigation despite the fact that Hoover played a central role in marketing the "lone-gunman" theory.

Throughout, Hoover comes across as bureaucratic, rigid, moralistic, self-righteous, incapable of changing with the times, dishonest, and a hypocrite. Absent from the film are any virtuous qualities he may have had.

As Hoover, Leonardo Di Caprio gives a better performance than I would have predicted. But the script does Di Caprio no favors. The dialogue for Hoover consists largely of platitudes and pronouncements. Hoover doesn't talk with people so much as make little speeches to them. And Di Caprio's monotone voice exaggerates this talking down to others effect.

Hoover demanded loyalty from his staff. As his private secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) is an interesting study in forced loyalty. Ditto Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), as Hoover's sidekick.

Cinematography is quite dark. Colors are heavily muted, almost monochromatic. Costumes and prod design are convincing across five decades. But makeup for an older Clyde Tolson is horrid; his face looks like a wax figure that's about to melt.

"J. Edgar" could have been much better, had the script focused more on the sixties and shown Hoover's working relationship to the Kennedy's and Lyndon Johnson. And though I appreciate Di Caprio's efforts to get the film made, a different actor might have been more convincing in the role of Hoover. Still, the film is a reasonably good effort. It's worth watching once, if for no other reason than because it's a true story about a real-life historical figure.


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