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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
3,724 ( 219)
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, Wide Release

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Armie Hammer, Leonardo DiCaprio and him proposed to Clint Eastwood to make the sexual relationship between the characters to be graphic, but he refused, arguing the screenplay didn't call for it. See more »

Goofs

The horse racing scenes in the movie were filmed at Del Mar Racetrack supposedly in the 1930s and later in the 1960s. When the horses turn home you can see the track surface is not dirt, but a synthetic Polytrack surface. This surface was installed at Del Mar for the 2007 racing season. Del Mar racing prior to 2007 was run on a dirt track. 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

Referenced in The Crossing: Hope Smiles from the Threshold (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

I Only Have Eyes for You
Written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin
Performed by Kyle Eastwood, Joe Bagg, Kye Palmer, Jason Harnell
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
What is Truth?
25 November 2011 | by ReinaMissySee all my reviews

The infamous words spoken by Pilate to Jesus of Nazareth come to mind when one ponders the life of John Edgar Hoover. Was he a genius or a tyrant? A patriot or a dictator? A cross dresser or an uptight man with no sex life? Nobody knows for certain, and director Clint Eastwood does not offer a definitive answer to any of these questions, which is exactly as it should be. Life is rarely cut-and-dried, but moviegoers seem to have forgotten that fact in the face of media that state speculation as fact on a regular basis.

I find it not only surprising, but distressing, that a major criticism from those critics who panned the film is the lack of closure on Hoover's private life. Unless they are truly obtuse, they must realize that no film could possibly do such a thing, since his files were destroyed at his own bidding. All is speculation, and a fine speculation it is. Leonardo DiCaprio is superb (as usual) in the title role, never revealing more cards then he chooses to at any given moment. He receives fine support from Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, Hoover's Second in Command/Rumored Lover, and Naomi Watts as his endlessly loyal private secretary Helen Gandy. At a time when "red fever" ran high, Hoover's relentlessly tightening control on government investigations is shown in flashbacks that only underscore how supreme power can corrupt even the noblest of intentions.

In the end, the film answers none of the questions that seem so important to the very critics that disliked it, but in my humble opinion, a well made film is one that inspires debate or discussion rather than simply hand down a definitive 'this is the way it was' with an imperious gavel. With "J Edgar", Eastwood and his cast have succeeded well.


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