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Best of Enemies

HD   R Closed Captioning

Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon

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About the Movie

In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult-their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed, and a new era in public discourse was born.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 112
  • Fresh: 105
  • Rotten: 7
  • Average Rating: 7.6/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Best of Enemies bowls along smartly, with clips from the tapes spiced with intelligently snarky asides from friends and adversaries of the two men, and spliced with archival footage of the tumultuous times they addressed. – Ella Taylor, NPR, Jul 31, 2015

Fresh: Like its two subjects, "Best of Enemies" is lively and smart. Unlike them, it's even-handed. – Mark Feeney, Boston Globe, Aug 13, 2015

Fresh: New documentary explores the public intellectuals' televised spats. – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, Aug 7, 2015

Fresh: Best of Enemies offers a bracing view of a pivotal time in our recent history, as Vietnam and race riots scarred a nation's soul, and as the Establishment and the Counter Culture exchanged epithets and blows. – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug 13, 2015

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

The Triumph of Commentary Over Substance

Two patricians met to fill the time the network would not devote to coverage of the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Both men were widely known and sons of wealth and power. One was to oversee the incredible shift in his party's position of power and the other would accurately predict the outcome of the same.

This documentary covers the turning point in U.S. political policy and journalism.

Those of us who saw this at the time were given to switching channels between the Chicago convention (and police riot) and the men who attempted to define the moment.

The substance of these discussions has changed little in the ensuing years. The nation has changed greatly in the 47 years since this series of discussions and we were not without notice of the intention to effect those changes.

Whichever political policy you support (or, oppose) this is a must-watch program for all. The core of substantive journalism is destroyed by the entertainment value of the "debate" between two men who had far more in common with each other than either did with the electorate.

A MADCAP INTELLECTUAL ROMP. Lively and fascinating.

If you like witty repartee among intellectuals, it’s hard to see how you could have more fun than watching this movie. Highly entertaining.

Best of Enemies

Such a smart, amazing documentary. I was riveted

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