Watch Best of Enemies
- 1 hr 28 min
Best of Enemies is a thought-provoking documentary from 2015 that explores the political and cultural clash between two prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. The documentary is directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, and features interviews with political commentators, journalists, and the two protagonists themselves.
The story of Best of Enemies is set against the backdrop of the 1968 presidential election, in which Democrat Hubert Humphrey faced off against Republican Richard Nixon. The two TV networks covering the event, PBS and ABC, decided to try something new to capture the attention of viewers: a series of ten debates between liberal author and social critic Gore Vidal, and conservative commentator and author William F. Buckley.
What ensued was an intense and bitter war of words that completely captivated the nation, as Vidal and Buckley traded barbs on live television night after night. What made the debates so controversial was not just the vehement disagreements between the two men, but the fact that they were personal enemies with a long-standing history of animosity.
Gore Vidal was known for his left-leaning politics and his fierce criticism of American society, while William F. Buckley was a conservative writer and social commentator who became famous for his political commentary on the conservative magazine National Review. The two men had sparred in print for years before finally coming face to face in the TV debates.
Best of Enemies takes a deep dive into the debates, exploring the motivations and tactics of both Vidal and Buckley. The documentary features extensive interviews with both men, using archival footage to show the debates themselves and giving viewers a real sense of what it was like to witness these two giants of the intellectual world clash in real time.
The real strength of Best of Enemies lies in its nuanced approach to the subject matter. Rather than painting one man as a hero and the other as a villain, the documentary takes a more complex view, showing the flaws and contradictions in both Vidal and Buckley's arguments. It also explores the ways in which the two men were similar, both in terms of their backgrounds and their motivations.
The documentary also puts the debates in historical context, showing how they represented a turning point in American politics and media. The debates were a precursor to the more freewheeling and combative style of political commentary that we see on cable news today, and they helped to shape the way that Americans think about politics and intellectual discourse.
Ultimately, Best of Enemies is a fascinating exploration of two complex and brilliant men, and the ways in which their personal animosity shaped the political and cultural landscape. The documentary is thought-provoking and engaging, and is sure to spark conversation and debate among viewers. It's a must-watch for anyone interested in American politics or intellectual history.
Best of Enemies is a 2015 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 77.