Best of Enemies (2015 film)
|Best of Enemies|
Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Jonathan Kirkscey|
Best of Enemies is a 2015 American documentary film co-directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville about the 1968 televised debates between intellectuals Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr., and their aftermath. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It was acquired by Magnolia and Participant Media.
The film took five years to make because of struggles to secure funding, get interviews, and uncover archival footage.
The film examines the ten televised debates between William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal in August 1968 that were moderated by anchorman Howard K. Smith during ABC News coverage of the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It especially focuses on a specific incident of on-air insults directed at each other by Vidal and Buckley, and follows their subsequent thoughts and actions, including articles each wrote for Esquire magazine and the years-long litigation that resulted. It also expands on the impact of these debates on the beginning of modern American punditry.
- John Lithgow (off-camera voice for Vidal)
- Kelsey Grammer (off-camera voice for Buckley)
- Sam Tanenhaus, Buckley's authorized biographer
- Dick Cavett
- Christopher Hitchens (Hitchens died in December 2011, four years prior to the film’s release.)
- Brooke Gladstone
- Ginia Bellafante
- James Wolcott
Best of Enemies received very positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 94% rating based on 98 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Smart, fascinating, and funny, Best of Enemies takes a penetrating—and wildly entertaining—look back at the dawn of pundit politics." On Metacritic, the film has a 77 out of 100 rating based on 21 critics, indicating "generally positive reviews".
A Vulture article entitled "18 Best Films From Sundance 2015" said of the film, "This might have been both the most entertaining and the saddest film of this year’s Sundance: a riveting gabfest that slowly becomes a lament for the Republic." Gordon and Neville appeared on the C-SPAN program Q&A on July 26, 2015 with host Brian Lamb to discuss the film.
The film debuted in three theatrical screens on July 31, 2015 as well as video-on-demand. It grossed $50,378 for a 37th-place finish. The second week saw an increase to 19 screens, resulting in a weekend gross of $81,587. Its highest weekend gross came in week three, where it had an expansion to 47 screens, resulting in a weekend gross of $120,986. The maximum number of screens was 69, in its fifth week, but the film went downhill in gross. The film had a 15-week theatrical run before closing on November 12, 2015, with a total of $892,802.
The film had a one-week theatrical run in the United Kingdom the week before the film's US release, grossing $11,317 from 6 screens.
As of November 12, 2015, the film has a worldwide total of $904,119.
- "BEST OF ENEMIES (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Best of Enemies". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
- "Best of Enemies (2015)". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
- Ge, Linda (January 28, 2015). "Gore Vidal Doc Best of Enemies Acquired by Magnolia, Participant Media". Retrieved 2015-02-03.
- Willen, Nancy. "Sundance Projects: Best of Enemies". Sundance.org. Sundance Institute. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
- Wills, Garry (August 11, 2015). "The Buckley Myth". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Leydon, Joe (January 23, 2015). "Sundance Film Review: 'Best of Enemies'". Variety. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
- Scott, A. O. (July 30, 2015). "Review: 'Best of Enemies' Recalls Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr.'s TV Battles". The New York Times Company. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- "Best of Enemies". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
- "Best of Enemies". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
- Yuan, Jada; Buchanan, Kyle; Ebiri, Bilge (February 18, 2015). "The 18 Best Films from Sundance 2015". Vulture. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
- "15 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES ADVANCE IN 2015 OSCAR® RACE". December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- PBS Independent lens, Best of enemies. Retrieved October 7, 2016
- "Best of Enemies (2015)". TheNumbers. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
- Jonathan Kirkscey at IMDB
- Jonathan Kirkscey bio at JonathanKirkscey.com
- Filmography at RaymondScott.net