Best of Enemies (2015 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Best of Enemies
Best of Enemies poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Julie Goldman
  • Clif Phillips
  • Caryn Capotosto
Written by
  • Robert Gordon
  • Morgan Neville
Music by Jonathan Kirkscey
  • David Leonard
  • Mark Schwartzbard
  • Graham Willoughby
Edited by
  • Eileen Meyer
  • Aaron Wickenden
  • Media Ranch
  • Tremolo Productions
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 23, 2015 (2015-01-23) (Sundance)
  • July 31, 2015 (2015-07-31)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $750,000[2]
Box office $904,119[3]

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.[4]

The film took five years to make because of struggles to secure funding, get interviews, and uncover archival footage.[2]


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.[5] 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.[6] It also expands on the impact of these debates on the beginning of modern American punditry.

Narrative cast[edit]


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."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a 77 out of 100 rating based on 21 critics, indicating "generally positive reviews".[10]

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."[11] Gordon and Neville appeared on the C-SPAN program Q&A on July 26, 2015 with host Brian Lamb to discuss the film.

On December 1, 2015, the film was selected as one of 15 shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[12]

It premiered on PBS television on October 3, 2016 during the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election.[13]

Box office[edit]

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.[14]


The film was scored by cellist Jonathan Kirkscey.[15][16] The music used in the film's opening sequence is "Portofino", by Raymond Scott.[17]


  1. ^ "BEST OF ENEMIES (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Best of Enemies". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2015-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Best of Enemies (2015)". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ Ge, Linda (January 28, 2015). "Gore Vidal Doc Best of Enemies Acquired by Magnolia, Participant Media". Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  5. ^ Willen, Nancy. "Sundance Projects: Best of Enemies". Sundance Institute. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  6. ^ Wills, Garry (August 11, 2015). "The Buckley Myth". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 22 June 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Leydon, Joe (January 23, 2015). "Sundance Film Review: 'Best of Enemies'". Variety. Retrieved 2015-08-28. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Best of Enemies". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Best of Enemies". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ Yuan, Jada; Buchanan, Kyle; Ebiri, Bilge (February 18, 2015). "The 18 Best Films from Sundance 2015". Vulture. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  12. ^ "15 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES ADVANCE IN 2015 OSCAR® RACE". December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ PBS Independent lens, Best of enemies. Retrieved October 7, 2016
  14. ^ "Best of Enemies (2015)". TheNumbers. Retrieved November 30, 2015. 
  15. ^ Jonathan Kirkscey at IMDB
  16. ^ Jonathan Kirkscey bio at
  17. ^ Filmography at

External links[edit]