By Gregory Crofton
Gore Vidal, a well-known, openly gay, historical writer and political commentator, decided to run for the United States Senate to represent California in 1982. (His great-grandfather served as a U.S. senator from Oklahoma in the 1920s and 30s). His opponent was the state’s current governor, Jerry Brown. Filmmaker Gary Conklin followed Vidal on the campaign trail step for step and captured his brilliant political character, a acerbic combination of the keen intellect and biting wit. It’s Vidal in peak form for 100 minutes. The film is a vivid recollection of the time, and shot on color film it looks great.
One warning: Be ready for a lot of Gore Vidal, then even more of him, because it’s an observational doc with Vidal speaking to and interacting with voters. “First of all I would begin to tax the corporations,” Gore tells a reporter while taking questions outside an unemployment office. “What we’ve achieved in the Unites States is socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.”
Issue after issue – the corruptive power of the military-industrial-political complex, our dilapidated education system, lack of voter participation, unrestrained police power, problems created by a for-profit healthcare – are recognized by Vidal in the film. Each of these problems has gotten worse for the United States in the last 30 years. Watch this film. You will be enlightened and entertained.