A powerful new docudrama brings to life the controversial and charismatic political firebrand Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. ENEMIES WITHIN: Joe McCarthy is set to premiere today, November 25, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.
Featuring John Sessions (Iron Lady, The Good Shepherd, Gangs of New York), as McCarthy and Justine Waddell (The Fall, The Mystery of Natalie Wood) as his wife Jean, Trystan Gravelle as Roy Cohn, and James Gamon as Richard Nixon, the docudrama skillfully weaves dramatic reconstruction with previously unseen archival footage and revealing interviews to present a comprehensive portrait of one of America’s most polarizing figures.
ENEMIES WITHIN: Joe McCarthy traces the incredible transformation of a self-described Wisconsin farm boy into the most feared man in America and reveals how he developed a political technique and philosophy – McCarthyism – that still resonates today. McCarthy relied on a unique blend of media manipulation, fabrication of facts, and political intimidation, which included aggressive attacks on opponents’ patriotism.
The film captures the inexorable tension of the Cold War era, fueled by the fear of Communism and the atomic bomb. Meticulously researched over a five-year period, director Lutz Hachmeister interviewed key figures from both sides of the political aisle who remain deeply divided over McCarthy and his legacy.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger identifies McCarthy as “a sort of a populist politician who latched on to an issue and found it ran away with him.” Legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee says: “He was more popular than he should be, and it’s very hard from this distance to understand why. I mean he was a little jerk.” Ex-KGB General Oleg Kalugin says: “He played a positive role for the United States, because he alerted the American public in a very crazy way…about the threats to the United States.” Conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter says McCarthy was nothing less than an American hero: “Basically, everything you’ve ever heard about McCarthy, you just have to hit the delete button on.” According to Coulter, the senator is a “great American patriot, sent by God….”
For the first time on film, McCarthy’s former staff member James Juliana talks about his work with the Senator in an exclusive interview. Former Harvard professor Leon Kamin relives his experiences standing accused before the McCarthy committee, as does writer and publisher Sol Stein, himself a target of McCarthy’s accusations over his work for Voice of America.
McCarthy was born and raised a Democrat and actually wore an FDR pin at one point in his young life, according to biographer Thomas Reeves. He switched to the right wing of the Republican Party not for reasons of ideology but because that is where the money was and it offered him the clearest path to public office. In January 1947, at just 38 years old, McCarthy won a Wisconsin senate race becoming the youngest U.S. Senator at the time. After three low-profile years, McCarthy found his cause in a 1950 Lincoln Day speech in which he claimed to have a list of known Communists who were working for the State Department.
Within a few years he became one of the most powerful politicians in the country, leading blistering and often bullying attacks against journalists, fellow politicians, government officials, Hollywood directors and writers to root out what he claimed was Communist subversion in all corners of American society and government.
Ultimately, blinded by ambition, McCarthy took up misguidEd Battles with the Army, the State Department, the CIA and even the President of the United States himself, Dwight D. Eisenhower, until these forces --most notably the CIA-- took active measures against him.
ENEMIES WITHIN: Joe McCarthy is produced by Smithsonian Channel and HMR Produktion in co-production with ZDF/arte. Executive Producers for Smithsonian Channel are David Royle, Charles Poe and Joy Galane. Producer and director for HMR Produktion is Lutz Hachmeister. Written by Lutz Hachmeister and Simone Holler.
Smithsonian Channel is a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, formed to create a network featuring programs largely inspired by the assets of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex. Smithsonian Channel features award-winning original documentaries, series, and groundbreaking programs highlighting America’s historical, cultural and scientific heritage. Smithsonian Channel brings the American experience home in high definition and Dolby Digital 5.1 and is available to customers of DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Verizon, AT&T, and more. Learn more at www.smithsonianchannel.com.