Films: The Real American—Joe McCarthy

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The Real American—Joe McCarthy

The Real American—Joe McCarthy

Germany, 2011, 95 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Americana, Documentary, Drama, Historical/Period, Political
Program: Documentary Films
Language: English English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Lutz Hachmeister
Producer: Lutz Hachmeister, Frank Döhmann
Editor: Mechthild Barth
Screenwriter: Lutz Hachmeister, Simone Höller
Cinematographer: Hajo Schomerus, Christopher Popp
Principal Cast: John Sessions, Justine Waddell, Trystan Gravelle

Joe McCarthy was the first clear-cut villain of American politics in the TV era. The movement he launched to slay the specter of Communism in the United States culminated in a set of hearings that in turn devolved into the type of moralistic witch hunt we now call McCarthyism. The Real American—Joe McCarthy combines archival footage—some previously unseen—and narrative sequences from an original script to give viewers a sense of who McCarthy was: the man and the myth.

The transformation from Wisconsin farmboy to freshman senator was swift and dramatic for McCarthy, encouraging his quest to become the “number one man in Washington.” Blind ambition led him into a number of misguided battles against the Army, the State Department, the CIA, and even then-president Harry Truman. In retrospect, it hardly seems surprising that he also battled his own demons: McCarthy literally drank himself to death at the age of 48.

Director Lutz Hachmeister’s docudrama is the result of five years of extensive research; among others, he conducted interviews with Henry Kissinger, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Haynes Johnson, conservative pundit Ann Coulter, and members of McCarthy’s own family. We also hear from those on the receiving end of McCarthy’s attacks, including Harvard professor Leon Kamin and writer Sol Stein. The original screenplay was produced in Hachmeister’s native Germany with an international cast. Such unabated, widespread interest in a long-gone American politican and the war of hatred he waged goes to show that, even half a century after his death, the story of McCarthy’s rise and fall is timeless, universal—and worth learning from.
—REBECCA CARO

Sponsored by Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany

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