Saturday, November 26, 2011

J.Edgar (Rhoades)

“J. Edgar” Doesn’t
Ask, Doesn’t Tell

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My high-school buddy Lane spent his career with the FBI. He was an aide to J. Edgar Hoover himself.
He started out acting as liaison between Hoover and Bobby Kennedy. Hoover hated Kennedy, and assigning a fledgling G-Man as liaison was his way of insulting the president’s brother.
Director Clint Eastwood has made a film about the infamous director of the FBI. Titled “J. Edgar,” it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover and Armie Hammer as his sidekick Clyde Tolson.
Many in the FBI are angry that the film depicts Tolson trying to smooch his boss. Eastwood is hinting at the longtime rumor that Hoover and his assistant director were gay lovers.
“There is no basis in fact for such a portrayal of Mr. Hoover,” insists William Branon, chairman of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation. “It would be a grave injustice and monumental distortion to proceed with such a depiction based on a completely unfounded and spurious assertion.”
Fact is, Hoover and Tolson ate lunch together every day and dinner together almost every night. They vacationed together, they took snapshots of each other, they were tight.
So I asked my old buddy Lane what he knew. He replied: “Hoover and Tolson were chauffeured, guarded, and observed daily by FBI Special Agents throughout their tenure as FBI Director and FBI Associate Director. FBI Special Agent R. Jean Gray said it best (with my emphasis in parenthesis):  ‘If anything scandalous had happened (between) the FBI Director (and Tolson), it would have been known coast to coast within the (FBI) in thirty minutes.’”
Well, there goes another myth.
“J. Edgar” – currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – traces the FBI Director’s career, touching on Bruno Hauptmann and the Lindbergh kidnapping as well as his tempestuous relationship with Bobby Kennedy.
The studio publicity describes the movie: “As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life.”
I asked my buddy about this. He admitted that Hoover had secret files on everybody in Washington, 28 filing cabinets in all. After the FBI Director’s death, he helped Hoover’s secretary Helen W. Gandy (“Miss Gandy,” as he respectfully calls her) shred the contents of all these files.
DiCaprio makes an interesting J. Edgar Hoover. He has the acting chops for the role, but the makeup is at times unconvincing. The FBI Director’s jowly bulldog countenance proves hard to emulate.
Naomi Watts plays Miss Gandy in the film.
If there was no gay relationship with Clyde Tolson, how about any signs of romance with Miss Gandy?
“No,” says my friend Lane, wearily shaking his head as he recently sat in my Key West living room, “Hoover was married to his job.”[from Solares Hill]

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