With an election year coming up, both the Republican and Democratic parties have been holding debates with their Presidential candidates over the past few months. The debates have often been as controversial as some of the candidates, but even the verbal sparring of today's contenders can't hold a candle to a series of historic debates from 1968, between two men who weren't even running for office. Magnolia Home Entertainment has released Best of Enemies on Blu-ray and DVD, a new documentary that explores the debate/feud between conservative analyst William F. Buckley and liberal commentator Gore Vidal.
Magnolia Home Entertainment has provided us with an exclusive clip, featuring Academy Award-winning Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) and Grammy Award-Winning Director Robert Gordon (Shakespeare Was A Big George Jones Fan) discussing the making of Best of Enemies. The directors reveal that this documentary took a whopping five years to finish, but they never suffered from a shortage of material. The filmmakers added that, the more they delved into their subjects, the more fascinated they became by them.
In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other's political ideologies were dangerous for America.
Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult-their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born. Directed with consummate skill by filmmakers Robert Gordon and Academy Award-winning Sundance Film Festival alum Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom), Best of Enemies unleashes a highbrow blood sport that marked the dawn of pundit television, as we know it today.
Best of Enemies had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category. The film also features appearances from Kelsey Grammer, John Lithgow, Dick Cavett, Noam Chomsky and Christopher Hitchens. Check out our exclusive preview, before picking up the Blu-ray and DVD.