Bulldog

I rather like that we’re in the midst of a mini-J. Edgar Hoover revival, starting with the stellar Public Enemies and now moving on to the Hoover-must’ve-been-gay biopic rumored to be starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the man himself and Joaquin Phoenix as his lover, theoretically Clyde Tolson. I somewhat dislike the will-he-or-wasn’t-he school of speculation about prominent figures’ sexual orientation given that definitive answers, owing both to lack of evidence and to changing understandings of sexuality, are unobtainable. I’m a bit concerned, given that Dustin Lance Black is writing the screenplay, that this is going to be a simultaneous attempt to claim Hoover and reject him. That said, does anyone have a biography of Hoover they’d like to recommend? I’d like to dig a bit deeper.And given that Roy Cohn, a comparatively minor figure but a more accessible one, already has his definitive artistic treatment thanks to Tony Kushner, it seems entirely appropriate that Hoover should get some high-end portrayal as well. There hasn’t been a Hoover biopic since 1987, and that was a television movie, and I don’t know that 1977’s The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover had any great impact. I don’t know if that’s simply a matter of the man’s complexity, or the pervasiveness of his influence that there hasn’t been a more lasting portrayal in film. Or maybe it’s just that Hoover musing on Bosch in the prologue to Underworld is all the definitive portrayal that we need.

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