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Best of Enemies

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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 Jr. 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.


Produced and Directed By Morgan Neville
Robert Gordon

Executive Producers Julie Goldman
Clif Philips

Readings by Kelsey Grammer
John Lithgow

Co-Producer Caryn Capotosto

Editors Eileen Meyer
Aaron Wickenden

Assistant Editor Lee Rosch

Consulting Producer Tom Graves

Associate Producer Eileen Meyer

Composer Jonathan Kirkscey

Graphic Design & Animation Scott Grossman

Line Animator Tom Foster

Archival Researcher Jane Kelly Kosek

Additional Research Emily McCallister

Creative Consultant Christopher Clements

Photography by David Leonard
Graham Willoughby
Mark Schwartzbard

Additional Photography by Martin Albert
Nelson Hume
Steve Dorst
Martim Vian
Jim Flynn
James Lea



“WICKEDLY ENTERTAINING. The directors avoid picking sides and instead enjoy the show.” – Kyle Smith, New York Post

“FLEET AND BRUTALLY FUNNY. Moviegoers wary of the summer's expensively rendered superhero skirmishes can still find mano-a-mano thrills — all verbal, no less tension-filled — in Best of Enemies.” - Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“HUGELY ENTERTAINING. A must-view film for our media-besotted age.” - Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“MASTERFUL. It’s not just a great documentary, it’s a vital one.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York

“****. 87 OF THE LIVELIEST, MOST ENGAGING MINUTES OF THE YEAR.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“*****“A top notch documentary with a climactic confrontation NO HOLLYWOOD SCRIPTWRITER COULD HAVE DEVISED" – David Wiegand, SF Chronicle

“ELECTRIFYING. Lean, loving and heartily satisfying.” – Ray Pride, Chicago New City

"There could scarcely be any documentary more ENTICING, SCINTILLATING AND DOWNRIGHT FASCINATING than Best of Enemies.” - Todd McCarthy, THR

“Lively and accessible. Buckley and Vidal were remarkable characters.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“DELICIOUSLY FEISTY. Grade A minus.” – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly


“The best doc at Sundance. It rivetingly retraces how one heated rilvry sparked an entire culture of punditry.” – David Ehrlich, Time Out New York


“A RIVETING GABFEST. It might have been both the most entertaining film of this year’s Sundance.” – Bilge Ebari, New York Magazine

"How one yearns for a little of their exquisitely distilled poison among the moronic TV screamers of today." – John Patterson, The Guardian

“A MADCAP INTELLECTUAL ROMP. Lively and fascinating.” - Avishay Artsy, KCRW

“RIVETING. A delicious spectacle.” – Nina Burleigh, Newsweek

“Media history geeks, Christmas is about to come early. Makes a compelling case that modern TV news — i.e. the victory of volume and rage over civilized discourse — starts here.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

“What a fun ride!” – Anne S. Lewis, Austin Chronicle

“HILARIOUS AND THRILLING. Chock-full of one-liners and bon mots that would make any stand-up comedian green with envy.” – Kristin McCrakcken, The Huffington Post

“If you like witty repartee among intellectuals, it’s hard to see how you could have more fun than watching this movie. Highly entertaining.” – Jordan Crucchiola, Wired

“JUICY AND THRILLING. The directors have unearthed outstanding footage and interviewed many of today’s best thinkers.” – Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

“WICKEDLY ENTERTAINING. The debate footage is a gold mine. Highly viewable and highly illuminating. A history lesson that also manages to be extremely timely.” – Steve Pond, The Wrap

“FASCINATING. Thoroughly engrossing and surprisingly entertaining.” – Joe Leydon, Variety

“TREMENDOUSLY ENTERTAINING. It’s rare that we get to see a specific moment in time that could be the origin of much of our current reality.” Russ Fischer, Slash Film

“A fascinating tale that's exhilarating and engaging, an entirely fitting and vital showcase for the film's iconoclastic subjects.” – Jason Gorber, Twitch

“A fast-paced, welcome nostalgia trip.” – Sean Means, SLC Tribune

“Colorful and entertaining, wonderfully effective.” – Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly

Date for DVD release subject to change.