Upcoming doc explores contentious, entertaining face-off between Buckley and Vidal
June brought the publication of Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties, a 400-page tome on the unlikely relationship between conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and liberal Norman Mailer. They sparred publicly over matters of culture and ideology, but despite their philosophical differences held each other in high regard.
July brings a new documentary about Buckley's relationship with another intellectual giant, Gore Vidal. Best of Enemies, from directors Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon, opens in New York and LA on July 31.
Unlike his relationship with Mailer, Buckley despised Vidal. And the feeling was mutual. Best of Enemies focuses on a series of televised debates between Buckley and Vidal around the Democratic and Republican conventions in 1968, marked by high-minded political discourse and vitriolic personal attacks. These were no cozy, round-table chats à la Charlie Rose.
There could scarcely be any documentary more enticing, scintillating and downright fascinating than Best of Enemies.
The film earned raves from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
I saw it Thursday night at Outfest in LA and spoke with co-directors Neville and Gordon on Friday. Look for my full piece in the coming days!
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.