by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Citizen Cohn (1992)

Movie Grade B

McCarthyism Connection Grade A-

McCarthyism Connection
In the 1940s and early '50s, Roy Cohn became chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy's Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, the upper chamber's closest equivalent to the notorious House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Historical / drama


Jack   B
Roger Ebert   --
IMDB    7.3

   The movie has Cohn on his deathbead, dying of AIDS, and presented his life through flashbacks. Many of the people people he injured through the years joined him in his hospital room as a sort of Greek chorus, including Ethel Rosenberg, who he had tried and convicted so many years before. James Woods was tremendous, as usual.

   One thing that disturbed me was the dramatization of the Welch - McCarthy exchange at the Army Hearings. The movie had Joseph Welch being given a standing ovation as he confronted Senator McCarthy and asked him "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?". As can be heard quite clearly on the sound clip from the hearings, there was no applause at this point. Too bad. Why dramatize something that is so interesting on its own?

   Had some very interesting (and probably controversial) portrayals of some historical figures including J. Edgar Hoover, Dashiell Hammett , Cardinal Spellman, and Walter Winchell.

   The movie has Cohn playing a huge role in McCarthy's downfall. According to this movie it was Cohn who pushed for the Army Hearings to help his friend David Schine. McCarthy actually comes off looking pretty reasonable alongside Citizen Cohn.