Best of Enemies

Tremolo Productions / Magnolia Pictures   |   USA

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. In Best of Enemies, we made the creative decision to allow our two protagonists to appear in the film exclusively through archival footage. Both Vidal and Buckley lived full lives in front of the camera, so we had a deep well to draw from. By using archival footage to speak for both Buckley and Vidal, we were able to craft intimate, nuanced and balanced portraits of both men.