James Woods seems to find his most adventurous roles in television movies, particularly this made-for-HBO biography of the late lawyer and powerbroker Roy Cohn. A hallucinatory, impressionistic look at his career and life, the film is comprised of flashbacks by Cohn, who is seen dying of AIDS in 1988 in his New York hospital bed. Woods sinks his teeth deeply into the role of the shark-like Cohn, capturing his arrogance and his insecurity, both at his own Jewishness and his deeply closeted homosexuality, even as he rides Sen. Joe McCarthy's anti-Communism campaign for all it's worth. Woods even manages to make the deeply detestable Cohn vulnerable, if not sympathetic. A strong supporting cast includes Joe Don Baker as an amused and calculating McCarthy, but the film lives and breathes in Woods's flamboyantly nuanced embodiment of the whiny, manipulative Cohn. --Marshall Fine
Joseph N. Welch:
Until this moment, I never really gauged your recklessness, or your cruelty. Fred Fisher is beginning what looks to be a brilliant career with us. And when I asked him to come here and assist us, he told me in college he briefly belonged to the Lawyer's Guild, the organization to which you refer. I told him that, um, I just don't think I'm going to use you on this case, because it might go out on the networks, and that would just hurt like the dickens. So, Senator, I sent him back to Boston. Little did I dream that you would be so cruel, and so reckless as to do injury to this lad. It's true, he works for us. It's true that he will continue to work for us, and it's true I fear he will always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by YOU. Let us not assassinate this lad any further, Senator? You've done enough! Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you NO sense of DECENCY?
Roy Marcus Cohn:
Senator, I've seen enough names working for Pat McCarran. You're going to be hauling up Jew after Jew... all those European names, and with a McCarthy and a Kennedy together, it's gonna look like an Irish/Catholic-run pogrom. That will discredit everything you do, and I know, because I'm a Jew.
Senator Joseph McCarthy:
But they're Communists. They betrayed the faith of the Fathers for this Socialist God of Iron. Now, that's the issue, not anti-Semitism.
Roy Marcus Cohn:
That's NOT what your opposition will say. It's very hard sometimes to control what an issue really is, and if your enemies can find a way to twist your motives, believe me, they will do it.
Barely more than 100,000 votes over 70 million cast. That, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America, is a squeaker. Opinion here? A rich, Irish kid with King Midas for a daddy has just proved that in this country, you can buy anything, including the White House.
Good luck, America.