The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (2011)

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A son's riveting look at a father whose life seemed straight out of a spy thriller, The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby uncovers the secret world of a legendary CIA spymaster. Told by William Colby's son Carl, the story is at once a probing history of the CIA, a personal memoir of a family living in clandestine shadows, and an inquiry into the hard costs of a nation's most cloaked actions. -- (C) Official Sitemore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 17, 2012
Box Office: $0.2M
Runtime:
First Run Features - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (14)

At once a deeply personal film and an important historical document, The Man Nobody Knew leaves us with an incomplete portrait of a man.

Full Review… | January 19, 2012
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

There's a reason spies are called spooks; it's as if they have no human essence. If William Colby had one, his son hasn't found it in this film. But he has found the emptiness. And that's something.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

Presumably, Colby would be pleased to know he comes across as neither compelling nor vivid - which in some ways makes him all the more interesting.

Full Review… | November 17, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

To some degree, its subject remains tantalizingly unknowable, even after all the witnesses have taken the stand.

Full Review… | October 28, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Fascinating.

Full Review… | October 20, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A remarkable feat of personalized biography.

Full Review… | October 14, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby

To be honest, "The Man Nobody Knew" is not the quite the documentary I was expecting. While this is not entirely a bad thing(there is some great use of rare archival material), it is still a shame that Carl Colby pretty much just works around the margins in trying to get to know who his father, William Colby, former head of the CIA, really was. Such secretiveness was not just due to his father's occupation but his generation when it was not required of a father to be friends with his son or for a man to reveal his feelings or weaknesses. Also of that generation were preconceptions of the Cold War that led to Communist defeat in Italy after World War II but not in Vietnam. While William Colby and family were getting to know President Diem in Saigon, a nationalist struggle was taking root in the countryside.(Not mentioned are canceled elections mandated by the Geneva Accords to unite the country.) So while there is plenty of testimony in favor of the security of the Strategic Hamlet program, nobody mentions that this also cut off the peasants from their land. The Phoenix Program quickly got out of hand, angering the next generation to find out what has been carried out in their name. So William Colby takes the heat in front of Congress and is fired from the CIA while Nelson Rockefeller, Donald Rumsfeld, and Henry Kissinger, a true Axis of Evil, are left in power.

Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

An interesting peak into how the CIA works, with some fairly damning photos and audio clips from around the world to inside the oval office. I kind of wish Carl Colby had given a more personal take on the subject; the movie feels really more like a bunch of facts laid out with the focus really more on what happened in Vietnam than his father. I would have liked more anecdotes about his home and family life, or his life after the CIA or just anything more in depth about his sister or mother. Though maybe I'm asking too much of a movie called "the man nobody knew."

Incredible story, and history. However, I saw it when Carl presented at the old Lumiere in SF, and his in-person hour-long discussion/commentary afterward really filled in the gaps. There is context that cannot really be translated on screen. Still, a very worthwhile documentary.

Jim W.
Jim Wilson

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