The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (2011)
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Critic Reviews for The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby
At once a deeply personal film and an important historical document, The Man Nobody Knew leaves us with an incomplete portrait of a man.
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.
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.
To some degree, its subject remains tantalizingly unknowable, even after all the witnesses have taken the stand.
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.
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.
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