Point of Order! (1964)

Genres - History  |   Sub-Genres - Politics & Government, Social History  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Tom Wiener

The first and still most important documentary about the McCarthy era of American politics, Point of Order! is a distillation of 188 hours of television coverage of the 1954 hearings during which Senator Joseph McCarthy, through his Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, accused the U.S. Army of harboring communists in its ranks. The Army countercharged that McCarthy and Roy M. Cohn, the committee's chief counsel, had threatened the Army as a means of obtaining special privileges for Cohn's friend and the committee's special investigator, David Schine, then serving as a private at Fort Dix. The focus is on McCarthy and Cohn behind the hearing room's massive staff tables, and Secretary of the Army Robert Stephens, Army counselor John G. Adams, and special counsel Joseph Welch behind the more modest witness table. McCarthy's fellow committee members become increasingly uneasy with his personal and reckless attacks on anyone who would question his motives, but it is the memorable exchange between McCarthy and Welch, concluding with the counsel admonishing the senator for having no sense of shame that proved to be the highlight of the proceedings. Because the hearings were on national television, it was a moment that also served to undermine McCarthy's support by the White House, his own party, and the American public. As strong as some of director Emile de Antonio's subsequent work was (In the Year of the Pig, Painters Painting), this is the film for which he will be remembered.



McCarthyism, treason, America, anti-Communism, blacklist, Cold-War, Communism, courtroom, government, political-persecution, Senator, witchhunt [persecution]


High Historical Importance