The Man Nobody Knew | Chicago Reader

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Rated NR · 104 minutes · 2011

Biography, Documentary, War
"He was tougher, smarter, smoother, and could be crueler than anybody I ever knew," says Carl Colby of his father, the controversial central intelligence director William Colby, in a voice-over for this fascinating documentary. Produced and directed by Carl, the film operates on two parallel tracks, examining the personal and professional lives that Bill Colby took great pains to compartmentalize; these stories reveal two distinct, and largely conflicting, agendas. Carl sets out to exonerate his father for the notorious Phoenix Program of wholesale assassination (vilified on the left) that he administered during the Vietnam War, as well as for his frank congressional testimony (vilified on the right) on the CIA's abuses of power. At the same time, Carl mounts a slow, steady, but ultimately withering attack on his father for the way he treated his family—particularly his devoted wife Barbara, who contributes her own poignant testimony. The man revealed at the end of all this is a genuinely tragic figure who may have been betrayed by his own government but also betrayed his wife and children.
Director: Carl Colby
Producer: Carl Colby, Grace Guggenheim and David Johnson

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