Best of Enemies is a behind-the-scenes account of the explosive televised debates between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr, during the 1968 Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No (1983) is a documentary film directed, produced, and edited by Gary Conklin. The film follows famed American writer and political gadfly Gore Vidal in his quixotic campaign against incumbent California Governor Jerry Brown for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in 1982. Vidal and State Sen. Paul B. Carpenter each won the support of 15.1% of voters in the primary election, but were easily outdistanced by Brown, who racked up 50.7% of the vote.
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia: This is an unashamedly opinionated film. In Gore Vidal’s America, the political coup has already happened. The right have triumphed and the human values of the liberals have been consigned to history. But how did this happen and who organized it? In this film Gore Vidal’s acerbic, opinionated and informed approach rips away at the facade of the new America. The film dramatizes Gore’s political views and his concern at the present state of American democracy using interviews and historical footage of his famous appearances on television and talk shows over the last fifty years. In the recently filmed interviews Gore examines the course of American history and policy making and draws dramatic conclusions on the fate of the nation in the modern age.
Wonders of Youtube! A 1991 video of a conversation between the two greats surfaces.
Gore Vidal on the South Bank Show in 2008, with extracts from Point to Point Navigation.
Gore Vidal’s Gore Vidal is a BBC Omnibus documentary first screened in 1995. The two part film biography covers Vidal’s life by visiting scenes from his past.
The best interview with the late Gore Vidal that I’ve heard so far. Unsurprisingly it comes from the inimitable Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source.
Having read all the Gore Vidal obits and the many more-and-less grudging encomia, I find the man himself at very near his best in my own conversational files — from an evening at Harvard just before Thanksgiving in 2003, on the occasion of his publishing Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams and Jefferson. He’d walked into the hall slowly, on a cane, that night, but his chatter was was crackling with fresh mimicry and mischief. (Two nights earlier, his reward at a joint reading in Provincetown was discovering that ancient nemesis Norman Mailer was getting around on two canes.) Great entertainer and great complainer, Vidal at 78 came through as passionate historian and erudite old comic who could still fill the house, and whose repartee was not all repertoire.
The great Gore Vidal is no more. One of the greatest prose-stylists of the last 100 years, he had a rapier-like wit, and remained a non-conformist to the end. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his life than to leave you in Gore’s own company. Here is an archive of Gore Vidal’s writings and media appearances, some of them rare, that PULSE has published over the years. Also, don’t miss this blistering 1986 response to the Norman Podhoretz in which Vidal is identifying predilections, particularly the neoconservatives passionate attachment to Israel, that 17 years later would lead the US to disaster in Iraq.
Gore Vidal sat down with Riz Khan to discuss Italo Calvino, whom Vidal describes as “the only great writer of my time”. Vidal’s essay on Calvino is available here.