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

      Released Sep 23, 2011 1 hr. 44 min. Documentary List
      84% 25 Reviews Tomatometer 63% 250+ Ratings Audience Score Filmmaker Carl Colby delves into the life of his father, former CIA director William Colby, and the history of the organization involved in intelligence gathering. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (15) audience reviews
      Audience Member He missed the way his father was murdered by his former colleagues for spilling the beans. But otherwise lots of intimate conversation with some twisted people, fun. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Audience Member 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." Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member Fascinating, controversial film about former CIA Dir. William Colby. He was a "company man" and served in various capacities in Vietnam prior to becoming Director. The film is directed by his son who is clearly ambivalent about his father. A lot of famous faces from that era are interviewed, with a lot of behind-the-scenes info. History buffs will love this. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/21/23 Full Review Audience Member I teach writing and my freshman students will read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, the story of a Hmong child who suffers from epilepsy, as did Colby's daughter. The connection between that book and this documentary is not epilepsy but what each reveals about how rotten things are in this state, the US. Carl Colby created a portrait of great delicacy that is as much -- perhaps, more -- about his mother and the nature of both the CIA and the government in the second half of the 20th C as it is about his father. In fact, despite the nearly two hours running time, we are less aware of who William Egan Colby was than we are of who his wife was. Whether director Carl purposefully lit the set and controlled his mother's make-up or whether her fading at the end of the film was due to taking her testimony in a single shot is a question I would ask Carl Colby. For me, the true cost of being married to a "spymaster" showed in Barbara's face and her grooming. At the beginning of the film, she appears as a handsome and well-groomed older woman, typical of educated women of her generation. She is dressed in an expensive brown suit, with perhaps a paisley pattern, with a yellowish blouse sometimes peeping from the neckline. Her face is calm and poised, colored only by delicate, pink lipstick. The audience hears that she put her husband through law school. The audience hears that her husband's colleagues consider her the source of his success. The son describes them as a team. During her final appearance, her face seems heavier, the lines more obvious. The delicate lavender-pink lipstick is almost gone, leaving her mouth crumbled in appearance. Through her faded lipstick, she announces how, after nearly 40 years of marriage, William Colby asked for a divorce. Whether this brilliant symbolism was planned or accidental, the faded makeup of the loyal wife reveals how little anyone knew of this man who could smile on cue and testify before Congress (at a time when Congress was a strong and active participant in government) and say nothing. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review Audience Member 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. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review s r Informative look into the CIA and a former director's life. The congressional hearings were unprecedented and in the wake of nixon's resignation must have been especially trying for bill Colby and the nation. His sudden divorce and alter death only added to the mystery. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Critics Reviews

      View All (25) Critics Reviews
      Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer At once a deeply personal film and an important historical document, The Man Nobody Knew leaves us with an incomplete portrait of a man. Rated: 3.5/4 Jan 19, 2012 Full Review Tom Long Detroit News 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. Dec 16, 2011 Full Review Nell Minow Beliefnet This is a riveting and important film that does not rest too heavily on the connection between its subject's personal emptiness and the moral failures Colby would come to regret. Rated: B+ Dec 16, 2011 Full Review Nicholas Bell While not terribly surprising in its revelations, the film does manage to illicit empathy as an intimate portrait of a cold, distant father, struggling to reconcile not only his duplicitous life between work and family but also between work and politics. Rated: 3/5 Jun 27, 2019 Full Review Tony Medley Rated: 9/10 Dec 14, 2011 Full Review Frank Swietek One Guy's Opinion Shows little sign of the deep emotional undercurrents one might expect in a son's treatment of his father, but it does present a clear, incisive yet tantalizingly incomplete portrait of a fascinating and complicated man. Rated: B Dec 9, 2011 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Filmmaker Carl Colby delves into the life of his father, former CIA director William Colby, and the history of the organization involved in intelligence gathering.
      Carl Colby
      Production Co
      Act 4 Entertainment
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Sep 23, 2011, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      May 22, 2017
      Box Office (Gross USA)