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The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)

The story of the late J. Edgar Hoover, who was head of the FBI from 1924-1972. The film follows Hoover from his racket-busting days through his reign under eight U.S. presidents.


Larry Cohen


Larry Cohen


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Broderick Crawford ... J. Edgar Hoover
James Wainwright ... Young Hoover
Michael Parks ... Robert F. Kennedy
José Ferrer ... Lionel McCoy
Celeste Holm ... Florence Hollister
Rip Torn ... Dwight Webb
Dan Dailey ... Clyde Tolson
Ronee Blakley ... Carrie DeWitt (as Roneé Blakley)
Howard Da Silva ... Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt
John Marley ... Dave Hindley
Michael Sacks ... Melvin Purvis
Raymond St. Jacques ... Martin Luther King
June Havoc ... Hoover's Mother
Lloyd Nolan ... Attorney General Harlan Stone
Andrew Duggan ... Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson


The story of the late J. Edgar Hoover, who was head of the FBI from 1924-1972. The film follows Hoover from his racket-busting days through his reign under eight U.S. presidents.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The files that escaped the shredder have become an incredible motion picture. From the Kennedys to Martin Luther King. From cab drivers to Congressmen. From housewives to hostesses. He had something on 58 million people. It was all in his files. Now you can see how he used it.


Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

December 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

F.B.I. Arquivo Secreto See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Larco Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film had a formal screening at the Kennedy Center, but members of both parties in the largely political audience were irritated by the film's unflattering depiction of not only Republicans such as Richard Nixon, but also Democrats such as the Kennedys and Franklin D. Roosevelt. See more »


Lionel McCoy: [sarcastically] Give my regards to the Wizard of Oz!
See more »


Referenced in This Week in Horror: It's Alive! (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Very well done and Broderick Crawford is excellent.
27 August 2010 | by mbsSee all my reviews

A lot of commenter's seem to focus on the fact that it was cheesy or low budget or whatever--but i thought it was a rock solid biography of Hoover's tenure at the FBI. I never knew there was rampant corruption in that bureau for years and years until he took over. (look it up its true!) Movie doesn't praise him entirely nor does it condemn him either----its a completely low key sort of monotonous look at the man's life.

There are a lot of great details that are included here along the way. A lot of moments--in fact i would say the movie is worth seeing because of these moments. The scene where Hoover mourns the loss of his mom for example...or the scene where Hoover is determined to unmask Martin Luther King Jr as a fraud (wrongly of course--but still the movie's not condemning Hoover for believing that MLK Jr was some sort of anarchist---its what the guy believed and rightly or wrongly it is what happened and makes for an amazing scene between Broderick Crawford and Raymond St Jacques as MLK Jr.) There's a fantastic scene at the beginning where Hoover is busting some gangster or bootlegger or something and the guy (and the guy's girlfriend) are insulting him relentlessly and Hoover just stands there and smirks.

Broderick Crawford actually is wonderful as Hoover---you don't realize it while you're watching it because he's so stoic and sorta stone faced the entire time--but you absolutely know what he's thinking and feeling throughout every scene that happens---and not just because of the screenplay--you're able to get what J Edger Hoover is feeling because of what Crawford is doing--weather its slumping forward or grabbing onto his longtime friend's (and possibly gay lover) hand or just staring dead ahead while receiving awful news---he really brings Hoover to life in a way that somehow merges old school acting (just the facts ma'am reeling of paragraphs of dialog at a time) with new school method acting (really projecting an inner life through reactions or body movements) in many ways Mr. Crawford's role here really intermingles the 2 styles in a way that you don't realize while watching it was pretty damn revolutionary. (and not something that George Clooney could pull off as easily in "The Good German" tho he tried really hard to.) its not a great movie by any means--its a little long...and more then a little rambling in parts--but it is a very good portrait of a very complicated individual---and i do wonder why its not better known given Hollywood's love of making biographies of every known famous person under the sun.

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