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Arguing the World
Arguing the World
Actors: Alan Rosenberg, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell (II), Irving Kristol, Irving Howe
Director: Joseph Dorman
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
NR     2005     1hr 49min

This enthralling film captures an era when the world depended on ideas as much as arms. With the Cold War raging and competing political philosophies vying to exert influence in every corner of the globe, four brilliant me...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Alan Rosenberg, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell (II), Irving Kristol, Irving Howe
Director: Joseph Dorman
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Religion & Spirituality, Biography
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/22/2005
Original Release Date: 01/07/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 01/07/1998
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 49min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

When thinkers were thinkers...
C. C Chrappa | us | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Having owned this film for about a year and watched it disgustingly many times, I concur with the other reviewers appraisals and add emphatically that this is the best documentary on public philosophy ever made (if not the only one; "Derrida" comes to mind, if that counts).

I had reached, prior to viewing this film, a state of disenchantment with the very possibility of nuanced, thoughtful documentary movie-making. Michael Moore will satiate mostly the foamy-mouthed; and everyone else seems to fall nolens volens somewhere along the bizarre continuum defined by him. What a relief then, what a blast of fresh air to get "Arguing the World" as a new ark of the covenant to restore one's faith in this moribund art. Not only are the four brilliant fellows (Bell, Glazer, Howe, Kristol) presented without snideness or sarcasm, and in ripping dialogue with one another, but a whole narrative is carried along with them, adumbrated by their zigzags as it were, which somehow captures both a pointed history of the 20th Century as well as the momentous integration of the Jewish community into American culture and politics. It's all here. The film is damn near perfect (a personal favorite is the next-to-last frame, which has Irving Howe wishing Kristol a long life "with many political failures I hope," then flashing a mischievous grin at the camera. I reside not anywhere near Howe's political territory, but it's things like this that put life into argumentative bones; consequently, I liked him a lot more after the film than I did before it. Perhaps the same could happen for those hostile to Kristol? Who knows). In any case, I've said enough. Watch this film. That's all. Just watch it. Now."
Intellectual metamorphosis
A viewer from Summit, NJ | Summit, NJ USA | 04/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This excellent documentary traces the careers and political evolutions of four "New York intellectuals": Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Irving Howe and Irving Kristol. They all started as anti-Stalinist leftists at City College of NY in the Thirties; wrote for "Partisan Review," "Dissent," "Commentary" and other left-wing and liberal publications; published erudite books, and received teaching positions at prestige universities. And, except for Howe, they all moved well to the right as they got older.
All of this is fascinating, especially the transition to the right, and their collision with the New Left in the Sixties. By that time, they'd all gotten recognition and prestigious university appointments--in Bob Dylan's words, they now "had something to protect." They're uniformly critical of the student radicals who sought them out in the early days of the New Left. Glazer, author of "Beyond the Melting Pot," refused to support the "Free Speech Movement" at UC Berkeley, while Bell and Howe have special disdain for Tom Hayden of SDS (Howe says "he had something of the Commissar about him," while Bell calls him "the Richard Nixon of the Left"). The (aging) New Leftists interviewed have equal scorn for them--Hayden says that they were spouting off while "I was going to jail for my beliefs" and dismisses Howe pithily: "I wasn't raised in a household where everyone shouted at each other." A former Berkeley student says, "Their idea of protest was to write a letter to the editor." Only Howe (who translated Yiddish poetry and wrote a highly regarded history of Jews in NYC) remained faithful to Socialism. Glazer and Bell moved to the right of the middle, while Kristol became a friend and adviser to Reagan and the darling of the Neoconservative movement, and gets plaudits on this film from William F. Buckley Jr. and Jeanne Kirkpatrick.
I found this documentary highly satisfying. Even though all of them are or were old enough to be my father, I strongly identified with their poor and working-class NYC upbringings, and admired their dedication to intellectual life. The film does a great job of evoking the intellectual/literary NYC salons of the Forties and Fifties. It's also not without humor."
Arguing the World
C. C Chrappa | 11/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is probably the most coherent and mesmerizing documentary on the birth of Socialism in America and the direct impact it had in fueling the radical upsurgence in the sixties. I absolutely loved this film."
Elliott S. Mitchell | Costa Mesa, CA USA | 01/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary exposes the viewer to four of the most noted members of New York's famous intellectual "Family" who were central to political and literary thought from the middle of last century on.The film gives a decent look at where these men were from and, through interviews with them, it gives a good feel as to their positions on several topics then and now."