Best of Enemies

Rated 3.0

A breezy but didactic documentary about the decades-long rivalry between leftist writer Gore Vidal and right-wing scion William F. Buckley, Best of Enemies features a cornucopia of period footage, although the “expert” interviewees mostly speak in insipid, let-me-explain-the-1960s generalities. Scheduled by third-ranked ABC News as desperate counter-programming, their political debates during the 1968 conventions quickly devolved into personal attacks, culminating with Buckley calling the closeted Vidal a “queer” on the air. Best of Enemies shows how Vidal and Buckley were ideologically opposite sides of the same coin—self-made intellectuals and frustrated politicians who behaved like old-money elites—but they also commit some unforgivably annoying sins, like using scenes from the bowdlerized movie version of Myra Breckenridge to convey the character of Vidal's novel. Still, it goes down easy enough, and in this day and age, waiting until the end credits to include the obligatory Jon Stewart clip classifies as restraint. D.B.