March 27, 2013


Spy Vibe recommends: The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father Spymaster William Colby. Filmmaker Carl Colby, son of the former director of the CIA, has made an interesting documentary about his relationship with a father who was ultimately married to the world of deception and national security. Carl Colby approached the film in a style reminiscent of director Errol Morris (Fog of War) by placing the viewer in intimate one-on-one converstions with his dad's colleagues (and his mother), and intercutting these with historic footage. The voices are caring and candid, and one gets the sense that all of the participants are committed to helping Colby, and the audience, understand his father better. It's made clear that William Colby was a complicated man, hugely patriotic and committed to protecting the interests of America and the CIA. At home, he was respected as a man of high moral values, but he was not remembered as a warm father. The tightrope that William Colby walked between job and family became more tenuous in the Ford era, when he came under fire as a representative of the agency in a Congressional investigation into illegal CIA activities. The film does a good job providing a window into the Cold War, walking us through Colby's operations from the 1940s onward. And the film itself becomes a wonderful journey for Carl Colby, who must reconcile his father's character. The film is now streaming on Netflix. Official site here. You can order it on Amazon here.

From First Run Features: "A son's riveting look at a father whose life seemed straight out of a spy thriller, THE MAN NOBODY KNEW: IN SEARCH OF MY FATHER, CIA SPYMASTER WILLIAM COLBY uncovers the secret world of a legendary CIA spymaster. Told by William Colby’s son Carl, the story is at once a probing history of the CIA, a personal memoir of a family living in clandestine shadows, and an inquiry into the hard costs of a nation's most cloaked actions.

From the beginning of his career as an OSS officer parachuting into Nazi-occupied Europe, William Colby rose through the ranks of "The Company," and soon was involved in covert operations in hot spots around the globe. He swayed elections against the Communists in Italy, oversaw the coup against President Diem in Saigon, and ran the controversial Phoenix Program in Vietnam, which sparked today's legacy of counter-insurgency. But after decades of obediently taking on the White House's toughest and dirtiest assignments, and rising to become Director of CIA, Colby defied the President. Braving intense controversy, he opened up to Congress some of the agency's darkest, most tightly held secrets and extra-legal operations.

Now, his son asks a series of powerful and relevant questions about the father who was a ghost-like presence in the family home – and the intelligence officer who became a major force in American history, paving the way for today’s provocative questions about security and secrecy vs. liberty and morality. The film forges a fascinating mix of rare archival footage, never-before-seen photos, and interviews with the "who's who" of American intelligence, including former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense and Director of CIA James Schlesinger, as well Pulitzer Prize journalists Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh and Tim Weiner. Through it all, Carl Colby searches for an authentic portrait of the man who remained masked even to those who loved him most." Cover image below from Time Magazine

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