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The Pentagon Papers (2003)

James Spader , Claire Forlani , Rod Holcomb  |  R |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Spader, Claire Forlani, Paul Giamatti, Alan Arkin, Kenneth Welsh
  • Directors: Rod Holcomb
  • Writers: Jason Horwitch
  • Producers: Rod Holcomb, Fritzi Horstman, John Sacret Young, Joshua D. Maurer, Stephen J. Turnbull
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000WN1N6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,697 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pentagon Papers" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The story of Daniel Ellsberg, a high-ranking Pentagon official who, in his effort to preserve American democracy, leaks top-secret Defense Department documents to the media. Stars James Spader, Alan Arkin and Paul Giamatti.

From the Back Cover

Expose a nation's treachery...or protect it as a matter of national security? It's the dilemma facing Daniel Ellsberg (James Spader) when he stumbles across "The Pentagon Papers." Based on a true story, this compelling film traces the story of Ellsberg, an ambitious, Harvard-educated ex-Marine assigned to the top position at the Pentagon. As an analyst assigned to monitor the information coming out of Vietnam, Ellsberg is shocked to discover a 7,000-page, top-secret report that reveals the true extent of America's clandestine involvement in the conflict. And his decision to expose the stunning truth behind the government's active participation will either label him as national hero...or a seditious renegade, intent on damaging the nation's security and best interests. "The Pentagon Papers" is a powerful political drama, hailed by critics. Also starring Emmy Award-nominee Alan Arkin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, thought-provoking drama August 29, 2004
By tahl2
Despite excellent supporting performances, this movie is really a one-man show: it's all about Spader's smart, emotional performance as Daniel Ellsberg.

Very little of the movie happens in the Watergate time-frame from which we know Ellberg's name. Most instead covers the ten years (roughly 1963-1973) during which he reached the point of thinking the most patriotic act he could take was to release top-secret Department of Defense material about the Vietnam war. It's an engrossing exploration of the great questions: what is duty? to whom do we owe loyalty?

Nothing explodes, except during a few striking, necessary scenes in Vietnam. Thanks be for intelligent film-making.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful "made for TV" film!!! January 5, 2005
THE PENTAGON PAPERS is a truly engrossing dramatic film! Despite being "made for TV," wonderful performances abound in this movie. James Spader--an extraordinarily gifted actor--gives a top-notch portrayal of Daniel Ellsberg, which keeps the viewers' attention throughout the course of the film. The story has a fascinating plot that explores a complex question: is treason justifiable when it will reveal the truth to the public? Should revealing classified documents to prove the failures of the Vietnam war be considered treason...or should it be considered an act of patriotism? This film thoughtfully considers these questions and more, and leaves you to form your own opinions about whether Ellsberg's actions were right or wrong.

If you are a fan of James Spader, this film is a he is at his best here. For anyone interested in a good story, based on true events, this movie is worth a look!
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
This movie came out on TNT within a month of the start of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." I had taped it off the TV and made copies of the TV broadcast for just about everyone I knew.

For those of us who watched with jaws dropped as Congress voted nearly unanimously to support the war, the movie brings back in vivid detail the times from the late 60's. I appreciate that it brought out the personal inner turmoil of a man who was initially a "hawk" (because he felt that Communism must be stopped), but who became convinced that the Viet Nam War was wrong and that he needed to do something to stop it, even at the risk of being tried for treason.

Having lived in Washington throughout the entire Watergate affair, leaving a week or two after Nixon, I really appreciate the delicious irony of the fact that Nixon was so anxious to discredit Ellsburg that he had his "Watergate Burglers" break into Ellsburg's psychiatrist office and steal his file. It was this contamination of due process that resulted in Ellsburg's trial being thrown out of court.

This movie is a must-see for any student of democracy, and any American who is under 45....
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see! April 12, 2010
Though a serviceman involved in the Vietnam War, I never knew so much about what was really going on until seeing this great film. Want to know about Vietnam, political corruption, and the misuse of truth? See it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Pic February 17, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie starts very slowly, but picks up momentum fast.

It is a clear and even moving account of Daniel Ellsberg, and his transformation from a gung-ho military analyst to the foremost opponent of the Vietnam War.

It does a great job in making his evolution believable.

The acting is good. James Spader is robotic, but that's appropriate to Ellsberg himself. Paul Giamatti is great as his also-evolving colleague. Claire Forlani begins better than she ends; toward the end of the movie she seems to be simply going through the motions--her performance lacks fire and sincerity. The woman who plays Ellsberg's first wife, however, is sensational.

Several nice touches:

The quick cuts between historical footage and what is happening in the film are seamless and powerful.

The scenes in Vietnam are a revelation.

The take on Nixon's thugs (Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell) is astonishing.

An informative, powerful film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good historical movie April 15, 2013
This movie was very informative. I am a big fan of James Spader and he did a great job. It irritates me that our government lied to us. We need movies like this to be made.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this Film January 30, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film was fascinating! James Spader characterization was engrossing. Have watched this depiction several times and seem not to get tired of it. Peaked my interest in this period of history which led to my purchase of "The Most Dangerous Man in America" and "All the President's Men". All of which I would recommend highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low Key Production June 19, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I think this was made for TV. Good presentation or familiarization with the subject of Dan Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. The papers themselves are on the web in .pdf files. Exhaustive reading but worth it. This film put the actual events behind the report and how it was made public into a nice neat package.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I was pleased at how honest the key charcters were about their ...
I was pleased at how honest the key charcters were in sticking to the powerful truth of the story. We would all do well to watch this and remember the blatant arogance of those... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bradley G. Mastin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by jojo
5.0 out of 5 stars How the courage of one man changed history
This is an exceptional and very important film. It tells how Daniel Ellsberg came to find the REAL story behind our country's involvement in Viet Nam. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SEB-East
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie and inspiring message
One of the best stories about the strange goings-on in Washington, DC. There are people in this world who stand up for what they believe, and they inspire the rest of us to try to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joann C. Supulski
5.0 out of 5 stars The sacrifice of truth
This little gem is well worth watching for the history, the political misinformation to the public, the blunders, the typical behind closed doors attitude where the reason for... Read more
Published 2 months ago by RICHARD
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
James Spader is Great, as Usual
Published 2 months ago by Thomas Ricker
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing! Necessary viewing for every American! Especially since...
Good people, making their best efforts make mistakes. Bad people, making their best efforts, make misery. In the Vietnam war, we had both. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Barbara Schamberger
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie
Well-done and a must in today's word of government secrets. The story of Daniel Ellsberg and the massive cover-up of the American military victories during the Vietnam War.
Published 6 months ago by Roberta Black
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few genuine heroes of the Vietnam War
It's startling & unsettling to realize how many people today don't know who Daniel Ellsberg is, or what he did for this country some 40 years ago. Read more
Published 6 months ago by William Timothy Lukeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Spader !
It was nice to have James Spader in this role. Lovely recreation of history and timely issue relating to the wiki issues and making the government responsible and accountable for... Read more
Published 9 months ago by SilentMira
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