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American Experience: LBJ

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Award winning filmmaker David Grubin profiles one of the most controversial U.S. presidents, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who rose from obscurity to the pinnacle of power, only to suffer disillusionment and defeat. Witness the events that brought LBJ from Texas to Washington, the White House, and a landslide election in 1964. Follow his triumphs in passing a wave of social legislation then his downward spiral which ends in withdrawal from politics.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, 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:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BYRCDI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,999 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Experience: LBJ" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher M. MacNeil on February 28, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
PBS' "American Experience" has become synonomous with quality television, and its profile of the country's Vietnam War-embattled president, Lyndon B. Johnson, is one of the reasons why. While Johnson arguably is remembered foremost as the president done in by an unpopular war, he is presented here as a man and politician of much more substance and who apparently did have an honest and compassionate empathy for his constituency, especially the impoverished and disenfranchised. After the obligatory recounting of Johnson's birth and childhood, the documentary takes us to Johnson's early career on Capitol Hill and his gradual ascent to power, starting with his selection as presidential candidate John F. Kennedy's vice presidential running mate. On that count, we get a feeling of a tenuous relationship between the charismatic Bostonian and prairie-tough Texan, a political combination that became even more tenuous by the out-and-out dislike between the eventual vice president and Robert F. Kennedy, brother and attorney general of the president. Of course, the shattering events in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, vaulted LBJ to the pinnacle of world power, a positioned that was solidifed by a 1964 landslide presidential election victory. From there, LBJ sets off to expand his predecessor's social agenda, from voting rights for the country's disenfranchised minorities to the "war on poverty." But, not surprisingly, the unpopular war in Southeast Asia becomes LBJ's highest priority. In the end, of course, the fire of public opposition to both the war and Johnson's handling of it forced the president who just four years earlier was validated by the American people in a landslide victory not to even seek renomination.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
From the time Lyndon Johnson left office in 1969 until the
time this film was made in 1990, his reputation was very
negative: the heartless war-monger and the sleazy wheeler-dealer. However, in the 1980's historians, prominent among them
Robert Dallek, had begun to bring out a more balanced, nuanced view of the man. These historians, whose views appear in this film marked a turning point in the public's view of this most complicated man. Long-time associate John Connally points out that he could be compassionate and cruel, crude or charming, generous or selfish. These different traits are constantly brought to the fore by the many people close to LBJ who appear in the film. Various important points that come out are:
(1) The breakthroughs in Civil Rights in the 1950's and 1960's were largely due to his efforts. As a Southerner he was able to get whites in the south to accept desegregation without a large-scale white backlash.
(2) The controversial senatorial election in 1948 which LBJ won by 87 votes with the help of ballot-box stuffing was hardly unusual in Texas or other parts of the country. Johnson was not involved personally in the incident. Although it is said that "Landslide Lyndon"'s career was stained by it, the same could be said of Harry Truman who was also elected in a similar way in 1934, and yet he managed to shake loose of the allegations.
(3) LBJ was well aware of the risks he was taking in committing
US ground forces to Vietnam. I was stunned when former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford states in the film that any other President would have taken the same decision.
Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This video is an absolute must for anybody who is interested in not only contemporary US political history but also in the art of politics itself. This superbly crafted set of films gives a vivid account of one of the most controversial and, in my opinion, underated US Presidents.
LBJ was a Conservative Democrat. LBJ was a liberal Democrat. LBJ could be the nicest chap you ever met. LBJ could be a real SOB. In short - LBJ was full of contradictions. It is this which is best brought out from both tapes. This is no narrative history. It attempts to really get behind the man.
I could go on of course. However, I would not want to spoil the hours of pure pleasure you are sure to attain with this video.
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Format: VHS Tape
This video provides a very interesting and unbiased account of LBJ. Johnson's complexities are developed well and the viewer truly appreciates LBJ's rise from obscurity and the manner in which he did it. The producers of the film do a wonderful job of showing Lyndon Johnson's compassion, drive, wit and charm, along with his other innumerable characteristics, as he oversees the passage of more landmark legislation than any president before or since. The only drawback with the film is the failure to fully provide an analysis of the impact of all of the Great Society legislation. On the other hand, the film accurately captures the anguish suffered by LBJ as he led the country into Vietnam. This film should be seen by all Americans and is a gold mine for LBJ enthusiasts like myself.
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