BANG Movie Review: J. Edgar

Before last night, I did not know much about John Edgar Hoover. Then, I watched a movie all about him. Now, I don’t know whether I know a lot more about him, or a few factual things plus a bunch of delusional baloney.


Here are my thoughts:

  • We knew this was a “guy movie” before it even started: all previews were for movies with guns and spies and fighter planes.
  • Even Skye agrees (and he’s her boyfriend): this is not an alluring role for Leonardo DiCaprio. Not that all his roles are alluring – that’s part of why he’s good – but he is distinctly un-yummy as J. Edgar (especially elderly J. Edgar). Even as a young man, he had that weird accent that was neither hot nor cool.
  • Also, Leo looks odd with brown eyes.
  • I was warned that the makeup was supposedly terrible; I don’t know if I would go that far, but the first few times I saw each of the characters in “old-face”, I did flinch a little.
  • Armie Hammer, who plays Clyde Tolson, has spectacular teeth. I kept being distracted by them. Come to think of it, he’s pretty alluring.*


  • Edgar’s mom, it seems, was a piece of work. He loved her to bits but I think she made him miserable a lot.
  • The FBI really began as a case of OCD.
  • The true story of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s little son is… awful.
  • Maybe it’s just my generation (or maybe it’s just me), but all the characters from that time period seem to me too legendary to have been real. Hoover, Roosevelt, Lindbergh, Capone, Dillinger, Kelly… they’re just movie characters, right?
  • I like fedoras. This movie is full of them.
  • Being gay really would have been tough back then.** That being said, the situation of Hoover and Tolson as inseparable business partners seems like the best option of the era.
  • Helen Gandy, the secretary, is a character who is quietly, unassumingly awesome.
  • That Edgar character… talks a lot.
  • I was also warned that the writing was “ham-handed”. Again, I think that’s a little harsh, but there was no dialogue that I particularly remember or that made me really laugh or sit up and go “Yeah!” (in my head).
  • The film lasted 137 minutes, and we felt every one. I wouldn’t say it was boring, but I did have the time to wonder when it would end – several times.
  • I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve heard actual snores coming from other patrons at the theatre.

*Armie Hammer, I’ve just learned, is actually named Armand Hammer, after his tycoon great-grandfather. ARMAND HAMMER. Wikipedia says: It is often claimed, incorrectly, that the brand name Arm & Hammer originated with tycoon Armand Hammer […]. The Arm & Hammer brand was in use some 31 years before Hammer was born, leading some to speculate that things were actually the other way around and Hammer’s father named him after the brand. Seriously.

**Though not as tough as for these poor gay penguins, right now. We were just chatting about them last night before the movie. Awww.

African penguins Pedro and Buddy interact with each other at the Toronto Zoo***


3 thoughts on “BANG Movie Review: J. Edgar

  1. emerge says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure the nickname “Armie” is any better than “Armand Hammer.” Despite its macho literal meaning, the word “army” sounds way too cute to be cool. And if your last name is Hammer there is no way around being doomed anyway.

    Leo with brown eyes freaks me out just in the poster.

    Was the Lindbergh baby an early FBI investigation? I know I’ve read all about that, but of course don’t remember the details.

    I hope those penguins can survive their sperm donation process and get back to their mates without too much trauma. I also love their names a lot.

  2. Krista says:

    I also loved the fedoras and thought Miss Gandy rocked. I didn’t think the make-up was bad… I thought they were supposed to look that bad 😀 Oh and the snoring… my apologies, it was probably me. LOL

  3. diblog says:

    Glad you came along, Krista! It was great to have you there – whether you snored or not (and I’m pretty sure the snoring I heard was from down a row or two).

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