A sleazy, manipulative man gone over thirty years gets his nasty comeuppance while probably bellowing biliously from beyond in this new, hardy even-handed documentary from Matt Tymauer (Studio 54)
Where’s My Roy Cohn actually gets its name from Pres. Donald Trump’s complaint about Jeff Session in a typical, if timely look at the nearly twenty year junior of the 45th U.S. President. Ambition and privilege may have been the genesis of his distressing, cunningly manipulative lifestyle full of hypocrisy, deceit and lies of a twenty-year old Columbia University graduate who would become a welcomed, big-shot New York City attorney.
An assailing mentality goes a long way for a wanton tactician who make a mark on 20th Century history, as well as Trump, as the counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare helped the former during issues with construction of his Big Apple Tower when it came to ‘illegal immigrants.’
Cohn’s infamy began with illegal judge collusion in the Rosenberg trial which led to subsequent executions. The McCarthy hearings, the persecution of outed government employees. An insurance scam regarding an arson he likely perpetrated resulting in a death, as well as swaying a major primary to ensure a Ronald Regan nomination. Not to mention serving the needs of key underworld types like John Gotti and the Gambino family, in addition to damaging the political aspirations of Geraldine Ferraro. A master of deflection and wielding who didn’t believe in words like admit or apologize finally was disbarred when he began to profit off his own clientele.
The Trump mentor lost his friendship after this major career setback as a devoted son of the ‘ugliest women in the Bronx’ ignominiously got the label ‘self U Jew’ from a cousin. Following in traditional genre fashion excerpts from dated interviews with many talking heads like another protege, Roger Stone (known of late for his connection to the Mueller investigation), as well as archival clips and photos. The anecdotes are interesting to a degree even if not much insight comes out of it, often leaving a better vileness tat encompasses an individual who denied his homosexuality and AUDS diagnosis (even on camera with Mike Wallage) until his death. Cohn had a per-chant for toy frogs and professed his engagement to friend Barbara Walters (which she denied).
If the proceedings probably aren’t as riveting as the man himself, Tymauer knows how employ the allure of sensationalism in a biography with shreds of humanity. An overriding influence on an inharmonious political landscape where evasion and eschewing inconvenient truths are part of a stealthy maleficent mettle. A tantalizing way with the Army/McCarthy hearings have a scandalous ambiguity regarding a Cohn obsession, G. David Schine, as a lesser-known Lavender scare was spread by the contradictory, steely lawyer.
This isn’t the end of Cohn getting non-fiction screen treatment; though it will be from a source closer to his shamefulness. It’s likely to earn a similar reaction that the scathing director may well elicit from on-lookers echoed in a famous riposte by the Army’s Chief Counsel Joseph Welch. “have you no decency !”