Stripping the cross-dressing rumors from J. Edgar Hoover’s upcoming biopic is not enough to get film writer and director Larry Cohen to give his stamp of approval. That’s because Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the late FBI director, still portrays Hoover as a big homo. And Cohen — whose 1977 The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover was, in his mind, more accurate than what Imagine Entertainment and Warner Brothers is spitting out today — isn’t standing for it.
Cohen — whose sister, Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, was murdered while driving home to Beverly Hills last year — read Dustin Lance Black’s script for J. Edgar and came up with 17 pages of notes, detailing supposed inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and outright lies about Hoover.
Mr. Cohen’s biggest gripe is what he describes as the film’s portrayal of Hoover, the longtime director of the F.B.I., “as a closeted gay man.” In his critique, which Mr. Cohen said he planned to post online if he could find a proper forum, he acknowledges that Hoover had long been the subject of reports and rumors of cross-dressing and of a hidden sexual relationship with his aide Clyde Tolson (who died in 1975, three years after Hoover). But Mr. Cohen insists that the stories, which made a splash in Anthony Summers’s 1993 biography “Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover,” are not backed up by credible evidence that Hoover was “anything but asexual.”
Based on its script, Mr. Eastwood’s movie will dwell heavily on the Lindbergh kidnapping case, in which, by Mr. Cohen’s assessment, Hoover “had only the most peripheral involvement.” And he contends the film makes much of Hoover’s reluctance to pursue the Mafia, but underestimates the positive effect of what he calls a “gentleman’s agreement,” under which Hoover supposedly let crime bosses operate prostitution and gambling rings, as long as they helped to block the narcotics trade.
Cohen’s own film (which this blogger has not seen) has been described as “relish[ing] his scenes of Hoover’s homosexuality and his propensity for sitting in the dark with a bottle of whiskey, replaying tapes of the amorous liaisons of high government officials — the decadently homosexual Hoover built his political power base by getting all the dirt he could on the government’s movers and shakers — particularly their sexual liaisons — and blackmailing them for their support when he could not get it in any other way.”
Warner Bros. says Cohen worked not off the final shooting script, but an early draft that hadn’t been vetted. Either way, we’re going to make an offer to Cohen: If you want some place to publish your 17-page dossier, touch us in our asexual place