Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn Image

AFI DOCS FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW. I didn’t know much about Roy Cohn going into HBO Documentary‘s Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn and to be perfectly honest, I wish that I could have continued my existence without learning of the evil deeds of a man long dead who still affects the political corruption we face today as a country. I had some vague idea from the tiny bit of Angels in America that I watched on HBO, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

So, back in 1951, which was somewhere towards the beginning of America’s endless hatred of communism, a married couple named Julis and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of selling plans for weapons to the then extant Soviet Union. It has long been debated, particularly by the Rosenberg’s sons Michael and Robert Meeropol, that the charges were trumped up as part of anti-communist Cold War hysteria. Guess who the prosecutor was on the case? Roy Cohn. Guess who was also the Chief Counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy in his nationwide Communist witch-hunt? Roy Cohn. Guess who was also the attorney for Tony Salerno and Vito Genovese? Roy Cohn. Guess who was Donald Trump‘s mentor and called our current “president” a “genius?” You guessed it, Roy Cohn.

He was a gay man working against the gay community.”

Cohn was dead-set on winning every case he had, whether he was in the right or not (more often than not, he wasn’t). He also never paid any of his bills or taxes, putting all of his possessions under his law firm. Peter Manso, a reporter who interviewed Roy Cohn several times throughout his life, had copies of seemingly countless unpaid bills that Roy told his book-keeper to leave unpaid. Famous gossip reporter Cindy Adams tells a story of going into his house and taking back three pieces of art which he never paid for, and which Roy Cohn never discussed with her again. She knew he was a snake in the grass.

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (2020)

Directed and Written: Ivy Meeropol

Starring: Roy Cohn, Cindy Adams, Peter Allen, John Waters, David Lloyd Marcus, John Klotz, Nathan Lane, Alice Marcus, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn Image

"…required viewing if you want to know more about the true history of America..."

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  1. Thomas Brown says:

    I read your review and I felt you missed some of the points. Cohen very much had his defenders. Cindy Adams seems to have been a friend to the very end. Many people in New York supported him and enabled him. Dershawitz obviously liked him. Of course both of those people are equally detestable people. My point is that Cohen was the hero of his story and he wasn’t alone in this belief.
    Lastly, the documentarian shys away from the documentation that says his Father was a spy and did commit numerous crimes against the county. He most likely aided in the guilty verdict of his own wife by not telling the truth. All of this is skipped over in the movie. In it’s own way it feels like a manipulation about a great manipulator. It’s easy to skip over the faults of the movie when desipicable men keep flashing on screen.

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