Arguing the World

Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for "Arguing the World," with ultimate academic and TV/video play the likely outcome.

With:
Narrator: Alan Rosenberg.

Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with ultimate academic and TV/video play the likely outcome.

Film follows the lives of conservative political essayist Irving Kristol, moderate sociologist Nathan Glazer, social theorist Daniel Bell and the late socialist literary critic Irving Howe, from their poverty-stricken childhoods to their clashes in the political and cultural battles of the past 40 years. All came through CCNY, dubbed the poor man’s Harvard, where more education took place in cafeteria debates than in the classroom.

Once out of school they ended up in academia, at highbrow journals of opinion and — ultimately — influencing the movers and shakers of the country. Their overlapping and diverging paths provide a review of the political landscape of the last half-century. All were anti-Communists, for example, but Kristol eventually found himself as a conservative spokesman, while Howe assumed a leading role in the minuscule American socialist movement.

Their differing reactions to the campus unrest of the ’60s is instructive, with each in turn becoming disillusioned with the college radicals who presumed to be their successors. SDS leader (and subsequent California legislator) Tom Hayden comes in for repeated criticism not only from the more conservative thinkers, but from Howe as well.

Filmmaker Joseph Dorman provides a good context for the careers and issues that the film covers, letting each man have his say not only about his own life, but about the others as well. In a pithy closing statement, Howe notes that while he may disagree with Bell and Glazer, they have common roots. As for Kristol, Howe gives him the back of the hand, wishing him well in his life and failure in his political ambitions, noting that their common background no longer has any meaning.

Film is a fascinating documentation of an important chapter in the history of 20th century American intellectuals, but as such will have a limited audience.

Arguing the World

Production: A First Run Features release of a Riverside Film Prods. and Thirteen/WNET production. Produced by Joseph Dorman. Executive producer, Arnold Labaton. Directed, written by Joseph Dorman.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W), Peter Browscombe, Barrin Bonet, Wayne DeLaRoche, Boyd Estus; editor, Jonathan Oppenheim; music, Adam Guettel; sound, John Cameron, Nick Clark, Jeff Hansell, Peter Karl, John McCormick, Haven McKenney, Rick Mills, Caleb Mose, Jeff Pullman, Mark Roy, Saul Rouda, Dale Whitman; associate producer, Gail Segal. Reviewed on videocassette, Nov. 21, 1997. (In Boston Jewish Film Festival.) Running time: 109 min.

With: Narrator: Alan Rosenberg.

More Film

  • Durban FilmMart Celebrates Women as Industry

    Durban FilmMart Celebrates Women as Industry Still Struggles With Transformation

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

  • MayFair, directed by Sara Blecher

    Sara Blecher’s ‘Mayfair’ Brings Feminine Gaze to Gangster Tale

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

  • Todd Brown, XYZ Films

    African Finance Under Spotlight at Durban FilmMart  

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

  • Ryan Reynolds'Deadpool' panel, Comic-Con International, San

    Ryan Reynolds Wants to Explore Deadpool's Bisexuality in Future Films

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9243328q)From

    Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Restaurant Critic, Dies at 57

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

  • Johnny Depp Amber Heard

    Johnny Depp, Amber Heard Appear Moments Apart at WB's Comic-Con Panel

    Docu picked up by First Run Features should have a limited but enthusiastic audience. Pic offers a biographical look at four New York Jewish intellectuals who came out of City College of New York on the eve of World War II. Specialized festival and limited engagements are a sure bet for “Arguing the World,” with […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content