Blu-ray Review: Where’s My Roy Cohn?

STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Matt Tyrnauer
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 17, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $16.56, Blu-ray $22.55
BONUSES: director’s commentary, Q&A, more
SPECS: PG-13 | 97 min. | Documentary | 1.85:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  Overall 

Roy Cohn was never going to win a popularity contest and after watching the absorbing, damning documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? from director Matt Tyrnauer (Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood), it’s easy to see why.

A pugilistic conservative lawyer who served as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s right hand man and an important figure in the anti-Communist hysteria that swept the country in the late 1940s and 1950s, Cohn is also known for his mentorship of Donald Trump; his inspiration for the character—himself—in Tony Kushner’s  award-winning play Angels in America; and his take-no-prisoners approach to lawyering and life.

Where’s My Roy Cohn? goes head-on detailing his mentorship to Donald J. Trump, and how Cohn’s words of wisdom played an important part in Trump’s rise in business and politics.  Attack all who oppose and criticize, don’t pay your bills, lie shamelessly and manipulate the media for your own needs are just a few of the late attorney’s tips that are commonly noted in day-to-day coverage of Trump’s White House.

But that ain’t all, folks. Archival footage and testimonials delve into others aspects of Cohn’s world, including his involvement with the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case, his stint as a mob lawyer and defense attorney in charges against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, as well as his time spent as an adviser to Presidents Nixon and Reagan.

Cohn’s whirlwind personal life is also touched on, filled in by the likes of political prankster Roger Stone, media critic Ken Auletta and family members.  A graduate of college and Columbia Law School by the age of 20, Cohn used his work and association with McCarthy to become a celebrity lawyer in big cases. He partied at nightclubs and was befriended by scene-makers Andy Warhol, Barbara Walters, Halston, Norman Mailer and others. At the same time, he kept his homosexuality in the closet, and denied being gay even through his struggle with AIDS—he publicly said it cancer– which led to his death in 1986 at the age of 59.

Where’s My Roy Cohn? paints a vivid biographical portrait that has great impact today. The film took in less than $1 million at the box-office on a limited release, and will likely find a bigger group of interested parties on the home market. It’s a powerful, expertly researched documentary that presents fair warning for the present and future.

Buy or Rent Where’s My Roy Cohn?

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.