Distributor: Touchtone Pictures (R) 159 Minutes
Release Date: November 5th 1999
Awards: National Board of Review: Best Actor (Crowe), #4 Film of the Year
Nominations: Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Crowe), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Golden Globes: Best Dramatic Picture, Best Dramatic Actor (Crowe), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Score.
Cast: Russell Crowe as Jeffrey Wigand, Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman, Lindsay Crouse as Sharon Bergman, Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace.
Director: Micheal Mann
Screen Writers: Micheal Mann, Eric Roth.

The Insider is based on one of the largest healthcare cover-ups in history; that of nicotine addiction.  It dramatizes true events in the life of one man, Jeffrey Wigand, who sought to blow the whistle on the tobacco industry.  The writers used the text of a Vanity Fair article, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner, as a source for the script.  Micheal Mann and Roth do an good job in editing the subject matter into a version suitable for producing, but most of the substance survives untouched:-many of Crowe's lines in the film come directly from the Vanity Fair article.  Mann directs the film brilliantly, sustaining an atmosphere of mounting tension throughout the film, and adding a gritty realistic edge.  Here is the real life timeline of the film:

1993 - Jeffrey Wigand is fired by Brown & Williamson, primarily over arguments arising from a dangerous chemical named coumarin, used in B&W cigarettes.
1994 - Wigand meets with Lowell Bergman over deciphering some fire-safety papers for '60 minutes'.
1994 - The presidents of the Seven tobacco giants testify before US Congress that they believe that "Nicotine is NOT addictive".
1995 - Wigand tapes an interview with '60 Minutes' arguing that reveals that B&W knew that nicotine was not only addictive, but that it caused lung cancer and other health problems.  He states that the industry term for a cigarette is a 'nicotine delivery device' and the entire industry is dedicated to distributing and enhancing nicotine.
11/12/95 - CBS airs an 'abridged' version of the Wigand interview, fearing a lawsuit.  The abridged version is a cheap parody of the original, with Wigands entire interview cut out.
11/13/95 - '60 Minutes' presenter, Mike Wallace, was interviewed on 'The Charlie Rose Show' over '60 Minutes' backing down over the interview.  He says that he thought "we were caving in".
1996 - Wigand gives deposition in Mississippi for the state lawsuit against tobacco, that attempted to regain money spent fighting illnesses caused by smoking.   Wigand explains that nicotine is an addictive drug.
1996 - B&W launches a smear campaign against Wigand attempting to discredit his reputation.   A large dossier of mostly fabricated evidence is compiled on Wigands private life and sent to the 'Wall Street Journal'.
1996 - CBS airs the full Wigand interview.

The real star of the film has to be Crowe, who brings the central character to life.  His portrayal of a man under stress is exquisite, from the tone of the voice to the way he sits, he raises the intensity of the film to an almost unbearable level.  Considering the difference between his character in 'Gladiator', Crowe does excellently in adjusting to the unheroic but determined figure he plays in Wigand.  The gap between roles is in age as well as character; Wigand was over fifty during the events of the film.  Bleaching Crowe's hair caused a major problem for the costume department; half way through shooting Crowe's hair is shaved off and he wears a wig.  This difference in appearance does not detract from what is surely one of Crowe's best performances yet.  Pacino performs well in the supporting role as Lowell Bergman; the dynamic '60 Minutes' producer who will go to any length to get a story.  The subplot involves Bergman falling out with '60 Minutes', as they refuse refusal to air the full interview with Wigand for fear of legal action.  Bergman and Wigand's relationship develops slowly through stress and paranoia, into one of mutual respect and co-operation.  Bergman is the one who talks Wigand into going public with his story; that nicotine is a lethal drug.

On first glance, the subject matter seems abstract and boring.   You may be forgiven for thinking that a film based on politics and healthcare would do better as a documentary or a news bulletin then a dramatic film.  But you would be missing the effect on Wigand's life that 'The Insider' concentrates on and develops.  You'd be missing Crowe's electrifying performance brings as a man pushed to the edge.  And you'd be missing a realistic, yet intensely dramatic, movie.

Maximum Russell Crowe - http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Cinema/1501/
Jeffrey Wigand, Ph.D. - http://www.jeffreywigand.com/
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" Vanity Fair - http://studio.go.com/movies/insider/vanityfair.html
"Man of The People" - http://www.upcomingmovies.com/manofthepeople.html

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