"Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator; you've done enough... have you left no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
The national nightmare of the Army-McCarthy Hearings was broadcast live to the spellbound American citizens of TV land from April 22 to June 17 in 1954. As an example of television serving the public interest, the telecast revealed the true evil of Senator Joseph McCarthy to the populace and largely destroyed his credibility. The coup de gráce came on June 9 in the form of the quote above, aimed at McCarthy by a weary and disgusted Joseph N. Welch, counsel to the Army. The gallery audience erupted into applause. Mop up was performed by Senator Stuart Symington at the end of the hearings when he told McCarthy, on live television, "the American people have had a look at you for six weeks. You are not fooling anyone."
In 1964 the documentary director Emile de Antonio released Point of Order!, an edited version of the televised hearings, to theaters. It was an interesting twist on cinema verité, in that he was not only using found footage, but found television. While this is de rigeur for documentaries today, this was not the case in 1964. Voiceover and titles, written by de Antonio and Robert Duncan, help fill the temporal gaps left by editing down the hours and hours of footage.
I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Point of Order! at New York City's Film Forum, and must recommend it to anyone interested in McCarthyism. This is not C-SPAN; the (edited) proceedings are gripping, chilling, and rage-inducing. The catharsis felt when McCarthy finally "gets his" is the equal or better of that generated by any Hollywood action film. I highly recommend it.
While the film doesn't have a cast as such, it features the following people prominently:
Senator Joseph McCarthy, Chair
Senator Karl Mundt, Temporary Chair
Senator Everett Dirksen
Senator Henry Dworshale
Senator Charles Potter
Senator John McClellan
Senator Henry Jackson
Senator Stuart Symington
Ray Jenkins, Chief Counsel, Senate
Roy Cohn, Frances Carr, James Juliano, Robert Collier (counsels for Republican majority)
Robert Kennedy, Minority Counsel
Joseph N. Welch, John Adams (counsels for Army)
Point of Order! was re-edited (cut down to 55 minutes), and hosted by Paul Newman for television broadcast under the title "McCarthy: Death of a Witch Hunter" in 1975.
Directed by Emile de Antonio
Written by Robert Duncan and Emile de Antonio
Produced by Daniel Talbot and Emile de Antonio
Film Editing by Robert Duncan
Editorial Consultants: David Bazelon and Richard Rovere
In 1993, Point of Order! was made part of the National Film Registry.
The Internet Movie Database, http://history.acusd.edu/gen/filmnotes/pointoforder.html and http://www.mbcnet.org/ETV/A/htmlA/army-mccarthy/army-mccarthy.htm were incredibly helpful.