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Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer ***
(2010) 76 min. DVD: $19.99. Eighty Four Films (avail. from www.eightyfourfilms.com).
James Dirschberger’s documentary traces the life and shocking death of R.
Budd Dwyer (1939-1987), a Pennsylvania politician who committed suicide on
live television after being convicted of accepting kickbacks on a state
contract. As the title suggests, Honest Man disputes aspects of the case
against Dwyer, who was state treasurer when he was charged with taking a
bribe from a California company. Dwyer maintained his innocence and refused
to resign, but when he was convicted in December 1986, his career seemed
destroyed, and an unsuccessful last-minute attempt to seek a pardon from
President Ronald Reagan only fueled his desperation. However, Pennsylvania
law enabled him to remain in office until being sentenced. On January 22,
1987, the day before his sentencing, Dwyer held a press conference during
which he pulled a revolver out of a bag and fatally shot himself through the
mouth (the extremely graphic video of Dwyer’s death is presented here). The
film clearly aims to rehabilitate Dwyer’s reputation, weaving news clips and
archival footage together with interviews of friends, colleagues,
journalists, and family members, including his widow. Whether or not it
affirms his innocence may be a matter of differing opinion among viewers,
but it does offer a stirring look at a tragic figure. DVD extras include
audio commentary, archival material, deleted scenes, and a slideshow.
Recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)
The hit underground documentary “Honest Man”, follows Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania politician who was convicted of bribery and later committed suicide during a televised press conference. Millions of people have seen the video of Dwyer’s death on the Internet but very little is known about the circumstances leading to his death.
This limited edition first run of the DVD includes exclusive content and cannot be found anywhere else.
“Honest Man” chronicles Dwyer’s meteoric rise to political power and examines the bribery scandal that pushed him to his breaking point. The film features exclusive new interviews with Dwyer’s family, friends, and colleagues, including a candid, heartfelt interview with Dwyer’s widow - her last before her death in 2009 - and a rare, revealing interview with William Smith, the man whose testimony convicted Dwyer. This story has remained untold for over two decades. This portrait of a man swept up in the corrupt and cutthroat political world raises important questions about Dwyer’s presumed guilt.
Bonus features include:
* The Dwyer Archives - A never before seen collection of political ads, speeches, home videos and interviews with Budd Dwyer.
* Newly discovered footage of the final press conference. Exclusive clips of Dwyer’s final speech, which has never been released.
* Commentary track from Dwyer’s children, Rob and Dyan. Additional commentary track with Director James Dirschberger and Producer/Editor Matt Levie
* Photo slideshow, unreleased documents, deleted scenes and much more!