27 user 4 critic

Citizen Cohn (1992)

As lawyer and power broker Roy Cohn lies dying of AIDS in a private hospital room, ghosts from his past visit him as he reflects on his life and loves.


Frank Pierson


Nicolas von Hoffman (biography), David Franzoni

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 11 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Woods ... Roy Marcus Cohn
Joe Don Baker ... Sen. Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Bologna ... Walter Winchell
Ed Flanders ... Joseph N. Welch
Frederic Forrest ... Dashiell Hammett
Lee Grant ... Dora Cohn
Pat Hingle ... J. Edgar Hoover
John McMartin ... Older Doctor
Josef Sommer ... Albert Cohn
Daniel Benzali ... Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman
Tovah Feldshuh ... Iva Schlesinger
John Finn ... Sen. Charles Potter
Frances Foster Frances Foster ... First Annie Lee Moss
Allen Garfield ... Abe Feller
David Marshall Grant ... Robert F. Kennedy


In the 50's, the ambitious and unscrupulous Jewish prosecutor Roy M. Cohn convinces Senator Joseph McCarthy to be his Chief Counselor in his hunting against communists. The arrogant Cohn destroys careers and lives and becomes a Jew hunting Jews and a gay hunting gays. In 1985, he dies of AIDS in a hospital in New York. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He was McCarthy's loyal partner. The Kennedys' worst enemy. The F.B.I.'s best friend. The country's greatest nightmare.


Biography | Drama


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

22 August 1992 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cetateanul Cohn See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A TV movie for the HBO network. See more »


As he is scattering ashes into what is purportedly the East River, Cohn says he consigns his mother to the waters of New Jersey, where she did not live. The East River does not border New Jersey. See more »


Walter Winchell: You hear what I hear? Kennedy's gonna name his brother Attorney General. Our friend J. Edgar says it's gonna be "Get Hoffa and get Cohn." Fuck the little cocksucker, and all the ships at sea.
See more »

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User Reviews

"Just Tell Me The Name Of The Judge"
6 December 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

If Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote Citizen Cohn on which this made for television film is based as a novel, he would be hooted down for lack of verisimilitude. It isn't possible for a writer to have created such an unbelievable character of fiction. But Roy Marcus Cohn was quite real, quite dangerous, and for better or worse left his mark on 20th Century America.

James Woods does a masterful job in creating Roy Cohn, cynical manipulator, shyster par excellence, and master of the behind the scenes fix. If you retained Roy Cohn as your attorney, you didn't retain him for his courtroom skills. You retained him because he knew where all the bodies were buried in any given situation and could put the right word in the proper places for justice to work his client's way. His motto was "Just Tell Me The Name Of The Judge".

Cohn was some piece of work, a closeted gay man who persecuted other gays, a Jew who harassed other Jews for differing opinions. You've got to love the way he sold himself to Joe McCarthy played here by Joe Don Baker. You need a Jew on your side because you're going to be subpoenaing a lot of people of that faith in your anti-Communist crusade. He sure played no favorites there.

Throughout his life Cohn maintained an air of innocence and feigned persecution. In the end it was a self fulfilling prophecy, everybody was out to get him. I remember hearing him way back in the Sixties when Barry Gray had him as a frequent guest on his radio show. Even with Joe McCarthy disgraced and dead from alcoholism, Cohn was still going strong, involved in all kinds of cases from organized crime to political fixing at all levels.

I actually knew someone who knew him. When I worked at NYS Crime Victims Board one of my claimants was a man who ran a catering business and who occasionally got drunk and did stupid things like pick up the wrong people. I had two cases almost exactly alike with him. One of his clients had been Roy Cohn who entertained frequently at his New York townhouse which also doubled as his law office. He was the only gay man I ever knew who said something nice about Cohn. Roy was a man generous to a fault who spent money like water would do anything for a friend.

After Cohn died this man got in trouble for assaulting a cab driver and did a few months in jail for said crime. He maintained until the day he died that if Roy had been alive he would have gotten him off. I do believe he was probably right.

In the end Cohn sure couldn't hide from the virus which entered this country from Africa via a gay man. Outted in the worst way possible Cohn died unloved and unmourned for except by retainers. He had no friends or family left. Rock Hudson couldn't say that. Woods is probably at his best in those horrific hospital scenes.

Citizen Cohn is quite the written and cinematic achievement, try never to miss this if broadcast.

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