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One Bright Shining Moment (2005)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 16 September 2005 (USA)
ONE BRIGHT SHINING MOMENT retraces George McGovern's bold presidential campaign of 1972 - a grassroots campaign that fought for peace and justice, and positioned ideas and people first. But... See full summary »


Stephen Vittoria

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Credited cast:
James Abourezk James Abourezk ... Himself
Warren Beatty ... Himself
Chip Berlet Chip Berlet ... Himself
Jim Bouton ... Himself
Malcolm Boyd Malcolm Boyd ... Himself (as Reverend Malcolm Boyd)
Andrea Fields Andrea Fields ... Voiceover Narration
Amy Goodman ... Narrator
Dick Gregory ... Himself
Gary Hart ... Himself
Thomas J. Knock Thomas J. Knock ... Himself
Harvey Kornberg Harvey Kornberg ... Himself
Ron Kovic ... Himself
Frank Mankiewicz ... Himself
George McGovern ... Himself
Rick Stearns Rick Stearns ... Himself


ONE BRIGHT SHINING MOMENT retraces George McGovern's bold presidential campaign of 1972 - a grassroots campaign that fought for peace and justice, and positioned ideas and people first. But what is remembered today as being the ultimate political defeat of the American Century may also have been its high watermark. The film poses this central question: what does the crushing electoral defeat of a man so well respected for his decency and intellect say about the electoral process, the American government, and more importantly, what does it say about the forces at work on the American people- then and now? Featuring interviews with the candidate himself, supporters and activists like Gore Vidal, Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Howard Zinn, and music from Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Donovan, and Elvis Costello. Written by Anonymous

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Plot Keywords:

political activism | See All (1) »


For once in American politics, sunshine and light beat shadows and fog.




Not Rated


Official Sites:

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Release Date:

16 September 2005 (USA) See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,876, 18 September 2005

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Street Legal Cinema See more »
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User Reviews

An interesting documentary on a unique time in modern politics
1 April 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

In 1972 Richard Nixon delivered to George McGovern the second worst electoral drubbing in history, with McGovern winning only one state (Massachusetts) and one district (Washington, D.C.). Of course, winning D.C. wasn't really a victory, since D.C. would elect a tree if it ran on the Democratic ticket, and Republicans there are considered human oddities. This film examines the phenomena that was the McGovern campaign, including the fact that many traditional Democrats were probably glad when McGovern actually lost his race.

McGovern's team won the nomination largely because this was the first Presidential election in which 18 year olds could vote, and McGovern was their man. To hear his campaign staffers tell it, before McGovern the Democratic Party was made up of a conglomeration of blue-collar union workers and Southerners left over from Roosevelt's presidency. As the party transitioned to more liberal stances, it should be no surprise that these traditional Democrats would defect, since most felt they had nothing in common with the tree-hugging hippies that made up McGovern's most fervent supporters and the new Democratic Party. McGovern never compromised his beliefs, and in the face of well-predicted electoral disaster, ran the cleanest presidential campaign in modern history against one of the 20th century's dirtiest fighters.

To give some background, in 1972 the Vietnam War appeared to have no end in sight as far as military victory was concerned, and several thousand American soldiers died in that one year alone. Nixon's claim was that withdrawing prematurely could cause upheaval in all of Southeast Asia, resulting in the entire region becoming Communist, and then those Communists going after even more territory. McGovern saw only the senseless destruction of the war, and thus vowed to stop it his first day in office. If you see parallels between the Vietnam War and our current situation in Iraq and the same resulting political polarization, you're not alone. In the end, the American people just trusted Nixon more than McGovern to protect national security, and McGovern won 38 percent of the vote to Nixon's 60 percent. I'm not sure where the other 2 percent went. Great shades of 2004.

McGovern was a good human being, and I don't think this film stresses that enough. He was dignified and spoke with clarity and intelligence. Even in this documentary he projects unbending decency without a trace of bitterness. When people wonder what would happen if a candidate spoke his or her mind and never compromised for special interest groups, they might do well to look to George McGovern as a prototype.

However, McGovern's supporters are another matter as they make numerous inflammatory remarks that sometime border on the preposterous. My favorite pronouncement came from author Gore Vidal, who was discussing with incredulity the phenomenon of anyone who makes under $25,000 a year voting Republican: "I was brought up in the ruling class. They hate the people," he says. He then goes on to describe how, if the Bush family was given sodium pentothal and asked about their feelings for America's lower class, you would hear that they think the people and elections are just something that get in the way. How he comes by this knowledge I do not know. Another gentleman postulates that George Wallace might actually have been shot by one or more of Nixon's men as a larger part of the Watergate scandal.

Besides Gore Vidal, we have Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinem, and Gary Hart opining about the campaign. Together they paint a pretty good picture of the passion and sense of urgency of the anti-war movement as it existed in the early 70's. What is missing from the film are the opinions of the silent majority that supported the war and put Nixon back in office. To understand the 1972 election in its totality, it would have been helpful to hear from someone who believed Nixon behaved legitimately as commander-in-chief, apart from his actions in the Watergate scandal. Gloria Steinem sums up the McGovern campaign best. She says that whenever former McGovern campaign staffers reunite, they look back on 1972 and the work they did with great pride. She mentions, probably accurately, that Nixon's campaign staff really can't do that.

If you get the DVD, the extras include some interesting deleted scenes that result in about an extra half hour of background on the campaign. There is also an interview with the narrator of the movie, Amy Goodman, who attempts to tie McGovern's political philosophy with the current left-wing resistance to the Bush Administration. It's a pretty good documentary about how the anti-war movement went from campus to campaign, and I recommend it.

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