I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the viewing of One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern, a movie that won the Best Documentary award at the Sarasota Film Festival.
Technically, the movie — consisting largely of stock, news footage from McGovern’s life, and interviews with a number of people involved with the 1972 campaign as well as the Senator himself — is quite good. It seems aimed at people who aren’t that familiar with McGovern which — considering that most everyone under the age of 55 wasn’t old enough to vote for him — isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it has a number of jarring elements used to “illustrate” points — like some gratuitous footage of Muhammad Ali first winning then getting knocked out in a ring — that are about as subtle as — well — a boxing glove hitting your nose.
Given the access filmmaker Stephen Vittoria had to people like Howard Zinn, Gary Hart, Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinem, and McGovern, it’s a shame that the connecting tissue of the film is so ham-handed.
Still, there are some excellent gems in the interviews, like this one at the end of the film from Frank Mankiewicz, McGovern’s ’72 political director and son of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane screenplay collaborator, which contrasts the people involved on each side:
We just lost an election. None of us went to jail. Most of the other guys went to jail. Did time. Hard time.