<i>The Man Nobody Knew</i>
Catherine, William, Barbara, Carl and Jonathan Colby near Lake Champlain (mid 1950s)
(Credit: First Run Features)

A solid story that paints the picture of one of the greatest military minds and godfathers of the CIA, William Colby, spymaster and one of the nation’s first heroes and patriarchs of the agency. Told from the aspect of Colby’s son Carl, it follows the in-depth story of his father while unraveling the history of the controversial institution. Carl interweaves the story of the agency with his own childhood, which was spent living in the CIA’s clandestine shadows. This took a toll not only on William Colby but all who were close to him.

Carl starts by chronicling his father’s career journey of going from an OSS officer parachuting in Nazi-occupied Europe and how he always loved the action and could never get enough of it. William quickly rises through the ranks of the military and is soon sent on more covert OSS operations; his first duty would be swaying Italians away from Communism. After achieving success, he is sent to oversee the coup against President Diem and his brother Nu in Saigon then later to run the controversial Phoenix Program in Vietnam – one of the blueprints for today’s military in dealing with insurgency in the Middle East.

As time goes on William rises to the top of CIA and is named as director. His sudden rise to the top, however, is also the beginning of many problems. Colby’s issues surface as he defies the President and opens the nation to the CIA’s most deep and darkest secrets. Congress demanded William to answer not only questions about Vietnam and the CIA, but about the mysterious Phoenix Program, which was believed to be too aggressive and produced results that were deadly, considered prehistoric and savage. This testimony leads to the end of William’s CIA career, and he would soon disappear in a cloud of mystery until his death.

Now Carl is left with many questions about who his mysterious and secretive father truly was. The story has a lot of the United States’ most powerful and important political characters in history answering questions about William, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who provide no real answers but just a bunch of loose-ended responses. The only person who seems able to provide any answers to whom William really was ends up being Carl. He seems to land on that realization as the film develops, and this is somewhat of an issue that I have with The Man Nobody Knew.

It is a decent history movie but offers no real resolution. Being the most decorated officer in the CIA, William Colby lived a life that no person could ever imagine, and the one thing you take away from the sentimental documentary of his life is that when you live a great and monumental life you always live amidst a cloud of mystery.

Opens at the Nuart October 14!

Director/Producer Carl Colby will appear at select shows on opening weekend at the Nuart: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Oct. 14-16 at 7:30 PM and 9:55 PM.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

Official Website