William Egan Colby was a combat paratrooper and OSS agent fighting the Nazis in Europe during World War II. He became one of the first operatives in the newly formed CIA in 1947, traveled the world as a covert agent for the Company and became the agency’s director in 1968. On 27 April 1996, he died mysteriously in what was called a boating accident. Carl Colby, his son, tells the story, the life and the times of “The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby.”
This is an eye opening look into America’s most secret service, the CIA, from the standpoint of former director, the late William Colby, as seen through the eyes of his son, filmmaker Carl Colby. “The Man Nobody Knew” is a combination of a documentary about the CIA and William Colby and the impact he had on the agency and a son’s recollections and investigation of who his father really was.
The examination, by Carl Colby, into the life of 60+ years of the CIA is a good history lesson with events in William Colby’s professional life linked to the secretive Company for decades. The man rose steadily through the ranks, spent years in Italy, under a Sate Department cover, working to support the Social Democrats and thwarting the rise of Communism in that country. Carl parallels events in his own life as he grew up in his father’s shadow, making “The Man Nobody Knew” an informative historical document as well as a son’s attempt to learn something new about his old man. In the end, as has been stated a number of times in this doc, William Colby was a secret man who had no friends, only colleagues. This must have been a sobering revelation for Carl and his family.
One of the key interviewees in “The Man Nobody Knew” is William Colby’s ex-wife Barbara, who gave terrific insight living as the wife of a CIA spook and the impact it had on the Colby family. The couple divorced in 1984 but Barbara shows her pride in the man who stood up to Nixon and his stone-walling of the Watergate scandal. Other interview subjects run the gamut from colleagues Zbigniew Brzeznski, Donald Rumsfeld and James Schlesinger to Washington Post reporter and best selling author Bob Woodward and many more. Colby, son Carl tells us, may have been in the dirty deeds business but he was also a man of integrity. The film is homage to a father from his son and an interesting history lesson to boot. I give it a B.
Laura gives "The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby" a B.
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