Skip to main content
Arts and Entertainment Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 11 months ago

'Where's My Roy Cohn?' delves into the lawyer's infamous life

The documentary covers Cohn's career with Senator Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump.

Director Matt Tyrnauer's new documentary, "Where's My Roy Cohn?" is both fascinating and deeply disturbing. It charts the rise of an infamous New York lawyer who stooped to depths so low that it cost him his soul.

Roy Cohn's vile legacy began early in his career when he became chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. From there he went on to prosecute Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, making certain they received the death penalty for treason. There was no evidence against Ethel. From there, he began representing crime bosses and mobsters. Eventually, Cohn became defender and mentor to Donald Trump.


He was a closeted gay man who liked to hang with J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy on a regular basis. Ironically, he did his best to thwart progress for the LGBTQ community and out gay people. Cohn maintained he was not gay until the day he died of AIDS.

Tyrnauer's ("Valentino: The Last Emperor") approach in this revealing film is to go for the jugular. There's no white-washing going on in his portrayal of this deviously dirty, trickster fixer. It's difficult to refrain from head shaking and forehead slapping while watching this unsettling piece of historical significance. Tightly edited archival film footage, news clippings and interviews enhance the viewing experience. Well-known figures including Barbara Walters (a close friend of Cohn), Halston, Andy Warhol, Ronald Reagan and a very smug Roger Stone have us raising eyebrows. The score is menacingly staccato and so appropriate.

Roy Cohn was a mendacious monster with a total lack of empathy. His motto was, "Never admit you're wrong." In the end, Cohn was disbarred, but sadly, his impact on politics lived on. The title of this compelling film is a direct quote by Donald Trump in reference to his dissatisfaction with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017. Trump's preference for Roy Cohn should signal great concern.

Related Stories