26 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 9

Joe's Last Stand Congratulations to ATV for showing this week

Emile de Antonio's film of the Army-McCarthy hearings, Point of Older! The famous 1954 hear- ings which brought low the Wisconsin Commun- ist-hunter have frequently been called one of the greatest political spectacles in American history, and this 110-minute edition of the hearings had enough drama for half a dozen ordinary TV crime series. As one saw this amazing shambles unfold, it soon became obvious that the fascina- tion lay less in the charges and counter-charges of blackmail, favouritism and dishonesty hurled at each other by the participants—still less in any ideological issue than in the simple, old- fashioned appeal of watching the good guys beat- ing the bad guys.

On one side were Senators Symington, McClel- lan, and Army counsel Mr. Welch; on the other Joe, Roy Cohn and various McCarthy commit tee 'aides.' Easy to see after the event why mil- lions of Americans saw in these close-ups of McCarthy a nihilistic enemy of the social order; Spencer Tracy has just got to beat Jack Palance, and McCarthy was censured by the Senate a few months after the hearings shown in Point of Order!

What the film didn't pretend to answer was, how on earth did Joe get as far as the Army- McCarthy hearings in the first place? But then, for Joe the proceedings were always out of order.