Mike Wallace Is Here
In a career that spanned game shows and 60 Minutes, Salvador Dalí and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and, notoriously, hawking cigarettes and taking on Big Tobacco, Mike Wallace transformed himself from insecure performer to fearsome journalist. It was a perhaps-not-incidental path that either followed or formed the arc of televised news in the late twentieth century. Assembled from archival footage, Mike Wallace Is Here unfolds like a scrapbook of modern history, culture, politics, and Wallace’s unique brand of on-screen interrogation.
Director Avi Belkin employs split screen as an effective and evocative tableau that provides context for and savvy insights into how news is produced and presented. The technique becomes an arch visual motif when, later in his career, Wallace transforms again—this time from provocative interviewer to problematic interviewee. Incisive, energetic, and multifaceted, like the film’s subject, Mike Wallace Is Here reveals a man of contradictions: more at ease in the public realm than with his private thoughts; at his best when confronting the worst; and, ultimately, a product of his time who seemingly was made for this one. TM
Filmmaker Q&A following screening
Rafael Marmor, John Battsek, Peggy Drexler, Avi Belkin, and Christopher Leggett