The American biographical spy film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was released in 2002, and it focuses on the fictitious life of game show presenter and producer Chuck Barris. Directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris with Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and Clooney and written by Charlie Kaufman. The book was inspired by Barris’s 1984 “unauthorized autobiography” of the same name, in which he claimed to have worked as a CIA assassin in addition to his career in show business. The CIA has disputed the charges, and Barris has remained silent about the veracity of the claim throughout his life.
The production of the film took quite some time. In the late 1980s, Columbia Pictures was considering making a film adaptation of the book under the direction of Jim McBride. Producer Andrew Lazar acquired the rights to the picture in 1997 and then engaged Kaufman to pen the screenplay. The film went on to attract a slew of A-list talent, including Fincher, De Palma, Singer, and Myers. After Clooney was hired as director, he enlisted Barris’s help in developing the project’s authenticity by having him serve as a consultant. This resulted in (uncredited) changes to the script, including the elimination of a drug addiction subplot, which Kaufman found disappointing. It was Clooney’s idea to cast Rockwell, who was somewhat unknown at the time. Clooney was able to convince Barrymore and Roberts to take pay cuts to stay inside the $30 million budget.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’s Plot
Chuck Barris, fed up with being turned down by the attractive ladies he pursues, relocates to New York City and takes a job on an NBC page in the hopes of making it big in the television industry. When he returns to Philadelphia in 1961, he takes a job as Dick Clark’s assistant on American Bandstand. Soon after meeting Penny Pacino, he writes the hit song “Palisades Park” and begins a romantic relationship with her. Chuck gets given the green light to approach ABC with his idea for The Dating Game. ABC gives him $7,500 to produce a television pilot but they ultimately decide to go with Hootenanny instead.
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Barris is tossed out of a club for fighting one night, and CIA agent Jim Byrd approaches him to recruit him as an assassin. Barris returns from his mission in Mexico to discover that Penny has turned into a hippie. Meanwhile, ABC gives The Dating Game the go-ahead, and it becomes a smash hit the following year, 1967.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. The album. Available everywhere Friday.
— Def Jam Recordings (@defjam) May 8, 2019
He meets Patricia Watson, a female CIA agent, while on assignment in Helsinki. When his favorite game show, The Newlywed Game, debuts on television, he has greater success back in his native country. Penny is disappointed that Barris is hesitant to propose marriage after they plan to relocate to Los Angeles together. Byrd persuades Barris to join him on a mission to kill Hans Colbert in West Berlin in 1970. Barris meets the German-American agent Keeler and aids him in the murder of Colbert. Unfortunately, he is taken captive by the KGB and only released weeks later as part of a west-east spy exchange.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Cast
Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris
American actor Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968. The films Lawn Dogs (1997), The Green Mile (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Matchstick Men (2003), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), and Moon (2008) all include him in supporting roles (2009).
Michael Cera as Young Chuck Barris
The Canadian actor and musician Michael Austin Cera. His early roles were the voice of Brother Bear on The Berenstain Bears and the role of a young Chuck Barris in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, both of which launched his acting career.
Drew Barrymore as Penny Pacino
American actress, director, producer, talk show host, and author Drew Blythe Barrymore was born on February 22, 1975. In addition to being nominated for a British Academy Film Award and seven Emmy Awards, this member of the famous acting family Barrymore has won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2004, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
George Clooney as Jim Byrd
A native of the United States, George Timothy Clooney has worked in both film and television. The British Academy Film Award, four Golden Globes, and two Academy Awards (for acting and producing, respectively) are just a few of the honors he has received throughout the course of his career.
- Julia Roberts as Patricia Watson
- Rutger Hauer as Keeler
- Jerry Weintraub as Larry Goldberg
- Robert John Burke as Instructor Jenks
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’s Review
George Clooney’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” based on the memoirs of former Gong Show host Chuck Barris, who claims to have been a CIA hitman, is an interesting, engaging, and original picture.
Sam Rockwell acts as Barris in the film and Rockwell does a fantastic job channeling Barris’s mannerisms, voice inflections, and idiosyncrasies. Clooney turns up as an agent and does a fine job with the “bad guy” schtick, while Drew Barrymore provides a wonderful balance of touching and funny as his girlfriend Penny. These scenes, which include Julia Roberts as an agent with whom Barris has an affair, are inserted clumsily into the narrative and wind up feeling very forced. Even if Roberts’s performance isn’t terrible, it is noticeably awkward.
The script, especially the dialogue, is superbly written by Kaufman and the utilization of interviews to corroborate Barris’ assertion that he is a hitman is smart and interesting. Although “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” was a critical darling upon its 2002 premiere and went on to win other festival prizes, its moderate box office and narrow appeal prevented it from receiving widespread praise.
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The problem with “Confessions” is that it doesn’t have any real feeling behind it. It seems like we are constantly bombarded with information and amusement, but they aren’t always related to each other. Basically, we never get close to Barris and by the end of the film, it’s easy to walk out thinking, “Who cares?” It’s possible that if there had been one or two more scenes of emotional discovery, I would have walked out of the theatre exclaiming, “Man, that picture was terrific.” On the contrary, I kept telling myself, “Good film, I’ll go home and write about it.”
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Does the author actually believe the events in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind?
The American biographical spy film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was released in 2002, and it focuses on the fictitious life of game show presenter and producer Chuck Barris.
Did the CIA employ Chuck Barris as a hitman?
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Barris’ autobiography, was published in 1984. He claims in the book to have been a CIA assassin throughout Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East during the 1960s and 1970s.
In Which Location Can I View “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”?
The biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, starring Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, and George Clooney, is now accessible to watch online. Check it out on your Roku with Pluto TV – It’s Free TV, Vudu, Prime Video, or Apple TV.