6.7/10
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489 user 196 critic

The Good Shepherd (2006)

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The tumultuous early history of the Central Intelligence Agency is viewed through the prism of one man's life.

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2,770 ( 641)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

Laconic and self-contained, Edward Wilson heads CIA covert operations during the Bay of Pigs. The agency suspects that Castro was tipped, so Wilson looks for the leak. As he investigates, he recalls, in a series of flashbacks, his father's death, student days at Yale (poetry; Skull and Bones), recruitment into the fledgling OSS, truncated affairs, a shotgun marriage, cutting his teeth on spy craft in London, distance from his son, the emergence of the Cold War, and relationships with agency, British, and Soviet counterparts. We watch his idealism give way to something else: disclosing the nature of that something else is at the heart of the film's narration as he closes in on the leak. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of the birth of the CIA through the eyes of a man who never existed. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

22 December 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El buen pastor  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,142,760, 24 December 2006

Gross USA:

$59,952,835

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$99,480,480
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Technical Specs

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Hurt, Billy Crudup, and Josh Casaubon appeared in Too Big to Fail (2011). See more »

Goofs

Early in the film, in a scene set in April 1961, you can see a solid blue US Postal Service box on a street corner in Washington, D.C. In 1961 US postal boxes were painted red on top and blue below. See more »

Quotes

Philip Allen: [Referring to the chocolates he's eating] They're from Switzerland. I had them sent with the pouch to Berlin.
Philip Allen: [He offers one but is declined] They're a weakness of mine. When I was a child, my mother would always reward me with a chocolate.
Philip Allen: [He takes another] It's a dreadful habit.
Edward Wilson: Chocolates or seeking approval?
Philip Allen: Both.
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Crazy Credits

The end credits feature the dedication "In memory of Gretchen Rau". See more »

Connections

Featured in De Niro: A Self Portrait (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Salve Regina
Written by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Polyphony - chorus
Stephen Layton - conductor
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (as Christopher Bowers Broadbent) - organ
Courtesy of Hyperion Records Limited
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Finally a film that doesn't assume you're an idiot
28 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

After enduring trailer after trailer with endless stings of explosions, ridiculous CG-assisted stunts and mindless action, I felt very rewarded with an intelligent and intriguing film that defies the status quo of bigger and louder is better.

The Good Sheperd doesn't insult your intelligence, it stimulates it, sometimes confuses it, and forces you to look several layers beneath the surface. It feels like a throwback to another era of films when the complexity of a character was of greater importance than spectacle.

De Niro took a page from his producer's best work, Francis Ford Coppola, emulating films like The Godfather, The Conversation and Apacalypse Now. The drama rises not from the usual blatant conventional devices but rather by raising questions because of what we're not told and not shown. It requires a great deal of courage to use this style as films have gravitated more and more toward assuming the average moviegoer is of substandard intelligence. The scope of the film is enormous, yet the point of view is narrowly focused to be seen through the eyes of one man. There are a dozen of subplots, but all are carefully tied into the through-line of the story to match the main character's progression.

The film may require some understanding of American history from WWII through the Kennedy administration. It starts with the later years of the story, The Bay of Pigs debacle, and traces the steps that lead to it, one of the more embarrassing moments in the history of U.S. foreign policy. I found it a bit annoying that Matt Damon's character, Edward Wilson, barely seemed to age in the film while others around him did (the best way to determine his age is whether he's wearing wire-rimmed or horn-rimmed glasses), but it didn't ruin the film for me.

Overall though, definitely one of the best films of 2006. A rare film that makes you want to think and understand, rather than forget.


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