Posts tagged “Amazon Prime

Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar

Over the course of my career with the Milwaukee Police Department, I have served with a handful of rising stars.  Nonetheless, it is highly unusual for a person to receive a promotion to the rank of captain prior to their 35th birthday. 

In 1924, however, J. Edgar Hoover received an appointment to director of the Bureau of Investigation—the forefather of the FBI—at the tender age of 29. 

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, documents Hoover’s ascendency from a bureaucratic legal aide to the most powerful law enforcement official in the history of the United States. Having delved into the history of the bureau prior to attending the FBI National Academy, the portrayal of Hoover as a power hungry eccentric is accurate.

Before the dawn of computers, high tech surveillance, and intelligence fusion centers, J. Edgar Hoover realized that information is power. Gathering and harnessing dirt on leaders and powerful politicians was one of the ways Hoover remained in-charge of the FBI for nearly 48 years.

During one such scene in J. Edgar, the U.S. attorney general, Robert Kennedy, summons Hoover to his office to discuss wiretaps. When vaguely threatened, the FBI director provides a transcript of the attorney general’s brother, President Kennedy, engaged in a tryst with an East German woman.   

Hoover’s secret files noted the activities of civil rights leaders, politicians, actors and union heads.

A few scenes in the movie, however, are historically twisted.

Hoover is given far too much credit for the development of fingerprints as a means of individual identification. William Herschel developed dactylography—the study of fingerprints—while in India in 1860.  Thirty-two years later, an Argentine investigator cleared the first homicide using a single ,bloody fingerprint to obtain a confession. It was Biologist Francis Galton, not researchers at the FBI, that categorized the five basic patterns of fingerprints in his 1895 book Fingerprint Directories. Hoover simply fought for and received authority from congress to classify and centrally house fingerprints obtained from various law enforcement agencies.

The historical and factual inaccuracies aside, the overall theme of J. Edgar, that absolute power corrupts absolutely, is very powerful and lends credence to the fears of our nation’s founding fathers that a strong, centralized federal government would slowly seize the civil liberties of the citizenry under the guise of security and protection.

For moviegoers on-the-lookout for lots of shoot ‘um-up action, J. Edgar will surely disappoint. But for those interested in getting a look into the mindset of the Washington power elites, this movie will prove insightful.

In my book, J. Edgar gets four stars. For those interested in a career in law enforcement, this movie serves as a testament to the relevance of critical thinking, especially at a time in our nation’s history when some members of the mainstream media seem too content reporting what those in authority say as gospel.

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New Amazon Service Lends Kindle Books at No Cost

I received word from my publisher late today that is offering a new service to Kindle reader owners.  For those subscribing to Amazon’s Prime service, thousands of books are now available for download at no additional cost. 

These books include the Milwaukee crime novel The Cozen Protocol and the e-magazine expose Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders, authored by yours truly. 

If your in the market for an outstanding and yet affordable Christmas gift, consider the Kindle Fire—Amazon’s computer tablet. I just witnessed a demonstration of this device, which was quite impressive (I really enjoyed the streaming video and movies, too).


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011