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All right, class: "The Most Dangerous Man in America" (Daniel Ellsberg) on POV Tuesday night

Our trusty film critic Ann Hornaday already wrote about Judith Erlich and Rick Goldsmith's documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" when it played at the Landmark E Street earlier this year.

Of course you didn't go see it. Maybe you meant to. (We always mean to, don't we, when it comes to documentaries at the Landmark?)

Well now the film is on your television -- WETA is airing it Tuesday night (Oct. 5) at 9. Look, I know a lot of this stuff can seem like homework. In fact, my overriding impression of "The Most Dangerous Man in America" is that it is one hell of a gift to journalism professors looking for a way to fill up a lesson plan engage the kids on the Pentagon Papers case, which neatly exemplifies the whole reason there would ever be a journalism class or a First Amendment to begin with.

The film, made about and with Ellsberg (he's the narrator, too), will remind those who lived through that era of strange and fiery days. For those of us who did not live through that era (or were still in diapers, in my case), it's an astonishing reminder of the power of the press -- even now, in whatever way you or the Supreme Court wish to define "press." I imagine the doc will also infuriate (or re-infuriate, or newly infuriate) those who view Ellsberg as a traitor, though even now, the content of the voluminous Pentagon Papers tends to speak for itself.

Also? Ellsberg as younger man? Kinda hot. Toolin' around NoVa and Santa Monica in a convertible, in the mid-60s, thinkin' big thoughts at the Rand Corporation, body surfing at Malibu. His wife, Patricia, recalls his blue eyes on the night they met at a party in DC. She was smitten and then completely grossed out by his Pentagon work preparing war reports on Vietnam. Eventually, his heroic Xeroxing of the PPs is what won her heart. And he's a fine pianist, as seen in the film.

And Nixon? He's THE GIFT THAT NEVER STOPS GIVING, thanks to that ever-present Oval Office tape recorder. The mouth on that man, really.

By Hank Stuever  | October 4, 2010; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Hank Stuever, Movies, TV  | Tags:  Daniel Ellsberg, POV, The Most Dangerous Man in America, WETA  
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