J. Edgar is a 2011 American biographical drama film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood. Written by Dustin Lance Black, the film focuses on the career of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover from the Palmer Raids onwards.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench and Ed Westwick. J. Edgar opened the AFI Fest 2011 in Los Angeles on November 3, 2011, and had its limited release on November 9, followed by wide release on November 11.
The film opens with J. Edgar Hoover in his office during his later years. He asks that a writer, known as Agent Smith, be let in, so that he may tell the story of the origin of the FBI for the sake of the public. Hoover explains that the story begins in 1919, when A. Mitchell Palmer was Attorney General and Hoover's boss at the Justice Department. Palmer suffers an assassination attempt, but is unharmed when the bomb explodes earlier than intended. Hoover recalls that the police handling of the crime scene was primitive, and that it was that night that he recognized the importance of criminal science. Later, Hoover visits his mother, Anna Marie, and tells her that Palmer has put him in charge of a new anti-radical division, and that he has already begun compiling a list of suspected radicals. He leaves to meet Helen Gandy, who has just started as a secretary at the Justice Department. Hoover takes Gandy to the Library of Congress, and shows her the card catalog system he devised. He muses about how easy it would be to solve crimes if every citizen were as easily identifiable as the books in the library. When Hoover attempts to kiss her, she recoils. Hoover gets down on his knees and asks her to marry him, citing her organization and education, but his request is once again denied. However, Gandy agrees to become his personal secretary.