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Review: ‘Citizen Clark ... A Life of Principle’ does not do justice to life of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark

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Ramsey Clark, attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a shot from the documentary “Citizen Clark ... A Life of Principle.”
(Indie Rights)

Ramsey Clark is the kind of public servant the likes of whom we don’t see too often these days. The unstructured and rather amateurish documentary “Citizen Clark …A Life of Principle,” directed by Joseph C. Stillman, depicts the compassionate Clark’s remarkable life in his own words and the memories of those around him.

The son of Tom C. Clark, who served as U.S. Attorney General in the late 1940s and and on the Supreme Court, Ramsey Clark is the epitome of what is meant by the term the “Greatest Generation.” He enlisted in the Marines at age 17 to serve in World War II, went to college on the G.I. Bill, was named an Assistant Attorney General by President Kennedy and served as Attorney General under President Johnson (becoming the only father-son attorney general dynasty). He tussled with J. Edgar Hoover, settled land claims with Native American groups and accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. on his march to Selma.

Now 90, Clark seems to be the last bastion of the 1960s “peak of liberalism” and has dedicated his private life to international diplomacy and visiting war torn countries, often those bombed by the U.S. He is a figure who deserves a feature documentary, but this film, lacking in cinematic finesse, isn’t quite the treatment he deserves. Nevertheless, Clark’s mission of humanism and pacifism is so compelling, you can’t help but be drawn in.

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‘Citizen … A Life of Principle’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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