J Edgar Dicaprio Eastwood
Credit: PhamousFotos/Splash News

It’s hard to look at Leonardo DiCaprio and see the bulldog FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, but in one short clip of the Clint Eastwood movie that premiered at CinemaCon, the actor shows his chops.

And in this case, I mean that literally. There seems to be something different about his face. It’s jowlier, even though the scene is from the early ’30s, when Hoover was still relatively young. It doesn’t look like exterior makeup, but perhaps some dental addition that adjusts the shape of his cheeks. In any case, DiCaprio acquits himself well as the camera slowly inches in on that slightly different, yet very familiar face.

Hoover is testifying before Congress, advocating for the power to compile the National Fingerprint Database, an initiative that might seem logical and reasonable, though he is using a famous case from the time to strike fear in the heart of anyone listening to his words: The Lindbergh Baby disappearance.

“Bring all the fingerprints in this country to my office so that we may create a central file to help arm our agents so that they may have a fighting chance against the sub-machine guns of some of the most dangerous characters in the history of American criminality. And I urge you to do this in the name of little Lindy, because if he can be taken, then what child is safe? … If we cannot aid in his safe return, then what use are we?”

There is a musical, almost hypnotic quality to his words, with intense emphasis on certain words that breaks the flow. It reminded me of the gritted cadences of Burt Lancaster. Though it was only a brief look at J. Edgar, it shows both the noble ambitions of the national lawman and his manipulative, invasive tendencies.

For more film film news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter @Breznican.

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