Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins


Opening Friday, Sep. 20

The unsinkable Molly Ivins—journalist, crusader, freethinker—served the American public for decades by simply speaking her fast and funny mind.

A native Texan and the daughter of an oil tycoon, Ivins bucked both geography and genealogy to become a leading voice of the liberal left for more than fifty years. At the height of her popularity, her syndicated column ran in more than four hundred newspapers, and her books became bestsellers.

Ivins’s mighty spirit and barbed-wire humor is on full display in Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins, a wonderfully kinetic documentary from director Janice Engel. The film takes a traditional approach, mixing archival clips with talking-head interviews, but with a velocity and verve that complements its subject. The images are bold, the music is loud, the clips are weird, and the editing is highly caffeinated.

Raise Hell follows Ivins from teenage bookworm to formidable journalist to veteran chronicler of our nation. Her insights had the weighty thump of simple truths.

“We keep pretending that the political spectrum runs from right to left,” Ivins says. “It doesn’t. It runs from top to bottom.”

Ivins could be funny, she could be cruel, and heaven knows that she could drink. But she always told the truth. 

Raise Hell does its raising all over the place, actually. It will raise your ire concerning our current war for and on journalism in America. It will raise your hope a little to admire Ivins’s triumphs of courage and candor. But the film is most powerful in that it raises the spirit of the woman herself. Ivins’s voice and presence suffuse the entire affair, and that’s the real trick of this successful biographical documentary.

So nice to see you again, Molly. You are sorely missed. 


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