Segments in this Video

Introduction: Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (03:30)


The son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg discusses why his parents were accused of stealing the atom bomb secret in what became known as the “atomic spies” case. Attorney Roy Cohn believes the death penalty was appropriate.

Cohn Interview (02:46)

Peter Manso interviews Cohn in 1980; he realizes his stereotyping of the attorney is inadequate. Cohn discusses using the "Achilles heel technique" and describes himself as a maverick.

Michael Meeropol's Initial Perspective (02:30)

The U. S. government accuses the Rosenbergs of giving Russia atomic bomb secrets. Meeropol reflects on Communism, David Greenglass' role in the Rosenberg case, and his first awareness of Cohn.

Cohn's Background (03:03)

Cohn discusses his college education, career, connection to Greenglass, and anti-communism pursuits with Joseph McCarthy. Journalists and authors share their viewpoints on Cohn's motivations and perspective.

Targeting Jews and Homosexuals (05:14)

Cohn claims the Communist Party is not a political party. McCarthy claims homosexuals are a danger to America. Cohn and G. David Schine examine libraries for Communist books. Implications of the relationship between Cohn and Schine present a risk to Cohn's career.

Cohn in New York (03:36)

Cohn returns to a lucrative law practice and befriends members of the Democratic leadership. Cohn celebrates his birthday with the elite. Cohn's cousins discuss his desire to do better than his father and describe him as the personification of evil.

AIDS Memorial Quilt (02:26)

Meeropol and his daughter Ivy talk about the impact of seeing a square for Cohn. Tony Kushner talks about his connections to Cohn and Nathan Lane remarks on Cohn's dichotomy.

Cohn's Clients and Connections (05:13)

Cohn makes high profile contacts at the El Morocco. Cohn reflects on his professional appeal and working with Donald Trump; Roy settles nearly 75% of his cases out of court. Cindy Adams recalls her working relationship with Cohn.

Cohn's Lifestyle (04:30)

Former driver Peter Allen states that Cohn had no clear boundary between his personal and professional lives. Cohn leads a lavish lifestyle but has no assets and no credit cards because of his animosity toward the IRS.

Criminal Figures (04:00)

John Klotz creates a taskforce on Cohn in 1979; Cohn is a hidden investor in several businesses including parking lots. Experts discuss his connections to the mafia and Trump.

Rosenberg Children (03:04)

Meeropol describes his life as extraordinarily normal with his adoptive family. In 1973, he and his brother Robert fight to clear their parents 'name.

Cohn's Sexuality (06:50)

Cohn frequents Studio 54 where sex and drugs are prominent. Cohn hides his sexuality, announcing an engagement to Barbara Walters. Ryan Landry recalls his encounters with Cohn.

Provincetown, Massachusetts (06:51)

Cohn describes himself as a private person. Manso discusses the surprise that Cohn would visit the leading summertime gay community. Locals recall the open use of cocaine.

Pursuit of Justice (03:37)

Thirty years after the Rosenberg trial, questions about their guilt remain. Meeropol continues to pursue justice for his family, even appearing on a televised debate with Cohn.

Cohn and Politics (05:05)

Manso compares the presidential elections of Ronald Reagan and Trump. Cohn discusses his support of Reagan; he helps usher in a Republican revolution. John LeBoutillier recalls Cohn's use of power in relation to the issue of American prisoners of war.

Rosenberg Trial Evidence (04:49)

Attorney Alan Dershowitz connects with Cohn over their shared Jewish heritage. Dershowitz recounts a story Cohn told about the veracity of evidence. After the release of the Venona transcripts in 1995, Dershowitz concludes Ethel Rosenberg was innocent.

Sing Sing Prison (02:37)

Meeropol discusses the personal side of the Rosenberg case and visiting his parents. He returns to the prison to reconnect with his 10-year-old self.

Cohn's Influence (03:47)

Every era has an opportunist who will push ethical and lawful boundaries. Lois Romano recalls Cohn's use of the media and profiling Trump; Trump believes he can be a nuclear arms negotiator.

Cohn Versus Dupont (08:43)

Manso states that Peter Fraser, Cohn's lover, was likely used as a "cut-out" to launder money; he reviews financial transactions. After a business deal sours, Richard Dupont publicly seeks revenge. Police arrest Dupont and his is convicted of several misdemeanors.

Public and Private Battles (04:06)

Despite his sexuality, Cohn campaigns against gay rights. Cohn claims he underwent treatment for liver cancer and denies participating in an experimental treatment for AIDS.

Cohn's Final Years (07:23)

Bobby Wetherbee describes Cohn as a broken man; Cohn denies having AIDS. Cohn is disbarred in 1986. He dies of a heart attack with HTLV-3 listed as a secondary cause of death.

Credits: Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (03:35)

Credits: Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn

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Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn

3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



Directed by Ivy Meeropol, this film offers an unflinching look at the infamous attorney Roy Cohn, who prosecuted Meeropol’s grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and later argued persuasively for their execution in what became known as the “atomic spies” case. The film examines Cohn’s life as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the late 1950s – when the young Cohn first learned to wield political power – through the 1980s, when he became a darling of the Reagan White House, a rabid anti-homosexuality activist (despite being a closeted gay man), and mentor to Donald J. Trump, before meeting his death from AIDS in 1986. This vivid portrait is cast by Cohn’s friends, family, colleagues, employees, and lovers, some of whom were, at times, political targets of Cohn, and all of whom were profoundly affected by their interactions with him. The documentary features recently discovered audiotapes of candid discussions between Cohn and journalist Peter Manso, recorded at the height of Cohn’s career as a power broker in the rough and tumble world of New York City’s business and politics, as well as interviews with such figures as Cindy Adams, Alan Dershowitz, Tony Kushner, Nathan Lane, and John Waters, among others.

Length: 98 minutes

Item#: BVL213567

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.