Review: Citizen Stan


This is a documentary about a man who has devoted his life to the search for peace and justice here within the United States and around the world – even when that meant arguing against the powers-that-be here.

Stanley K. Sheinbaum was born into a well-to-do Jewish American family in 1920. By the end of the decade, the family had lost its wealth and Stanley was adrift. He had no interest in school, ignored his strict mother’s admonitions, and eagerly sought work on the streets of New York – working as a sewing machine operator in the garment district, for example. And yet, years later, he became “an agent of history,” as his friend Robert Scheer describes him.

Things began to change when Stan turned 21 and WW II began. He was drafted into the army. When he was discharged, he tried going to college on the GI Bill, but his poor grades in high school kept him out. So he went back to high school and then, with better grades, got into college and eventually Stanford. There he excelled and became a popular instructor in economics.

From there, he moved to the Michigan State University in their economics department and in 1955 was given the opportunity to advise the government of South Vietnam on strengthening their economy. However, he discovered the American CIA was using his work as a cover for clandestine and horrible manipulation and abuse in South Vietnam. This led to a remarkable turn in the philosophy of the young professor, who became an outspoken opponent of the growing war between the US, its client state South Vietnam and communist North Vietnam.

From this point on, Sheinbaum’s career took a very different trajectory, with him becoming involved in anti-war and anti-authoritarian issues around the world. Whether it was defending Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, working on the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, rescuing deposed Greek Premier Papandreou, Sheinbaum almost always worked behind the scenes.

This loving documentary, narrated by actor Richard Dreyfuss, features interviews with Sheinbaum, his wife Betty Warner (daughter of one of the Warner Brothers), Daniel Ellsberg, Jesse Jackson, Robert Scheer, Daryl Gates (LA Chief of Police at the time of the Rodney King beating and aftermath), as well as footage including Warren Beatty, Yassar Arafat, and more.

Directed by Patty Sharaf (“Murder, Spies, and Voting Lies”), this story covers the first 86 years of a remarkable life. When he died in 2016, at the age of 96, Citizen Stan had outlived all of his enemies and most of his friends.
Near the end of his productive life, he was asked about his successes and failures. “I made some mistakes. You wanna hear my mistakes?” “Yeah.” “(chuckles) – I’m not talking.”


Director: Patty Sharaf
Writer: Patty Sharaf
Producers: Patty Sharaf, Robert Scheer, John Sharaf
Cinematographer: John Sharaf
Editor: Iain Kennedy
Sound: Syn-g
Runtime: One hour
Availability: DVD

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