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LGM Film Club, Part 327: The Reagan Show

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I thought the 2017 documentary The Reagan Show would be an interesting watch at the very least. And I guess it was to an extent. But the film is a disaster on its own terms. The idea behind it is that everything Reagan did was super scripted for TV and they have the footage to prove it. Well, that’s true enough to an extent. But they don’t actually have that much footage for this documentary to work well. There’s a few clips that show how scripted it all is, but they don’t show us much. They have a few other clips of Reagan staffers being idiots or kinda racist, which is somewhat damning but isn’t very surprising.

Mostly though, this film is based on news clippings from the networks. And while the intent is evidently to show that Reagan was a huge liar and dishonest on foreign policy, it fails miserably. It sets up a big bit on Iran-Contra, but not only is the footage underwhelming, but it doesn’t even mention the Contra part of it! And then the last third of the film makes Reagan out to look like a hero for his relatively honest dealings with Gorbachev. It tries to frame the film as Reagan being out-charismaed by Gorby, but in fact, what it does is make Reagan out to look like a peace-loving president.

Now, as much as I hate to give Reagan credit for anything, he does deserve credit for his late-presidency dealings with Gorbachev. All the far-right footage from Pat Buchanan and Richard Viguerie and the like angry at Reagan is fun. But given that the point of this film was to show how Reagan was a shallow moron, the film doesn’t succeed.

Still, the footage is interesting enough for a viewing.

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