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A Film Diary

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Watched: 11 November

There’s potential here for a thorough, detailed investigation into the Reagan years, but sadly at less than 75 minutes The Reagan Show can’t fit much in and quickly turns into a kind of trite comedy showreel, generally ditching key events and factors of this two-term presidency (such as the 1981 assassination attempt, Reaganomics and The War on Drugs) in order to concentrate largely on footage of the former actor as he negotiates the Cold War, the Star Wars programme and the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev on the world stage (the great American media manipulator was eventually made to look foolish and second-rate by the infinitely more charismatic and sharper Russian leader). In fairness, the directors never claim to have set out to make an all-encompassing history of Ron and Nancy’s years in the White House, and focus more on the fact that this President was arguably more aware of the value of his public image than any of his predecessors. An early caption tells us there’s more video footage of Reagan than there is of his five predecessors combined, and some of the inevitable behind-the-scenes bloopers included here are certainly amusing; it’s just that once you’ve seen Reagan mis-pronounce a name or dodge a press question by pretending not to hear it, what real insight do you get from seeing different versions of the same gaffes or tricks repeatedly during the next hour? (**½)

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