Title: The Reagans The Legacy Endures
RLJ Entertainment / Image Entertainment
Director: Robert D. Kline
Narrator: David Purdham
Running time: 91 minutes, Not Rated
Special Features: None
Available on DVD & Digital February 3rd, 2015
A documentary about Ronald and Nancy Reagan starting from their birth, to their careers in Hollywood, to marriage, kids and finally the presidency.
Born in Illinois, Ronald Wilson Reagan was a high achiever who excelled in school, became student body president, a lifeguard, had a passion for acting and football. He graduated from Eureka College and pursued a career in radio, and was a sports announcer who specialized in play-by-play accounts. While traveling with the Chicago Cubs in California, he auditioned for Warner Brothers and received a seven year contract. After joining the Army Reserves and was assigned to the first motion picture unit, where he stayed until the end of WWII. He became the president of the Screen Actors Guild and married actress Jane Wyman. After 8 years of marriage and 2 kids, Wyman filed for divorce. He became involved with an actress named Nancy Davis after she sought his help with issues with the communist blacklist. They soon married , which was witnessed by actor William Holden and his wife. The couple had two children, Patti and Ron. Ron was then hired to host General Electric Theatre which broadcast weekly dramas, and Nancy joined him on a few of the episodes. Ronald found interest in politics and became the Governor of California, which paved the way for the presidency; winning 49 out of 50 states against former president Jimmy Carter. He survived an assassination attempt and went on to a 2nd term.
The documentary then rushes over the Reganomics, the Libya bombing, the Iran-Contra affair, and the relationship with Russia and Gorbachev and how Reagan handled it all in stride. When Ronald and Nancy retired to their home in Bel Aire, they were finally able to enjoy some unfettered time together, but not without some problems with cancer and finally Ronald’s Alzheimer’s Disease which he and Nancy were hesitant to release to the public. He wrote a handwritten letter divulging his fears and acceptance of his ailment and lived to the age of 93 before succumbing to complications of the disease.
The Good: A kindhearted biography of the 40th president and his beloved first lady. It’s a nice little tribute to be released in time for his 104th birthday that any Reagan enthusiast should appreciate.
The Bad: It plays out like one of those documentaries we were forced to watch in history class to push the teacher’s political views onto the students. I felt the narration was dumbed down in an attempt to convince the viewer that Ron was an all-around good guy. I’m not anti-Reagan, but this documentary basically stuck a halo on his head the entire 91 minutes. They gloss over the fact that Nancy was blacklisted in Hollywood and that Ronald & Ron didn’t get along very well because of their political differences. His own daughter took her mother’s maiden name in order to distance herself from her father, but really didn’t elaborate; the narration kind of plays the kids’ actions off as youthful rebellion and their parents were saints for putting up with them. I wish they put in little hysterical tidbits like his nickname for Nancy (“Mommie Poo Pants”), but sadly it was left out.
My political views aside, it was an informative and light documentary. There were loads of clips of Reagan’s speeches that I had never seen before. As a fluffy documentary, it had enough information to be useful in a classroom setting. It’s also a sweet true story and what’s more adorable than a couple of old people in love?
Total Rating: B
Reviewed by: JM Willis