A great movie to watch on Ronald Reagan's 111th birthday
President Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois on this day in 1911. He died in 2004.
Over the years, I've caught many of the Ronald Reagan movies. It's impossible to watch an old Reagan movie without thinking of the 40th president of the U.S. Nevertheless, I found this one rather interesting.
Storm Rising was released in 1951. Reagan played District Attorney Burt Rainey. It is intense, and here is the plot:
Marsha Mitchell, a traveling dress model, stops in a southern town to see her sister who has married a Ku Klux Klansman. Marsha sees the KKK commit a murder and helps District Attorney Burt Rainey in bringing the criminals to justice.
The critics were a bit disappointed with the movie, as we see in this review in The New York Times:
The consequence is a smoothly flowing, mechanically melodramatic film, superficially forceful but lacking real substance or depth.
And the same goes for the performances which Ronald Reagan and Ginger Rogers give as the brave young prosecutor and the key witness, respectively. Mr. Reagan is as pat and pedestrian as any well-drilled stock company D.A., and Miss Rogers plays in one grim mood a young lady who just happens to witness a murder in passing by. Doris Day plays her younger sister, living blissfully in town with a local mugg ("A Street-car Named Desire" seems to have passed here) with a great deal of musical comedy bounce. Hugh Sanders, Lloyd Gough and Raymond Greenleaf are nasty as rulers of the klan.
The New York Times critical of a Reagan performance? Where have we seen that before?
First, I am not a movie critic. My goal is to watch an interesting story and to be entertained for a bit. On that basis, this is a good 90-minute movie. As he was when he was president, Reagan was always super-credible on the screen. It's amazing how you can quickly relate to the facial expressions that we saw later from the White House.
Second, it must have been difficult for a movie to expose the KKK in 1951. It was a different time.
Finally, Ronald Reagan turned out to be a better president than actor. The country is grateful for that. Overall, a fun movie to watch, but a better presidency thirty years later for the nation.
Happy #111 to the Gipper.
PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0