By Megan Bianco
No matter what your opinions are of Hollywood movie star-turned U.S. President Ronald Reagan, one thing can be said for sure—Reagan knew how to present and compose himself in front of a crowd and on camera. Of course, being a professionally trained actor can help a lot in that regard. But while watching Robert Kline’s updated reworking of his documentary The Reagans: The Legacy Endures, I was reminded and struck by how calming it is to have a president speak and be confident and comfortable with his platform.
Kline’s newest documentary recently premiered at the Regency Theater in San Juan, and comes nearly three decades after Reagan’s presidency, at a time when our country’s politics have become increasingly more divisive and polarizing. The fact that someone as openly conservative and right-winged as Reagan could garner supporters from all sides, with a number of the left calling themselves ‘Reagan Democrats’ in the early 1980s, says something. The bar was set high for future presidents regarding how they interact with the public—some succeeded and some struggled.
The documentary begins with the usual backstory of how Reagan was raised in Dixon, Illinois, where he participated in theatre, football and radio jobs before moving to Hollywood and becoming a star. Eventually, Reagan became interested in politics as a Democrat before becoming California’s governor as a Republican in 1966. Viewers are also treated to some background on Nancy Reagan’s rise from Broadway to Hollywood, all the way to First Lady in 1981.
Surprisingly, the whole film includes only narration and archival footage and photos, without any commentary on the side. Throughout the doc, there’s a lot of focus on the former president’s speeches, including about his goals for ‘Reaganomics,’ the Cold War, Grenada, the war on drugs, the AIDS epidemic, and the Iran-Contra Affair, to name a few.
The Reagans starts off as a straightforward documentation of Reagan’s rise to power, but by the end, it is clear that the viewers who will enjoy the documentary the most will be his fans. Whether you’re a supporter, or just have a neutral opinion of Reagan, it’s refreshing to remember a time when it was a requirement to have a great public image and speaking skills as a president.
Kline’s update of The Reagans: The Legacy Endures will be available on DVD early next year through Image Entertainment. Pre-orders are available at us.rljentertainment.com.