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Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie Movie Review

For those of you too young to remember, in 1987, a fellow by the name of Morton Downey Jr. came on the air on local New York City television. His show featured him as a chain-smoking get-in-your-face screaming maniac who belittled everyone who came on the show with him.

It was supposedly an interview setting for the exchange of ideas, but as guests eventually got wise to, it was only a place for Downey to hold you up for ridicule. The studio audience was there to aid in the heaping of criticism on the guests, who often walked off the set. It was a precursor to what we now consider ordinary television entertainment.

Downey was a raving Conservative and anyone who expressed an idea even one centimeter different than him got roasted. In Seth Kramer's and Daniel Miller's documentary we learn about the behind-the-scenes views of Downey and I learned quite a bit that painted a more complex view of the man.

For instance, he grew up a neighbor and close friend of the Kennedy family. His father was a very famous singer and the son hated the father and was driven to a point of near insanity to eclipse his father's popularity. One thing about his off screen persona that matched what we saw was his intensity.

Within a year of his rise to fame, he was easily the biggest and most recognizable person on television. Within another year he was through. His show was cancelled and his career plummeted.

Using interviews with people who worked with Mort and those that knew him outside of the show, the picture of Downey is brought more into focus. Oddly, this does little to help us understand the man. We do learn that he is just as nuts offstage as on it and despite being a man of some diversified talents, he is to at least some degree, off his rocker.

Kramer and Miller add some funny animation and it remains fun to watch for those of us who remember him. Just getting to watch someone push Al Sharpton off his chair and send him sprawling was almost enough to make this one worthwhile. If you remember Downey, I have got to believe you will be down with Downey. If not, I'm not so sure.

View the original article here


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