One of the most popular presidents ever, Ronald Wilson Reagan served two terms in office and left with his reputation intact as a charismatic leader who managed to avoid many of the major pitfalls of the leaders before him. A one-time actor, he became a passionate ideologue who preached a gospel of optimism, lower taxes, less government and anti-communism. Often underestimated, his success in office surprised many of his greatest detractors.
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Both loved and reviled, Ronald "Dutch" Reagan rose out of the political ashes of Watergate to become one of the most popular presidents in American history. Whether you like it or not, he will be remembered along with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy as one of the most influential and charismatic political figures of the 20th century. This epic four-and-a-half-hour documentary shows why, and it benefits greatly from the fact that many of the participants in the documented events are still alive. Tape 1 chronicles his troubled childhood with an alcoholic father, his years as a lifeguard, his eventual stardom in Hollywood, his governorship of California, and his election to the presidency in 1980. Tape 2 picks up shortly after the assassination attempt and takes off as it explains his policy toward the "evil empire." Surprising to some will be the news that privately Reagan abhorred nuclear weapons and feared Armageddon, but he firmly believed that the United States could only negotiate from a position of strength (during his administration Pentagon spending reached $34 million an hour). Long but never boring, this film is a tribute to a man infinitely more complex than the jellybean-eating figurehead many like to portray him as. Included are interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan, and those wacky Reagan kids. --Kristian St. Clair
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