The world discovered last year that Michael Douglas (of “Wall Street” and “Basic Instinct” fame) was in talks to play Ronald Reagan in an upcoming film about the 1986 Reykjavik summit.
And according to U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Peter Roff, this is simply more evidence that Hollywood "hates Reagan."
But first, a quick history lesson: The 1986 Reykjavik, Iceland summit was a meeting between Reagan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss arms control.
Gorbachev demanded the U.S. abandon its the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program and Reagan refused. Reagan proposed the total elimination of intermediate-range missiles in both countries and Gorbachev absolutely refused.
The talks came to a screeching halt and both parties walked away from a deal.
However, it was Reagan's refusal to compromise on his position that eventually brought the Soviets back to the table in 1987 for the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Now it's important to note that after the initial 1986 talks broke down, the usual suspects attacked Reagan for his failure to comprise and accused him of scuttling the peace process.
But fast forward a couple of years: Reagan’s refusal to kowtow to the Soviets anti-defense demands helped grind the Russian economy into the ground and bring an end to the Cold War.
So, if the upcoming movie sticks to the actual history of the Reykjavik summit, it could be quite thrilling. But let’s not get our hopes up, or so says Roff.
“Done right, with a script that holds to the actual history and not some post-historical fantasy of moral equivalence, it could be a hell of a picture,” Roff writes. “In fact it would be the kind of picture that Reagan himself might have starred in during his own Hollywood days -- as the hero, the gritty American, the one man who sees the truth, the loner holding out against all odds for what is right.”
“The kind of role that, in an ‘A picture,’ went to Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, or Randolph Scott,” he adds.
But we’re probably not going to get that.
“Instead, Reagan is going to be played by Michael Douglas who, while not a bad actor, is not exactly the kind of guy one immediately thinks of as presidential material,” Roff adds.
Continuing in this vein, Roff points out an oddity: Despite the fact that Reagan’s personal story is the thing of silver screen gold -- being born into a poor family, working his way through college, breaking into Hollywood, his Gubernatorial career, winning the presidency by “largest electoral margin,” etc. -- there has been no “Lincoln” for Reagan.
“Instead we get movies and mini-series that do a hatchet job on history, with the lead invariably played by someone who hates the man in real life,” Roff notes. “Casting a Reagan ‘critic’ like Douglas is emblematic of how Hollywood liberals feel about the man from Tampico. As producer Mark Joseph, who has his own film about Reagan in the works, observed, ‘There they go again.'"
Indeed, considering the fact that Gordon Gecko is probably Douglas’ most famous role, the fact that many consider Gecko to be a scathing indictment of the Reagan/Freidman-era free market policies, and considering the fact that Douglas himself has been quite vocal about his disapproval of Reagan, it’s probably safe to assume that the upcoming Reykjavik film will follow the Hollywood tradition of hating on The Gipper.
And this is where we get to the meat of Roff’s article:
The idea that everybody loves Reagan is a myth created by liberals who want to use him -- now dead, buried, and belonging to the ages -- as a weapon to pound his political successors over the head. Hence the nonsense that passed for smart analysis that "even Ronald Reagan" could not have been nominated for president in 2012 because his party had moved too far to the right.
This is not the first time Hollywood has attacked Reagan -- and it probably won't be the last. Aside from the infamous and failed mini-series starring James Brolin -- husband of liberal diva Barbara Streisand -- there have been countless references in films to Reagan being a criminal, an idiot, a national embarrassment, and the cause of just about everything that is wrong in the world today.
“Great man, strong leader, and, were it not for his policies, someone who would have been a great president. Sheesh. Get me rewrite,” Roff concludes.
Final Thought: Personally, if it were up to us, we would cast Christopher Plummer as Reagan. He's a wonderful actor and with a little makeup and hair dye, he could pull it off.
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Featured image screen grab.