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American Experience - Reagan
American Experience - Reagan
Actors: David Ogden Stiers, James Baker III, Helen Caldicott, Robert Dallek, Nancy Davis
Genres: Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
NR     2003     4hr 23min

One of the most popular presidents ever, Ronald Wilson Reagan served two terms in office and left with his reputation intact as a charismatic, charming leader who managed to avoid many of the major pitfalls of the leaders ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: David Ogden Stiers, James Baker III, Helen Caldicott, Robert Dallek, Nancy Davis
Creators: Adriana Bosch, Austin Hoyt, Bob M. McCausland, Chas Norton, Josh Clark, Larry LeCain
Genres: Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Television, Politics, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: PBS Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/12/2003
Original Release Date: 02/23/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 02/23/1998
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 4hr 23min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Fairly Balanced But Repeats Some Popular Myths
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Considering how left-leaning the Public Broadcasting System is, I considered this series to be fairly balanced. It brought out most of the strengths of the Gipper along with his impeccable integrity and character. But is also showed the negative aspects of Reagan's Presidency (e.g. Iran-Contra). There were two instances in the film that really irritated me. The first was a commentator who kept psychoanalyzing Reagan and trying to link his actions with his experience as a child of an alcoholic father. The second was a news reporter who was notorious for berating Reagan for his stance towards the Soviet Union and his belief that it would collapse. Reagan proved this reporter (and many others) wrong and outwitted their supposed insight, intelligence, and wisdom. Yet the best this particular reporter on the video could admit was that Reagan "might" have had something to do with the Soviet collapse but it also may have been a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Of course, this is pure history revisionist pap. Reagan predicted the downfall of the Soviet Union throughout his presidency and many newspaper reporters dismissed him as uninformed and out-of-touch. In fact, many reporters defended the Soviet Union and the socialist system and predicted that it would last at least as long as capitalism. It just goes to show how little they knew and how much Reagan did know (despite his appearance of being naïve and simplistic). Finally, the video wrapped up by perpetuating the myths about Reagan and the 1980s as being the "Decade of Greed." The 1980s were a decade when we had a president who put the people before government. This meant that government taxed less and people kept more of what they earned. Did the gap widen between the rich and the poor? Yes. But what the video doesn't say is that real income increased for everyone, including the wages of those in poverty. But I guess this was too much credit to give Reagan lest his policy of less government and power to the people be repeated again (heaven forbid!)."
A very ambivalent three stars
mackattack9988 | United States | 10/19/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD has several hours of footage and commentary on the Reagan era, so that's good. But it depends for much of that coverage on the commentary of Edmund Morris, and that's not so good. Morris, the official biographer of the Reagan presidency, wrote a book with suspect documentation and a very different angle from what other people in the Reagan White House saw. With that in mind, I wouldn't recommend this DVD, but on the other hand it does have interviews with Reagan insiders like Deaver and Baker. The footage of Reagan with Gorbachev is priceless, and the presentation of how the Reagan era follows the Carter years isn't bad. This DVD is by no means an endorsement of Reagan's foreign policy, much less his economic policies. So from that perspective the bias definitely shows. Still, there's a lot of material here on Reagan and his staff, so you can always focus on them and the video if you feel the narration begins to digress. One of the best things about it is that it does include the campaign commercial that a lot of people say was one of the best ever - the "morning in America" one. Also does a good job of showing how much the country was in crisis or "malaise" mode before Reagan was elected."
Leon M. Bodevin | Lemoore, CA | 03/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was not a Reagan fan before I watched this video. After watching it, though, I have a great appreciation for Reagan and the job he did as president. The Cold War needed to end, and it would not have ended but for his presidency. I am intrigued by the things that make Reagan who he is. He is a religious man; indeed, his presidency was one long sermon against communism. His growth (particularly after the assasination attempt) is shown well in the video, climaxing at the end of his presidency when he conceded that the Soviet Union was not an evil empire (this moment was especially touching since you were able to see the emotion in Reagan's eyes). This video also deals well with the big weakness in Reagan's leadership style (e.g., delegating way too much--which led directly to the Iran-Contra scandal). It's scary how much he could be disconnected with reality, but this facet of his character is presented as only one part of this complex man. Two thumbs up for the video!"
Not perfect, but good
John Pate | 11/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"For anyone who is interested in a detailed account of Reagan's life and presidency, this video is suggested. The creators, in my mind, did a good job of portraying Reagan's presidency and his life. There is ample opportunity for both lovers and haters of Reagan to scream at the television. Liberals are sure to assert that this video gives Reagan too much credit for the prosperous economy and the end of the Cold War; while conservatives are sure to rail that the video sometimes went out of its way to portray Reagan as an senile dope. If there was a ideological slant, it was undoubedly to the left. The condesending commentary of Anthony Lewis added absolutely nothing; and strings of amateur psychoanalysis of Reagan by Lou Cannon, Sam Donaldson, and Edmund Morris should have been cut. Of course, the creators tried to balance critics by including the observations of George Will, Ed Meese, and Mike Deaver (and others) among their docier of Reagan experts. All in all, it did a good job at giving Reagan credit where due, and condemnation where deserved. If you're looking for a 4 hour disquisition on how wonderful or terrible Reagan was - this video is not for you. If you want a lengthy account of the 1980-88 presidency as it really was, then buy and watch it. It's not perfect. But it's probably about as perfect a video on Ronald Reagan that can be found."