Saturday, June 08, 2013

"Passion Plays on Television, Even If It’s an Act"

"Toward the end of its run, as reasonable guests (and major advertisers like Domino’s Pizza) became harder and harder to woo, The Morton Downey, Jr. Show became more and more of a Network-style sideshow, peopled by assorted crazies and attention-mongers: Nazi skinheads, strippers, conspiracy theorists. The speed of his downfall makes the last third of the documentary difficult to watch: We see an increasingly out-of-touch Downey berating and humiliating his guests and employees, then physically assaulting his wife before leaving her for a much younger woman, whom he proceeds to nearly bankrupt himself spending his money on. (They would remain together until his death.) He’s an unredeemable bastard, but in his pettiness and desperate need for recognition, there’s something moving too. The man whose logo was a cartoon of a wide-open, yammering mouth would probably not have objected to this mostly unflattering but ultimately respectful portrait."

Dana Stevens in Slate reviews Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie.

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