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This movie is a longie and I must confess I nodded out from time to
time. The fact that it is also surprisingly boring didn't help much. I
watched it chiefly because I was curious to see what sort of spin it
would put on Ollie North's political shenanigans. I really didn't
expect a Jimmy-Stewart-type hero to emerge from a book written by
somebody named Ben Bradlee, Jr. and I was right on that count. At the
same time, I figured, movie makers being the capitalists they are, the
story would be dumbed down in order to appeal to the lowest common
intellectual and moral denominator. After all, there were plenty of
pick up trucks driving around at the time bearing bumper stickers that
said, "Oliver North for President," and the drivers were serious.
That's about how it turned out. North was actually someone who loved
his country not wisely but too well. (I'll never forget Fawn Hall of
the bouffant do, being asked why she and Ollie subverted the
Constitution of the United States, replying, "Sometimes you have to
answer to a higher authority." I suspect she picked up that phrase from
a Hebrew National Frankfurter commercial on TV.) We're given an Ollie
who is much more rigid, authoritarian, and distant than the
cracked-voiced heroic figure we were presented with on TV screens. I
don't know how accurately the infield plays are portrayed, not having
bothered to follow the actual events that closely.
I suppose that how much this particular Ollie North appeals to you depends on the intensity of your chauvinism. North and the rest are people for whom the words "America" and "democracy" are synonymous. They are willing to sacrifice anything, including their careers, their families, and their lives if necessary, in the cause of freedom, except that like Humpty Dumpty they are at liberty to define freedom however they want while ignoring anybody else's definition. It's disturbingly like what some political figures are doing today in drawing up definitions of causus bellum. The movie itself? David Keith doesn't have the marquee power of the original. The guy tries hard but manages to do not much more than alternate between a shouting hatred of weakness and communism and a fawning beaming obsequious ambition like Uriah Heep. Annette O'Toole with her pursed plummy lips should have had more screen time. Bernard Hughes, grown older and plumper, is quite good. The portrayal of Ronald Reagan is best of all and should have been seen on Saturday Night Live. Iran/Contra. The name is so "past" somehow, so far away. It seems almost unbelievable. Especially now, since we can order the war drums to start beating at our whim, alienate half our own population and ALL of the rest of the world, and prepare to launch an invasion of a country because of what we think that they may do sometime. And now, thank God, we can do it all out in the open -- and screw all that secrecy stuff.
Oliver North is a criminal. That said, this is a bad, bad movie. I don't
know the particulars of Oliver North's personal life, but David Keith comes
off as a caricature.
With lines like "buenas dias, commies" and endlessly overplayed patriotic zealotry, this movie is boring at worst and mildly entertaining at best.
Plus, it has what every made for TV movie needs, a hilarious Ronald Reagan portrayal.
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