The Winning Team (1952)
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Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887-1950) was possibly the greatest right handed pitcher in National League history. He played for 3 teams, the Phillies, Cubs, and Cardinals and compiled 373 lifetime victories over a 20 year period.
While still in the bush leagues Alexander sustained a serious head injury when a ball struck him right between the eyes while he was a base runner. He had double vision and headaches for a year. During World War I while an artillery officer the noise of exploding shells compounded a seemingly healed injury with a complication of epilepsy. To anesthetize himself, Alexander took to drinking some of that Prohibition whiskey and became an alcoholic.
After leaving baseball in 1930 for the next twenty years, Alexander drifted to all kinds of menial jobs, occasionally making headlines with some alcohol related incident. One positive headline was his election to the Hall of Fame in the second round of elections. He was on hand for the dedication of the building in Cooperstown.
In 1950 Alex was on hand as the Phillies won their second National League Pennant. Alex was the star of the first pennant winning team in 1915. A month later he was found dead in a cheap rooming house.
That unfortunately is the sad truth of the real Grover Cleveland Alexander. This is not the film you will see.
Ronald Reagan is just fine and actually comes close to the character of the real Alexander who was a genial and kind man with a terrible drinking problem. This was the final film Reagan made while at Warner Brothers.
Doris Day in her second film with Reagan plays Amy Arrants Alexander, his loyal, faithful wife. In her memoirs Doris wrote that during the shooting she and Reagan had a few dates and she remembers him best as a good man who was quite a dancer when they went out. This film also qualifies as a musical for in the beginning Doris has a Christmas number, Old St. Nicholas, and Reagan joins her for the last two bars. Ronald Reagan actually did sing in one of his films.
Today Hollywood would have no problem filming the real story which was quite a love story. Amy Alexander married Alex 3 times and divorced him twice, both those divorces an effort to give him a wake up call.
But the widow Alexander was an adviser on the film and she got the film made to show the public the husband she wanted them to remember.
And baseball fans the world over remember Grover Cleveland Alexander as a great baseball pitcher and a decent and patriotic man whose service to his country caused him a lifetime of triumph and tragedy trying to control the pain in his brain. It's a good legacy that doesn't need any embellishment from Hollywood.
The first half of the film sticks reasonably close to the facts. If anything, it underplayed the greatness of the man (such as not even mentioning his three consecutive 30 win seasons and winning the triple-crown three times). However, around the middle of the film, the story gets hokey--and deviates very far from the truth. While Alexander did have problems with epilepsy and alcohol following his stint in WWI, the film made it look like his life and career fell apart. It also shows him being out of major league ball for some time until he cleaned himself up--but this just isn't true. He never had a losing season and still had excellent statistics until his final season in ball (when he was 43)--and the lengthy downward spiral in the film just never happened. With a career record of 373 and 208, he clearly was no bum! Overall, "The Winning Team" is a highly enjoyable and highly inaccurate and sensationalized film. While I do recommend it (it's well made and interesting), it seems sad that a great man's life was so distorted just to see a few extra tickets. But, that was pretty common for Hollywood during this era.
Ronald Reagan does a decent job portraying "Alex," except for the baseball scenes where he doesn't throw or hit like a real big-leaguer. That was common in classic sports films. You don't see that now. Robert Redford ("The Natural"), Kevin Costner (several baseball films) and the like, know how to play the game.
This is corny in spots and it's sugar-coated like some of the other classic sports stories. However, Alexander is shown with his drinking problem and his wife, played by Doris Day, also does the wrong thing walking away from her husband in his time of need.....so you do see some bad with the good. Yet, all ends well and overall, it's an interesting movie.
What's more, the climactic scene actually happened in real life where Alexander turned into a World Series hero despite the odds against him.
If you really want interesting stories, read the real-life accounts of men like Alexander, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Matthewson, John MacGraw, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, etc. They are fascinating.
Doris Day, a great actress, is outstanding as Aimee, his wife (this film is worth watching just because Doris is in it).
The real life Alexander served in World War I and also was an alcoholic.
The movie covers the baseball career of the great pitcher (who won 28 games as a rookie, 373 overall). The movies' biggest fault was it ends with Alexander's heroics in the 1926 World Series in St. Louis upset of the powerful Yankees. In 1928,the Yankees slaughtered the same Cardinals team in a four game sweep, with Alexander, still pitching at age 41, getting shelled in two starts.
Actual baseball footage at the end of the film shows the great Babe Ruth inexplicably trying to steal second base, with the Yankees trailing, down to their last out in the series (he was thrown out).
Ronald Reagan gives a solid if unspectacular performance as Alexander, with Doris Day as his wife giving it a little more energy. The supporting cast is decent, with Frank Lovejoy probably getting the best opportunities as Rogers Hornsby, although the character takes some noticeable liberties with the Hornsby of baseball history. There are also numerous other factual inaccuracies about the players, stadiums, and so forth. In this respect, it's somewhat interesting as a contrast to many recent biographical movies.
Recent movies sometimes make better efforts to get the minor details right, but then they often distort the larger picture to promote a pet view of history or of a historical character. Older biographies like "The Winning Team" might be more likely to change factual details to fit a dramatic story, but less likely to distort the broader view of events.
Regardless of all that, this is a reasonable picture, without many significant strengths or flaws. It's probably mostly of interest to baseball fans or to those curious to see Reagan's role.
*** (out of 4)
Pretty good, if watered down, drama about the career of Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander (Ronald Reagan) who started life on the farm but quickly made a name for himself as a pitcher. When his career was apparently over he started to suffer from alcoholism but his wife (Doris Day) gets him back into shape so that he can make a comeback. Once again we have a bio-pic that has been fictionalized but even with this the movie manages to be very entertaining from start to finish thanks to some very good performances. I think there are a few minor issues with one of them being the fact that the studio forced the producer's to cut down on some of the more darker moments. The alcoholism issue is only touched for a few seconds and Alexander's battle with epilepsy is pretty much overlooked. Another minor problem is that this is a movie about Alexander yet a lot of the attention goes to the wife. Day got top-billing but this is certainly Reagan's movie but at the same time there are many scenes that are obviously here just to give Day more scenes and this includes a really bad singing sequence around Christmas time. With all of that said, the rest of the movie is pretty much a winner. Baseball fans are really going to eat up seeing how they were playing back in the day plus we get to view the old-time uniforms and even better is that we get to see some of the old baseball stadiums. There's also quite a bit of stock footage used to try and re-create some moments of the 1926 World Series, which was against the New York Yankees and their Murderers Row. This was Reagan's final film at Warner after fifteen-years worth of service and they certainly let him go out on a high note. I thought Reagan was very believable in the role and manages to look quite natural as a pitcher and he also managed to be very believable in the part of the farm boy. The early scenes with him struggling with his disease were extremely well-done and this ranks as one of the actors better performances. Day is also in top-form even though I think we could have used a little less of her character. Frank Lovejoy gets a good bit as Rogers Hornsby and we get some real-life players including Jerry Priddy, Bob Lemon, Peanuts Lowery and Irving Noren. Frank Ferguson, who most will remember from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, plays Day's father here. Again, if you're wanting to truth on Alexander then it's best you go read a book but if you're just looking for some quick entertainment then this film does the job.
Grover Cleveland "Old Pete" Alexander lived from 1887 to 1950. He was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938. In his 1911 debut, Alexander led the league with 28 wins (a modern-day rookie record), 31 complete games, 367 innings pitched, and seven shutouts. He was drafted into WWI and in France was an artillery officer, where he suffered from shell shock and partial hearing loss. Injuries from playing baseball and battle fatigue lead to more physical problems and alcoholism. After the film was finished Ronald Reagan was disappointed that it was not made more clear that Alexander suffered from Epilepsy, the studio banned the use of the word in the film because of a social stigma at the time. Modern examples of controversy might include living legends Pete Rose and Mark McGuire. But it has been suggested that the drinking was due to his fear (which the film touches on) from not understand epilepsy and the seizures that he had. Notable Achievements include: 373 career wins (3rd all-time); Won 20 games or more 9 times, won 30 games or more 3 times; Pitched 90 shutouts (2nd all time); Won NL Pitcher's Triple Crown in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1920; World Series champion (1926); National League pennants (1915), (1918) In 1999 he was ranked number 12 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Ballplayers of all time.
Ronald Reagan best known as our 40th President, started his acting career as a sports caster in Des Moines, Iowa which led to being a play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Cubs. In 1937 he moved to Hollywood and debuted in LOVE IS IN THE AIR. He appeared in dozens of B films. In the 1939 Bette Davis "A" film DARK VICTORY, Reagan got good notices which led to better roles as in George Gipp (win this one for the "Gipper") in the sports bio KNUTE ROCKNE: ALL American and George Armstrong Custer in SANTE FE TRAIL. He was never Oscar nominated but many consider his role in KINGS ROW to be his best performance. In 1951 he made his first film with Doris Day, it was a KKK drama called STORM WARNING. During the 1950s he was a democrat and fought communism as the head of the Screen Actors Guild and while working in television as host of the General Electric Theater he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. He met his wife Nancy Davis while making the film HELLCATS OF THE NAVY. His last film was THE KILLERS in 1964. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California and the rest they say is history.
Doris Day turned 87 this past April 3rd, she was born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff in Evanston, Ohio. At 14 she won a talent contest on a Cincinnati radio, the band leader joked she should change her name to something shorter for a marquee. The song she sang was "Day by Day." Doris Day was soon discovered by band leader Les Brown and their hit SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY sent her to Hollywood where she made ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS in 1948. Her song, "IT'S MAGIC" was Oscar nominated for best song. Among her many film highlights are CALAMITY JANE, TEACHER'S PET (her favorite), LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, THE PAJAMA GAME, Hitchcock's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, THAT TOUCH OF MINK and PILLOW TALK (my favorite) where she was Oscar nominated for Best Leading Actress. Her TV career included THE DORIS DAY SHOW, DORIS DAY TODAY & DORIS DAY'S BEST FRIENDS. She is now retired, living in Carmel California, a full-time vegetarian and an animal rights activist.
3rd billed Frank Lovejoy plays Rogers Hornsby another ballplayer who befriends Alexander. You may not remember his name but you will recognize him, square-jawed, intense, no-nonsense Frank Lovejoy played a succession of detectives, street cops, reporters and soldiers in films. He made his Broadway debut in 1934 and with his gritty, authoritative voice was perfect for radio making thousands of old time radio show appearances on "Gangbusters", "Night Beat" and "Damon Runyon Theater".
The first thing that caught my eye was when the opening credits rolled with Doris Day billed over Ronald Reagan, somewhat backwards considering who the title character was, but probably had something to do with a contractual obligation at the time. A follow up credits screen lists the names of Major League ball players who also appeared in the film, but unless you were a die-hard fan in the Fifties, there's no way you'd recognize any of them. None of them that I recall were mentioned by name in the story.
The story has some neat anecdotal stuff in it like Alexander (Reagan) earning a buck and a half to pitch against the Galesburg team, and allowing Rogers Hornsby (Frank Lovejoy) to get a hit when his baseball career might have been on the line. A treat for old time fans would be seeing some of the early ball parks and stock footage from the mid-Twenties glory days, there's even a clip of the Babe running for first base and making an unsuccessful steal attempt at second.
In his role portraying Alexander, I thought Reagan was generally competent, although some of his mannerisms seemed exaggerated when he attempted to simulate the pitcher's bouts of dizziness and diplopia. The story's best sequences seemed to occur when Alex and Aimee (Day) shared a tender moment, while virtually every baseball scene had Alex throwing nothing but strikes, which seemed to this viewer as rather unlikely considering his real life overall record (373-208), while impressive, still had it's share of losses. An interesting side note, Alexander has the most career wins for a pitcher who never threw a no-hitter; that's for all you sports buffs.
Though the movie leaves out a lot of the real ball player's life and troubles due to epilepsy and alcohol, there's some value in catching the film for it's story of a man's perseverance in spite of obstacles to overcome. If you enjoy these era films, one you might try is another film from 1952 featuring yet another pitcher, the inimitable Dizzy Dean in "The Pride of St. Louis".
Anyone who had the benefit of seeing insider comments from the classic film network I taped it from would know that Grover Cleveland Alexander suffered from seizures do to epilepsy.
Ronald Reagan was quite disappointed at the film company not including that in the film and not naming the disease, though implying some physical problem was involved in Alexander's problems.
The drinking was due to fear (which the film touches on) from NOT UNDERSTANDING EPILEPSY and the seizures that he had.
I think Reagan gave the character life and those who point out his deficiencies as an athlete don't mention that he was an athlete himself, playing football and eventually got a job as a sports announcer. That job helped him land his first role in Hollywood as a sports announcer on screen.
No actor is going to play baseball as well as an actual baseball player. It is a skill that many have tried and few succeed at. 'Knowing' the sport is not the same as being able to play it to the level of a big leaguer.
So, forgiving an actor for not being able to pitch like a real big leaguer is not hard when the main story here is his life, his marriage and his service to his country and to baseball between his very real struggles of epilepsy and drinking.
The film is actually quite ground breaking, covering something from an era where these things were often covered up and if they did make the news, they were public scandals. In this case, Mrs. Alexander (who was played brilliantly by Doris Day here), protected her husband's image at the time by omitting (apparently) some divorces that were designed to help him come to his senses.
Perhaps it was to help protect her as well. She probably felt she made mistakes too in trying to help him the wrong way. It's hard to know how to handle when someone's whole personality changes due to an illness.
The way the media is today, an athlete's whole career could be railroaded with no second chance by an episode of making a bad choice due to pain of getting intoxicated. This doesn't excuse Alexander's bad choices. He should have been honest with his wife and got help (also should have been honest with his baseball team(s)).
But the fact is, Babe Ruth would likely have had a tough time getting in the Hall of Fame in this age when Mark McGuire was overlooked because some people BELIEVE he used illegal steroids. It has yet to be proved and he never admitted it, only to the use of legal vitamin supplements, yet he isn't in the Hall of Fame.
Pete Rose is not forgiven to this day for the gambling which didn't occur as a player, but apparently as a manager.
Yes, baseball as in all of life should have standards. I just see that there have been many double standards as in not giving people a second chance and trying to build up heroes just to knock them down and ruin their lives.
Enough of them do it on their own (i.e. Ken Caminiti, Jose Conseco, etc.) without having to have people who aren't even in the know judging men who have the same weaknesses as us, yet have sought to inspire us to rise above those weaknesses and excel at something to give young people encouragement.
One unguarded moment or comment off the record to a reporter these days is enough to ruin a guy's life and career. Some guys are truly bad characters and deserve it.
Others, like Grover Cleveland Alexander, seem to deserve some understanding and compassion.
Would he have received it in today's journalistic environment?
The love story is a bit corny, the whole "Aimee gave him his strength", I feel that was Hollywood doing their thing, just as in the end showing Grover striking out the last batter, when in fact, Babe Ruth was thrown out at 2nd trying to steal 2nd base, typical Hollywood in making up what they want.
Overall though, I loved the movie, loved the real 1910-1927's baseball footage! If you are a baseball fanatic, you will love this one, except for the side story with his love life, but I tell ya what, Dorris day played it well, I actually loved her performance.
Sportsman Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, and Forbes Field with the banners and the crowds really won me over in the movie, along with the old-time radio broadcasters. The raw footage is AWESOME!
When I was a kid the theaters were filled with nonsense like this, colorful life stories of extremely famous celebrities nobody ever heard of, and gaudy musicals with songs from the Old Stone Age, all from the teens and 1920s. It wasn't until some years had passed that I realized that, for most of the audience, these people, events, and songs were still alive in their memories, no farther behind them than the Beatles are behind us.
Grover Cleveland Alexander, a Nebraska farm boy (Reagan), is a natural pitcher who is discovered by a minor league team and plays ball for them during the summer. The problem is that his girl friend (Day) doesn't want him to be a baseball player. She wants to settle down with him on a nice farm with a picket fence and a rose garden and build a stable home. Already the movie has left originality behind on a distant horizon, hidden in a cloud of stirred-up Nebraska loess, and it's only fifteen minutes into the story.
But never mind. Day moons over the conundrum for a while longer and then decides to marry him anyway, after he's offered a contract with a major league team in Philadelphia.
Alexander is a success in 1911. He's a great pitcher. We know this because there is a montage of Ronald Reagan winding up, throwing a ball past the camera, and leaning into it with a big grin. There is also a montage of a proud and smiling Doris Day pasting newspaper clippings, bespeaking triumph, into a huge scrap book labeled in gilt "Grover Cleveland Alexander".
Little did they know that tragedy lay just around the corner. Somewhere along this time line -- I forget exactly where in Alex's dazzling rise to fame -- he gets clipped by a bean ball and is knocked out. He wakes up with diplopia -- seeing two of everything. Now, this is unwelcome news for a famous baseball pitcher, and Alex retires to the farm for a year, unreconciled to his disorder -- partly because he's convinced he can still PITCH if only it weren't for his eyes, and partly because he can't spell diplopia.
Then -- a miracle! He wakes up at night, goes to shut the window, and he sees only ONE MOON! And before you know it he's back in the game. However, tragedy lies just around the corner. No, no, the diplopia is gone for good. This is a different tragedy.
It's 1918 and World War I is upon us. Alex is drafted and is an artillery sergeant. The constant booming of the cannons makes him a little hard of hearing but, worse than that, he begins to get dizzy spells. After a triumphant return from the war, a dizzy spell causes him to pass out on the mound. The spells return. Alex sees a doctor in secret who tells him gravely that "science doesn't know much about these things." He is SO right, because doctors are not screenwriters. Writers know all the details of mysterious illnesses -- what the symptoms are, when they should appear and when they should go away. Based on Alex's description of the symptoms, my Dx is temporal lobe epilepsy. That will be ten cents.
The mysterious dizzy spells cause him to start drinking and he winds up a bum in some shabby carnival as so many heroes of these biopics must -- Joel McRae in "Buffalo Bill", Tyrone Power in "Nightmare Alley." He's rescued by an offer to return to the majors by an old friend, with the complicity of Doris Day, and a gigantic hole appears in whatever logic the plot holds. His dizzy spells disappear on the pitcher's mound, as long as he can look into the stands and catch the refulgent splendor of Doris Day's big white grin. At the very end, at the most critical moment, with the Yankees at bat and the bases loaded and the count three and two, Day is delayed in reaching Yankee Stadium, and Alex looks worried and sweaty, and the shapes begin to waver and shift, and -- and -- I had to close my eyes because I couldn't stand the tension so I can't tell you what happened.
I applaud this movie because instead of just one tragedy -- either the double vision or the dizzy spells -- you get two. This ratchets up the suspense to the Red Alert level. Also, Doris Day is mighty saucy.
Don't miss this if you want to see a typical biographical flick from the 1950s. Definitely see it if you want to know why "they don't make 'em like this anymore" and feel happy that they don't.
In "Her Own Story", Day confirmed she and "Ronnie" had a brief, real-life romantic relationship, while they were both between marriages. Interestingly, Day states the future President had a lovely apartment, was a great dancer, and spoke enough to give her the impression he was "a very aggressive liberal Democrat." Their best scenes are with (later in the picture) each other, and with (earlier in the picture) movie family members Mr. Ferguson and young Russ "Rusty" Tamblyn (later residents of "Peyton Place").
"This Is the True Story of Grover Cleveland Alexander," is the film's opening proclamation. It looks more like the studio shoved the early 1900s baseball player's life story into the typical formula film. As usual, the early scenes reveal a lead actor clearly too old for the part, as Reagan is playing a man half his age; this was something more convincingly done by Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart. Unfortunately, you spend the whole film wondering what Reagan's "double vision" problem is, exactly - and, don't expect the film to give you the answer. Day sings a very pretty Christmas song ("Ol' Saint Nicholas").
**** The Winning Team (6/20/52) Lewis Seiler ~ Ronald Reagan, Doris Day, Frank Lovejoy, Frank Ferguson
With that big build-up, the movie had better be good, right? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but this baseball movie starring Ronald Reagan and Doris Day isn't very good. If you're a die-hard baseball fan and happen to love Ronald Reagan, go right ahead. I always get a kick out of seeing him in his young, handsome glory-he looked like my old sweetie pie from high school! Besides the eye candy, it's a pretty mediocre movie. It's a biography of Grover Cleveland Alexander, and shows his midwestern roots, his courtship and marriage to small-town sweetheart Doris Day, his medical problems, and his overwhelming obsession with baseball. He puts the sport above everything else in his life, including Doris, but she steps up to the plate as the "long suffering wife" and supports him through his neglect. The Winning Team doesn't really hold a candle to The Pride of the Yankees, so you're better off just sticking with that one.
DLM Warning: If you suffer from vertigo or dizzy spells, like my mom does, this movie might not your friend. There are times when the camera swirls and blurs, and that will make you sick. In other words, "Don't Look, Mom!"
'The Winning Team' does stray from the truth significantly from the middle of the film, which will disappoint those who want a truthful account of his life and career. Although it was a pity somewhat, it didn't ruin it for me having seen enough biographical dramas to kind of expect that it would be the case. With that being said, there are some truthful elements too.
While the alcoholism and problems with vision and blackouts were covered, it was a shame that the epilepsy was pretty much trivialised to ignored. It is in some way not an easy condition to act out, but not addressing it (and it would have been courageous of the film to do so for a condition that needed awareness raised and still met with ignorance, speaking as an epileptic myself) and not exploring it enough was a missed opportunity when it was such a big part of his health difficulties.
A few scenes didn't come over as necessary either and seemed tacked on. The "Ol' Saint Nicholas" seemed like it was put in just to have Day sing, its inclusion felt tacked on, it was completely pointless and it wasn't even a particularly good song despite Day singing it beautifully and doing what she could. The direction was competent enough if unspectacular mostly and workmanlike at best, gets the job done but in need of more spark.
On the other hand, despite not being lavish, 'The Winning Team' is a good-looking film and is well photographed. It did also benefit from the inclusion of stock footage which makes one nostalgic and leaves them quite moved. The music is a good fit and doesn't intrude.
Generally the writing flows well and packs some emotional punch. The story moves along at a comfortable pace without dragging or being jumpy, it does become thin and suddenly-stop-like in the second half but the ending is uplifting and moving.
Reagan occasionally overdoes the mannerisms but on the most part it is a solid performance that shows a lot of commitment that ranks among his better ones. Day shows that when given the chance that she was as skilled in drama as she is in comedy and musicals, even though the character at times frustrates you she gives a sensitive performance and shares good chemistry with Reagan. Frank Lovejoy is good support.
In conclusion, a winner mostly if not exceptional. 7/10 Bethany Cox
That being said, we have a very solid movie here with a marvelous performance by future President Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander. Unfortunately, Doris Day would need another 3 years to develop as a dramatic actress and that would come in her brilliantly breakout performance in "Love Me or Leave Me."
It's really a shame that there were some distortions in the film. I read that Amy Alexander divorced her husband twice and remarried him for a 3rd time. It's also ridiculous that the script never mentioned that Alexander suffered from epilepsy. After all, talking about his dizzy spells through us all of somewhat.
The picture itself is a heartbreak. From humble beginnings, Alexander became a star baseball pitcher only to suffer a beaning and epilepsy, the latter being confused with alcoholism; although, it was shown that he was hitting the bottle as well as a way out of his frustration.
The film succeeds because of his triumph and amazing comeback.
Reagan totally captured the essence of Grover Cleveland Alexander. Miss Day did not. Jeanne Crain would have been better suited for the part.
It's all very nicely done, but the plot basically stops less than half way through for several reels, with episodic scenes devoted to his rise to baseball fame, her scrapbook keeping, his involvement in world war I, and of course, the obligatory scene of her running along in the crowd as he comes back another type of hero.
Cameos by famous baseball players of the time gives this historical importance as a record of part of baseball's history, with shots of many long gone stadiums, too old fashioned and un-tech to change with the times. It's obvious that Alexander's double vision will return, but it's also obvious how this formula biographical drama will play out. The way his apparent dive into alcoholism isn't presented as believable either, with a slurring Reagan being told he sounds sober while a sports reporter calls in the story to a newspaper. All of a sudden, we're supposed to believe that he's a lush. The story is there, but the script prevents any real emotional involvement by leaving out key character details.