Reagan clips and Reagan photos, 1930s-1980s--a non-book that's an improvement on Learner (above) for the Hollywood years,...


HOLLYWOOD ON RONALD REAGAN: Friends and Enemies Discuss Our President, the Actor

Reagan clips and Reagan photos, 1930s-1980s--a non-book that's an improvement on Learner (above) for the Hollywood years, even so, if nothing but a cut-and-paste extravaganza thereafter. It works this way: from the 1930s through the early '50s (when Reagan left films), McClelland, a paperback cut-and-paste pro, excerpts from the movie magazines that Learner quotes as if they were gospel; but the fanzine sentiments--about Reagan's wholesomeness, or good-citizenship--that ring hollow in a straight narrative carry their own kind of conviction in an all-H'wood documentary. Was there really a time when ""cynical,"" hot-headed Jane Wyman and trusting, peppy, enthusiastic, sentimental, ""immaculate,"" sports-loving Ronald Reagan were Hollywood's best-matched, most-admired couple? So says one after another Screenland, Modern Screen, or Motion Picture scribe. We've read (in more consequential accounts than Learner's) that Reagan was devastated by their break-up--coming on the heels of Wyman's success (The Lost Weekend, The Yearling, Johnny Belinda) and the postwar fizzling of his own career. Here, every sob-sister and -brother speaks of it. (""Ronnie did the perfectly natural thing. He became immersed in outside activities. The Guild, politics, even his old college. . . ."") There follows ""An Open Letter"" to Screen Actors Guild prexy Reagan taking him to task for a report that the Guild will try ""to prevent fan magazines from running any stories about the private lives of established film stars."" Then with divorcÉ Reagan dating, we hear (from Sidney Skolsky) that ""he talks and talks"" and (from Hollywood Yearbook) that pretty, ladylike Nancy Davis is ""a good listener."" Post-H'wood, McClelland just plucks Hollywoodite quotes indiscriminately from everywhere. Patricia Neal: ""I don't like Reagan"" (UPI, 1968); ""I do like Ronnie. I really do"" (People, 1981). The photos make it a nostalgia-fest and something of a gag-fest--but Reagan the Hollywood product is also on authentic display here.

Pub Date: June 1, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Faber & Faber--dist. by Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983