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Bob Alexander: AUTOPSY

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Ronald Reagan in The KillersOne of my favorite movies is director Don Siegel’s 1964 remake of The Killers. It was supposed to be one of the first “Made for TV” movies but someone at Universal thought it was too violent so it was released theatrically.

Siegel directed two movies, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Dirty Harry (1971), that are on my List of The 100 Best Movies Ever Made. And then there’s ... The Killers. As a friend of mine said, “Don Siegel was one of those directors who could make good pieces of a movie, but had a hard time making a complete movie." And The Killers is a very good example of that. It’s almost good. Too bad, because the cast is incredible: Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes, Angie Dickinson, Clu Gulager, and … in the last theatrical role of his 27-year long career … and the first time he ever played a bad guy … Ronald Reagan.

I watch this movie at least once every year. During the Reagan presidency I watched it more often than that. No matter how rotten the Real World became, because of the miracle of videotape, I could watch Lee Marvin shoot Ronald Reagan whenever I needed a little morale booster. There is justice somewhere in the world, even if it’s only in the movies.

I used to hate Ronald Reagan for a million reasons. The Republicans took an almost-has-been Hollywood celebrity, grafted him onto conservative bullshit, and thus created a president for the Yahoos of America. The Republicans could pick the pockets of the rubes while their celebrity front man razzle-dazzled the crowds with a line of patter sure to please the easy to please Morons of America.

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