“Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie”
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity and nudity
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Morton Downey, Sr. was a wealthy, well-connected film and recording star who settled down with his family on Cape Cod in a lavish mansion located right next-door to the Kennedys. Although son Morton, Jr. was raised a liberal in the lap of luxury and tried for years to make it as a rock musician, in 1987 he made himself over as an arch-conservative populist presuming to be the voice of angry white males.
Over the next two years, he would enjoy a meteoric rise as the host of an eponymous, nationally-syndicated, TV talk show. However, because the chain-smoking conservative-come-lately was an obnoxious loudmouth who cared more about ratings than an honest discussion of political issues, his hate-spewing, in your face interviewing style would grow tiresome just as fast as it brought him to the top of the Hollywood food chain.
The stunt that proved to be Mort’s downfall transpired in a San Francisco airport bathroom where he cut his hair and his shirt with scissors and drew a swastika on his face in a bathroom before claiming to have been attacked by a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads. What’s ironic about the incident is the fact that a frequent guest on his show was Reverend Al Sharpton, a staunch defender of Tawana Brawley, who was similarly disgraced after being exposed as a fraud for falsely fingering a white district attorney for rape.
Directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger, “Evocateur” is a mix of archival footage and reflections by family, friends, fans and folks who made appearances on the program like Pat Buchanan and Gloria Allred. The old videos of Mort, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2001, remain every bit as compelling today as they were in his heyday.
A riveting biopic about a rich kid-turned-rabid bully and pathological liar desperate enough for the limelight to sell his soul to the devil.