Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Overview

Long before hot-headed guests were trading blows on The Jerry Springer Show, Morton Downey Jr. was transforming daytime television into a smoke-blowing spectacle of rage. With his bulging eyes and a lit cigarette clenched firmly between steel-trap teeth, he took no prisoners while barking vicious insults at his guests and audiences alike. It was the 1980s, and television viewers were transfixed by the man who had no fear, and no apparent filter. But then, as quickly as Downey Jr. had appeared out of nowhere to ...
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Overview

Long before hot-headed guests were trading blows on The Jerry Springer Show, Morton Downey Jr. was transforming daytime television into a smoke-blowing spectacle of rage. With his bulging eyes and a lit cigarette clenched firmly between steel-trap teeth, he took no prisoners while barking vicious insults at his guests and audiences alike. It was the 1980s, and television viewers were transfixed by the man who had no fear, and no apparent filter. But then, as quickly as Downey Jr. had appeared out of nowhere to lower the standards for civil discourse, he was gone. In this documentary, Emmy-nominated filmmakers Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger chart the motor-mouthed trash TV host's dizzying rise to fame, as well as his thunderous fall from the spotlight through interviews with Chris Elliot, Herman Cain, Sally Jessy Raphael, Pat Buchanan, Richard Bey, and Gloria Allred.
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Special Features

Memorable moments; Behind the animation; Trailer; An evening with Kellie Everts; Commentary with directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A Miller and Jeremy Newberger
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Before Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh grew to national prominence, there was a loudmouthed would-be populist firebrand named Morton Downey Jr., who had a nationally syndicated talk show that lasted less than two years. The chain-smoking, motormouthed host railed against the world, and was cheered on by an intense, loyal, and vocal live audience that could best be described as a combination of professional-wrestling enthusiasts and proto-Jerry Springer fans. Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, recalls his meteoric rise and fall, even if it never finds a way to make his story relevant. Born to wealthy parents who made their living in show business, Downey seemed to desire fame his entire life, and as this movie makes clear, he understood that controversy was a quick and easy way to get your name on the front page. The film argues that much of what drove him was a yearning to show his parents what he was capable of, but the documentary's pop-psychology passages -- as well as its footage of the most memorable moments from his raucous television show -- aren't particularly insightful, even when they're enjoyable. What does get to the heart of the matter is a telling sequence in which we're introduced to some Jersey guys who all seem to be regular Joes with steady jobs and families. As teenagers, this group regularly travelled to attend tapings of Downey's show, often appearing onscreen during moments when audience members were encouraged to ask questions. We see clips of these men saying the most outrageous things as teens, and often getting positive reinforcement for doing so from their seemingly unhinged idol. As adults, these guys look back at their younger selves with a fascinating combination of nostalgia mixed with bewilderment that the show ever meant that much to them. That section of the movie lasts just a few minutes, but it's the most instructive element of Évocateur because it's the only time we see the effect this polarizing personality had on regular people. While there's tabloidy fun to be had reliving his very public fall -- from the infamous alleged attack he suffered in a public bathroom to his speaking out against smoking after spending his entire public life with a burning butt in his mouth -- the directors don't make the case that Downey was anything other than a blip on the pop-culture radar. An early montage shows others who had similar acts in the decades before, proving that he was just one in a series of broadcasters who used this abrasive schtick to gain some notoriety. Évocateur certainly works as nostalgia. If, like the guys who used to go to his show regularly, you remember being stunned, entertained, shocked, and/or infuriated by Downey's antics, the movie is a first-rate look back at that brief moment in pop-culture history. However, the film never explains why we should bother remembering him.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/3/2013
  • UPC: 876964005906
  • Original Release: 2012
  • Rating:

  • Source: Magnolia
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Subtitled
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 78,408

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Morton Downey Jr.
Herman Cain Participant
Pat Buchanan Participant
Chris Elliott Participant
Gloria Allred Participant
Sally Jessy Raphael Participant
Alan Dershowitz Participant
Curtis Sliwa Participant
Richard Bey Participant
Technical Credits
Seth Kramer Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Executive Producer, Producer
Daniel A. Miller Director, Executive Producer, Producer, Screenwriter
Jeremy Newberger Director, Art Director, Executive Producer, Producer, Production Designer
Ken Fuhr Cinematographer
Roger T. Grange III Cinematographer
Hamyard Ltd. Animator
Richard Patterson Cinematographer
Marc Ribot Score Composer
Chad Wilson Cinematographer
Ben Wolf Cinematographer
Graham Wright Associate Producer
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