In the history of TV talk shows, few characters made as big a splash as Morton Downey Jr. For two years in the late ’80s, his uniquely repulsive charisma and unabashed abrasiveness made him the hottest thing out there. Then, as fast as he had risen from obscurity, he was gone, self-destructing in a bizarre publicity stunt, even as imitators as diverse as Glenn Beck and Jerry Springer incorporated elements of his one-of-a-kind shtick. The whole stranger-than-fiction story is told in Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie.
“What I love about this doc is that it plays up his importance, the show’s importance, despite the fact that it was just this grimy little barely produced number,” says Keith Garcia, programming manager for the Denver Film Society. “It was just awful, but there’s that root of awful we’re all really attracted to, and God bless him for riding that wave. Even as smarmy and as skeezy as it all got, I think he provided a service to America and the world by putting a lot of exploitation in our faces.”
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Evocateur opens tonight for a one-week run at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $10, or $7 for DFS members. For tickets and showtimes, visit denverfilm.org.
June 21-27, 2013