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I remember watching Morton Downey, Jr.’s talk show when I was a teenager back in the late 80’s. I was a theater nerd back then, and Downey’s show played in that same sandbox, albeit an obviously grotesque and assaultive form of theater.

But Downey understood that what he did was theater, an observation that’s made evident in the new documentary ‘Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr Movie’ (currently available On Demand). Today, his particular brand of confrontation and disrespect has bled into all forms of dialogue on television – from daytime talk shows to nighttime news. It’s not an admirable legacy, but it’s one that belongs in large part to Downey.

The movie does give you a peek behind the curtain into the drives of the infamous host, and they’re about what you’d expect them to be. His was a life ruined by ego (actually believing he was the Messiah of the regular working Joe even as he was flying on private jets) and excess (in the form of broken relationships and 4 packs of cigarettes a day).

For anyone who grew up watching Downey’s show, but knows little about the man himself, the amount of interest. It’s just disappointing to realize that what you saw is really all he was. (B-)

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