"Bedtime for Bonzo"
February 08, 2011, 02:29 PM
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From my column in Taki's Magazine:
To celebrate Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday, I watched his most derided movie, Bedtime for Bonzo. We've been hearing wisecracks about it for generations, so it has to be an embarrassment, right?
Bedtime for Bonzo turns out instead to be a small but nifty family comedy that was a deserved hit in 1951. ... Reagan was well suited to play an idealistic and impersonal professor in Bedtime for Bonzo. But it's funny how liberal Reagan's character is-a progressive psychologist who believes in nurture over nature. Reagan proclaims that criminals are merely victims of having been "born and raised in a slum environment." ...

Reagan is engaged to a lady professor who is the daughter of the college's dean, an old-fogey geneticist who still believes in heredity. When the dean discovers that his prospective son-in-law's estranged father was a habitual conman, he withdraws his daughter's hand and asks: "But what assurance do I have that your children, my grandchildren, won't inherit criminal tendencies?" Reagan then has a brainstorm: he'll borrow a baby chimp from the college's Viennese animal researcher and raise it like a human child: "Don't you see Hans, that if it works, Dean Tillinghast will have to admit that environment is all important, that heredity counts for very little?"

Read the whole thing there.