"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.