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Movie Nights with the Reagans: A Memoir by Mark Weinberg

Movie Nights with the Reagans: A Memoir by Mark Weinberg

The lights dim and the projector starts. The audience hushes.  Later, after the movie is over, a small group gathers around the fireplace to trade stories, and chat about the film.

Yep--It’s just another night at Camp David’s “Aspen Lodge.” Nothing special—just munching on popcorn while watching movies with the Leader of the Free World. 
 
In MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS, Mark Weinberg describes a dream come true. This twenty-three-year-old White House press aide was invited to stay with the president at Camp David for the weekends.  Of course, that meant watching movies with the Gang.
 
Each chapter in the book recounts the events at one movie night. My favorite chapter in the book is, “Knute Rockne All American,” which the author describes as, “The Film That Created a Political Legend.”  Of course, this was the film that earned Reagan “the Gipper” nickname. The author recalls what came after the screening: 

“We had to shout over each other to ask questions. The president was more than happy to indulge us. He would tell the story of how he wanted the part and almost didn’t get it, of how much he liked playing football, and how honored he felt to work with Pat O’Brien.” 

Then, someone asked Reagan about his most famous line from the film.  Of course, Reagan remembered it perfectly and proceeded to recite the speech about winning “just one for the Gipper.”

 Ronnie, please pass the popcorn

Ronnie, please pass the popcorn

Besides the actual movies, one funny part of the book recounts the time a visitor mentioned to Reagan that she “never cared for him as an actor, but “I think you are a great president.”  Well, that slight about Reagan's acting ability bothered the president. Later, he wondered which movies the woman had seen that left her with a negative impression of his acting ability.

So all in all, I found MOVIE NIGHTS WITH THE REAGANS a fun read—but also a bittersweet read. I especially liked the chapters on the movies in which Reagan himself starred.  I found the information about the contemporary world events not as interesting as the movie night experiences.

I can only imagine what it must have been like watching movies with Ronald Reagan and his inner circle. I appreciate the author’s fondness for the Reagans: 

“Let me be clear at the outset: I am a proudly biased fan of President and Mrs. Reagan.” 

Easy to see why.

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