Scribblings Resurrection

Lights out for Bonzo

Sunday, 6 June 2004

Bedtime for Bonzo poster showing Ronald Reagan with a chimpanzee

On the eve of Ronald Reagan’s re-election as President of the USA in 1984 I went to an all-night showing of his movies at, I think, the Scala in Kings Cross. Most of them were absolutely dire although, I must admit, Bedtime for Bonzo was rather fun. The film concerns the attempt by a professor, played by Reagan, to teach human morals to a chimpanzee and is the sort of movie you might watch to wile away a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Reagan the actor was no great shakes although, to be fair, he never claimed to be. I think he once referred to himself as the “Errol Flynn of B-movies”. Reagan the politician was something else entirely. He liked to come across almost as a bumbling idiot with a great store of homilies for any occasion. Lost your dog? Ron’s your man! I always suspected that his assumed persona hid a man of enormous conviction, ruthlessness and intelligence. I’ve no doubt that he was also charming, good-natured and fun to be with; my gran would probably have called him “That nice Mr Reagan”.

Achievements of Ronald Reagan

So, goodbye Ronnie. A terrible way to go but I can’t say I’m sad that you’ve gone.

Posted 6 June 2004, 14:19 BST