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Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater

Distributed by Zeitgeist Films, 247 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-274-1989
Produced by C.C. Goldwater and Tani Cohen
Directed by Julie Anderson
DVD, color, 90 min.
Sr. High - Adult
American Studies, Biography, History, Political Science

Reviewed by Douglas Reed, Department of Political Science, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 11/3/2009

Mr. Conservative is a tribute to and an insightful critique of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, Arizona native and author of The Conscience of a Conservative (1960), a catalyst for the conservative political movement.

Co-produced by Goldwater’s granddaughter, Mr. Conservative provides rare insights into both the personal and political dimensions of the senator’s life. Utilizing home movies, many shot by Goldwater himself, affords a candid view of the private side of the senator. Moreover, interviews with Goldwater’s immediate family, particularly his children, fleshes out intimate details of his adventurous upbringing and no-nonsense personality.

The film presents a balanced view of Goldwater’s political career. Interviews with veteran journalists and key political figures discuss the important policy questions during his 30-year tenure in the U.S. Senate. Interviewees run the gamut of the political spectrum: Ben Bradlee, James Carville, Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Al Franken, John McCain, Sandra Day O’Connor, Andy Rooney, Helen Thomas, Richard Viguerie, and George Will.

Brimming with vintage film footage, Mr. Conservative captures the political turmoil of Goldwater’s time – JFK’s assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, and the Watergate scandal. Also revealing are clips from divisive party conventions, heated campaign rallies, and mud-slinging ads of the 1964 presidential campaign. Goldwater’s Libertarian views and the emerging role of social conservatism is another well-documented clash. These images of political chaos are skillfully juxtaposed with the placid beauty of the Arizona landscape Senator Goldwater took with his own camera.

Highly recommended for academic and public libraries, Mr. Conservative is an excellent resource for political science and history courses.