Morton Downey Jr. made it big as a talk-show host by berating his guests ("pablum-puking liberal" was a favorite) with a voice that could reach jet-engine decibels. It was a particularly odd role for a man who began in show biz as a crooner of pop ballads, just like his old man, Morton Downey Sr. But the younger Downey's career was full of such contradictions: A staunch conservative, he was proud of his openly gay brother, Tony, in the homophobic '80s; once a ferocious chain smoker, Morton later quit completely (although the lung cancer had a lot to do with that). The two-year run of his original TV show was ground zero for "Trash TV" culture and also established the template for today's screaming-head panel shows. The documentary Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie tries to explain the appeal of the belligerent loudmouth through interviews with the now-deceased Downey and archival footage. Evocateur screens at 7:30 p.m. Sunday and Monday (December 15 and 16) at the Moore Auditorium on Webster University's campus (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). Tickets are $5 to $6.
Sun., Dec. 15; Mon., Dec. 16, 2013