The Reel Review


Rock music is not exactly what comes to mind at the thought of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. But this CNN documentary explores how it was his unlikely relationship with stars such as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and The Allman Brothers that vaulted this Washington outsider from rural Georgia into The White House in 1976.  Not only did rock music help Carter win the election, but it also helped unite a country still reeling from the Watergate scandal.

Jimmy Carter and Willie Nelson in Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President

Director Mary Wharton pulls together fascinating archival footage and terrific interviews with the Carter family and a staggering array of his closest celebrity friends, showing a genuineness often lacking in politics. The quick-paced, hour and a half documentary details his upbringing, unlikely presidential campaign and presidency, as well as his success in the years afterwards. Among its highlights: eradicating guinea worm disease, his winning the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize and his and wife Rosalyn’s efforts with Habitat for Humanity.

Jimmy Carter on the 1976 campaign trail in Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President

Watching this documentary, you definitely get a sense of what a kind-hearted and uniting force Jimmy Carter has been throughout his life, and throughout his wildly successful, post-presidential years. The only drawback – no interview with Rosalyn. The film’s inherit optimism and goodness also serves as a wistful reminder of endearing qualities missing in the politics of today.


• At 98 years old and with a 42-year-long retirement, Jimmy Carter was both the oldest living president and the one with the longest post presidency.

The modest ranch-style home in Plains, Georgia where Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn have lived for decades.

• Jimmy Carter made arrangements to be buried in front of his home in Plains, Georgia following a funeral in Washington DC and visitation at The Carter Center in Atlanta.

• In 2000, Carter severed his membership with the Southern Baptist Convention, saying the group’s doctrines did not align with his Christian beliefs.


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