If you’re still struggling to understand how the ever-loving-fuck we got Trump in the White House, you should check out the history lesson unfolded in Reply All’s January 19th episode, “Man of the People.” No, it’s not about Hitler. It’s about the notorious John R. Brinkley, a con man who masqueraded as a doctor, and made a mint by selling the suffering and gullible on the so-called miraculous properties of goat testicles.
It’s an insane but true story of an American Dream gone toxic. There’s greed, deception, country music stars, attempts to bring the bastard down through regulations, and an ill-thought out run for office. Also a widow with a partially missing nose. That’s neither here nor there, but it’s a detail that stands out. Anyhow, with all this political relevance, stranger-than-fiction plot points, and colorful characters, Brinkley’s life is perfect fodder for Richard Linklater, who memorably brought the bizarre murder case of ornery widow Marjorie Nugent into the cheeky black comedy Bernie (and later brought a paroled Bernie Tiede into his own home.)
Vulture reports Linklater is adapting “Man of the People” into a biopic starring Robert Downey Jr. However, the site notes that it’s unknown if the Iron Man star will play the wildly charismatic conman at the film’s center, or his antagonist, Dr. Morris Fishbein, an actual doctor who lived to bring the bullshit artist down. But I mean, come on. With all that smirking charm, we know damn well Downey’s playing Brinkley.
This sounds like a movie we could use yesterday, yesteryear. But we’ll wait. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Reply All ep. It’s shocking, and some seriously stupendous storytelling. Perhaps most impressive, they manage to go almost the entire episode without saying “Trump.”