Ronald Reagan delivers his "A Time for Choosing" speech in support of Senator Barry Goldwater in the waning days of the 1964 general election. "The Speech" as it is also known launched Reagan's political career. Two years after this film was broadcast on NBC on October 27, 1964, he was elected governor of California. Contrary to some entries on Wikipedia and elsewhere, Reagan did NOT deliver this speech at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco. He taped it on a soundstage in Hollywood, California.
The finished product was not your average “TV talker” featuring a bland politician reciting a stump speech into a static camera in an empty room. From the first overhead camera shot slowly tracking in on Reagan speaking at the podium in the studio dressed to look like a rally hall, the viewer knows that this is going to be different.
By most accounts, including his own, Reagan insisted on bringing in an audience and it was this decision that made all the difference. The enthusiastic reaction shots of a mostly youthful audience packed with Goldwater Girls provide what appears to be a palpable energy to the speaker. By the time Reagan wraps up his address to a standing ovation, it is clear that the definitive version of “The Speech” has just been delivered.