Ideas for a Political Movies Festival
By Gary Meyer
I think it is much healthier to watch reruns (WEST WING, JOHN ADAMS or VEEP) than the returns on Election Night.
Or better yet revisit some great movies.
I kept this to dramas and comedies about U.S. politics. There are just too many great documentaries so check out some lists here.
I actually started programming a series several years ago and updated it for 2020.
I suggest some double features or make your own festival. This was done too quickly to provide details or links to most films.
These are not in any special order but let’s start with a cartoon.
Stanley Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE plus THE MOUSE THAT ROARED both with Peter Sellars in multiple roles.
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: two takes from John Frankenheimer and Jonathan Demme.
DAVE and THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT
BEING THERE and THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST
SELMA plus MILK
HAMILTON and 1776 (not well received upon release in 1972 but the director’s cut has gained an appreciative following. The comparison of these two might be interesting.)
Preston Sturges’ THE GREAT MCGINTY with Frank Capra’s STATE OF THE UNION
Elia Kazan’s A FACE IN THE CROWD plus Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE
ELECTION and NAPOLEON DYNAMITE
ADVISE AND CONSENT with THE BEST MAN
The Marx Brothers in DUCK SOUP and W.C. Fields in MILLION DOLLAR LEGS
BULWORTH plus BLAZE
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN and THE POST
ALL THE KING’S MEN with CITIZEN KANE
BOB ROBERTS with THE IDES OF MARCH
INDEPENDENCE DAY and MARS ATTACKS
WAG THE DOG plus THE CANDIDATE
MEET JOHN DOE plus MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
THE CONTENDER and PRIMARY COLORS
SEVEN DAYS IN MAY & FAIL SAFE
IN THE LOOP plus THE CAMPAIGN
CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR with GAME CHANGE
WILD IN THE STREETS & ESCAPE FROM LA
IN THE LINE OF FIRE plus PARALLAX VIEW
FAIR GAME and NO WAY OUT
EXECUTIVE ACTION & CONSPIRACY THEORY
AIR FORCE ONE and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
IDIOCRACY with TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
Inside the beltway pre-code Triple Bill: GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE and WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND plus WASHINGTON MASQUERADE
THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT with THE SENATOR WAS INDISCREET
THE LAST HURRAH and BEAU JAMES
KEY TO THE CITY plus KISSES FOR MY PRESIDENT
A lot of films have been made based on the lives of real American presidents.
Make your own Nixon Follies Film Festival from: NIXON, DICK, SECRET HONOR, ELVIS AND NIXON, and FROST/NIXON.
Before he was President Barack Obama, he had a bad story and these two fictionalized films explore that time in SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU and BARRY.
President Kennedy selection: JFK, PT 109, THIRTEEN DAYS, EXECUTIVE ACTION.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: SUNRISE AT CAMPEBELLO, HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, HELL-BENT FOR ELECTION ( a UPA allegorical cartoon directed by Chuck Jones designed to inspire voting for FDR) ELEANOR AND FRANKLIN and sequel ELEANOR AND FRANKLIN:THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS, WARM SPRINGS (and and exception to my docs rule: Ken Burns’ marathon THE ROOSEVELTS).
Abraham Lincoln inspired numerous films including
LINCOLN, YOUNG MR, LINCOLN, ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS, ABRAHAM LINCOLN-VAMPIRE HUNTER, and THE CONSPIRATOR.
And there are other celluloid presidents to consider.
LBJ, , GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY!, and WILSON are a few.
I suspect Olive Stone and Michael Moore will take on Trump and I plan to stay far away.
To see what actors played real Presidents take a look here.
“When Our (Fictional) Presidents Are Tested by Their Moments” by Joshua Rothkopf in The New York Times.
Presidents in the Movies: American History and Politics on Screen (The Evolving American Presidency) by I. Morgan
The Leading Man: Hollywood and the Presidential Image by Burton W. Peretti
Are you in the mood for some Film Noir or thrillers with dirty politicians?
THE GLASS KEY
ALIAS NICK BEAL
THEY WON’T FORGET
Matt Novak is writing a book about all the movies that American presidents have watched while in office, from Teddy Roosevelt to Donald Trump. Tentatively titled All The Presidents’ Movies. The Novak Archive is a fun place to see what he has gathered.
He talks about the project on Studio 360 podcast.
Mega List of Presidential Movies AT 50 Roads
The White House Museum’s page on “The Family Theater”
“Movie night at the White House: a century of screenings, decoded”– What the leader of the free world watches for fun, from BIRTH OF A NATION to FINDING DORY by Matthew Sweet on The Economist.
Read Howie Movshovitz discussing some of the best political movies for The Colorado Sun..
Try Ranker’s Best Political comedies, The Best Movies about Presidents, and The Best Political Movies. There are several more lists at the bottom of each group.