DemDaily: The Top Political Movies of all Time

January 23, 2016
Whether you are snowed-in from DC, Iowa or New Hampshire, or just hunkered in for the weekend, we thought you might appreciate a little viewing recommendation for those movie marathons.
Listed in chron order - we couldn't cut it down further. Send your feedback on DemList's Facebook page!
Stars: Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains & Edward Arnold.
Director & Producer: Frank Capra. Screenplay: by Sidney Buchman
Jimmy Stewart plays a candidate who runs for and wins a seat in the US Senate as an outsider and populist. Once in Washington, he battles the political establishment to fight for reform and change. Sound familiar? 
Stars: Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn
Director: Frank Capra.  Producers: Frank Capra & Anthony Veiller
Screenplay: Anthony Veiller & Myles Connolly. Play: Russel Crouse & Howard Lindsay
Another Capra masterpiece about an ambitious journalist (Hepburn) who pushes a busy magnate towards the presidential. You can't beat the combination of Hepburn, Tracy and Capra. We already have a business magnate (Donald Trump) running, and there is a Wall Street Journal report today that another one (Michael Bloomberg) might take the plunge as an independent.
Stars: Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey & Kent Smith
Director: King Vidor.  Producer: Henry Blanke.  Screenplay: by Ayn Rand, based on her novel.

If you're a conservative or you want to know why conservatives love Ayn Rand, see this movie. Gary Cooper stars as a lone wolf architect who designs innovative buildings, which don't suit the tastes of the establishment. It's really a story about the battle between a maverick and a faceless mass society that demands conformity. The subtext is an attack on socialism. I don't know if Bernie Sanders has seen the movie or not. But he should see it if he wins the Democratic nomination to see how the GOP attacks him.

4) HIGH NOON (1952)
Stars:  Gary Cooper & Grace Kelly
Director: Fred Zinnerman. Producer: Stanley Kramer & Carol Foreman. Screenplay: Carol Foreman
Gary Cooper is the sheriiff who stands up to a vicious outlaw even though the townspeople are too scared to help. It's a western but the movie is a metaphor for the failure of Americans to stand up to the anti communist bully, Senator Joe McCarthy.  
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury
Director: John Frankenheimer. Producer: George Axelrod & John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: by George Axelrod, based on the 1959 novel by Richard Condon.
A thriller about a American soldier captured and brainwashed by the Chinese during the Korean War. Laurence Harvey plays the former captive running for president. Frank Sinatra plays an army officer who tries to stop the candidate after he realizes that the Chinese control the presidential contender. Better movie than the 2004 remake that stars Denzel Washington in the Sinatra role.
Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney, Paul Ford, Lou Ayres
Director & Producer: Otto Preminger. Screenplay: by Wendell Mayes, based on Allen Drury's novel
Portrays the battle in the Senate over the ratification of a president's nomination or a new Secretary of State. Henry Fonda plays the nominee who many senators believe is soft on the Russians. Lou Ayres is the vice president to a dying president. The drama is a political thriller with a built in sex scandal that drives the plot. Like 7 Days in May, it's a movie that tells you everything you need to know about American politics during the Cold War.
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March & Ava Gardner. Director: John Frankenheimer.
Producer: Edward Lewis. Screenplay: Rod Serling, based on novel by Fletcher Knebel & Charles Bailey II
A compelling political thriller about a power mad general (Burt Lancaster) mounts a coup d'état against a president who wants detente with the Soviet Union. Kurt Douglas plays the army officer who discovers the conspiracy and tries to stop it.
Stars: Peter Sellers & George C. Scott, Slim Pickens.  Director & Producer: Stanley Kubrick.
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern & Peter George, based on "Red Alert" by Peter George

Peter Sellers plays multiple hilarious roles as a US President, British air force officer and wheelchair-bound former Nazi scientist. In this cold war satire, George C. Scott plays a deranged army general who wants to nuke the Russians who he believes are using fluoridation to pollute our "precious bodily fluids."  The last scene is a classic. An American bomber pilot played by Slim Pickens waves his cowboy hat as he straddles a nuclear bomb that he just has dropped on Russia.

Stars:  Robert Redford and Peter Boyle
Director: Michael Ritchie. Producer: Walter Coblenz
Screenplay: Jeremy Larner, speechwriter for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 Presidential
Redford again. He plays the idealistic young man who is co-opted by the political establishment when he runs for the U.S. Senate. The famous line at the end of the movie after he wins the race has Redford saying what do we do now? The movie is really about Baby Boomers taking power away from the Greatest Generation. Topical now that Millennials are now taking power away from the Boomers.
Stars:  Robert Redford, Justin Hoffman,
Director: Alan J. Pakula.  Producer: Walter Coblenz for Redford's Wildwood Enterprises.
Screenplay: by William Goldman, based on book of the same name by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
Winner and still champion. Quite the cast: Redford, Hoffman and Nixon. Very thrilling to watch even though you know how the movie ends.
11) WAG THE DOG (1997)
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche, Denis Leary & William H. Macy
Director/Producer: Barry Levinson.
Screenplay: Hilary Henkin & David Mamet, adapted from Larry Beinhart's novel "American Hero."
In this movie, art imitates life again. Robert DeNiro plays the political guru who stages a fake war to divert public attention from a presidential scandal. Dustin Hoffman is splendid playing the producer who is based on legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans. A movie so funny, it will make you cry.
12) BULWORTH (1998)
Stars: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino & Isaiah Washington
Director:  Warren Beatty.  Producers: Warren Beatty and Pieter Jan Brugge
Screenplay: Warren Beatty and Jeremy Pikser
Warren Beatty plays a pol who grows disenchanted with the political system. Worth seeing the movie just to hear Beatty rap. Beatty knows his stuff - was a key supporter of Gary Hart's presidential campaigns.
Stars: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Maura Tierney, Larry Hagman & Adrian Lester
Director: Mike Nichols.  Producers: Mike Nichols, Jonathan Krane & Neil Machlis
Screenplay: by Elaine May, based on the novel "Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics"
A very good adaption of Joe Klein's anonymous and fictional book about a presidential candidate (John Travolta) who closely resembles Bill Clinton. Emma Thompson is masterful as the candidate's wife (Hillary Clinton) and Billy Bob Thornton plays his political guru (James Carville).
14) JFK (1991)
Stars: Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Oldman, Sissy Spacek
Director: Oliver Stone. Producers: A. Kitman Ho & Oliver Stone.
Screenplay: Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar, based on "On the Trail of the Assassins" (Jim Garrison) & "Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy" (Jim Marrs)
Oliver Stone's movie about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A cabal of generals and supporters of Lyndon Johnson plots the assassination to get rid of a young, idealist and liberal president.  Kevin Costner stars as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison who investigates the murder and the cover-up.

Stars: David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey, Frank Langella
Director: George Clooney.  Producer: Grant Heslov.  Screenplay: George Clooney & Grant Heslov
David Strathairn plays the famous CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow and his fight to expose the lies of the infamous Red hunter Senator Joe McCarthy. Clooney, who plays producer Fred Friendly, also got a Oscar nomination for Best Director. Frank Langella plays CBS owner Edward Paley.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams & Ned Beatty
Director: Mike Nichols. Producers: Tom Hanks & Gary Goetzman.
Screenplay: by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by George Crile
Tom Hanks plays Congressman Charlie Wilson, a Texas Congressman and playboy who has a cocaine problem. Wilson is a former Navy officer who serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee on military spending.  Wilson redeems himself by using his position to fund the Afghan rebels who are fighting the Russians. Julia Roberts plays his love interest and financial patron.
17) FROST/NIXON (2008)
Stars: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt
Director: Ron Howard. Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner
Screenplay: by Peter Morgan, based on book by Peter Morgan
After you watch All The Presidents Men, see Frost/Nixon for the disgraced president's rebuttal. A movie about the famous televised interview of former President Nixon by journalist David Frost. Great acting by Frank Langella who plays Nixon.
Thanks to fellow politico Brad Bannon for his collaboration.  Watch for Brad's version Monday in the Epic Times.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Kimberly Scott

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