March 11, 2004

Viewer Discretion Advised

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Unless Denis Kucinich can pull off the upset of the century, as of last week it looks like the Presidential race is set between John Kerry and George W. Bush. Now we can all look forward to eight months of entertaining mud-slinging. If that isn’t enough to feed your appetite for politics, Hollywood has put out some quality flicks about American government that have even managed to earn some bi-partisan support.

Washington seems likes Hollywood, too. Jimmy Carter set a presidential record for most movies watched: 465 personal screenings in the White House. Lyndon Johnson wasn’t a huge movie fan, but his favorite flick was a documentary called The President, which just happened to be about him. When Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in Casablanca, in 1943, FDR made sure to bring a reel of the movie Casablanca. Anyway, here are some great movies about Washington that won’t get you tripped up in red tape.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

So what if it’s hopelessly optimistic? Frank Capra’s classic proves that there’s still room for good in politics. Who doesn’t like a movie where, in two hours, Jimmy Stewart manages to clean up corruption, filibusters until he goes hoarse, and gets a beautiful woman to fall in love with him? By playing the lead role of Jefferson Smith, Stewart launched himself into the upper tier of movie stars, where he remains even today. Stewart deserves all of the praise for his role. To make sure his voice was raspy enough during the famous filibuster scene, Stewart choked down some iodine for the effect. Talk about dedication!

All the President’s Men

This is a must see for any future journalists out there. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford brilliantly play newspapermen Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in this true story of the Watergate Scandal. This film was groundbreaking considering it came out only four years after Nixon was forced to resign. The plot is so riveting it doesn’t need any gunfights or car-chases to be ranked as one of the top 100 thrill movies of all time. Just remember, “Follow the money.”

My Fellow Americans

This movie isn’t that well known, but it has more great political jokes than a David Letterman monologue. Jack Lemmon and James Garner play ex-presidents who hate each other’s guts. However, when the acting president avoids a major political scandal by blaming his two predecessors, the two foes must go on the run together to clear their names. The political bickering between Lemmon and Garner alone makes this film a must see.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde

Budget deficits? War in Iraq? Gay Marriage? Who cares! The important issues in this movie are banning cosmetic testing on animals and introducing some fashion sense to stodgy congressmen. Still, Reese Witherspoon provides some good, lighthearted laughs. Besides, everyone would be much happier on Capitol Hill if bills were submitted on pink, perfumed, paper.

Archived article by Mark Rice