Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Presidents in Film

First, thanks to Greg for suggesting this article. "All the Presidents" discusses film depictions of US presidents and how few have pulled it off. The article contends that the reason why most realistic presidential movies fail is:
The problem is that a realistic approach only replicates what audiences would have seen on television (Frost/Nixon, for example), and presidents don't need any satirists to show them making fools of themselves.

Many films treat US presidents with kid gloves:
In the past, American film-makers, before Nixon disgraced the White House, treated their country's leaders too reverentially, as though a tacit censorship operated. American presidents were represented most often as personifications of the ideals of the country, or as spokesmen for a current viewpoint. In the 1940s, several of them were hauled back from the dead to lead the flag-waving. In the historical allegories, The Remarkable Andrew and Where Do We Go From Here?, the young heroes (William Holden and Fred MacMurray respectively), gain inspiration from the ghosts of presidents past. Zanuck used Woodrow Wilson to warn against isolationism, although the president actually favoured neutrality in the first world war, only later reluctantly declaring war on Germany.

Since Watergate, the article contends, there has been satire used on US Presidents. What do you all think - are there some good acting jobs of US Presidents? Or is the original just too unbeatable? As the article said, who can outact Ronald Reagan, an actor himself? There have been some great TV biographies (I'm currently watching the American Experience biography of Nixon and enjoying it thoroughly), but I'm at a loss for a good presidential movie.

1 comment:

Francisco Solares-Larrave said...

I remember seeing a Nixon impersonator in a Walt Disney movie about a duck that laid golden eggs... And I couldn't help but laughing at it. Now, this was back when I was 12-years old, living with my parents in Guatemala; the man, sitting at the Oval Office but with his back to the camera was, inequivocally, Nixon (and sounded like him too). Totally unexpected in that type of movie, indeed, but no less revealing; I think it was in 1972.

Thanks for the good job!