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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Best Political Movie?

posted by Nell Minow

This Week with George Stephanopolous is conducting a poll on the best-ever movies about politics. Visit the site to vote — and I’d like to hear your picks as well.

Mine would include “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “State of the Union,” “The Candidate,” “All the President’s Men,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Amazing Grace,” “Thirteen Days,” “All the King’s Men” (original version), “Advise and Consent” (with a brief cameo appearance by my mother!), “The Best Man,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “The Great McGinty,” “Bulworth,” and “Alias Nick Beal.”

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  • jestrfyl

    I am an absolute sucker for “Mr Smith goes to Washington”. The others listed are good too, and I will often stop and watch one or the other if I am flippign channels (I really appreciate Peter Sellars, and no one rides a bomb better than Slim Pickens)).
    But I think one of the best political films is not about any national capitol. I nominate “Election” which explores politics on a truly local level – a high school. It is here that the skills in manipulation, manuevering, and spin are learned the best. Another of my all time favorite political movies is “The Mouse that Roared” (O that Peter Sellars). My third suggestion is “Wag the Dog”, a marvelous spoof on insuffient budgets and over active propoganda glands. Next, “Blazing Saddles” a study of how prejudice and politics work for and against each other. One more addition is the mighty Marx mania, “Duck Soup” – Hail Hail Freedonia!!

  • Bob Massie

    I would like to propose the not-well known but overwhelmingly moving 1989 film “Romero” about Archbishop Oscar Romero (played by Raul Julia) who undergoes a major transformation from beginning as bishop-and-apologist for the rich in El Salvador to stepping forward fearlessly as an advocate for the poor. It is not so much about politics as about power — two very different forms of it — the brutality and savagery of power based on violence vs. the transformative power of love and commitment.
    I also thought that Sean Penn did a fine job of tracing how a person could go from an idealist to a corrupt power broker in “All the King’s Men.” The scenes of his speeches around Louisiana — when he provokes and insults his audience as “hicks,” then explains that only another hick will ever be able to represent them and serve them properly, finally presents himself as the charismatic leader for the job — are memorable.

  • Alicia

    That’s a great list, Nell. Like jestrfyl, I too am a sucker for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” – Frank Capra was my favorite director for quite a while.
    Hi, Bob. I recently saw both versions of “All the King’s Men.” When Sean Penn is good, he’s very good, but in the remake of “All the King’s Men,” I thought he was miscast (James Gandolfini was also horribly miscast as “Tiny.”) What I realized after seeing both versions was that I don’t really like the book or the movie. I have a feeling the real story of Huey Long was far more interesting.
    “Z” is a terrific film about a political assassination.
    I didn’t expect to like “Bulworth” because I’m not a huge fan of Warren Beatty so imagine my surprise when I really, really liked “Bulworth.”

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Agreed on all counts, Alicia! I put off seeing “Bulworth” for quite a while but it surprised me. And you reminded me that I preferred “Blaze” (about another member of the Long political family) than either version of “All the King’s Men.” And “Z” is a classic. Have you seen “State of the Union?” Not a perfect film by any means but it is the only Tracy/Hepburn film directed by Capra and is well worth a watch.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. I believe I’ve seen snippets of “State of the Union.” I’ll have to add it to my Netflix queue.
    I’ve never seen “Blaze,” but I’ll add that as well. We accidentally showed the remake (we were trying to get the original) of “All the KIng’s Men” at my film club. It wasn’t very good, but the highlight was one of our members who grew up in Louisiana and who is old enough to have a lot of memories of Huey Long. It was fascinating to learn more about “the Kingfish.”

  • http://theravelledsleave.blogspot.com Lynn

    I love “Dave”. Not simply because Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver are perfectly cast, but because it’s about respect and how trust is earned. My favorite bit is when Dave sings “Hail to the Chief, he’s the one we all sing hail to”. My second favorite bit is near the end, when the Secret Service agent tells him that *now* he would be willing to stop a bullet for him.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I love “Dave,” too, Lynn! What an excellent choice! Charles Grodin is great in it, too. I love the way the relationship between Dave and the first lady evolves — the scene where she watches him talk to the child in the shelter is very well done. Thanks for a great comment.

  • Andrew

    Hi, Nell. What about “A Face in the Crowd” with Andy Griffith? One reviewer said, “A little overdone, but Neal and Remick are brilliant.” Oh, that was you!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Andrew! You made me laugh. I think of it more as a movie about media than about politics, but you are right; sometimes there is not much difference between them.

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