After you watch the lunar eclipse and vote, you might want to watch an election movie. Scott Simon of NPR has suggested a few films about American election politicking.
One thing you might notice is how elections in America have changed, especially in the last two decades.
Primary Colors, 1998: a Mike Nichols film based on a novel by “Anonymous (Joe Klein) in which John Travolta plays a Clintonesque candidate and Emma Thompson is his smart and long-afflicted spouse. Larry Hagman has a cameo as a governor with secrets. Deception abounds but as Travolta says, “This is the price you pay to lead.”
Election, 1999: This Alexander Payne film based on the Tom Perotta novel is a lot more fun and though here it is Reese Witherspoon as the ambitious student politician and Matthew Broderick as the teacher who takes it all too personally, the comparisons to big-time politics are not lost on us. Scott Simon picks this line from a student-assembly speech: “Who cares about this stupid election? We all know it doesn’t matter!”
Advise and Consent, 1962: an Otto Preminger film, based on
Allen Drury’s 1959 bestseller has Henry Fonda as the nominee with a secret. Charles Laughton is his adversary, and Don Murray is a Utah senator who also has a secret of a different kind. This is the first major Hollywood film with a sympathetic gay character and it is also Betty White’s film debut. She is a Kansas senator. A politician tells his son it’s all right to lie to a reporter: “It’s a Washington, D.C., kind of lie.”
The Best Man, 1964: based on Gore Vidal’s 1960 play is about a contested political convention. (nowadays we contest the election results more often.) Here we have a Trumanesque ex-president who tells a young politician “It’s par for the course to fool the people. But it’s downright foolish to try to fool yourself.”