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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE DEALING WITH POLITICS?


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I'll start the ball rolling by saying that Frank Capra's STATE OF THE UNION with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn is one of my all time favorites. But a lesser known Spenc' political classic is THE LAST HURRAH in which Tracy plays a candidate with an astute precision for balancing the bloodletting of politics with a soft underbelly of humanity.

 

Other top pics are: ADVISE AND CONSENT and the original MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

 

What are yours?

 

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NZ

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NZ:

 

All good choices, nobody can beat Spencer, but in this instance, regarding polittical movies, I have to go with the newer ones I've seen, they go a little deeper into political rivalry, dirty fighting, and sneakiness. Not that I like it, but it happens so I prefer a more truthful film. So my list is:

 

All the President's Men - Redford, and Hoffman, Watergate, of course

The American President - M. Douglas, has a single pres. the right to date?

Primary Colors - John Travolta - how dirty can our polititians get?

The Candidate - Redford - Behind the scenes of a candidates approach

The Contender - Joan Allen, J. Bridges - Should past indiscretions be made public

My Fellow Americans - J. Lemmon, J. Garner - Comic relief

 

Anne

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Don't forget "The Great McGinty," which is one of Preston Sturges' funniest films. I guess "Hail the Conquering Hero" is also about politics now that I think about it.

 

I also love the scene in "Miracle on 34th Street" where the political advisor explains to the Judge the political consequences of declaring there is no Santa Claus.

 

So let's not forget there are good political films that take place outside of Washington DC.

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> "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

 

I like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington too, but ever since the first time that I saw it ( over 40 years ago ) I wondered how the Jimmy Stewart character could live to be at least 30, and still be so naive about American politics.

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I wondered how the Jimmy Stewart character could live to be at least 30, and still be so naive about American politics.

 

Funny, in my experience, I've always found that the vast majority of persons younger than 30 (maybe even 40) are the most naive about politics, despite their bluster;-)

 

BTW, a great film about politics will be on TCM next Friday morning, September 8th, from Gore Vidal called The Best Man (1964), with Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, and Lee Tracy (in his only Oscar nominated performance) as the POTUS. I've written about this one, and other great political campaign films on my site:

 

http://www.classicfilmguide.com/index.php?s=essays&item=4

 

with links to reviews and/or synopses of most of these terrific movies.

 

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path40a

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> I wondered how the Jimmy Stewart character could

> live to be at least 30, and still be so naive about

> American politics.

>

> Funny, in my experience, I've always found that the

> vast majority of persons younger than 30

> (maybe even 40) are the most naive about

> politics, despite their bluster;-)

>

> BTW, a great film about politics will be on TCM next

> Friday morning, September 8th, from Gore Vidal called

> The Best Man (1964), with Henry Fonda, Cliff

> Robertson, and Lee Tracy (in his only Oscar nominated

> performance) as the POTUS. I've written about this

> one, and other great political campaign films on my

> site:

>

> http://www.classicfilmguide.com/index.php?s=essays&ite

> m=4

>

> with links to reviews and/or synopses of most of

> these terrific movies.

>

> Message was edited by:

> path40a

 

It looks like a wonderful site, I just took a five minute " glance" . I will get back to it regularly. Both Advise and Consent and The Best Man have characters based on Nixon . Both are great political films, and a they are great fun, if for no other reason than to figure out who is who ! Same holds for the "Godfather " films.

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I wondered how the Jimmy Stewart character could live to be at least 30, and still be so naive about American politics.>>

 

The thing we have to remember is that in American politics back then there was not the overt cynicism there is today. There was some but not on the scale that occurred in the the late 1960s and the 1970s.

 

The disillusionment with our government is, in terms of the movies, a fairly recent phenom (the last 35 years or so).

 

Back when Mr Smith was made, it was still thought that the little man could prevail over evil.

 

Today, we laugh at the very idea of that.

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> Can someone tell me the name of this movie it Starred

> Andy Griffith he was running g for political office I

> had on caught bit and pieces of it?

 

A Face in the Crowd. Elia Kazan's best work, and i generally don't like Kazan.

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CharlieT:

 

I just realized you were talking about the movie 'Dave', not to somebody named Dave. What a great nation if things like that really happened, right? A while ago I spouted off on the Rob Zombie thread about a few things I believe are making a mess of this country indirectly. We are so lacksadaisy about things, we let them creep up on us and all of a sudden, they have taken over our values. Don't get me wrong, I am not a believer in Bush's 'family values' crap. That was strictly reaching for the bible belt votes, but when rap music came in and started with the sexy lyrics, and movies with the nudity, we let it slide until now, we can't put a stop to it anymore. Our kids use language we would never use within 50 feet of our parents, they sass back in the same way, they have very little respect for elders. Not all, but many of them, I'm not knocking you parents who teach your kids but too many believe the schools should teach the things parents used to.

 

Before I digress too much, may I say, I wish a movie would be made about reconsidering the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and bring them up to date. So many of our laws are based on the antiquity of 1787, they have no place in today's society. And a movie would bring that to light, 90% quicker than all the senate, or house bills ever could, because people watch movies, they don't read their newspapers, or read up on their polititians.

 

Anne

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I think It's a Wonderful Life is one of the best political movies ever made, and many don't recognize it as such. After Capra made the Why We Fight documentaries, he made IAWL as a "Why We Fight at Home" message. Potter was a stand-in for FDR and a lot of the political parts of the movie are Capra's criticism of the New Deal.

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I have always seen ?It's a Wonderful Life? as a political movie too in a way. One version is the world George Bailey comes back to after he was never born, which is unbridled capitalism. This world doesn?t care what form their government exists in as long as there is free trade and people get what they want when they want it. In this world people don?t care if their government is a Democracy, Communism, Socialism or Theocracy. The sole purpose of government is to just keep goods flowing and satisfying desires. No one votes except with his or her dollars and what their dollars buy is what flourishes.

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It depends, when those goods that stop flowing go from desires to basic necessites, then people will care. "Big Business" has become a mantra, blamed for everything bad that happens in this world. It's big government that's the problem, because the bigger things get, the more complex and corrupt they get. There are good and bad people in government and business. What I like about Capra is he shows that there's good and bad and that as a whole, democratic government and big business can't be labeled so easily. For every Potter, there's dozens of George Baileys and Sam Wainwrights.

 

One version where George comes back he sees himself as had he become a corrupt person in that world. You have the good George and the bad one and they end up duking it out. That script has the inner struggle Capra was fascinated about in his movies, weak people who take the easy route through the corruption of capitalism, and those who make the choice to not corrupt the system. It's not really unbridled capitalism, it's unbridled people. You see this inner struggle with Edward Arnold in You Can't Take it With You. He wasn't a bad guy, he just lost touch with people and regains it. Or, Claude Rains in Mr. Smith.

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For me unbridled capitalism exists when conditions such as those depicted on George Bailey's new Main St. becomes the norm and what is essential and what is extravagant has become blurred. Officer Bert's new role in this new place was to uphold this greed, this system, which replaced government in any real since and not to keep law and order. But I see your point about it being from the bottom up and not the top down. Was Potter just giving them what they wanted? Or did he make it fertile for such conditions to be the only ones acceptable? And what about the fact the Capitalism flourishes even better in a place like China? It is questions like this that makes me want to write that novel I've never written, very intriguing indeed.

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The difference though between Pottersville and Bedford Falls isn't so much as unbridled capitalism, as it is a lack of capitalism. This is where Capra is attacking the New Deal and FDR. Potter is much more than a corrupt businessman, he owns the town and has a monopoly on the businesses ... in the 30's FDR monopolized public utilities in some areas and his National Recovery Act held the monopoly on regulating what prices businesses could sell goods at, even at the Mom and Pop store level. One dry cleaner who charged below the government regulated price for pressing pants was actually jailed for three months. Anyway, capitalism flourishes when businesses thrive and expand, creating new jobs where the people have more money to spend and keep the economy growing. Like when George talked Wainwright into opening his plactics company in BF to employ all those who were out of work. If you noticed, the businesses in Pottersville weren't ones that created jobs. When they show Violet being arrested it gave the impression of prostitution. The dance halls and pawn shops suggest that the only thing available to these people were deperate jobs and means of making little money, which gives nothing back to the economy. Just because someone's making money off others, doesn't necessarily mean it's capitalism. Capitalism has to be a two way street. That's why the Depression lasted so long, it was a dead end street. Unbridled capiatlism is when the economy is strong, yet businesses still try and cheat people. The economy in Pottersville wasn't strong because George wasn't there to save it.

 

As for China, they use capitalism to make their state stronger, but it doesn't flourish because capitalism is only for the government and the corporate class. Their economy will surpass ours, but the majority of people are poor and don't contribute much to their economy because they don't receive much. China makes money off of taxes, tourism, exports, gambling in Macao, corporations with branches in Hong Kong, but the people never see that money. In Communism there is no such thing as private property, the state owns everything, so capitalism is dead at the public level. Those people have no rights to buy and sell anything, like we do. If they want to open a business they have to grease a lot of palms, just to get in line to apply for a license to open a tofu stand. Then they have to give up most of their earnings to the state if they do get the license. So the size of their economy means little when the majority of people will stay poor.

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