Best Presidential Films
There are a couple of big things happening in the world today, and one of them is the U.S. Presidential elections, and while we'll come to election films and best Presidents, etc. right now let's look at the best Presidential film.
The criteria for this one is pretty much anything that features the President at the core of the film. For me these films seem to be the ones that put the President, his immediate staff, or the entire country in peril, and if it's real life then it's even better. For me that makes one film stand out among them all.
Thirteen Days sees how John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy deal with the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how close the U.S. and Russia came to war. It shows the events of the stockade of Cuba by American ships, the Russian ships trying to reach port and above all, the small decisions and conversations that shaped events.
That's a stunning film and really does manage to show the tough decisions involved in being in the Whitehouse. Some of the scenes with the Kennedy's are astounding when we hear them discussing options and making the decisions that shaped history.
Fail Safe is another U.S. facing war story, however this one is frightening because of the reality of it. Whichever version you watch, Fail Safe from 2000 or Fail-Safe from 1964, they both carry huge casts and pile on the pressure and tension to deliver a frightening and powerful ending.
The feeling in this film is that they could actually happen, or it's a story that could have, just like Thirteen Days. Here we see a squadron of B-58 nuclear bombers on a standard test run accidentally given orders to pass across their fail-safe position, after which the crew are trained to continue with their mission to the very end. The President begins discussions with the Russian President that could lead to one of the most shocking conclusions in such films.
Nixon has to be mentioned here, it's a superb film that examines the person behind the President and everything that makes him who he is. It's an interesting film that brings out a great performance from Anthony Hopkins, although rather unusual one, and probably helped Oliver Stone chose to make his current Presidential film, W.
These are the most engaging and dramatic films for me, the ones that reflect real life actions, that look behind the scenes of what the President does and what runs the Presidential machine, and a very real Presidency in a moment of extreme crisis. Yet there are many other kinds of Presidential film.
Moving away from the so serious side to something a little lighter, Wag the Dog tells the story of how a Hollywood Producer and a Washington Spin Doctor get together to create a story that will effectively cover up a sex scandal involving the President. What's scary is that this reflects real life as well and could be just as true. Great cast and an interesting idea produces a rather strong story.
Then I could make a leap to the farthest of far away from these serious films, Dave. Everyone knows the film which tells the story of a Presidential lookalike kidnapped and taken to the Whitehouse to replace the actual President who is extremely ill in order to keep him in office.
When the lookalike gets into office he starts to realise that with the power he can make changes to the country and do some good, and perhaps not just in politics either, but in the Presidents marriage too.
Another strong cast and a great concept which is filled with plenty of humour that is a cut above the usual American film humour and has a fair amount of intelligence, helped with some well created characters whom the audience can so easily connect with.
Then there's the all out action film, something that's quite ludicrous but still loads of fun, how about Air Force One? Another great cast turn out this unusual take on the Presidency. It still manages to include a good few speeches and moments of Presidential strength, and then there's the action man President moments as he starts punching and shooting his way to safety. All a bit daft, but definitely good fun, and a great bad guy.
All excellent examples of Presidential films, and out of those my two personal favourites are Fail-Safe, or Fail Safe, and Thirteen Days, with the latter taking the top spot. However there are hundreds out there that deal with all aspects of the Presidency. Which are your favourites? What makes a good Presidential film?