The Road To the White House: 7 Presidential Movies

Thursday, January 5 by Joseph Gibson

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The White House is the ultimate goal for many of today's power-hungry madmen. It's easy to see why: Nice big front yard, cozy Oval Office, 24-hour security detail, and any luxury one could conceivably imagine. There's also a good chance someone will decide to make a movie about you. Here are some of those presidential movies of the past—seven of them, to be precise.

"The Manchurian Candidate"

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Anybody with dreams of winning a presidential election should take a look at this paranoid thriller for a glimpse into what you really have to do to win. Basically, you have to get in bed with all kinds of insidious organizations, not the least of which could be a communist brainwashing group intent on building perfect hypnotized assassins. But hey, maybe it's possible to do some good within the system, right?

"Executive Action"

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But try to do too much good and the owners of that system will have you killed. At least, that's the point behind this speculative docudrama surrounding the plot to kill President John F. Kennedy. The facts on display are, as always, questionable, but the way the movie shows businessmen at he highest levels of power coldly and dispassionately planning the murder of the president is undeniably chilling.

"Secret Honor"

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Sometimes, though, the person most harmful to the president is the president himself. That's the case in this virtuoso film about the final days of the Nixon presidency, featuring Philip Baker Hall as the movie's only character: Richard M. Nixon. He rants, he raves, he gets drunk, he plays with a loaded pistol. It's a strangely captivating movie, considering it's 90 minutes of a crazy drunk ranting to himself.

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	Just because it's space, doesn't mean they don't have <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/presidents/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>presidents</a> there. In Mel Brooks' <span data-scayt_word=sci-fi” data-scaytid=”3″>sci-fi spoof, the man himself plays President Skroob with all the bumbling incompetence you'd expect, given his profession. Think of him as an outer space version of Brooks' Governor in "Blazing Saddles." The basic ruling principle of the Skroob presidency is summed up best by this classic quote: "I don't know what to do. I can't make decisions. I'm a president!"

"In the Line of Fire"

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	Part of the job of being president is the expectation of danger from all angles. But thanks to the United States <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/secret-service/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>Secret Service</a>, the president is almost always protected from threats both <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/foreign-527/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>foreign</a> and domestic. Here is a razor-sharp thriller about the Secret Service starring Clint Eastwood as an aging member of the presidential security detail, and John <span data-scayt_word=Malkovich as the lone nut who doesn't just want to murder the president, but taunt Eastwood along the way. Bad idea.

"Nixon"

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	Oliver Stone's presidential <span data-scayt_word=biopic” data-scaytid=”7″>biopic of Richard Nixon has a much larger scope than "Secret Honor," depicting Nixon's life from childhood to his death. Critical consensus on the movie is split, with some saying it's one of Stone's best films, with others saying it's a bloated, melodramatic mess. But hey, a 50/50 split is better than what Nixon's got, right?

"W."

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	Another <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/oliver-stone-539/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>Oliver Stone</a> film about an American president, "W" features Josh <span data-scayt_word=Brolin as George W. Bush. As you might expect given the film's subject matter, it takes the shape of an unusually high-stakes goofy comedy, showing a buffoon in The White House being controlled by a group of slightly more intelligent buffoons. And Brolin is masterful as W, capturing the man's mannerisms perfectly.