All the presidents' movies.The campaigning has ended, the ballot counting has concluded, and the American people An American people may be:
AMERICANS, AS THE SAYING DON'T HAVE ROYalty. We have presidents, and they can be just as entertaining. Millions of us will get a major opportunity at president-watching on the 20th of is month when our new commander in chief finally ascends the steps of the Capitol Building and, in front of a crowd of more than a quarter of a million cheering people, takes the oath of office An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations. .
But no matter how festive or hyped, the inaugural celebrations are unlikely to have anything like the nail-biting drama of last November's cliffhanger cliff·hang·er
1. A melodramatic serial in which each episode ends in suspense.
2. A suspenseful situation occurring at the end of a chapter, scene, or episode.
3. election and vote recounting--or to provide us with even a fraction of the roller coaster excitements Bill Clinton brought us in his second term.
Hollywood, of course, has long appreciated the entertainment value of the Oval Office and its occupants. Down through the years we've seen countless films about American presidents, both real and fictional. Some portraits of the nation's chief executive officer have been quite flattering, even inspiring. Sometimes the residents of the White House would probably have preferred being ignored.
During the 1930s and '40s, Tinsel Town Tinsel Town was a television drama produced by BBC Scotland. It ran for two series, one in 2000 and the second in 2001. Set in Glasgow it deals with the lifestyles of eight main characters which revolve around the 'Tinsel Town' nightclub in series one (in series two, 'Tinsel tended to produce idealistic, sentimental, and occasionally sappy movies about the nation's leader. In several flattering biopics, former presidents were portrayed as benevolent, virtuous, even saintly saint·ly
adj. saint·li·er, saint·li·est
Of, relating to, resembling, or befitting a saint.
saintli·ness n. figures, hallowed and gentle giants with a pure heart and a common touch. Abe Lincoln, of course, was typecast for this part and became a long-running favorite. Walter Huston played him with warmth and gravity in Abraham Lincoln (1930). Henry Fonda captured the idealism and down-home charm of the man from Illinois in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), and Raymond Massey gave us a glimpse into his inner struggles with Abe Lincoln in Illinois Abe Lincoln in Illinois may refer to:
When Hollywood's politicians didn't come from history books, they often sprang out of the idealistic imagination of Frank Capra. In Capra's 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart is not the president but he is everything we would want our politicians to be--a decent, idealistic fellow with a homespun sense of justice, a deep passion for the little guy, and an unshakable faith in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
When Capra returned to the political arena with State of the Union in 1948, Spencer Tracy plays a presidential candidate who--despite temptations--won't be bought or corrupted by big money, and who--like Sam Houston--believes it's more important to be right than to be president.
BY THE 1960S, HOWEVER, THE POLITICAL INTRIGUES OF THE McCarthy era and the increasing tensions of the Cold War had produced a decidedly darker and edgier vision of the presidency. A decade after the House Committee on Un-American Activities had scoured and scarred Hollywood with its witch hunt for a "red menace," political thrillers like Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent (1962) and John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate (1962) returned the favor, portraying Washington politics as a snake pit of betrayal, deception, and intrigue. In his own prizewinning prize·win·ning also prize-win·ning
Having won or worthy of winning a prize: the prizewinning entry.
Adj. 1. 1964 political drama, Gore Vidal makes it clear that it is hardly ever The Best Man who wins the race for the presidency.
Meanwhile, as the Bay of Pigs, the Bay of Pigs, the
disastrous U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba (1961). [Am. Hist.: Van Doren, 577]
See : Folly Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, major cold war confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. After the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the USSR increased its support of Fidel Castro's Cuban regime, and in the summer of 1962, Nikita Khrushchev secretly decided to threatened to ignite the Cold War, the occupant of the Oval Office was suddenly the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger. In dark comedies like Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964), as well as more traditional thrillers like Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe (1964) and Fletcher Knebel's Seven Days in May (1964), the president is portrayed as a man trying desperately (and often unsuccessfully) to keep the missiles from being launched.
Still, in the end it wasn't the red menace or the bomb that brought about the real fall of the presidency. It was Watergate, and Hollywood was quick to run with the story. In 1976 Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the tragic tale of All the President's Men, a movie that signaled a generation's loss of innocence about our leader, the rise of the investigative reporter as a cult hero, and a new sense of entitlement to all sorts of private and salacious sa·la·cious
1. Appealing to or stimulating sexual desire; lascivious.
2. Lustful; bawdy.
[From Latin sal gossip about our first families.
In the two decades separating All the President's Men and Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), we cheered Bob Woodward, Sam Donaldson, and a host of other Washington reporters as they uncovered scandals and intrigues in both the Democratic and Republican White Houses. Sometimes the tales were of politics and substance, like the story of Oliver North and Iran-Contragate, and perhaps Whitewatergate. Other times it seemed like we were peeping through the curtains of the White House. By the time we got to Bill Clinton's impeachment impeachment, formal accusation issued by a legislature against a public official charged with crime or other serious misconduct. In a looser sense the term is sometimes applied also to the trial by the legislature that may follow. over Monicagate, more than a few of us felt there was something distasteful going on, though neither we nor the press nor Congress seemed to be able to exercise any custody of the eyes.
THROUGHOUT THE '90S, HOLLYWOOD CAtered to our national appetite for stories about the personal and sexual lives of our presidents, though sometimes even Tinsel Town couldn't compete with the Starr Report. In Dave (1993) Kevin Kline is a presidential look-alike who fills in after the commander in chief has a stroke while having sex with some Monica clone. In Rob Reiner's vision of The American President (1995), Michael Douglas plays a widowed president who wants to date Annette Bening without having to watch reports of it on Good Morning America Good Morning America is a weekday morning news show that is broadcast on the ABC television network. The show was adapted from The Morning Exchange, a morning show created by and airing on the ABC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, and was launched nationally as .
Things are decidedly darker in Clint Eastwood's Absolute Power (1997), where Gene Hackman is an adulterous and homicidal hom·i·cid·al
1. Of or relating to homicide.
2. Capable of or conducive to homicide: a homicidal rage. president--and much funnier in Barry Levinson's Wag the Dog (1997), which has Robert De Niro Noun 1. Robert De Niro - United States film actor who frequently plays tough characters (born 1943)
De Niro and Dustin Hoffman as two spin doctors called in to distract attention from the president's most recent sexual indiscretion in·dis·cre·tion
1. Lack of discretion; injudiciousness.
2. An indiscreet act or remark.
1. the lack of discretion
Of course by the time Joe Klein's thinly veiled Primary Colors (1998) came to the screen, Bill Clinton's sexual escapades as a president had outstripped his earlier troubles as a candidate; few of us cared to watch John Travolta when the real "Slick Willie" was live on the Larry King show.
This past year's The Contender did a little role reversal, presenting us with a female candidate (for the vice presidency) embroiled em·broil
tr.v. em·broiled, em·broil·ing, em·broils
1. To involve in argument, contention, or hostile actions: "Avoid . . . in a sex scandal. Gratefully, she (Joan Allen) turned out to be innocent. Perhaps we just couldn't take any more bad news--even from Hollywood.
Or maybe there's been a change in the air. For the last two seasons Aaron Sorkin's Emmy Award-winning drama, The West Wing has been one of the best things on TV, a show with crisp writing, complex characters, and--quite surprisingly--a decidedly Capra-esque view.
As The West Wing's Josiah Bartlet, a Democrat and Catholic from New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). , Martin Sheen (who played both Jack and Bobby Kennedy in previous outings) is just the sort of down-home and decidedly decent "man of the people" Jimmy Stewart and Spencer Tracy used to play.
Moreover, Sheen's character--a Notre Dame grad who once wanted to be a priest, who comes to the White House equipped with a Nobel Prize Nobel Prize, award given for outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, peace, or literature. The awards were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, who left a fund to provide annual prizes in the five areas listed above. in economics--is a loving and faithful spouse. Sorkin, who also wrote The American President, has surrounded Sheen with a merry band of boy and girl scouts who seem genuinely unembarrassed by words like honor and duty, but who are likewise full of the human frailties that make for good drama and interesting political hijinks hi·jinks
Variant of high jinks.
Noun 1. hijinks - noisy and mischievous merrymaking
high jinks, high jinx, jinks
jollification, merrymaking, conviviality - a boisterous celebration; a merry festivity .
Is it possible that The West Wing signals a renewed appetite for leaders--real and imaginary--who won't just entertain us, but who may actually call us to be better than we are? Could it also mean that we're going to be reining in our appetite for sordid tales about politicians' private lives and focusing instead on their duties as public servants?
There's no way--or even need--to recapture our lost innocence or naivete na·ive·té or na·ïve·té
1. The state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated, especially in being artless, credulous, or uncritical.
2. An artless, credulous, or uncritical statement or act. about the presidency or about our leaders in general. Politicians are like other people, and they make mistakes--sometimes grave ones. But there's still something to be said for wanting leaders with integrity and character, for wanting people with a sense of decency, fair play, and a genuine concern for ordinary folks, especially the poor and weak.
Behind it all--the sometimes sentimental sappiness sap·py
adj. sap·pi·er, sap·pi·est
1. Full of sap; juicy.
2. Slang Excessively sentimental; mawkish.
3. Slang Silly or foolish. of those biopics of the '30s and '40s, the bitter disappointment embedded in the dark tales of the '60s, and the more cynical movies of the '90s--is a desire to have leaders who are basically good people trying to behave well. We don't need our presidents to be princes, just decent citizens. And they need us to be the same.
By PATRICK MCCORMICK, an associate professor of Christian ethics at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.