In the 1964 movie, “The Best Man,” the former Democratic President says to the crowd:  “Someday we’re going to have a Negro president.  After that we’re going to do something for that other minority and elect a woman.”   Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

 

Considering that this nation is 232 years old, there are relatively few movies that have been made that deal with elections.  Increasingly, election campaigns have become endurance tests, with the result that the general electorate is exhausted by the whole process well before Election Day. 

 

If you want to take a break from the Democratic and Republican conventions, there are a number of good films available in DVD format, dealing with elections and politics that are available through your Alameda County Library.   Many of them deal with negative ads, candidates cheating on their spouses, political corruption, and the difficulty candidates have in trying to appear hip and in touch with the electorate.

 

Advise & Consent (1962) – Henry Fonda plays the newly nominated Secretary of State, who undergoes an investigation to determine if he is qualified for the post.  Leading the Senate investigating committee is an idealistic senator from Utah, played by Don Murray.  Both men have skeletons in their closet that could hurt their political careers.

 

All the King’s Men (1949) – based on a Pulitzer Prize – winning novel evoking Huey P. Long, Lousiana’s Democratic governor in the 1930s, who was assassinated in 1935.  Oscars for Best Picture and for performances by Broderick Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge.

 

Bulworth (1998) – Warren Beatty stars as a California senator, who takes out a $10 million life insurance policy and a contract on his own life.  Knowing he has only a short time to live, Bulworth speaks whatever is on his mind, no matter how offensive. 

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – Jimmy Stewart, the naïve head of the Boy Rangers is chosen by the Montana state political machine to replace a senator who dies in office.  Stewart is expected to take orders and not oppose construction of a dam that will make the fat cats richer still.  But Stewart wants to build a boys’ camp on the land where the dam is to be built, and makes a dramatic filibuster to make his case. 

 

Primary Colors (1998) – John Travolta plays Governor Jack Stanton of a Southern state, who is now running for President.  The original novel was clearly based on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. 

 

Speechless (1994) – Michael Keaton and Geena Davis play speechwriters for rival candidates in a senatorial campaign in New Mexico.   Their movie romance clearly resembles the relationship between married couple Mary Matalin and James Carville, where opposing politics didn’t prevent romantic attraction. 

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