With the forthcoming release of W., the biopic of outgoing American president, dubya, and Frost/Nixon, which depicts the famous, highly controversial interviews conducted with the disgraced former US leader, it looks like Hollywood is going all political and gearing itself up for the forthcoming elections.
Having a penchant for going a bit Ben Elton myself, I thought I'd get in a bit of politics, and give you a rundown of my Top 5 Political movies, in no particular order......
1. All The Presidents Men (1976): The definitive movie about US politics, and the perfect companion piece to Frost/Nixon. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman shine in the real-life story of 2 investigative reporters working on the Washington Post, who uncover a scandal involving President Nixon's re-election campaign, or Watergate, as it became known. The work of the journalists ultimately contributed to the impeachment of the President, and the film won several academy awards. Top Trivia: The makers initially tried to film the movie in the actual Washington Post newsroom, but it proved impossible, as the real-life employees tried to "act", some even disappearing off to the gents to apply make-up!
2. Scandal (1989): Telling the story of John Profumo (played by the least likely ladies man, Ian McKellen), the British Cabinet Minister who in 1963 had an affair with showgirl Christine Keeler (played by the rather lovely Joanne Whalley), who was also romantically involved with a known Russian spy. The Minister then lied about the relationship on being questioned in Parliament, and the affair ultimately contributed to the collapse of Harold MacMillan's Conservative government. Top Trivia: There were complaints that some extras can be seen having unsimulated sex during an orgy scene, which turned out to be the result of an unfocussed candlestick. The film was however still re-edited to obtain an R certificate in the US.
3. Dave (1993): Not the Freeview channel for endless Top Gear repeats, but an early nineties comedy starring Kevin Klein as a lookalike of the corrupt incumbent president, and who steps in at the behest of a manipulative Whitehouse insider when the real leader suffers a stroke. The "what if" scenario paves the way for comedy moments, and well-intentioned liberal stuff about how a regular citizen untainted by the Washington machine can do the right thing. Top Trivia: Several fictionalised broadcasts from actual US TV shows were recorded for the film, including Tonight Show starring Jay Leno, and Larry King Live, where Oliver Stone sends up himself by suggesting a conspiracy theory which, it turns out, reflects the unlikely events of the movie.
4. JFK (1991): Talking of conspiracies, movies and Oliver Stone, another early nineties gem detailing the events surround the death of 35th US President (and Marilyn Monroe conquest) John Franklin Kennedy. Kevin Costner plays a District Attorney helping the government investigation, uncovers the inevitable covering up of a conspiracy which allegedly goes to the highest echeons of power. Top Trivia: The film caused such a public outcry upon it's release, that it lead to the opening of the "Assassination Records Review Board", a government body which worked for 6 years collating documents and conducting interviews relating to the death of the much-loved President in order to ensure there was no cover-up.
5 The Manchurian Candidate (1962) A Cold War political thriller starring Frank Sinatra, and a young Angela Lansbury, the idea of the story is that the son of a prominent right-wing politician has been brainwashed in order to instigate an International Communist Conspiracy, using false memories. Far superior to the 2004 remake, the film has a rare 100% rating on film site Rotten Tomatoes. Top Trivia: Hollywood rumours suggest that Sinatra had the film withdrawn from circulation following the JFK assassination.