Hollywood United State Presidents

31 Oct

There are many documentaries/films about true US Presidents, but there are also many films about fictional US Presidents.  Some are just background to the plot, but some are the forefront of the film.  When thinking about a President, most of us want someone who has integrity, determination, drive, and a desire to help his country.  In this article we will discuss five fictional movie Presidents who have these traits.

The first fictional President was Judson Hammond (played by Walter Huston) in Gabriel Over the White House (1933). Hammond happens to be a political hack.  In office, during the Great Depression, he changes into an incorruptible politician after a near fatal accident.[1] Don’t we wish all politicians were incorruptible?

 Air Force One shows a President who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family and country safe.  Heck, Harrison Ford’s portrayal shows a man who takes on sleazy, evil characters head on.  Somehow, he is a one-man-show who is exceptionally brave.  However, I don’t see ANY President ever doing something like this.

 The American President  demonstrates a President (Michael Douglas) who is caught between love and politics.  President Andrew Shepherd falls in love with an environmental lobbyist and tries to get a bill on moderate crime control passed.  This film is more political than others, and despite not being a huge box office success, it did do very well critically and is still a favorite.

Then there are the two comedies, My Fellow Americans and Head of State.   In My Fellow Americans, Jack Lemmon and James Garner are ex-Presidents who come together, through comical, bumbling-stumbling adventures, to overturn the current President, played by Dan Akroyd.  They work to prove that Lemmon’s did not take a kickback in his last year of office.  This is a very funny movie and was originally slated to have Walter Matthau play Garner’s role.  However, due to illness, he was unable to do so.[2]  It would have been another Lemmon/Matthau classic, but is still great nonetheless.

Head of State gives us Chris Rock as alderman Mays Gilliam who is placed into office after both Presidential nominees and VP nominees are killed in an airplane accident.  The film co-stars the late Bernie Mac as Mays brother.  Rock’s President doesn’t take things seriously, but when he discovers why he was chosen as President, he begins to shape up and do his job.[3]

Please join our open discussion from 10/31-11/1!

40 Responses to “Hollywood United State Presidents”

  1. Comic Relief October 31, 2012 at 6:17 PM #

    Thanks LB,

    I guess what I like the best about this article is the way you isolate how President’s reputations in office tend to be their most enduring legacy. Hollywood so successfully sanitizes the chicanery that usually follows how politicians get elected and frequently describes how they will lead. Those priorities always come from somewhere.

    Because Republicans seem to frequently come to office on the successes of family and other political associations their networks tend to get the harshest scrutiny. Yet democrats on the other hand can be no less ruthless. Of course we nearly elect men of either party as frequently as the other.

    • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 7:44 PM #

      THank you CR!

      Sorry I’m late to my own party!

      • Comic Relief November 6, 2012 at 6:24 AM #

        Better late than never. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get immersed in the topic.

  2. Comic Relief October 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM #

    Though not providing a clear picture of real political patronage, I found all of these pictures at least thought provoking. As you say…

    “When thinking about a President, most of us want someone who has integrity, determination, drive, and a desire to help his country.”

    Referring to their strengths, all of these Film Presidents, could be described as heroes of some sort. So thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Because she has appeared in the White House a few times in her career, Sigourney Weaver’s “Dave” (1993) was also a favorite of mine. Of the few times, Hollywood featured an African American President; I liked Danny Glover’s “2012” (2009) disaster movie performance the most. And provocative like only a political mind like George Clooney could influence, I found the “Ides of March” (2011) one of the most truthful and engaging. This movie tried to illustrate how complex political climbing might actually be.

    • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

      Great examples CR. There are other Presidents I could have listed but I wanted to focus on films where the President is the central character AND the article would have been too long. I still have so many films to see! I haven’t seen Glover’s President, so I will put that on my queue.

  3. Open Book October 31, 2012 at 10:25 PM #

    LB-Great topic.

    I’ve never seen the Chris Rock and Bernie Mac film. It looks funny. Actually, I think Chris Rock would make a good President but not the character he’s portraying in this film. However, to answer your question. Which president would I want in office? I will go with H. Ford character because I like his initiatives against terror.

  4. Comic Relief November 1, 2012 at 7:41 AM #

    Great topic LB, can’t wait for the discussion.

    It’s hard for me to forget how unusual “The American President” (1995) was versus say “Primary Colors” (1998) that was produced a few years later.

    Bill Clinton though married always came off a kind of player, though we all knew he was married. Clearly not intended to be biographical “The American President,” seemed to be a kind of Hollywood wish fulfillment for Bill. Michael Douglas’ character, President Andrew Shepherd was not married in the movie yet there was a small girl who might have resembled Chelsea, Bill Clinton’s real daughter. Other roughly approximate characters included actor Michael J. Fox’s “Lewis Rothschild” who appeared to be George Stephanopoulos from the Clinton administration. Annette Bening’s character Sydney Ellen Wade was only similar to Hillary Clinton in that was mature and she had political ambitions of her own. At the time, for the general public, those ambitions were still difficult to swallow given the traditional assistants first ladies were in previous generations.

    Far more life like “Primary Colors” placed characters we were familiar with from our real historical narrative right in our faces. The country seemed to have matured a bit in a few years.

    • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

      Huh, I never thought of the parallel. I will have to watch it again! I have not seen Primary Colors. What did you think of it?

      • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:13 PM #


        Primary Colors is definitely a parody of Bill Clinton. Travolta did a great job.

        • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

          I’ll have to watch this one too! 🙂

  5. ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 7:30 PM #

    Hmmm, I think I’ve only seen Air Force One. It’s enjoyable but as LB said in her article he’s not realistic president. I don’t think I’ve seen the others.

    • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 8:02 PM #

      Ozzie, how do you see our Presidents? What do you think of our politicians and how do they differ from those that are Prime Ministers and in Parliament?

      • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

        Well, we’ve never had a cool leader like Obama! At the moment we have a posh a***hole with Mit Romney like policies and his little puppet. So if Obama doesn’t win again he’s welcome here in my opinion, lol! No to Mitt Romney though. I think he would of had to resigned if he was over here because of some of his comments. Hell only two weeks ago we got an M.P. to resign just over calling the police plebs and morons!

        • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

          Hi Ozzie-

          Very interesting to hear your perspective. Yes, Romney isn’t witty at all.

          • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

            Oh good, I did make sense! I was a bit worried with my headache that I may have misunderstood the question and then wrote giberish! LOL!

            • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM #


              Did u vote to have the M.P. removed? How did that happen?

            • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

              Hi Ozzie!

              • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 9:24 PM #

                Hi LB!

                No voting, the press and the public make a fuss over it. It gets bigger and bigger until there’s enough pressure to make the person quit or get fired due to the amount of negative expossure they bring to the party!

                • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:30 PM #

                  too bad that doesn’t work with crappy Hollywood actors.

                  • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 9:50 PM #

                    Oh it can! *big evil grin* It only affects the UK unless others pick it up and run it with the same intensity.

  6. Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

    Hi everyone-

    Sorry, I’m late let me catch up.

  7. littlebells November 1, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

    1600 Penn is coming to TV this Thursday. It seems like the flip side of West Wing.

    What do you think about a Presidential show from this angle?

    • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

      Hahahaha! “Meatball is in the oven.” LOL!! It’s an alternative.

      • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

        LMAO, that looks quite good!

      • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

        “He used my code name!” hahahahaha!!!!

        • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

          LOL!! That’s funny LB.

  8. littlebells November 1, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

    here’s another?

    • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

      LOL! If it came over here I’d watch it!

  9. littlebells November 1, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

    I must admit, I do like funny movies about Presidents because it’s usually such a serious position/job. I think MFF might actually be pretty good!

    • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

      In times of peace humor is good. But when times are bad I want someone who can handle pressure.

      • littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:04 PM #

        I agree. It takes a lot of courage, knowledge, and know-how to deal with tough circumstances and situations. No one knows what it’s like to be in a certain situation until you are actually IN IT. We think we know how we would handle things, but there’s always more than what we see going on that has to be dealt with.

        • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 9:09 PM #

          So very true.

          • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 9:25 PM #

            I agree too.

    • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

      I like a witty President not a jerk. It’s really important to know which one u are before u start a campaign.

  10. littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:07 PM #

    In regards to documentaries and fictional films about Presidents, why do you think we as a general public are so interested in their lives and presidencies?

    • Open Book November 1, 2012 at 9:19 PM #

      The position really shows us how far we’ve come as a nation. It allows us to compare and contrast our values.

  11. Open Book November 1, 2012 at 9:22 PM #


    I have to go for the night. LB great article and I will watch some of the films u recommended. TC!

    • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 9:25 PM #

      Night OB!

  12. littlebells November 1, 2012 at 9:29 PM #

    I’m going to head out too Ozzie. I hope our headache goes away soon.

    • ozzie20 November 1, 2012 at 9:52 PM #

      Thanks LB! Hope everything is going well with you! 🙂 I’m off to take some painkillers now. Night all.

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