Bob Roberts (1992)
Written & Directed by Tim Robbins
During the 1990 Pennsylvania Senate race the world was introduced to candidate Bob Roberts via a documentary being made by Terry Manchester, an English filmmaker. Roberts stuck out so starkly in the political landscape first as a Billboard charting folk singer, recontextualizing the word of Bob Dylan into Conservative screeds against the Left. As Manchester explored the meteoric rise of Roberts, he discovered a connection to former CIA agent Lukas Hart and his failed Central American gun-running efforts. There is also the constant figure of Bugs Raplin, a journalist who is out to uncover the truth about Bob Roberts and stop his ascension to the seat of power in Washington D.C.
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Being There (1979)
Written by Jerzy Kosinski
Directed by Hal Ashby
Chance is a gardener who has never left the grounds of the Washington, D.C. townhouse where he was born. One day, his wealthy employer dies, and Chance is left entirely alone in the world. Forced out of his home by the estate lawyer, the mentally disabled man stumbles through the modern world until befriending business mogul Ben Rand and his wife Eve through accident. The mistakingly hear his name as Chauncey Gardener and believe him to be a struggling business person who speaks in metaphor and parables. His relationship with the Rands leads to his meeting with the president of the United States and the public becoming obsessed with this visionary stranger.
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All the President’s Men (1976)
Written by William Goldman
Directed Alan J. Pakula
On June 17, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. reported a break-in. Police arrived and found five men who had burglarized the Democratic National Committee headquarters there with the intent to wiretap the phones and offices. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward is covering the early morning arraignment of the burglars and learns they already had counsel on retainer with signs pointing to a more powerful organization behind them. Fellow reporter Carl Bernstein is put on the story with Woodward, and they unravel a conspiracy that seems to trace back to the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon. Millions of dollars have traded hands, and employees of the campaign are afraid to talk, alluding to threats against them. What have Woodward & Bernstein uncovered and how will it affect the nation going forward?
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The Candidate (1972)
Written by Jeremy Larner
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Marvin Lucas is an election specialist looking for a viable Democratic candidate to oppose incumbent California Republican Crocker Jarman. Lucas finds his candidate in Bill McKay, a lawyer, and advocate for some liberal causes (labor, desegregation, environmentalism). McKay is promised that Jarman will inevitably win and the young man can speak his mind. Lucas just wants an opposing voice in the race. However, McKay begins to find himself being tweaked and shaped by a political machine that is interested in appealing to an open center. This results in the lawyer speaking platitudes he fundamentally disagrees with. As the countdown nears to election day, McKay finds himself increasingly at odds with Lucas and his poll numbers rising.
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Seven Days in May (1964)
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by John Frankenheimer
U.S. President Jordan Lyman has signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union which has led to the American public beginning to question if he should resign. Meanwhile, US Marine Colonel Casey works in the Pentagon and comes across evidence that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by Air Force General Scott, are plotting a coup d’etat to remove Lyman. The overthrow of the government will be staged a military emergency exercise, but involve Scott commandeering the airwaves to announce Lyman being forced out of office. Casey has only a week to work with the President and find solid proof to show the American people. But at every turn, Scott and his people are there to stop them.
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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Written by George Axelrod
Directed by John Frankenheimer
A platoon of U.S. soldiers fighting in Korea is abducted by Soviets and taken across the border into China. Then months later they are returning to the States with Sgt. Raymond Shaw receiving the Medal of Honor for bravery under fire. However, the surviving members of his platoon are having strange nightmares of sitting among a ladies auxiliary meeting on flowers. The commanding officer, Captain Marco believes these dreams hide a secret about what really happened in Korea and truth behind Shaw’s heroism. Meanwhile, Shaw is pulled into the political ambitions of his mother, Eleanor and his stepfather, Senator Iselin. Shaw is also receiving strange phone calls that trigger weird behaviors. This rabbit hole will pull Marco and Shaw to ending neither of them can avoid.
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The Best Man (1964)
Written by Gore Vidal
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
The political convention of an unspecified party is underway in Los Angeles, and the party’s next nominee for president of the United States will be decided in twenty-four hours. The frontrunners are Bill Russell, former Secretary of State and noted intellectual wit against Senator Joe Cantwell, a Midwesterner from poor beginnings that is ultimately ruthless when it comes to his opponents. Russell has been seeing other women behind his wife’s back yet she shows up at the convention not so much to support him but because she wants to be the first lady one day. Meanwhile, Cantwell’s team uncovers information that Russell had a nervous breakdown years ago and spent some time in a psychiatric hospital. Cantwell plans to use these to torpedo Russell’s chances and secure the nomination. Between these two men is the current and ailing Commander-in-Chief Art Hockstader who appears an enigma, playing these two men against each other for own personal reasons.
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Advise & Consent (1962)
Written by Wendell Mayes
Directed by Otto Preminger
One morning the United States Senate wakes up to find the President has nominated Robert Leffingwell for Secretary of State. This is met with divisiveness in the President’s party which holds the majority in the Senate. The Majority Leader, Bob Munson is ready to vote yes to tow the party line to aid the President who has kept a terminal illness secret from the public and his party. Leffingwell is intended to preserve the President’s foreign policy legacy, something he shows no confidence in his vice president to carry out. Opposing Leffingwell is South Carolina Senator Seabright Cooley who appears to have a personal grudge against the nominee. In the same party but on a pro-demagogic peace wing is Senator Fred Van Ackerman who sees a chance to use the publicity around the hearings to boost his spotlight in the media. In the middle and attempting to navigate this complicated and controversial process is Senator Brigham Anderson, a junior member from Utah and, as his name suggests, very Mormon. Secrets are revealed, and the truth behind personal grudges and threats are more shocking than anticipated.
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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Written by Sidney Buchman, Lewis R. Foster, and Myles Connolly
Directed by Frank Capra
A senator from an unnamed state in the Western U.S. dies, and the governor is forced to name an honorary replacement until the next election can be held. He receives from pressure from his state’s other senator Joseph Paine. Paine is cahoots with corrupt political boss Jim Taylor to get a stooge onboard to help them pass a land purchase bill. The bill will sell the government land they own under false names, enriching them and leaving America with the debt. Encouraged by his children to pick a new local hero and scout leader, the governor names Jefferson Smith as the honorary replacement. Smith is naive and overwhelmed by the patriotism stirred in him once he arrives in Washington. His deceased father has a past with Joseph Paine from when they fought for labor rights in the past. As Smith learns about the working of America’s capital he discovers the ugly truth about the nation he loves.
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