Monday, September 3, 2012

Convention Alternatives

I don’t know about you, but I have been going out of my way to avoid the 2 freak shows which have been masquerading as Conventions this past week, as well as the one just beginning. (This is quite an accomplishment on my part, considering the Democrats have taken over Charlotte, and the surrounding environs, which is where I live.) To that end I have accumulated some of my favorite all time movies about the Presidency to watch; all of which I have seen before. But with nothing new, or unexpected, set to happen at the Conventions, I have been getting the better part of the bargain.
In the first film, “The Manchurian Candidate”, pictured above, the Convention becomes the backdrop of an assassination plot to kill the party nominee while he is at the Podium. The most fascinating thing about this movie is that it was made 1 year prior to John Kennedy’s assassination, allegedly at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been involved in some of the same mind control experiments as Laurence Harvey’s character in the film. As a matter of fact, this film; much like the Zapruder film of JFK’s murder; was taken out of circulation for 25 years. It’s re-release only came about due to a conversation between Larry King and Frank Sinatra, in which Mr. King asked why the movie was never shown after its initial run. Sinatra didn’t know it, but the film had been purchased from the studio and then locked in Sinatra’s vault without his knowledge. The film was re-released in the late 1980’s by Mr. Sinatra. If you have never seen this original version of the film, this is a good week to do it.
In “Seven Days in May”, which was actually filmed in the family quarters of the White House; much to the dismay of Jackie Kennedy; Frederic March plays the President. He has just signed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Russians, which invokes the ire of his Joint Chiefs of Staff, who then plot to overthrow the civilian government. Burt Lancaster plays the villain in this thriller, which mirrors the events of the time to a tee. Only an accidental observation by Kirk Douglas saves the day in this thriller, which was actually viewed pre-release by President Kennedy. He had already read the book 3 times upon its release in 1960. 
“Dr. Strangelove” is another off my favorite movies involving the Presidency. In this film, Sterling Hayden plays a Major in charge of a Strategic Air Command base who decides to preserve our American way of life; and our precious bodily fluids; by taking a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. With George C. Scott playing the General who is tasked with recalling the planes, and Peter Sellers playing multiple roles; including the President; this is a satire which exposed some of the weaknesses in our official policy of Mutually Assured Destruction.
"John Adams”, with Paul Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, is another movie high on the list of films about the Presidents. This mini-series is at once a story of a man, his marriage, and the birth of a nation. No matter what you might think of John Adams, the movie is superbly written, produced and performed.

There are several more movies about the Presidency which I have been watching in lieu of the Conventions, but these are just a few of the best. Turn off your TV and slip in a disc. You’ll be glad you did.

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