13.5 Recommended Viewing

Air Force One (1997). Air Force One is hijacked by Russian terrorists, and the president (Harrison Ford) must physically recapture the plane himself.

All the Presidents’ Movies (2009). A documentary about which presidents watched what movies when—based on the logs of the White House theater.

The American President (1995). A liberal what-might-have-been fantasy of the Clinton presidency: a widowed president (Michael Douglas), amid a tough reelection fight, falls in love with an environmental lobbyist. Written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of the series The West Wing.

Dave (1993). A nice-guy body double for a president (Kevin Kline) shows that all he needs to live up to his responsibilities are common sense and decency.

Gabriel Over the White House (1933). The classic White House film: a party-hack president (Walter Huston), comatose after a car accident, awakes under the guidance of the angel to end crime, unemployment, and accomplish disarmament.

Independence Day (1996). The president (Bill Pullman) reclaims his military past to rid the world of an alien invasion.

Kisses for My President (1964). Curious comedy about the first woman president and her husband’s gender panic as the first man to be “first lady.”

Nixon (1995). Director Oliver Stone’s hallucinatory attempt to make sense of the Nixon presidency, with uncanny performances by Anthony Hopkins as Nixon and Joan Allen as his wife, Pat.

The Press Secretary (2001). An insightful fly-on-the-wall documentary about several days in the professional life of Joe Lockhart who was then President Clinton’s press secretary.

Reagan (2011). Eugene Jarecki’s documentary traces the fascinating life and career, while struggling to understand the personality, of the fortieth president.

W (2008). Oliver Stone’s restrained biopic of President George W. Bush.

Wag the Dog (1998). A political consultant (Robert De Niro) and Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) try to distract attention from a presidential sex scandal by staging a fake war.


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