America’s Election year 2012 is shaping up to be a real close contest between incumbent President Barack Obama and GOP candidate, Republican Mitt Romney. Hollywood has portrayed loads of U.S. presidents – both real and fictional – in scores of films, both big and small. Here are but a few of the more interesting, offbeat and dramatic presidential portrayals.
“Fail Safe” – Henry Fonda (1964)
Henry Fonda (On Golden Pond) seems to have been born to play an American president. The first time he became presidential for the cameras was in “Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939), a partly fictionalized account of the mightily tall railsplitter Republican Commander -in- Chief. Here, alongside co-stars Walter Matthau (The Odd Couple) and Larry Hagman (I Dream Of Jeannie), Fonda plays an entirely fictional president, but one with real grit and steely resolve. When an American bomber accidently goes on an airstrike of The Soviet Union, only Fonda’s President and Hagman’s interpreter can hope to talk things into peace, to avoid all out nuclear war.
“Dreamscape” – Eddie Albert (1984)
Of any American, a President’s dreams should be taken seriously, or at least respected. Eddie Albert (Green Acres) gets things done without Arnold the pig, and it’s a good thing he tries so hard, because the world could blow up if he doesn’t. Albert’s president character is plagued by nightmares and only Dennis Quaid’s psychic power may be able to help. Co-starring Dennis Quaid, Christopher Plummer and Kate Capshaw, the film plays similarly with the themes found in the hit movie “Inception” – a full 26 years before Christoper Nolan directed his flick.
“Dave” – Kevin Kline (1993)
We all have doubles, but for Kevin Kline in “Dave”, the double happens to be the leader of the free world. When he’s asked to temporarily double for President Bill Mitchell (Kline in a dual role), things get weirder when the request extends Dave’s acting role indefinitely. Co-Starring Frank Langella (Frost Nixon) and Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), Dave is at once playful, but always still serious when considering just how easily people can be fooled by a good actor. Didn’t some say the same thing about Ronald Reagan?
“Superman II” – E.G. Marshall (1981)
When Superman calls his adopted home The United States Of America, the American President can be assured that his country will usually be safe and sound. That is, until three more super powered aliens like Kal El himself fly in to wreck havoc. When General Zod (Terrence Stamp) demands the man he at first thinks is President kneel before him in obeyance, the Kryptonian leader dismisses the imposter, knowing nobody so powerful would kneel before an invader so quickly. Marshall doesn’t have much screentime, but he’s a powerful actor, and we know Superman (Christoper Reeve) won’t let him down.
“The American President” – Michael Douglas (1995)
Michael Douglas stars as President, opposite Annette Benning (Dick Tracy), in a breezy love story, still tinged with the hard politics that any American president must face while in office or campaigning for re-election. As the windower President woos Benning’s character, we giddily root for both of them. Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future) and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws), round out the cast in this feel good movie from Rob Reiner, one time actor in sitcoms like “All In the Family”, to the confident director of “Misery” – starring Oscar winner Kathy Bates.