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5 Great Movie Presidents Worth Re-Electing

by The Playlist Staff
November 7, 2012 12:03 PM
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Well, after about 24 hours of feeling nauseous, anxious and genuinely panicky, we have a new President of the United States. Or more accurately, we have another four years of the same one, with President Barack Obama coming through and winning the re-election. And yet even as we start to breathe easy again, another president is turning up, this time in movie theaters.

Friday sees the release of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," the director's biopic of the 16th (and arguably greatest) President of the United States, with Daniel Day-Lewis starring in the title role. Generally deemed to be a major awards contender, the film's been cannily timed to go into limited release barely 48 hours after the results of the election were in. So, with a perfect storm of presidency hitting, it seemed like a good time to pick out five of our all-time favorite movie presidents. Some are real, some are entirely fictional, some are in great movies, some are in mediocre movies, but all are pretty compelling and entertaining in very different ways. Check out our picks below, and let us know who'd get your vote in the comments section below.

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) - "Idiocracy"
Like its predecessor "Office Space," Mike Judge's satire "Idiocracy" failed to find any kind of theatrical audience after essentially being buried by 20th Century Fox. But over time, the uneven but fitfully brilliant comedy from the "King Of The Hill" creator has, like Judge's feature debut, found a cult audience on DVD and video. And one of its most enduring figures (as shown by a recent series of Funny Or Die videos that brought the character back) is Terry Crews' President Camacho. After being accidentally frozen for 500 years, army librarian Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) wakes in a world where the average IQ has plummeted. Now the smartest man in the world, he's taken to the White House, where he meets Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, five-time Ultimate Smackdown champion, porn superstar and President of the United States. Permanently bedecked in an American flag, riding the world's most ridiculous motorcycle, and using automatic weaponry to silence his critics, he is, in the hands of former NFL player turned underrated comic actor Crews, a creature of pure libido and testosterone. A mix of preacher, wrestler and absolute dummy, it's a raucous performance, and we have to confess that were Camacho running for real, we'd be half inclined to vote for him.

President Judd Hammond (Walter Huston) - "Gabriel Over The White House" (1933)
A corrupt president gets into a car accident, believes he's been visited by the Angel Gabriel, and becomes a totalitarian dictator who's able to arrest and execute people at will. He's the bad guy, right? Some villainous type eventually taken down by the hero? Not in Gregory La Cava's "Gabriel Over The White House," one of the most out-there political films ever made, a one-of-a-kind advocation of benevolent fascism that would give the Tea Party a collective heart attack if made today. Backed by William Randolph Hearst, and timed to the election of (and approved by) Franklin Roosevelt, it stars Walter Huston as President Judd Hammond, a corrupt president who sees the light, gets rid of most of his cabinet, dissolves Congress when they impeach him and goes about tackling the depression, nationalizing the alcohol trade and executing the gangsters that have become the scourge of the country. Finally, he uses a new secret weapon to blackmail the world into peace, and is eventually acclaimed as a hero. It's an unashamed piece of liberal propaganda, but a disturbing one. The imagery, particularly that of Hammond's secret police, borders on fascistic (bear in mind, this is the same year that Hitler came to power). It's like a reactionary, militant version of "The West Wing," but really it's just an interesting time capsule/bonkers curio, led by a very strong performance from Huston (only a few years after taking the title role of another president, in D.W. Griffith's "Abraham Lincoln").

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  • Krazy Joe | November 9, 2012 10:37 AMReply

    "we have another four years of the same one, with President Barack Obama coming through and winning the re-election. And yet even as we start to breathe easy again, another president is turning up, this time in movie theaters."

    Who is breathing easy again? I'm $h!tting my pants in fear of how much more damage he can do with another 4 years! This country is frakked!

  • StephenM | November 7, 2012 10:17 PMReply

    You mentioned it, but I just have to state it louder: Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln, one of John Ford's greatest masterpieces. It's plot is largely fictionalized, but it offers an incredibly dense and historically accurate analysis of Lincoln as a man and as the myth he would become. Fonda's performance is pefection, and Ford's portrait of backwoods Jacksonian democracy may be our most indelible re-imagining of that era--in film/literature/painting/whatever.

  • D'Artagnan | November 7, 2012 8:26 PMReply

    Harrison Ford as President James Marshall would be my choice.

  • Ian | November 8, 2012 12:00 PM

    When I saw this list that was the first one I thought off. Completely agree with you.

  • MAL | November 7, 2012 2:30 PMReply

    Henry Fonda as The President in Fail-Safe. Hands down the most compelling, measured and intense portrayal of a world leader and the responsibility inherent in the role.

  • AS | November 7, 2012 1:47 PMReply

    Nixon is great, up until the end. In the last 30 minutes, Stone shoots himself in the foot.

  • Chris | November 7, 2012 12:36 PMReply

    I do like Hopkins' performance in "Nixon," but I think Philip Baker Hall made an even better and more fascinating Nixon in Altman's "Secret Honor."

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