Boys on Film

Theatre of the Stars eisenhower-white-house-theatre.jpg

Writers never tire of linking politicians to pop culture. It’s favorite lists, free association and bad jokes, with the patina of History.

Peter “Not TV’s Scamp” Bart steps forward in Variety to do the honors this election season. Bart mobilizes material he appears to have been working on before many candidate’s recent demise, so his Romney and Edwards jokes still go forth to educate and amuse.

It’s a classic setup: candidate X wins and the nation needs to know: what movies will they watch? mst3k.jpg

“With Super Tuesday finally behind us, the presidential candidates hopefully will take a breather, perhaps even catch a movie. After all, the winner will soon have that delicious perk, the White House screening room, at his (or her) disposal.”


Bart moves rapidly from unproven thesis to generalization to factoid, to ignoring what a fairy tale Casablanca was.

“All this is relevant because, in the past, the filmgoing habits of previous presidents have provided a good indicator of their true character. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a sucker for any Disney toon, but took his movies seriously enough to arrange a screening of Casablanca just before leaving for the Casablanca Conference of 1943.”

There’s even a Hollywood Ending:

“For the record, the White House’s biggest movie fan was, of all people, Richard Nixon, who liked “Patton” best of all, screening it three times during the secret bombing of Cambodia. Nixon screened some 500 films during his White House stay…”

…and then he closes with a classic dirty joke involving Pat Nixon.

Martha Joynt Kumar Goes to White House martha-joynt-kumar.jpg

Martha Joynt Kumar is an actual scholar of White House operations, and she reviewed “All the Presidents’ Movies” when the made for Bravo documentary’s producers claimed it was to be released on DVD.

Kumar’s controversial thesis:

Presidents spend a fair amount of time watching movies and using them to entertain others

She does extract some fun facts. This version of White House cinephilia has Jimmy Carter topping Nixon’s supposed 500 films by viewing 579. ” That works out to an average of one every two and a half days.

National Malaise can only explain so much.

reagan-white-house-theatre.jpg Everything I Know I Learned From Julie Andrews

“…the president sometimes watched movies prior to important meetings. Twice that was the case with The Sound of Music. Reagan watched the movie the night before a 1983 Williamsburg economic summit with governors and prior to a 1986 meeting with Gorbachev in Geneva. “

Julie Andrews’ plucky demeanor may have served Reagan well, but the Geneva Summit happened in 1985.

Reagan may have applied Andrew’s methods in other contexts.

In “My favorite Things” Andrew’s character “simply remembers.”


“When I’m feeling sad

I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don’t feel so bad”

The man who confused seeing film of German death camps with being there screened “The Killing Fields” at the White House. He was apparently untroubled, viewing an account of “Democratic Kampuchea” while his administration supported it’s murderous remaints in their war on the Vietnamese installed Hung Sen government. Reagan’s administration [and Carter’s before them] viewed the genocidal Pol Pot as a useful stick against Vietnam.

Comments are closed.