Significant props, for example, are usually referred to at a moment when they yet have no meaning; the importance of the letter opener is implied when Luther first enters the bedroom of the mansion: Whitney walks through the dark, and the ray of his flashlight lingers on the letter opener for a few seconds, a shot which is not paid too much attention to by the average spectator but still hints on the significance of the prop.
One is the treatment of the Whitney character. Most thrillers do not pay much attention to dialogue or personal relationships but rather depend on chase scenes and shoot-outs.
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The story of Absolute Power , however, takes the relationship of Whitney and his daughter at least as seriously as the extra-marital escapades of the President. At the end of the movie, the audience is made to hope as much for a punishment of the President as for a reconciliation between Whitney and Kate. By using this personal story as an arc to draw together the other elements in the film, Eastwood [the director] does a difficult thing: He makes a thriller that is not upstaged by its thrills. Luther Whitney is a genuinely interesting, complicated character - not just an action figure.
The importance of emphasizing the sympathy of the Whitney character, which is achieved mainly through the relationship with Kate, is obvious: How else could the audience be made to like a simple thief better than the President of the United States? Accordingly, only little effort has been made in identifying President Richmond.
Hackman languishes in the smallish role of a White House buffoon. After a shot has been fired, fast-paced cutting shows the police running around and people panicking but no sign of Whitney. Rather, it stresses the fact that Whitney is one of the best in his profession; for not only does he manage to deceive his persecutors, but he also misleads the audience.
At a subsequent state dinner celebrating the success of the joint mission, U. Disguised as Russian journalists, a gang of terrorists make it aboard the aircraft, led by the fanatical Ivan Korshunov Gary Oldman who blames the U. No sooner has Air Force One taken off than they hijack the plane with the help of a member of the U. Secret Service.
Before securing control of the plane, the terrorists kill a considerable number of passengers. Once the course for Kazakhstan has been set, Korshunov realizes that his plan to take the President hostage has been thwarted, since Marshall seems to have been ejected from the plane with an escape pod designed to float him to safety in case of an emergency. However, unknown to the terrorists, Marshall has launched the pod empty and stayed on the plane in the hope of rescuing his family.
With a large number of passengers in his control, Korshunov establishes contact with Washington in order to announce his intentions: He tells Vice President Kathryn Bennett Glenn Close that he will execute a hostage every half- hour until Radek is released from prison. Without knowing of the whereabouts of the President, Bennett is forced to make monumental decisions while being pulled in different directions by White House advisors.
Hiding in the fuselage of the plane, Marshall emerges as a guerilla fighter on board his own aircraft, succeeding in a number of acts to foil the plans of the terrorists. Using a mobile phone, he contacts Bennett and tells her not to negotiate despite the execution of hostages. Bennett agrees to mid-air refueling when Korshunov threatens to kill a member of the First Family.
This operation, however, is used to the advantage of the hostages as Air Force One is forced to go down to 15, feet, thereby helping most of passengers to escape using parachutes. When the terrorists discover their escape, another action sequence results in a fiery explosion of the refueling aircraft and the final capture of the President. As Korshunov is still holding his wife and daughter, Marshall is put in the terrible dilemma of either saving his family or sticking to his principles.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Secretary of Defense is urging the Vice President to relieve Marshall of his presidential powers, as he is seen unfit to make sound decisions in such a situation. Marshall calls Moscow just in time to prevent Radek from getting out of prison. However, the few passengers left in Air Force One are not saved as of yet. The plane has reached the airspace of Kazakhstan and is attacked by hostile fighter jets. Marshall, a former Vietnam pilot and Medal of Honor winner, manages to fly the plane and avoid being shot down until U.
Since Air Force One has been severely damaged, it is rapidly losing altitude and threatens to crash into the sea. Evacuation is performed by a risky venture involving a cableway to a cargo plane, and one after one, the last passengers are transported to safety. A final one-on- one confrontation between Marshall and the traitorous Secret Service Agent follows before eventually the President is also rescued in the nick of time.
The movie is well-served by the quality of the performances.
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Glenn Close is convincing as Vice President, and Gary Oldman has many effective scenes as a believably dangerous and fanatical criminal. The viciousness of Korshunov is a natural prerequisite to the suspense of the film; it is effectively established by having him cold-bloodedly execute unarmed hostages. President, but also has the chance to prove his personal powers. By standing up for his principles, and single-handedly rescuing both his family and the world from terrorists, he becomes the ultimate action hero.
Being a Vietnam war hero, he knows how to fly a plane and how to fight man to man. He knows how to speak Russian, and he seems to know more about the capabilities, features, and hiding-places of Air Force One than even the pilots themselves.
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Yes, and how heart- warming it is to see him take out a mobile telephone and immediately turn to an instruction manual on how to use it. This being President Harrison Ford, he does it in 3. He has the charismatic persona the President must have. He also has the intelligence and sense of humor that makes him likeable. And, of course, he is totally believable when he has to fight back and get physical.
In this sense, for example, it turns out that even the President of the United States can have as much trouble with telephone operators, manuals or cell phone batteries as anybody else. The visual effects of Air Force One are plenty; innumerable shooting scenes and elaborate explosions and stunts. Yet, nevertheless, Petersen does bring a great deal of reality to his film by his attention for detail and by drawing its inspiration from a very real contemporary dilemma. The reality of international terrorism has, unfortunately, become something we accept as part of modern life.
By having the Press Secretary tour the aircraft with the alleged Russian journalists, the audience is informed not only about the exact body of the plane, but also about its peculiar features, such as bullet-proof windows, high-tech communications center, and the like, thereby setting up a solid framework and also justifying the realism of future scenes. Fast cutting and intricate camerawork further heighten the tension of the film. The camera often fluidly follows the protagonists through the narrow corridors of the aircraft, and more than often takes the point of view of the characters, thereby adding a kind of claustrophobic tension to the action.
The director sometimes even teases the audience by withholding information for a few shots, as in the case when the escape pod is being launched; both Washington and the terrorists assume that Marshall has escaped, and a lot of time and action passes by before the escape pod is found empty on the ground somewhere in Germany. Not until now is the audience allowed to see the President hiding in the baggage deck of the plane.
In short, despite several rather incredible special effects, the film has enough suspense to keep the audience thrilled. This is also crucial for the believability of the characters, and in our case the President; by establishing the gravity of the situation, their reactions seem authentic and not overdone. The American President is a delightful romantic comedy which poses a most compelling dilemma: How does the widowed leader of the free world balance his many obligations to his country with the ordinary demands and everyday rites of courtship?
President, Andrew Shepherd Michael Douglas , heads into his reelection campaign with high approval ratings in public opinion polls, and a delighted staff which is looking forward to the forthcoming battle with his likely opponent, Senator Bob Rumson Richard Dreyfuss. Taken with her almost immediately, he invites her to be his date at a state dinner, his first date since he has been in office.
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Conflicts occur on two fronts. The unfolding of a romance with the difficulties imposed on it by the presidency clearly is in the foreground of the movie. On the other hand, the subplot of the film deals with political problems; Shepherd has weakened an environmental bill in hope that it will more likely be passed by the House of Representatives. Wade wants him to restore the bill to its original strength, and in a private conversation, he promises to do so if she can convince sufficient members of Congress to support it.
Out of fear of alienating the voters, however, the President is determined to hold the middle ground and decides that having a watered-down crime bill passed is the best thing he can do before the next election. In the end, the President is faced with a terrible choice: embrace the shining idealism of his girlfriend or shun her and stick to his old legislative agenda, the feel-good but toothless crime package concocted mostly to have him re-elected.
Most of this, however, is secondary to a movie that focuses on two likeable persons who mostly want to do the right thing. The political subplot of the movie mainly serves as a backdrop for the main story of the film, namely the unfolding of the romance between the President and the lobbyist. With the modern presidency as the monumental barrier between them, Shepherd is trying to separate his office from his private life, a task which seems difficult if not impossible.
Many comic situations occur just because the presidency, in a sense, comes between them. Wade as a regular career woman is awed by the dignity of the White House from the first moment on and also represents the person with whom the audience can identify; many of her reactions to the splendor and greatness surrounding the President are similar to how any person would respond in the same situation; with a mixture of humbleness, honor, and nervousness.
She continuously has problems to separate the person whom she is dating from the leader of the world. The subservience that one might feel is humorously captured in the first encounter of Wade and Shepherd. Instead of a regular shot, moreover, a crane shot is used to underline the intimidating situation, showing the room in its entirety from above with a large presidential seal on the carpeting in the middle of the frame.
The result: To Wade, as well as to the average citizen, a more intimidating place to talk is hard to imagine. Shepherd appears to be a great political leader - with integrity, honesty, and political skills - but when it comes to handling regular issues, such as ordering flowers on the phone or going out on a date, he faces more problems than any ordinary person would. These problems derive mainly from the power and influence that come with the office.
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People have problems viewing Shepherd as a regular person, and therefore behave accordingly when he approaches them with regular issues. No hopping, Sir! While many problems like these occur because people do not know how to handle the regular needs of the President, several scenes suggest that even Shepherd himself has difficulties in acting and living his life like a normal person. Oddly enough, while he has only been in office for about three years, he does not seem to remember these everyday procedures. Shepherd tries hard to be a regular guy and realizes the constraints the presidency has on his love life; several occasions emphasize this dilemma and the impossibility for a President to have a normal life.
In one scene, Wade visits the busy President in his office after their date at the state dinner in order to discuss her legitimate concerns that their relationship might harm his good standing with the public, as well as his chances for reelection. The next shot shows them both facing each other with the presidential helicopter seen through the rear window, landing on the White House lawn.
The director, Rob Reiner, has created the movie according to the general rules of the classical Hollywood cinema. Everything in the movie is logical; the characters are everything but complex, and the story is built around an easy cause-and-effect plot with a happy ending. In order to avoid having his movie work as a sit-com or slapstick comedy, Reiner has made his key players appear both realistic and sympathetic; both Douglas and Bening are believable in their roles.
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As a movie critic fittingly describes, the trick to romantic comedy is to invent plausible or, in the screwball variation, hilariously implausible obstacles to the course of what the audience instantly perceives as true love. The obstacle in this picture is the presidency itself. The regular comedy audience, moreover, is not primarily interested in how the movie might end. As in most Hollywood productions, the ending can be rather easily foreseen.
Instead, the movie is meant to entertain its spectators along the plot, by creating a number of comic and entertaining situations. Not only the characters are believable in their roles; the filmmakers have put much effort in making the story believable as well. The comedy of the movie can only work if the power and bureaucracy of the White House is realistically established.
Reiner has therefore focused on political issues which have certain resonance in the current political climate. The opening scene, however, is the most striking part of the movie when it comes to evoking the magnificence and dignity of the American presidency: the elegant opening credits, combined with reverent music, feature a montage of paintings, statues and photographs of Presidents from George Washington to Lyndon B. Johnson, interspersed by maps of the United States, seals of office, historic documents and American flags.
It is noticeable that no recent Presidents are portrayed here, but considering the growing suspicion of the presidency since Vietnam and Watergate, this is probably intended by the filmmakers to avoid possible mockery. The American President , as any standard Hollywood movie, is produced to please a mainstream audience which is why controversial issues are mostly avoidedAlthough the film is thoroughly liberal, the filmmakers have consciously concentrated on political issues that most people agree upon anyway; who would, for example, not want to support the environment?
Or reduce crime? Wittily scripted, engagingly sappy, completely implausible and unabashedly Capraesque. Clear and Present Danger is the third Tom Clancy novel Hunt for Red October , Patriot Games about CIA agent Jack Ryan to be adapted to the screen and a study of the abuse of power at the highest levels of government; the thriller describes what can happen when the American President attempts to launch an illegal military venture into a foreign country.
Due to his loyalty and honesty, Ryan is kept in the dark about the clandestine military operation. In the meantime, Ryan finds out about the conspiracy through secretly tape-recorded conversations. Without authorization, he travels to Colombia on a personal rescue mission.
He joins with Clark, confronts Escobedo and provides convincing evidence that Cortez has betrayed him. A final action sequence of conventional shooting scenes follows, ending with the deaths of both Escobedo and Cortez while Ryan and Clark escape after a successful mission. Back in Washington, Ryan finishes off the conspiracy by confronting the President. Forced to choose between covering up for the men who have misled and lied to him, or embarrassing the country by standing up for the truth, he finally decides to do the latter by revealing what he knows to a congressional subcommittee.
Yet, while other characters are seen more often on screen than the President, he is certainly as crucial to the story. Even though he does not work out the details of the military operation and is never seen or heard directly ordering troops to be sent to Colombia, he is constantly well aware of what is going on and knows that he can rely on his advisors to carry out his thoughts without having to express them in words.
He participated in them. He made them clearer to the rest of us, with his knowledge, his honesty, his integrity. The presentation of such a corrupt version of a chief executive as Edward Bennett literally calls for a hero like Jack Ryan to step in and save the day. Ryan complies with Hollywood perceptions of the great and infallible hero. Even more interesting is the attempt of a rather positive depiction of the worst criminal of the movie, the drug lord Ernesto Escobedo.
Instead of showing him committing appalling atrocities, his sensitive side is accentuated by constantly showing him together with his family. As hinted on above, the complex plot and the double-edged characters in Clear and Present Danger not only create a dramatic ambiguity but also provide for elemental thrills. This consequently forces the audience to consistently pay attention to the intricate unfolding of the plot. The film has a sweeping, confident narrative style, and the staging of many scenes are not new to Hollywood action thrillers. However, the film does present some unusual traits for the thriller genre.
While the jumps between locations in the United States and Colombia are realized mostly by establishing shots, the film tends to cut away seconds sooner than customary. This ingenious cutting, combined with flawless timing and unerring camera placements and angles, creates an unwavering sense of atmosphere.
Unlike the typical action movie, which is usually trampling over narrative logic in order to rush on to the next explosion, the writers take the time to keep their audience in the picture. The intelligence with which the plot is presented makes both the characters and the story believable and realistic.
Naturally, the average viewer does not know whether anything similar has ever occurred in real drug wars. The film has the incumbent President suffer a heart attack, and lets his double both played by Kevin Kline 67 temporarily take his place. The entire plot is thus centered around the executive office and mostly takes place in the White House. Dave Kovic, a good-hearted common man, runs a small temporary-employment agency in Baltimore.
Due to his uncanny resemblance to the U. Dave is hired to stand in for Mitchell at a social event while the President enjoys horizontal recreation with an attractive secretary. His impersonation is suddenly extended, however, when Mitchell suffers a stroke in bed and lapses into a coma. Chief of Staff Bob Alexander Frank Langella , immediately sees this misfortune as an opportunity for a coup.
Together with the reluctant Communications Director Alan Reed Kevin Dunn , he explains to Dave the reasons for the deception to be in the interests of national security, and Dave innocently accepts his new full-time job while the comatose Mitchell is secured away out of sight. After staging a second stroke of Mitchell impersonated by Dave , the insidious chief of staff would consequently maneuver himself into the presidency.
Fortunately for Alexander, the relationship between President Mitchell and his First Lady, Ellen, Sigourney Weaver is long dead, and since Ellen detests her husband, they are only together when appearing at public events. After an almost overnight education in the basics of government, names of officials and cabinet members, and other important details that the new occupant of the Oval Office has to know, Dave continues the hoax that fools the media, the White House executives, and, initially, even the First Lady.
He nervously accepts the role as an opportunity to serve his country, and settles into the routine of presidential duties. In addition, he even manages to charm the First Lady by taking interest in her efforts to help the homeless, which becomes the first step in the unfolding of a romance. Ellen has by now figured out that Dave is an impostor and forces him to confess to her and explain the situation. Unwilling to stay at the side of a fake President, she decides to leave the White House, and also Dave has had enough of his impostor job.
Consequently, Dave summons a press conference, fires Alexander, and announces a new employment program to the startled media. Vice President Nance returns from an Africa tour and refutes the allegations that were made against him by Alexander, whereupon Dave confronts the repentant Reed and learns that the comatose Bill Mitchell was in fact the one guilty of the scandal. In front of an assembled Congress, however, Dave responds to the accusations by both admitting to a shared guilt with Alexander and whitewashing Nance.
While speaking to Congress, he collapses from another apparent stroke, thereby paving the way for Nance to smoothly take over the presidency. On the way to the hospital, Dave is exchanged by the comatose Mitchell and walks away from the hospital and back to his normal life.
Vice President Nance is sworn in and, a few months later, Mitchell dies. Young Mr. Lincoln is a partly fictionalized biopic about the early life of President Abraham Lincoln, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda. Ford and producer Darryl F. Starring Gary Sinise as Harry S. Truman, the film centers on Truman's rise to the presidency from The screenplay by Peter Stone was based on the stage musical The song score was composed by Sherman Edwards.
The cast The screenplay by William Goldman is based on the novel Absolute Power by Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest Lincoln was really the only movie that there was any kind of push for however. I remember back in the early days when he had this idea that they could all watch football together or something like that. He underestimated how hard it would to make friends with these guys, to have some sort of meaningful working relationship with Mitch McConnell and Boehner.
They were completely intransigent. Lincoln has a kind of happy ending, but it turns out that the happy ending is a fantasy. And this was right around the time that he kept trying to make this bargain over the budget. And got nowhere. One other fascinating point you brought up was the idea of the Black president in the future before we actually had a real one being this kind of balm for liberal sensibilities, this code that in the future progress is being made despite the fact that asteroids are hurtling toward the earth.
This kind of neurotic fit-throwing is similar to the Cold War paranoia surrounding an untrustworthy political voice ascending unexpectedly, something you see a lot of in Kennedy-era cinema. As was Clinton. Kennedy was really vilified, particularly after he was forced to take the stand against Wallace and what was going on in the deep south, the bombings, the terror.
It just got so totally out of hand that he was compelled to do something. I mean he was treated as a traitor and a threat. Like Obama in a way he had to really go right out there and neutralize it as best he could. I was 11 when he was elected. I was in junior high school. I could follow this stuff.
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And in my mostly left milieu in New York at the time it was naturally assumed that he was shot by an American Nazi or crazed segregationist or something. And so with Obama after he was elected, a lot of us were very uneasy, thinking he has to be careful, that he too might be assassinated. He faces this opposition head on and they give up on using political means to defeat him and decide to attempt a coup. Oh I think it does. It does hint at it, but it probably was less obvious in looking at the double projection.
If it were possible, I would have liked to pause momentarily on certain lines or images. I do it when I hold screenings like this in an academic context. There are analogies to draw between his position in the presidency and, say, Seven Days in May , the Kennedy administration film. So Jamie Foxx is a kind of idealized Obama.
But there are certain things that he says. He makes some reference to his sneakers at one point, before putting them on in the midst of the terrorist attack. Whereas the mastermind James Wood has his own craziness, the guys who he recruits, the terrorists, are presented somewhat oddly. The film presents at least one of them as a white supremacist.