Top 10 Movie Presidents20.01.09 # Top Ten # 19 Comments
He’s the Chief Executive, the Chief Legislator, the Commander-In-Chief, the Chief Diplomat, and just about the Chief Everything. The President of the USA is one of the most symbolic and fictionalised figures in the world.
Barack Obama is inaugurated this week. Will he be able to sort out Iraq? Fix the economy? Restore faith and pride into a divided America? No one knows, but what we can do is look back at some of Hollywood’s offers of President of the United States, and see how they sized up to mighty challenges.
These are the Top Ten Movie Presidents to ever grace our screens.
10. President “Unknown Name” – Henry Fonda (Fail Safe)
In a movie that is practically the serious drama version of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove; Henry Fonda plays a president on the brink of nuclear destruction. After an accidental breach of Russian security, a missile is launched and is heading for Moscow, and there is no way of bringing it back due to the missile’s Fail Safe mechanism. As the President and his staff debate the best outcome of an inevitable nuclear problem, Henry Fonda as the President must decide how to combat the situation. And the decision he comes to is a grave one – offering up New York City as a consolation target for the Russians. As a President on paper, Fonda is a disaster. After all, he does cause a Nuclear War, but there is something about Fonda’s performance as the President that is both awe inspiring and very human. You feel for him at every turn. Against the clock and against the world, Fonda’s President does what he has to do to limit the damage, making the call no one else would want to.
If this doesn’t put a chill down the spine, nothing will.
9. President Lindeberg – Tom Lister Jr. (The Fifth Element)
If you thought George W. Bush was a lousy president, wait till you get a load of this guy. In Luc Besson’s futuristic industrial world of the Fifth Element, what does America need less than a lazy, incompetent, puppet of a president? President Lindeberg actually provides some comic relief, but, like Bush, it’s not intentional on his part and it’s not really what you look for in a Commander In Chief. Played to perfection by the oversized and ironically named Tom “Tiny” Lister JR, Lindeberg soon has you wishing the evil Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) would come and sort things out.
8. President Alan Richmond – Gene Hackman (Absolute Power)
Absolute power corrupts, absolutely! No man has ever personified this famous phrase more than President Alan Richmond, who will do anything to stop the murder of his mistress being leaked to the public. Gene Hackman’s hawkish portrayal of the aggressive hardliner President Richmond is a memorable performance worthy of a mention in any list of Movie Presidents, or indeed Gene Hackman performances. Hackman is a master of character driven drama, and seems to be able to frighten anyone with a simple stare if he puts the right emotion behind it. Absolute Power is a great example of an actor playing a President with no fear, as Richmond is the kind of ruthless politician that has even his closest allies shaking at the knees. His corruption and intense power combined create one scary guy you do not want to get on the bad side of. Yikes!