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Top 10 Movie Presidents

7. President Thomas J. Whitmore – Bill Pullman (Independence Day)

recent movie president

Does anyone smell cheese? Jokes aside, Bill Pullman gives a great performance as the President of the U.S. in Independence Day, and like Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, it’s difficult to hate the man who is leading a society potentially doomed by a disaster. This disaster is far from natural however. Aliens! Now, how might we conquer these foreign invaders? A war perhaps? Or how about the trillions of dollars spent on Nuclear Weapons development from the end of WW2 to the present day? Nah, “Scrap that” says Bill Pullman, “I’m a former Persian Gulf War fighter, and ergo I will take them on myself!” So far, so Hollywood. Pullman, as Thomas J. Whitmore, gives one of the most cringe worthy cheese fests of a Presidential speech ever seen on film, or in real life, as he addresses his army during an imminent alien invasion on the most convenient of dates; July 4th (those Aliens have sure done their research).

Aside from the cheese and the ménage-a-un America seems to give itself in this film; Pullman represents a lot of what is good about this movie, and about this character: the no nonsense, “lemmie-at-em” American patriot. John McCain may have been a Prisoner of War, but he never single-handedly fought Aliens to defend his beloved US of A. Whitmore – 1, McCain – 0.

6. President “Unknown Name” – Donald Pleasance (Escape from New York)

presidents  - escape from new york

We don’t get to see much of the President in Escape From New York, but it is one of the most symbolically awesome characters in movie presidential history. Set in the futuristic dystopia of America, Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum security prison; where criminals are sent to live in the dark streets of NYC unaided and uncared for. Problems arise when Air Force One crash lands in Manhattan, and the President is taken hostage by the criminals. The notorious Snake Pliskin is therefore injected with a serum that will kill him in 24 hours. If he wants the Antidote, he must return from Manhattan in 24 hours with the President. Donald Pleasance’s President is a careless man with little remorse or concern for the lives lost to save his own. This disgusts Snake, so when the President addresses the world after his rescue, Snake switches an important tape on Nuclear Fusion for a recording of the song “Bandstand Boogie” to humiliate him. Donald Pleasance is a fantastic example of the anti-President; the non-idealistic, sick, twisted, selfish elitist that has been caricatured by satirists since we can remember. A certain change from the conventional “leader of the world” image portrayed in most Presidential movies.

5. President James Dale – Jack Nicholson (Mars Attacks)

comedy movie president

One of the most insane people in the film industry, based on his performances in Batman and The Shining, and his general public persona, Jack Nicholson is the last person you would want to have running the world’s most powerful nation. President James Dale is a witty, likeable guy, but just as well, he is a hopeless hack. He tries to be PC about the Martians, and ends up being impaled on a Martian flag. How naïve, Mr. President! That isn’t what we elected you for. Here, the aggressive foreign policy of neo conservatives like George W. Bush would have actually had a positive outcome.

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  • Fletchman1313 said

    I think ‘Dave’ should be added on this list:

    Although technically he wasn’t REALLY the President, he did act like he was. Well, within the movie, he acted as if he were the President, unlike the others listed here who were acting as Preisdent within their respective movies. Err, nevermind.

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  • orvilleredenbacher said

    #10. Funny it never occurs to him to bomb D.C.

    Excellent post.

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  • Braden said

    What about Dennis Haysbert as President David Palmer from 24? Okay, I know it isn’t a movie, but how can you not love David Palmer?

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  • riontaylor said

    You forgot President Camacho from Idiocracy

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  • Denis said

    President David Palmer from 24 is the best president ever.

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  • Passs said

    Obama played by Will Smith… SOON! 😉

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  • dnwilliams said

    dude. i was about to FLIP when i saw ford at number two…until i saw sellers, nice save 😀

    dmitri? hello dmitri.

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  • Isabella said

    I agree with Mr Denis, Palmer was great as the president in 24..and 24 is the best Tv Show ever. I have seen most of the movies in this list….and Independence Day was awesome 🙂

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  • Denny Crane said

    Obivously none of you have seen President James Marshall strutt his stuff in Air Force One – one of the all time greats

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    @Denny, Obviously you haven’t read the list.

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  • G said

    I don’t know if this one counts, but what about Ossie Davis, as JFK in Bubba Ho-Tep. If you can outshine Bruce Campbell then you must be doing a good job

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  • P. said

    No Jeff Bridges from The Contender?

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  • jason said

    hey i know one but dont remember the name. there is this movie where the president is chatting with a boy who gives him tipps about several things.

    anyone remember?

    i like that president

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    • Keith Douglas said

      Honorable mention at least should go two very different Presidents from different eras. Fredric Marsh, Seven Days in May. And Dan Hedaya, Dick. Also, maybe it doesn’t exactly fit here, but Raymond Massey’s performance in Abe Lincoln in Illinois is worth remembering.

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  • kj moore said

    I was very impressed with the film Thirteen Days and with Bruce Greenwoods portrayal of JFK. To my tastes this was one of the best historical movies depicting an American President. I would love to see a companion movie depicting Khrushchev and the Soviet point of view of the same events.

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  • Steven said

    My Fellow Americans! As far as comedy presidents I think this one is better than Mars Attacks with far more “president” time. Maybe your list is just a “facade.”

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