Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

All the President's Movies, 2009

If Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama share a winning ticket, they could end up watching "Casablanca" together, but only if they can keep Bill Clinton from screening "American Beauty" all the time.

In the era of high-def home theaters and huge flat screens, White House movie-watching may be less special, but seeing a flick with the Leader of the Free World is still a major Washington perk.

When George W. leaves and Austin Powers goes with him, comedy will be out. The next occupant will feature nostalgia, romance and high drama.

In addition to Bogart and Bergman, Hillary Clinton confesses a weakness for "The Wizard of Oz," while Barack Obama also favors "The Godfather I & II," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

John McCain's favorite movie is "Viva Zapata," Elia Kazan's 1952 epic with Marlon Brando as a warrior for the people who is betrayed by weak, scheming politicians. McCain will have to be careful about the conservatives he invites to see it, since Kazan was involved in the Communist-hunting of the time and there is no Mexican border fence in the picture.

A 2003 documentary, "All the Presidents' Movies," revealed Bill Clinton's fascination with the teen-ager covered by rose petals in "American Beauty," Eisenhower's taste for Westerns, especially "High Noon" and Nixon's love of "Patton" and dislike for a song in the musical "1776" that satirized conservatism ("We have land, cash in hand, self-command, future planned, fortune flies, society survives in neatly ordered lives").

But in the White House Home Theater, politics is usually forgotten as the President and friends relax with an escapist night at the movies. When Mitt Romney dropped out, he took a great one with him, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

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