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What are the greatest political drama films of all time?

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  • Marcus Snowden (The Artist Formerly Known as msnowden1)
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    What do you guys think are the greatest political drama films of all time?

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    vinny
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    “Manchurian Candidate” for sure comes to mind. “All the President’s Men” is probably up there too. “JFK” and “The Ides of March” are my personal favs.

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    Andrew Carden
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    All the President’s Men
    Being There
    The Candidate
    The Contender
    A Face in the Crowd
    The Manchurian Candidate
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Nixon
    Primary Colors

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: 20 Years of Streep (1985) – Out of Africa

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    John
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    Now that others have hit all the most obvious and better known . . .

    The Scarlet Empress (1934)
    Ivan the Terrible, Parts I & II (1945)
    All the King’s Men (1949)
    Advise & Consent (1962)
    Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    Becket (1964)
    Seven Days in May (1964)
    A Man for All Seasons (1966)
    The Lion in Winter (1968)
    Z (1969)
    The Confession (1970)
    Macbeth (1971)
    State of Siege (1972)
    Three Days of the Condor (1975)
    Blow Out (1981)
    The Dead Zone (1983)
    The Last Emperor (1987)
    The Pelican Brief (1993)
    Absolute Power (1997)
    Kundun (1997)
    Enemy of the State (1998)
    Ghost Writer (2010)
    The Ides of March (2011)

    Some of these could be considered biopics, but they’re of major political leaders and involve dramatic shifts in political power. I would have listed Wag the Dog, except it was a comedy, not a drama.

    John

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    Mathilda
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    Out of the classic and more mainstream political films, I would have to say either the original ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ or, one of my personal favourites, ‘The Contender’.

    Also, I thought ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Jackie’ were brilliant political biopics.

    But I really love the film, ‘Battle of Algiers’. If you haven’t watched this 1966 classic, then go and watch it ASAP. It is a masterclass in film-making.

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    CandleJener
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    MISS SLOANE!

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    John
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    . . .
    But I really love the film, ‘Battle of Algiers’. If you haven’t watched this 1966 classic, then go and watch it ASAP. It is a masterclass in film-making.

    Completely agree that it is a superb film. Almost listed it in mine. France banned its exhibition there until 1971. Pontecorvo’s stylistic vision with Marcello Gatti’s cinematography gives it a newsreel appearance spanning two hours. Orson Welles’ newsreel segment in Citizen Kane was a major inspiration for them. It’s typically on the longer lists of films to see for cinema students, and it’s also on the “must see” list for military commanders regarding low intensity conflicts and insurgencies. It was screened at the Pentagon in 2003 as it clearly shows how the French succeeded tactically in Algiers (the city) during the mid-1950’s but utterly failed strategically in Algeria (the country). French political decisions were as flawed as the French military’s illegal conduct. The film is considered by most observers to be politically “neutral”, but that opinion varies (the far-right French in particular).

    Recommendation:
    Make it a double feature with Costa-Gavras’ State of Siege (1972). It is a roman à clef about CIA agent Dan Mitrione and his covert advisory operations in Uruguay. They share the same screenwriter, Franco Solinas, and masterclass film-making stature. The movie is another demonstration, in different terms with covert operations, about means used to win tactically ultimately precipitating strategic failure. Its release in the U.S. was greeted with vitriolic hatred from certain U.S. officials and political groups similar to the reaction Battle of Algiers received in France. It’s a film that should have been screened for US military and CIA leadership a year or two before Battle of Algiers was.

    John

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