American Dream Leaders: Ten Best Fictional Presidents In Movies & TV by Christopher Geary

Doesn’t every
American actor
want to ‘rule’ the
supposedly free
world and
portray the US
President in a
movie or TV
show?

Everyone wants to be highlighted as the top personality, but not all deserve it. similarly, not all the trading platforms of bitcoin deserve an applause, there are only a handful of good ones. Read the positive opinions about the best platform, and then take a decision on the right platform to get associated with; as it deals with real money and not a game! 

To keep
this top 10
listing more
interesting than
just critical
assessment of
how accurately
Hollywood can
imitate top
historical
figures (which
actor achieved
the best
portrayal of
Abraham
Lincoln?), or
any recent
modern icon,
like JFK or
Nixon, this
article considers
only fictional
presidents. So
what makes a
great movie
POTUS? Is it the
charisma of
ultimate power;
one rousing
speech about
freedom, social
progress, and
http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html Go JAN FEB MAY
22
2014 2015 2016
10 captures
👤 ⍰❎
f 🐦
22 Feb 2015 – 28 Oct 2017 ▾ About this capture
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 2/15
tolerance
(something
often absent
from the real
politics of
today); a
characterisation
of astute
intellectual and
philosophical
savvy, or
perhaps some
other
exceptional
human quality
that is much
harder to
identify or
define? And,
consider this:
why do actual
politicians
rarely match up
to their fictional
substitutes?
Henry
Fonda
Just after the
Cuban missile
crisis –
dramatised by
Roger
Donaldson’s
excellent movie
Thirteen Days
(2000) – Sidney
Lumet directed
Henry Fonda in
a nuclear chiller
titled Fail-Safe
(1964), based on
a thriller novel
that was first
published in
1962. Fonda was
the
quintessential
American actor
of his era, a
genuine
thespian for a
time dominated
by movie stars
like John
Wayne, Fonda’s
political
opposite. As the
nameless
president in
Fail-Safe, there
can be no doubt
of the sincerity
that Fonda
brings to his
iconic role as
the statesman
and
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 3/15
commander-inchief
who must
overcome
conflicting
emotions in a
desperate crisis,
to drop atomic
bombs on his
own country,
appease the
accidentally
nuked Russians,
and so avoid the
global
catastrophe of
WW3. It’s a
highly
memorable
performance in
such an
extraordinarily
intense drama,
and Fonda
wrings every
ounce of
credibility from
the picture’s scifi
scenario and
its antiwar
propaganda.
Fonda also
played another
un-named US
president in
Ronald Neame’s
disaster movie
Meteor (1979).
Richard
Dreyfuss took
the same
nameless and
thankless role in
the TV remake
Fail Safe
(2000), a
tribute movie
and period
drama that
maintains the
original’s
appealing
speculativefiction
affect.
Peter
Sellers
The book, FailSafe,
was,
reportedly, partplagiarised
from
Peter George’s
1958 novel Red
Alert (aka: Two
Hours To Doom
by Peter
Bryant), and
alongside
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 4/15
Lumet’s sombre
movie version –
it also formed
the basis for
Stanley
Kubrick’s black
comedy of
absurd
madness, Dr
Strangelove
(1964).
Concerned with
expressing the
Cold War’s
hilarious
insanities of the
MAD (mutually
assured
destruction)
idea, Kubrick’s
distinctive views
upon otherwise
grim antiwar
themes become
a celebration of
eccentricity and
nuclear
mayhem, as the
talented Peter
Sellers gets to
grips with three
roles, including
that of Merkin
Muffley –
uncrowned king
of comedic
presidents:
“Gentlemen,
you can’t fight in
here! This is the
War Room” – a
perfect
characterisation
of the US
president as the
world’s top
figurehead with
an empty head,
whose stuttering
and one-sided
telephone
conversation
with his Russian
counterpart still
remains very
funny – like an
unofficial Monty
Python sketch.
A notable
variation of Dr
Strangelove is
the British
movie Whoops
Apocalypse
(1988), which
featured Loretta
Swit as the
spoofy
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 5/15
president.
Curiously, the
spooky Dr
Strangelove was
matched in its
wry
amusements by
the quirkily
eerie prophesy
made during In
Like Flint
(1967), a spy-fi
comedy
adventure in
which James
Coburn’s hero
remarks upon
the absurdity of
‘an actor in the
White House’, a
farce that was
realised in the
1980s when
Ronald Reagan
became the 40th
president.
Coburn was also
great in The
President’s
Analyst (1967),
and its fun to
speculate what
kind of harsh
satire a movie
based on
Reagan’s final
year in office
would be like.
As Oliver Stone
has noted, in his
epic
documentary
series The
Untold History
Of The United
States, Reagan
left the White
House behaving
– very sadly –
like “a
befuddled old
man.”
Hal
Holbrook
After presidents
played by Fonda
and Sellers each
struggled with a
global crisis that
spiralled beyond
their control,
Hal Holbrook’s
Adam Scott
finds himself
under direct
personal threat
in The
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 6/15
Kidnapping
Of The
President
(1980), a
sensational
thriller set in
Canada, which
sees the US
secret service
(led by William
Shatner) failing
to protect their
primary. The
troubling
situation is all
the more
embarrassing
for security
agents and the
president
because the
American leader
is held captive
in plain sight,
locked in an
armoured van
that is wired to
explosives. An
audacious
terrorist act is
complicated
further by US
tactical efforts
by Shatner’s
men that
compromise the
rescue attempts.
Holbrook’s
performance is
excellent
throughout the
movie.
Donald
Pleasence
From a
president who’s
captured by
daring enemies
to one that’s just
lost… POTUS in
John
Carpenter’s scifi
thriller
Escape From
New York
(1981) is
portrayed by
Donald
Pleasence, an
ultimately
cynical politico
who presides
over a fractured
country almost
ruined by
escalating
crime. While
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 7/15
attempting a
rescue, the lone
hero (Kurt
Russell) is faced
with the
president’s true
nature: a man
who shoots and
mocks his black
enemy, the selfstyled
‘Duke of
New York’
(Isaac Hayes).
This slick
adventure
movie presents
a pessimistic
future that’s on
the verge of a
complete global
dystopia, and
Pleasence’s
desperate
president seems
unable to resist
an impending
American
catastrophe. In
a world where
one man could
really make a
difference, this
actioner shows
that it’s not ‘the
most powerful
man in the
world’ who can –
or will – do the
right thing.
In the
comicbook style
sequel, Escape
From L.A.
(1996), Cliff
Robertson plays
the president
who’s cursed
with a very
rebellious
daughter named
Utopia.
Michael
Douglas
Ronny Cox has
played different
presidents in
three movies;
sci-fi comedy
Martians Go
Home (1989),
comicbook style
adventure
Captain
America (1990),
and crime
drama Murder
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 8/15
At 1600 (1997)
about a
homicide at the
White House.
Each of these
roles was just
background or
supporting
character, but
popular
Hollywood
superstar
Michael Douglas
managed a
screen first by
playing his lead
role of Andrew
Shepherd as
very much the
central
character in
witty rom-com
drama The
American
President
(1995).
Shepherd is a
widower who
falls in love with
a lobbyist
(Annette
Bening). This is
an entertaining
movie about the
problems of a
charming man
who is viewed as
the most
powerful person
in the world but
the daily
responsibilities
his job, always
in the public
eye, causes a
peculiar and
very often
amusing set of
difficulties for
him when it
comes to
wanting a
change in his
private life.
Bill
Pullman
Although
Independence
Day (1996) is
basically just an
unofficial War
Of The Worlds
remake, it’s a
lively sci-fi
blockbuster with
a leading
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 9/15
performance by
Bill Pullman
who centres his
role as President
Tom Whitmore
on his defiant
4th of July
speech, happily
misquoting and
paraphrasing
Dylan Thomas:
“We will not go
quietly into the
night! We will
not vanish
without a fight!”
This speech is
more than just a
glorified pep
talk for the
American
counter-strike
forces preparing
to launch from
Area 51. It’s not
simply a
statement of
vengeful intent,
echoing Gulf
War veteran
Whitmore’s
earlier
comment: “Let’s
nuke the
bastards.” And,
even in
summary, the
dramatic
monologue is
far better than
just a call to
arms for
mankind as the
whole planet
under attack by
aliens. Most
importantly, the
President
asserts: “We
can’t be
consumed by
our petty
differences
anymore. We
will be united in
our common
interests.” It’s a
humanitarian
message that is
more relevant in
today’s world
(and never mind
tomorrow’s hell)
than ever.
Harrison
Ford
As President
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 10/15
Jim Marshall in
Air Force One
(1997), Harrison
Ford scores a
big screen first
by playing
POTUS as a
typical action
hero, one
fighting Russian
terrorists (led by
Gary Oldman in
ultra-scary
mode) that hijack
the
presidential jet.
This is a
standard plot
for a crowdpleasing
thriller,
but the likeable
Ford is a
compelling
performer as a
‘President
Hollywood’
character. A
Vietnam
veteran, Jim
kills only
reluctantly, but
he can do so
with his bare
hands, yet he
talks like a
pacifist hardliner
who
inspires great
loyalty from his
supporters, such
as Vice
President
Kathryn Bennett
(Glenn Close).
Ford plays an
all-American
superhero who
manages to
facilitate the
escape of many
hostages from
the customised
Boeing 747
aircraft,
although the
finale’s rescue of
the First Family
is achieved by a
military team
using another
plane. A pilot
himself, Ford is
also convincing
in his combat
flying scenes for
the movie’s
climax.
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 11/15
Morgan
Freeman
Although he’s by
no means the
first to portray a
black president
(that was James
Earl Jones in
The Man, 1972),
Morgan
Freeman’s Tom
Beck, in sci-fi
disaster movie
Deep Impact
(1998), is a
source of
wisdom, and
winningly
sympathetic as
the world leader
facing the
possible
destruction of
planet Earth
from a collision
with a comet.
Released
alongside
Michael Bay’s
action-packed
Armageddon,
Mimi Leder’s
sombre SF
drama is rather
more intriguing
than its
swaggeringly
populist rival.
This is partly
due to the TV
journalist (a
character
sympathetically
played by Téa
Leoni), who
uncovers official
secrets about
the comet, but
it’s Freeman’s
President Beck
who holds the
main cast of this
doomsday
scenario
together. His
distinctive voice
and quiet
mannerisms can
and have been
wholly misused
in other movies,
but Freeman’s
performance
here is superb
and perfectly in
keeping with the
realistic
treatment of
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 12/15
such a
sensational scifi
plot.
Dennis
Haysbert
I have not seen
TV drama series
The West Wing
(1999-2006),
which starred
Martin Sheen as
President ‘Jed’
Bartlet, but with
over 150
episodes
spanning seven
years, it must
have seemed
like its carefully
crafted insiders’
story of the
White House
would never
end. Of course,
long-running TV
shows have the
benefit of
drawing viewers
in with
extremely
detailed
character
studies, created
by talented
actors, but
Sheen was
already a
Hollywood star
when he was
cast in The West
Wing, so that
show was in a
safe pair of
hands right
from the start.
Far more
impressive, I
think, is when a
comparatively
unknown actor
manages to
make his mark
on a TV series
with such a
strong
character-arc,
and
commitment to
an engaging
performance,
that he
apparently
influences realworld
politics.
It’s impossible
to say whether
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 13/15
Dennis
Haysbert’s
likeable
portrayal of
David Palmer in
TV show 24
(2001-7)
actually did
increase Barack
Obama’s
election chances
before he
entered the
White House in
2009 but, as
mechanisms of
social change
were obviously
ticking away in
the media
background, we
saw Palmer rise
from senator to
president – for
season two of 24
(and he stayed
in office for a
two-year term),
so many
Americans
might have
thought about
the possibility of
life imitating
Hollywood.
I must admit
that I was
somewhat
dubious about
the intentions of
writers and
producers on
24. Having a
black president
on the show just
seemed like a
gimmick, at
first. But
Haysbert had
already
established
Palmer as a
powerful
character, in the
first season, so
his election win
was a natural
progression for
the ongoing
storyline, and he
returned as a
welcome guest
in several
episodes of later
seasons, often
helping our TV
action hero Jack
Bauer (Kiefer
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 14/15
Sutherland)
with political
contacts, or
other problems.
Geena
Davis
Last, but
certainly not
least, awardwinner
Geena
Davis plays
Mackenzie ‘Mac’
Allen, in
Commander
In Chief
(2005-6). While
feminist movie
The Contender
(2000) was a
drama about a
senator
(superbly
portrayed by
Joan Allen)
running for vice
president (with
a laidback but
likeable Jeff
Bridges as the
President), this
excellent TV
series is the very
first serious
attempt to
depict a female
president, and
Davis is an
example of
perfect
Hollywood
casting for such
a
groundbreaking
role. Created by
Rod Lurie, who
wrote and
directed The
Contender, this
is a greatly
underestimated
showcase.
Named by a
dying President
as his successor,
Vice President
Allen gets a
crash course in
realpolitik and
vote/ veto
wrangling when
her quick
unelected
ascension to the
White House is
hampered by
the Speaker of
5/8/2018 A Top 10 Fictional US Presidents – feature listing for VideoVista monthly web-zine at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20150222213917/http://www.videovista.net/articles/top10prez.html 15/15
the House
(Donald
Sutherland),
who is an
ambitious
backstabber and
quite intolerant
of President’s
Allen’s
independence.
Her leadership
faces moments
of humility but
she also shows
outstanding
courage as many
sexist enemies
and
untrustworthy
staffers
surround her,
testing Allen’s
defiant strength
for any
weaknesses to
exploit. There is
wry humour
found in a
unique set of
social etiquette
and media PR
problems faced
by Allen’s
husband (well
played by Kyle
Secor), as the
first ‘First
Gentleman’.
Cramming a lot
of crisis
management
and
entertainment
values into a
mere 19
episodes (before
it was unfairly
and abruptly
cancelled)
Commander In
Chief is a rare
phenomenon in
US television,
an earnest
character study
of a powerful
woman.