Last week we looked at a Wall Street Journal list of the Top 10 worst screen presidents. Some readers have asked about “the other side of the coin” — who did WSJ pick as the 10 best screen presidents.
Happy to accommodate the request, here they are:
10) President Mackenzie Allen: Gena Davis in “Commander in Chief” (2005-2006) — Elected as vice president, she’s sworn in as America’s first female president after the president has a stroke.
9. President Rathcock: Charlie Sheen in “Machete Kills” (2013) — A take-no-prisoners leader with a foul mouth, Rathcock recruits the unkillable desperado Machete (Danny Trejo) to take down a Mexican madman.
8. President Mays Gilliam: Chris Rock in “Head of State” (2003) — In Chris Rock’s take on “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” cynical Democratic leaders, knowing they’ll lose the 2004 election, try to look progressive by putting up a black candidate who’s a neighborhood hero.
7. President Jordan Lyman: Fredric March in “Seven Days in May” (1964) — Another peace treaty, another group of unhappy military leaders who want to overthrow the president … hawks led by four-star Air Force Gen. James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster) plan to take control of the government.
6. President Douglas Dillon: James Earl Jones in “The Man” (1972) – After an accident kills the president and Speaker of the House and the vice president reveals an illness, the professorial Sena. Dillman is sworn in as America’s first black president.
5. President Dave Kovic: Kevin Kline in “Dave” (2003) – Kline plays a dual role: He’s the disagreeable, philandering President William Mitchel, who suffers a stroke. And he’s an affable … lookalike brought in by scheming cabinet members to maintain control of the government.
4. President James Sawyer: Jamie Foxx in “White House Down” (2013) – Sawyer is trying to pass a massive global treaty that would involve withdrawing all U.S. troops from the Middle East. Not everyone in power is happy about that. Soon terrorists have blown up the U.S. Capitol and taken over the White House.
3. President Thomas J. Whitmore: Bill Pullman in “Independence Day” (1996) – President Whitmore keeps the nation and the world together after a violent alien invasion, delivering his rousing inspirational speech just when it’s needed.
2. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet: Martin Sheen in “The West Wing” (1999-2006) – President Bartlet almost always did the right thing, made the best speech, put narrow-minded people in their place.
1. President James Marshall: Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” (1997) – He begins with a speech in Russia, apologizing for American inaction while a genocide took place in Kazakhstan. On the flight home, terrorists … hijack Air Force One with the president and his family aboard. Marshal uses his military training to kill the terrorists, ejecting lead hijacker Gary Oldman in midair.
One would get the idea that physical prowess is a prime asset for the land’s highest office. But that’s Hollywood’s take on the presidency.
Which movie or TV leader would you have put on the above WSJ list?