I think its fair to say that the unREEL team, though very much Canadian, is in a state of jaw-dropped shock thanks to the result of the 2016 US Presidential Election. To be fair, most of Canada feels this way. However, we’d be remiss if we let this subject slide by without capitalizing on a tongue in cheek article. So, after much deliberation, here are our choices in regards to the greatest on screen American Presidents that cinema has ever seen, fictional and non-fictional alike.
Josh’s Pick – Bill Pullman as Thomas Whitmore (Independence Day)
I dare you to tell me that theres a better on screen President than Thomas J. Whitmore. This man ran the gamut in regards to his duty as Commander in Chief, up to and including rousing the masses into participating and ultimately winning the largest ariel battle in the history of mankind. Mankid. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consu… woah. Ok. Sorry. I had to catch myself there, as I was on the verge of breaking out into Whitmore’s iconic speech. You know the one, so quit pretending like you dont. It had the power to call out the bravery of near-broken men, the fire to burn its words into history and, of course, the magic to sober up a drunken crop duster just in time for him to lay his life down for his nation. For the world.
I mean, c’mon. If you’re still resisting the urge to side with me, you may want to sit back and give in to the power of the Pull…man.
Aaron’s Pick – Harrison Ford as James Marshall
(Air Force One, 1997)
Just above Josh dared you to find a better on-screen Commander-in-Chief than Bill Pullman’s Thomas Whitmore … and to do so, I went cliche. Sure, Whitmore played a huge role in saving the world from aliens, but Han Frickin’ Solo as U.S. President is just too much to pass up. Sure, Gary Oldman may not be as menecing as aliens … but Marshall also didn’t have pre-Wild, Wild West Will Smith to help him.
If you need any more arguments, look no further than the iconic, and masterful “Get off my plane” scene. Chills, every time. Ford came out of the womb a grumbling old man, and James Marshall is the embodiment of that.
Thomas’ Pick – Henry Fonda as ‘The President’ in Failsafe (1964)
From the absolutely brilliant film that inspired the absolutely brilliant parody Dr. Strangelove, my pick is the human embodiment of a moral compass in Henry Fonda, as he plays the unnamed president of the United States during an intense nuclear crisis with the Soviet Union. A powerhouse movie from legend Sidney Lumet, it is tight as a drum and just squeezes you tight, and outside of a number of compelling roles (including from the great Walter Matthau), Fonda’s president has the unique and difficult task of trying to resolve an unresolveable situation. I don’t want to talk to much about the outcome, but quite honestly this is a president that defines public service, not to mention I could watch Henry Fonda wordlessly eat a sandwich for forty five minutes and be absolutely enthralled.