Music Break: The American President (1995)

Welcome to another edition of the Music Break series! Apparently I skipped one in October with the TCFF festivities. Well for this week, I was raking my brain to see what soundtrack I would highlight. Well, given today is post-election Wednesday, I figure it’d be fitting to highlight this Oscar-nominated score as Barrack Obama has been re-elected to stay on as The American President!

This film by Rob Reiner is one of my favorite rom-coms ever! Even though it does have political theme, the movie is more about the relationship between the widower commander in chief Andrew Shepherd and an environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade. In the movie, the popular Democratic President was also running for re-election. I love Michael Douglas and Annette Benning in this film, they have such an effortlessly playful chemistry and the dialog is full of wit, thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s script. No wonder it ranks number 75 on AFI’s Greatest Love Stories in American Cinema!

One of my favorite part of this movie is the lovely music. It has that dignified, ‘presidential’ feel to it but also kind of romantic.

Composer Marc Shiaman has frequently worked with director Rob Reiner, previously on When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men. He’s been nominated for Oscar five times, starting with Sleepless in Seattle (1994), The American President (1995), The First Wives Club (1997), Patch Adams (1999) and South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut (2000).

It’s interesting to note that this movie inspired Sorkin to write the TV show The West Wing, and Martin Sheen got an upgrade from playing the White House Chief of Staff to playing President Bartlet on the show. Though the film’s president is from the Democratic party, the music apparently transcend party lines. According to its IMDb trivia, the theme was also used as the background music in ABC television’s coverage of President Ronald Reagan’s funeral.


What’s your thoughts on today’s movie music?

Five Memorable American Movie Presidents

Happy President’s Day!

PresidentsDayMtRushmore

In celebration of American presidents in the past 234 years, here are five actors who’ve played the role of U.S. Commander in Chief in the past couple of decades:

Michael Douglas – Andrew Shepherd in The American President (1995)

This movie is full of great scenes between Douglas and his love interest played brilliantly by Annette Benning, but this telephone banter that ends up with the prez asking her out is absolutely endearing. Of course there’s also the rousing speech that’s arguably one of the best movie speeches ever, and one that’s worthy to be in one of my top 20 favorite scenes list.

Morgan Freeman – Tom Beck in Deep Impact (1998)

Cool and collected even in a major crisis. With a regal stature and deep, soothing voice, Mr. Beck is the kind of leader we all wish to have suppose a giant meteor threatens to wipe out the entire humanity. ‘We will prevail. Life will go on,’ he said in the movie, and as implausible and absurd as the circumstances seemed to be, we’re somehow inclined to believe him.

…..

Kevin Kline – William Harrison Mitchell in Dave (1993)

One minute Dave Kovic is just a regular guy who does uncanny impersonation, the next he’s in the same bedroom in the White house with the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver). Kline’s brand of mischievous humor is perfect for this role, and this scene where he sings the entire chorus of Anne in the middle of a traffic stop is a real hoot! Equally memorable in this flix is Frank Langella as Chief of Staff Bob Alexander. A decade and a half later, he scored an Oscar nomination playing a historical president Nixon in Frost/Nixon.

Apparently isn’t the only time he plays the prez, he played the role of the 18th US President Ulysses S. Grant in the Western action-comedy Wild Wild West with Will Smith.

Bill Pullman – Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day (1996)

Whitmore’s freedom speech is unabashedly mawkish, sure, but hey, if some giant aliens were about to annihilate the entire earth population, I think one’s allowed to get just a tad sentimental, no?

….….

Donald Moffat – President Bennett in Clear and Present Danger (1994)

The confrontation between President Bennett and an infuriated Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) in the Oval Office remains one of my fave scenes of the movie.
….
The President:
How dare you come in here and lecture me!
Jack Ryan:
How dare *you*, sir!
The President:
How dare you come into this office and bark at me like some little junkyard dog? I am the President of the United States!

….
Of course my favorite line comes from the heroic CIA analyst himself after Bennett’s spiel on who gets punished for ‘Reciprocity’ (from IMDb quotes page): “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I don’t dance.” Bennett’s expression as Ryan walked out is priceless! The 80-year-old Brit has played a US president twice, the other time as historical prez Lyndon B. Johnson in The Right Stuff.


Hmmm, I just realized all of them on this list are from the 90s. It’s pure coincidence really, I guess I can’t really remember one memorable movie prez of the last decade. They all seem to be the daft caricatures: the doofus version Dennis Quaid played in American Dreamz, the sleazeball one in Love, Actually (Billy Bob Thornton), and Tim Robbins in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Any other movie president(s) stick out to you?