From scandal to screen

To mark the release of Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, we look at our favorite American scandal movies.

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    Advise & Consent (1962)
    In Otto Preminger's terrifically shrewd examination of D.C. deal-making, the nomination of a new secretary of state (Henry Fonda) opens up a scandalous can of worms on Capitol Hill. Soon everyone's seeing Communist sympathizers, shouting inflamed rhetoric and trying desperately to keep their skeletons locked up in their closets. The great Charles Laughton steals the show as a blustery Southern senator.---KU

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    All the President's Men (1976)
    Watergate, the granddaddy of modern political scandals, got the drama it deserved as Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman turned The Washington Post's dynamic duo---Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein---into crusaders for truth, justice and the American way. No other film has made Nixon's fall from grace seem so damning, nor portrayed shoe-leather journalism so nobly.---DF

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    Blaze (1989)
    Louisiana has always accommodated plenty of strangeness, but even fans of Governor Earl Long would admit that the facts of his life (particularly his long-term affair with a stripper) were taken to the extreme here. Who cares, though, when you have performances this robust? Paul Newman leans into Long's feistiness, while Lolita Davidovich burns up the screen.---JR

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    JFK (1991)
    Oliver Stone's provocative courtroom drama looks back (and to the left) at the John F. Kennedy assassination. Lone gunman? Bah! Determined New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, played by an ingratiatingly boyish Kevin Costner, is out to prove there's more to this horrible event than meets the eye. Stone concocts the ultimate conspiracy theory, rendered as a paranoiac's fever dream.---KU

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    Primary Colors (1995)
    John Travolta's Southern presidential candidate was named Jack Stanton, but who are we kidding? This adaptation of Joe Klein's thinly veiled novel about Bubba offers a fictional counterpart to the then-governor's affair with Gennifer Flowers, while righteously decrying how personal accusations take precedence over policy matters. Thankfully, there's no sequel involving Stanton's intern.---DF

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    Wag the Dog (1997)
    A beautifully rude movie, this Mamet-scripted political comedy went a long way toward introducing the spin doctor to the mainstream. To divert attention from an embarrassing dalliance, the White House hires Robert De Niro's operative to sell a fake war (inspired by elements of Desert Storm). Best in show: Dustin Hoffman's barely disguised portrayal of schmoozy Hollywood producer Robert Evans, who sees the whole scheme as a big movie.---JR

americanpoliticalscandalONLINE1

 

Advise & Consent (1962)
In Otto Preminger's terrifically shrewd examination of D.C. deal-making, the nomination of a new secretary of state (Henry Fonda) opens up a scandalous can of worms on Capitol Hill. Soon everyone's seeing Communist sympathizers, shouting inflamed rhetoric and trying desperately to keep their skeletons locked up in their closets. The great Charles Laughton steals the show as a blustery Southern senator.---KU

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