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Favorite Movies of the U.S. Presidents

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook. This post is in honor of the upcoming Presidents Day holiday.

Ever since Woodrow Wilson screening Birth of a Nation in the White House, our U.S. presidents have had a love affair with the movies. Heck, every one of us has his or her favorite films. We tend to forget that presidents are just people too, and they too have favorite movies.
Let's take a look at a few U.S. presidents, their favorite films, and other film facts about them. (What is it about High Noon that so many presidents love????)

Franklin D. Roosevelt

* According to one source, FDR’s all-time favorite film was Mae West's bawdy 1933 comedy I’m No Angel.
* Reputedly loved the comedies of Abbott and Costello (after all, he invited Bud and Lou to entertain at the White House four times during his administration).

Harry S. Truman

* Liked the occasional Western.
* His favorite was My Darling Clementine.
* Enjoyed Frank Capra comedies.

Dwight Eisenhower

* Favorite film: High Noon.
* Liked Westerns.
* Refused to watch any movie with Robert Mitchum in it, because of Mitchum's 1948 arrest for smoking of marijuana. Every time the White House projectionist tried to sneak in a Robert Mitchum film, Eisenhower would get up and walk out of the room.

John F. Kennedy

* Only president to directly influence a film being made. JFK publicly stated how much he loved the James Bond novels, especially From Russia with Love. The producers of the bond films immediately changed their plans and decided to make From Russia with Love as the next Bond film (1963).
* Loved Spartacus, The Longest Day, Roman Holiday, Bad Day at Black Rock and Sands of Iwo Jima.
* Kennedy had a chronic back pain, so he had his favorite rocking chair in the White House screening room to sit in. Later, he had his orthopedic bed set up in the room and he would watch movies propped up on pillows.
* Sadly, the last movie he watched before he was assassinated was Tom Jones.
* (Ironically, didn't seem to care much for Marilyn Monroe movies.)

Lyndon Johnson

* The dullest of all recorded presidents as far as movies are concerned.
* LBJ didn't care much for watching films.
* But he did enjoy watching a little 20-minute homage to himself narrated by Gregory Peck. This short was made after JFKs assassination, to reassure the American public about Johnson. LBJ watched the short film a dozen times at the White House.

Richard Nixon

* The most frequent person ever to accompany any president at film screenings was Nixon's longtime pal and drinking and golfing buddy Charles “Bebe" Rebozo.
Nixon and Rebozo watched films together at the White House 150 times, more than any presidential wife or family member of any president.
* Favorite film: Patton.
* Liked to watch escapist Hollywood musicals, enjoyed Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Jimmy Carter

* Held 480 film screening during his four-year term as president, more than Ronald Reagan had during his eight years in office.
* First film screened was All the President's Men.
* A devout Baptist, Carter usually only liked to show "family films.”
* Ironically, he was the first U.S. president to screen an X-rated film at the White House: Midnight Cowboy.

Ronald Reagan

* Of course, as we all know, our first and only actor/movie star president.
* Favorite film: High Noon.
* Loved Back to the Future.
* Didn't like to screen films at the White House, preferred watching them at Camp David on the weekends.
* On his birthday and on special occasions, he would screen his own films.
* Did watch a personal screening of E.T. at the White House along with director Steven Spielberg. Reputedly told Spielberg "how real ETs were" during the screening, but Steven has never publicly revealed what was said during their conversation.

George W. Bush

* Favorite film: Field of Dreams.
* Loves Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
* Loves the Austin Powers series and reportedly does an impression of Dr. Evil putting pinky to his mouth.
* When planning the invasion of Iraq, he screened We Were Soldiers.
* During 9/11 crisis, screened Black Hawk Down.
* Favorite movie to watch during end of term was Saving Private Ryan.
* Likes Armageddon.
* In 2006, screened United 93, a film about the 9/11 attacks.

Bill Clinton

* Favorite film: High Noon (watched it at least 17 times as during his term as president).
* However, Clinton has said his favorite movie is the last one he has just seen and it is his favorite until the next one he sees.
* Perhaps the biggest movie fan of any U.S. president.
* Loves Schindler's List and American Beauty.
* Is a huge Elvis Presley fan and loves the early elvis films: Loving You, Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock", King Creole, and Blue Hawaii.

Barack Obama

* Favorite films: Godfather and Godfather II. (Says Godfather III didn't quite make the cut.)
* Reportedly does a good Marlon Brando impression and once acted out a Godfather scene to Katie Couric in a TV interview.

(YouTube link)

* Also loves Lawrence of Arabia and Casablanca.
* Do the Right Thing will always hold a special place in his heart. It was the film he went to one his first date with his future wife, Michelle.


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I vaguely remember my parents finding that joke funny, but Reagan was governor of California at the time. We heard the same joke about Governator Schwarzenegger, with some folks wanting to amend the Constitution so he could be prez.
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Re: Reagan. Interestingly, there used to be a segment on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, where they did the news of the future, twenty years from today. In 1968, they mentioned Reagan as being president. I saw this re-run in 1987...l ROTFLMFAO!!!
But, you completely missed George H W Bush! Didn't he at least deserve a mention?
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Great piece Eddie. I'm wondering if JFK was perhaps a little nervous watching Marilyn Monroe movies, especially if Jackie was with him rather than not liking them. Be like taking your wife out to dinner and being seated at the table right next to your mistress. As Ricky Ricardo would say..."Luuuucy...you have some esplaining in to do!"
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" Loved Back to the Future."

1955 Doc asks Marty who the President is in 1985. Marty replies that it is Ronald Reagan. Doc replies incredulously saying "The actor?" This is one of Reagan's favorite lines in the movie. He made the projectionist stop and rewind the film at least once so he could hear it again.
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