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POTUS’ Movie Picks

Presidents have often invoked big-screen characters to create their own movie moments.

Barack Obama

Senator Jay Billington Bulworth

Obama has spoken longingly of “going Bulworth,” implying a sympathy with Warren Beatty’s Bulworth character, who tires of political politesse. “The rich is getting richer and richer and richer while the middle class is getting more poor,” Bulworth raps.

Richard Nixon

George C. Scott as General George Patton

Nixon watched Patton often and urged his staff to do so. In his 1977 interview with David Frost, he felt compelled to say that a viewing five days before ordering the invasion of Cambodia had “no effect whatever on my decisions.”

Ronald Reagan

Clint Eastwood

Facing a congressional threat to raise taxes, Reagan borrowed a line from Eastwood’s character in Sudden Impact: “Go ahead—make my day.”

Bill Clinton

Marshal Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper in High Noon

Clinton admitted watching High Noon some 20 times and once noted, “Any time you’re alone and you feel you’re not getting the support you need, Cooper’s Will Kane becomes the perfect metaphor.”

This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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