It being Presidents' Day, you're probably spending this evening popping in your favorite POTUS pictures, like the perfect double feature of Primary Colors and W., or you may go out and see Lincoln or Hyde Park on Hudson on the big screen. If you're in one of a few cities, there's also the newest theatrical release Saving Lincoln.
With Steven Spielberg's movie of the 16th president nominated for 12 Academy Awards and now grossing more than $200 million worldwide (it's the number-two title in the "president" genre behind Independence Day, according to Box Office Mojo), it wouldn't surprise me if the presidential biopic is suddenly a hot ticket in Hollywood. While there have been movies about real U.S. presidents since the dawn of cinema, and a handful of portrayals have been nominated (two more of Lincoln, two of Nixon and one of Wilson), Sunday will see the first Best Actor statue go to an actor for playing the commander in chief. Producers looking for lightning to strike twice are likely already optioning biographies on other American leaders.
But which of the other 42 presidents are most deserving of a feature film? We can look at the handy Presidents in Movies leader board infographic at Slate to see which names have had more than their fair share (Washington, Jefferson, Grant, FDR, George W. Bush) and which have never been portrayed on film at all (Tyler, Buchanan, Harding) and all in between. It's quite surprising that nobody has thought to make a film about Buchanan the bachelor, especially given Oliver Stone's interest in making films of guys in the running for worst POTUS of all time. Let's get a Lincoln prequel, adapted from Buchanan's immediately revisionistic memoir with some additional fantasy stuff thrown in (he's a Frankenstein's monster slayer!). Or, if anyone is ever able to confirm he was gay, there's also the idea of Brokeback White House...
And what's up with no Tyler movie? He was the first to succeed to the position, was thereby nicknamed "His Accidency," got us Texas and his death in 1862 wasn't even recognized by Lincoln because he'd been elected to the Confederate Congress just before his passing, meaning he died a traitor (thanks Mental_Floss). As for Harding, well, how about an adaptation of Nan Britton's The President's Daughter about Britton's teenage affair with then-journalist Harding and their secret child together out of wedlock (thanks again Mental_Floss). Meanwhile, speaking of scandalous presidential love stories, we could always do with a nice Lolita-ish telling of how Cleveland married the girl who'd been his ward since age 11.
Which U.S. president deserves a biopic?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twitter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).