Political Projections: Political Idealism in Hollywood

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Politics is often a dirty business. But many Americans still yearn for political idealism. Tune in to our latest Political Projections on Tuesday, April 1st, when we look into how idealistic politicians have been depicted in film over the years. Joseph McBride is Assistant Professor of cinema at San Francisco State University and author of Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. Kerry Tymchuk has worked for the past 11 years as State Director for United States Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon. He also worked for six years as Director of Speechwriting and Counsel to then-US Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole.

Also, you can watch the films we’ve selected and weigh in on the conversation by posting your reactions below. We may incorporate your comments into the on air discussion.

The three films are:

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1938) – Frank Capra’s classic comedy-drama came at a time when Americans were growing weary with government. Jimmy Stewart plays the quintessential good-natured hero who tries to overcomes backroom Senate politics.

"State of the Union" (1948) – Frank Capra directed this story of an aircraft tycoon who is coerced into seeking the Republican presidential nomination. After being corrupted by Washington power brokers, he recognizes his dishonesty and publicly apologizes to the nation.

"The American President" (1995) – Rob Reiner directed this earnest and idealistic story about an unabashedly liberal Democratic President who’s faced with Republican smear tactics and a conflict between his public and personal life.