Political Projections: Machine Politics

We look at how Hollywood has dealt with the world of machine politics, and how it's used characters like the nefarious party boss and the do-good reformer -- from their heyday between 1875 and 1950 up to the present. Daniel Eagan is a film critic for Film Journal International and the author of the upcoming book America’s Film Legacy. Bruce M. Stave, Director of the Oral History Office at the University of Connecticut, is the author and editor of several books on bosses, machines, and reformers.

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.

Films we'll discuss:

“The Great McGinty” (1940): This rollicking political satire, the directorial debut of Preston Sturges, depicts a Chicago hobo who teams up with a party boss to work his way up to the mayor’s office.

“The Last Hurrah” (1958): Spencer Tracy stars in John Ford’s movie about the final campaign of a big city mayor, loosely based upon the life of Boston political boss James Curley.

“Street Fight” (2005): Marshall Curry directed this documentary about the hotly contested 2002 Newark mayoral race between Cory Booker, now mayor, and veteran machine politician Sharpe James.