Political Projections: Machine Politics

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

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.


Daniel Eagan and Bruce M. Stave

Comments [2]

Peter Joseph from New York City

Leonard just said this: I just worked in Newark this year, and would dispute the idea that downtown has been in any sense developed.

Jun. 03 2008 01:57 PM

Your description defines the film as a satire. I would like to hear whether your guests think its initial audience would have thought that this funny film was meant to depict a truthful amd obvious scenario, or was the main character's rise from street brawling bum to the governorship just a fable meant to shed light on some other truths.

Jun. 03 2008 01:06 PM

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