x presidents

This fascinating made-for-cable documentary looks at what movies were screened at the White House over the past century, what each president's favorite movies and genres were, how often they watched, and who they watched with.

The official White House projectionist from 1953-1986, Paul Fischer, kept complete logs of every film screened not only at the White House but also Camp David.

We learn what movie JFK saw the night before he died (From Russia With Love), and what movie Richard Nixon censored and why (it was a number from the musical 1776 that basically satires conservatism: ("We have land, cash in hand, self-command, future planned, fortune flies, society survives in neatly ordered lives").

We also learn what the first movie screened in the White House was ("Birth of a Nation" – not a good start!

), and who watched the most movies in his term (Jimmy Carter with 580; an average of one movie every three days! What's most interesting is how much the movies these men liked said so much about each of them.

This is a great documentary for those who love movies and political history, but I don't know if will ever be distributed on DVD (I saw it aired on Bravo a couple of years ago).

American Beauty (hearing Clinton talking about how much that movie blew him away as the camera slowly pans up the infamous poster of Mena Suvari's half-nude body covered in rose petals is priceless! A Kennedy aide tells of how a screening of "Last Year at Marienbad" ended up with only himself and Jackie left in the screening room, and how JFK actually snuck into a cinema one night (with his secret servicemen) so he could see "Sparticus" (the White House at that time was not equipped with 70mm projection equipment.) There are loads of great stories like these by White House staff, a few of the presidents themselves, and some of those who had the honor of having their films screened there.

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