Program Details

America’s Only Distinctly Criminal Class: Four Great Films about Politics, Politicians and Campaigns, Part I

Instructor
Kurt F. Stone
Category
Movies / History
S444A
Video Catch-up
Available

Course Description

Mark Twain once famously quipped, “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." Somewhat less famously, he noted that “The political morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.” For more than 100 years, Hollywood has done its part to poke, prod and present the American political process on the big screen. Regardless of the subject or the genre, these films are among the best Hollywood ever produced. The four films to be viewed in this series present what, in Dr. Stone’s estimation, are among the best political films of the past 85 years. Some are satires, other serious dramas. However, whatever the form, they guarantee a great movie-going experience, especially as we get ever closer to the next presidential election.

Lectures

  1. Gabriel Over the White House (1933): Walter Houston stars as a political hack who becomes president during the Depression.
  2. The Great McGinty (1940) Preston Sturges’ satire about a crooked politician who endangers his career with a single act of honesty.
  3. All the King’s Men (1949): The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, played by Oscar winner Broderick Crawford.
  4. The Best Man (1964): Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson as two candidates running for president; one highly principled, the other utterly ruthless.

About the Instructor

  • Kurt F. Stone, DD, is in his 23rd year with Lifelong Learning. His passion for film is, he says, "genetic," having been born in Hollywood, CA, and raised both in and around the movie industry. Stone is a multi-disciplinary sort of man, who has also written two well-received books on Congress, published nearly 800 essays, is an ordained rabbi and earns his living as a medical ethicist.

    Recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award