Tag Archives: Jack Ryan

Hail to the Fake Chiefs

On Monday we had the pleasure of witnessing one of the many things that makes our country unique and stresses to the world the greatness of democracy. The Presidential Inauguration represents a bloodless transition of power that truly makes me proud of my country, despite my feelings toward our current administration.  Audiences are flocking to see Daniel  “and the Oscar goes to” Day- Lewis in Lincoln. Bill Murray is portraying FDR in the upcoming Hyde Park on Hudson. Yes- our media in every format is buzzing about presidents both real and fictional.

With all of this in mind (and because I am on vacation this week), I present my favorite actors portraying fictional presidents:


John Travolta Primary Colors:image property of Universal Studios

Sure the character’s name is Stanton and not Clinton, but this one is almost too close to reality for comfort. Travolta’s southern good ole’ boy with a weakness for fried foods and the ladies screams Bill Clinton in every possible way. Primary Colors is probably as close to a portrayal of our 42nd president we will ever see. Travolta gets all of those Clintonesque gestures and voice inflections just right, while highlighting the empathy and powerful public speaking ability of the man.





Harrison Ford Air Force One:image property of Columbia Pictures

So Jack Ryan got elected president, and hijackers led by Gary Oldman are trying to take over his plane while the first family is on board. This outrageous and fantastic plot reads more like Die Hard. The story centers on the idea that a president with “Military experience” has intimate enough knowledge on the inner workings of an airliner to foil a terrorist plot.






James Garner/Jack Lemon My Fellow Americans:image property of Warner Bros.

So Jack Lemon, a Republican, was president until James Garner, a Democrat,  ran against him. James Garner was president until he was beaten out by Dan Aykroyd. When both Lemon and Garner are framed for a murder, they are forced to go on the run together. This anti-buddy comedy sought to capitalize on the highly successful Grumpy Old Men. With their accounts frozen and the free world they used to serve hunting their famous faces, the two rivals must work together to clear their names, and stay alive.











Peter Sellers Dr Strangelove:image property of columbia pictures

Sellers plays the doveish, rather-emasculated President Merkin Muffley. Of all the characters on this list Muffley is the one you would least want in office during a nuclear war. Maybe that was Kuberick’s point.  His bald head and effete manner suggest  liberal presidential aspirant Adlai Stevenson, though Stanley Kubrick’s satire is equally contemptuous of the hawkish faction represented by George C. Scott’s General Turgidson. Sellers plays his president with restraint. If you are expecting the overt and physical comedy of The Pink Panther you may be disappointed.




Bill Pullman Independence day:image property of 20th century fox

Aliens attack, not the undocumented kind, the flying saucer kind. Aliens kill first lady, and others. Young untested president pilots a fighter jet to destroy aliens and save the planet. Nothing more needs to be said.

There you have it a Mount Rushmore plus 1 of fictional commanders in Chief.



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I Wanna See Daniel Day Lewis in That

Already thinking about the 85th annual Academy Awards? Well first, that is just sad; and second, let me sum the coming awards onslaught up in a single word: Lincoln!

Best picture: Lincoln; best director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln; best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.

Only two people in history have had more written about them than our 16th president: Jesus Christ and William Shakespeare.  I cannot think of a film that has had more written about it than this year’s Abraham Lincoln biopic. Likewise, Daniel Day-Lewis has seen more press and acclaim for his short body of work than any actor in recent history. He inhabits a role often spending a full year getting into character. Day-Lewis is 55 and has only a handful of starring roles because of his intense approach to preparation.

In honor of Day-Lewis’ coming pile of trophies for Lincoln, I give you five roles I wish he would play:

Image property of RoyOrbison.com

5.  Roy Orbison

I am a huge fan of Orbison’s work. His vocals are unmatched in the pop rock music pantheon. Few people bother to develop the range that he possessed.

Orbison was also a dark, reclusive person, always hidden just below the surface or behind his ever present dark sunglasses. Roy Orbison has yet to receive the biopic treatment; many of his Sun Records cohorts already have. Though Day-Lewis is already two years older than Orbison was when he died in 1988, I think he could pull it off.

4. The Saint/Simon Templar

Please, if you have not already, try to forget Val Kilmer and the 1997 flop of an action romance that was The Saint.

The Saint was a master of disguise and a quick thinking con man who could create an  identity out of thin air. He walked the line between hero, spy, sleuth, and criminal.

There is so much for Day-Lewis to explore in this character! He could make Simon Templar something more than a James Bond or Jack Ryan ripoff.

3. The Shadow/Lamont Cranston

A very flawed Shadow feature film was made in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin. The character of the Shadow reaches all the way back to 1931 and has been said to have helped influence the character background of Batman. The Shadow has the power to cloud men’s minds; he can make them see things that aren’t there, and he can make himself appear invisible.

Think of this as the opportunity to see an understated superhero flick; less explosions and more cerebral warfare. Day-Lewis could do for the superhero genre what Gary Oldman did for the secret agent.

2. Mike Hammer

Mike Hammer was played most notably by Stacy Keach in the TV series of same name. Micky Spillane’s private investigator has seen no shortage of screen time. Hammer is a tough, sarcastic lady killer.

Film noir is in need of a savior, and I can think of none better than Day-Lewis to rescue it…along with any damsels in distress that show up along the way. Adding depth to this forgotten genre is certain to bring about more Oscar gold.

1. Fighting Jack Churchill

Probably the best forgotten hero of WW2 is the eccentric Jack Churchill. The British soldier was known to charge into battle carrying a claymore (Scottish broad sword) and was the only person in that conflict to kill an enemy combatant with a bow and arrows. Churchill, who was no relation to the Prime Minister, often played a song on the bagpipes before charging into battle.

If Day-Lewis were ever to make a WW2 picture, he would need the outsider perspective of a character like Jack Churchill. This could be the one action film that would make sense for such a fine actor.


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