Constitutional Amendment Film Fest

 

If one should have a movie theater in the District of Columbia, why wouldn’t you have a Film Festival to salute each of the Amendments to the United States Constitution?

I guess one reason why you wouldn’t is that you might lose money on the run, but other than that…

I have slated a film for each amendment of the constitution and admit some picks are better than others. Feel free to suggest substitutes. Who knows? Various amendments might be the subject of Movie Fight Clubs someday. But for now, here’s what I got…

Amendment 27 – Regarding the compensation of senators and representatives:

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (A fantasy film in which not everyone in D.C. was a crook)

Amendment 26 – Giving the right to vote to those 18 and up

Animal House (A reminder of what a bad idea this was)

Amendment 25 – Removing the President from office

Dave (Also a reminder of why screenwriters must never be given a voice in economic policy)

Amendment 24 – Securing the right to vote

Swing Vote (Though if any character would make a good argument for a poll tax, it’s Kevin Costner’s in this film)

Amendment 23 – Voting for District of Columbia residents

D.C. Cab (Because Mr. T. plays a part in making America great)

Amendment 22 – Two-term limit for President

Sunrise at Campobello (About FDR, the reason for this amendment)

Amendment 21 – The repeal of prohibition

The Thin Man (Nick and Nora drink a bit)

Amendment 20 – Presidential and congressional terms moved from March to January

The January Man (TBH, this isn’t a great film, but it does have a great cast)

Amendment 19 – Women were given the right to vote (But I admit that I’m not a biologist)

Mary Poppins (sure, the subplot is about British suffrage, but a better film than any about American suffrage)

Amendment 18 – Prohibition

The Untouchables (Duh)

Amendment 17 – The election of senators

The Candidate (Has one of my favorite closing lines of any film, up there with “Nobody’s perfect”)

Amendment 16 – The Income Tax

Say Anything – (I thought about going with a film about the apocalypse or pure evil but I went with this film with a tax evasion subplot)

Amendment 15 – Right to vote for all men

Lincoln (After all, he made this amendment possible)

Amendment 14 – Granted equal protection under the law

Glory (men who fought for their rights)

Amendment 13 – Ended slavery

Twelve Years a Slave (No, I wasn’t about to go with documentary 13th)

Amendment 12 – Election of the Vice President

Air Force One (Glenn Close, the actress couldn’t help but be a better VP than what we have now)

Amendment 11 – Prohibits federal courts from hearing cases in which a state is sued by an individual from another state or another country

A Civil Action (Would you hire John Travolta as your lawyer?)

Amendment 10 – Powers not specifically given by Constitution to the Federal Government are entrusted to the States or the people

Free State of Jones (Maybe it takes a revolution to remind D.C. this amendment exists)

Amendment 9 – The rights not listed in the Constitution belong to the people

Amistad – (I know this might be controversial in modern America but freedom is a good thing)

Amendment 8 – No excessive bail, no cruel or unusual punishment

Cruel and Unusual (I haven’t seen this 2014 film, but it seems… um… interesting)

Amendment 7 – Trial by jury

12 Angry Men (Have to go with the obvious sometimes)

Amendment 6 – Right to a speedy and public trial

Just Mercy (One of the last films I saw in a theater before the pandemic)

Amendment 5 – Bars being tried multiple times for the same crime

Double Jeopardy (The makers of this film didn’t understand this law at all)

Amendment 4 – Protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure

Training Day  (Hey Denzel, that’s not a real search warrant!)

Amendment 3 – Bars soldiers from being quartered in homes

The Patriot (A helpful reminder of why this amendment was needed)

Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms

Red Dawn (Must go with the 1984 version, not the 2012 remake)

Amendment 1 – The right to speak, write, assemble, worship

The People vs Larry Flynt (Many options for this, but decided to go with the reminder that even the worst speech must be protected… in order to protect the best)

(This is an entry in the September 2022 writing series with the Constitution as the theme.)

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Amendment 25? I’m going with Clint Eastwood, because Eastwood. Absolute Power.

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the September 2022 Group Writing Theme: “Constitutional.” Stop by to sign up and share your own short observations.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    What a wonderful post.  You da man!

    Any room for Seven Days in May?

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Actually, we almost had a movie theater in Washington DC, run and programmed by conservatives. In 1997 the American Cinema Foundation made a bid to take over the MacArthur Theater in NW Washington near Georgetown. We had help from locals Pat Sajak and Robert Duvall (who had a home in nearby Virginia). We even had some quiet help from Jack Valenti, the former LBJ aide who was then just retiring as head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Jack lived in the neighborhood.

    I’d just come over from the American Film Institute, which ran the National Film Theater at the Kennedy Center, and we liked the idea of counter-programming it; even AFI’s DC manager, a hidden conservative, came along on the ride. We almost did it, but the deal unraveled and today, the site is a CVS drugstore.

    A good post and a nice list of films.

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Actually, we almost had a movie theater in Washington DC, run and programmed by conservatives. In 1997 the American Cinema Foundation made a bid to take over the MacArthur Theater in Georgetown. We had help from locals Pat Sajak and Robert Duvall (who had a home in nearby Virginia). We even had some quiet help from Jack Valenti, the former LBJ aide who was then just retiring as head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Jack lived in the neighborhood.

    I’d just come over from the American Film Institute, which ran the National Film Theater at the Kennedy Center, and we liked the idea of counter-programming it; even AFI’s DC manager, a hidden conservative, came along on the ride. We almost did it, but the deal unraveled and today, the site is a CVS drugstore.

    A good post and a nice list of films.

    And there were major protests when CVS arrived to take over.   But, in that neighborhood, I’m not sure they were expecting conservatives.

    • #4
  5. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    “The chair is against the wall. The chair is against the wall.”

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms

    Red Dawn (Must go with the 1984 version not the 2012 remake)

    And Guns Along the Mohawk, with the incomparable Edna May Oliver.

    • #6
  7. Vince Guerra Inactive
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    I’d go with The Shawshank Redemption or Cool Hand Luke for the 8th. 

    • #7
  8. Vince Guerra Inactive
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms

    Red Dawn (Must go with the 1984 version not the 2012 remake)

    Hell yeah!

    • #8
  9. Vince Guerra Inactive
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 16 – The Income Tax

    Say Anything – (I thought about going with a film about the apocalypse or pure evil but I went with this film with a tax evasion subplot)

    I like this connection. Another one that would work is The Firm. 

    • #9
  10. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 16 – The Income Tax

    Say Anything – (I thought about going with a film about the apocalypse or pure evil but I went with this film with a tax evasion subplot)

    I like this connection. Another one that would work is The Firm.

    Or The Untouchables if there wasn’t such an obvious, better, place.

    • #10
  11. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    “The chair is against the wall. The chair is against the wall.”

    Wolverines!

    • #11
  12. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    What a wonderful post. You da man!

    Any room for Seven Days in May?

    Perhaps another good option for the 25th?

    • #12
  13. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    What a great post.  I’m not a big movie guy, having only seen a few of the suggestions, but I’m going to check out Amendment 22.  Here’s my understanding of how the Amendment came to be:

    1.  FDR is the best president ever, a true hero.
    2. Something . . .
    3. US ratifies the 22 Amendment.

    I always thought I was missing something.

    • #13
  14. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    What a great post. I’m not a big movie guy, having only seen a few of the suggestions, but I’m going to check out Amendment 22. Here’s my understanding of how the Amendment came to be:

    1. FDR is the best president ever, a true hero.
    2. Something . . .
    3. US ratifies the 22 Amendment.

    I always thought I was missing something.

    It was said at the time that the Republicans aimed at FDR but hit Eisenhower. 

    • #14
  15. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Actually, we almost had a movie theater in Washington DC, run and programmed by conservatives. In 1997 the American Cinema Foundation made a bid to take over the MacArthur Theater in Georgetown. We had help from locals Pat Sajak and Robert Duvall (who had a home in nearby Virginia). We even had some quiet help from Jack Valenti, the former LBJ aide who was then just retiring as head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Jack lived in the neighborhood.

    I’d just come over from the American Film Institute, which ran the National Film Theater at the Kennedy Center, and we liked the idea of counter-programming it; even AFI’s DC manager, a hidden conservative, came along on the ride. We almost did it, but the deal unraveled and today, the site is a CVS drugstore.

    A good post and a nice list of films.

    And there were major protests when CVS arrived to take over. But, in that neighborhood, I’m not sure they were expecting conservatives.

    They surely weren’t, but it wouldn’t have caused protests. It was a less polarized era, a quarter century ago now, the neighborhood was rich (which in those simpler days, often meant Republican) (don’t laugh), and the idea intrigued and probably amused Valenti. His job was being Hollywood’s chief DC representative and lobbyist. The newsworthy novelty of a conservative alternative to Kennedy Center would actually have made his job easier–“Discrimination? Just take a look!”  

    • #15
  16. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    Percival (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 2 – The right to bear arms

    Red Dawn (Must go with the 1984 version not the 2012 remake)

    And Guns Along the Mohawk, with the incomparable Edna May Oliver.

    At first glance I thought this was Harpo Marx.

    • #16
  17. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    What a wonderful post. You da man!

    Any room for Seven Days in May?

    Perhaps another good option for the 25th?

    I can see two possible remake opportunities, both of them set in the Trump era:

    A rewrite of Rod Serling’s 1964 script by David Mamet. A controversial US president has to deal with a treasonous conspiracy led by a military that’s grown too arrogant to respect civilian authority. They focus public anger on the president’s attempts to make a peace treaty with Russia, and plot to overthrow him. Mamet: “What re-write? We could use the Serling script almost verbatim, just switch the political parties. Easiest job I ever had”.  

    Or a rewrite of Rod Serling’s 1964 script by Aaron Sorkin. A traitorous US president has to deal with a noble rebellion led by a military that respects the Constitution. They expose the president’s attempts to make a peace treaty with Russia, and by popular demand he’s deposed and executed.

     

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Richard O'Shea (View Comment):
    At first glance I thought this was Harpo Marx.

    Edna May is not amused.

    • #18
  19. Vince Guerra Inactive
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    “The chair is against the wall. The chair is against the wall.”

    Wolverines!

    There used to be a YouTube version of Red Dawn, full movie but someone replaced all of the Russian and Spanish subtitles with funny ones. It was great. 

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    Amendment 3 – Bars soldiers from being quartered in homes

    The Patriot (A helpful reminder of why this amendment was needed)

    I’d also recommend the 1967 film, Commissar (Комиссар) in which a pregnant Bolshevik Commissar is quartered in a Jewish home in a town that goes back and forth between White and Red Army control.  Imposing a hardened, hardline military woman on a civilian family is the opportunity for all sorts of subtle and unsubtle conflicts.

    I think it was just about the only film that anyone knows about that was directed by Alexandr Askoldov.  Wikipedia explains:

    After making the film, Askoldov lost his job, was expelled from the Communist Party, charged with social parasitism, exiled from Moscow, and banned from working on feature films for life. He was told that the single copy of the film had been destroyed. Mordyukova and Bykov, major Soviet movie stars, had to plead with the authorities to spare him of even bigger charges. The film was shelved by the KGB for twenty years.

    In 1986, due to glasnost policies, the Conflict Commission of the Soviet Film-makers Union recommended the re-release of the movie, but Goskino refused to act. After a plea from Askoldov at the Moscow Film Festival, the film was reconstructed and finally released in 1988. The film is set in Ukraine, and those who know the language will spot the Ukrainisms in Bykov’s lines.

    Wikipedia doesn’t mention that during Glasnost when the film came to the attention of authorities in the 80s, Askoldov was kicked out of the Communist party again (or almost kicked out, I forget which).

    I should watch it again. I’ve learned a tiny bit of Ukrainian since I last watched it, but I doubt I’m capable of spotting any Ukrainisms.  It would be interesting to look for them, though.

    Even in recent years I’ve seen Russian websites about Rolan Bykov and Nonna Mordukova (who had the two lead roles) that don’t include this great film in their filmographies.  Back when it was first recommended to me, Netflix didn’t have it. I suggested that Netflix get it for its library, and it did.

    That was in the days of CD subscriptions. The “extras” include an interview with Askoldov in which he explained how when he was a little boy of 5 or 6, the NKVD came to his family apartment and took his parents away.  The little boy had enough wit to figure out how to get out of the apartment (not as simple as opening the door) and go to a Jewish family they knew, who took him in.  The usual fate of a boy of that age in that situation would have been to be sent to an orphanage.

    I’ve watched it several times, but I’m not sure I’ve watched it since Askoldov died (in 2018).

    • #20
  21. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Richard O’Shea (View Comment):
    At first glance I thought this was Harpo Marx.

    Edna May is not amused.

    She played a spinster detective in the Hildegarde Withers programmers in the 30s, and was perfect. 

     

    • #21
  22. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    Percival (View Comment):

    Richard O’Shea (View Comment):
    At first glance I thought this was Harpo Marx.

    Edna May is not amused.

    Well, tell her it was a compliment for Harpo…

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Richard O’Shea (View Comment):
    At first glance I thought this was Harpo Marx.

    Edna May is not amused.

    She played a spinster detective in the Hildegarde Withers programmers in the 30s, and was perfect.

     

    And Miss Pross in A Tale of Two Cities.

    • #23
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