Bringing It All Back Home

on January 21, 2009 by Steve Simels

Well, here we are together on a truly historic occasion -- the first full day of the Obama administration -- so of course what I need to do most is recycle a post I originally put up after election day in 2008.

Which I'll get to in just a moment, but first...Steve's Movie ReviewsTM!!!


Revolutionary Road -- Director Sam Mendes, having previously alerted us (in American Beauty) that contemporary bourgeois suburban life in these here United States is repressive and lame, returns to tell us that it was even worse in the 50s because of higher calorie foods.



Paul Blart: Mall Cop -- A hypoglycemic security guard (Kevin James) is trapped in a suburban shopping complex after high-tech hijackers take it over. Think Die Hard with fat jokes and better product placement. From producer Adam Sandler, who it now turns out was being typecast when he played the son of Satan in Little Nicky.


But I digress.

In any case, what I was getting at is an obscure made-for-TV movie (actually, Paramount released it theatrically once they took a look at it, although it wasn't a hit) that's still highly relevant to today's epochal events. I refer, of course, to the 1972 Rod Serling-scripted The Man, a prescient political thriller in which James Earl Jones plays the first African-American to become -- you guessed it -- President of the United States.

Sheesh. And people thought it was a big deal thirty years later when Dennis Haysbert got the Chief Executive gig on 24.

Here's a brief clip to give you the flavor of the thing.

Along with the pre-Darth Vader Jones as the Prez, lots of other great character actors show up along the way -- William Windom as a scheming Secretary of State, Lew Ayres as an aging Vice President, wonderful old timer Patrick Knowles as a racist South African ambassador, and -- I'm sure you saw this one coming -- Burgess Meredith as a liberal Senator.

Serling's exellent script is based on a pretty good potboiler by Irving Wallace, and the film is tautly directed by Joseph Sargent, who also did Colossus: The Forbin Project, another terrific TV movie that escaped into general release. As I mentioned back in November, for some reason it's never been on home video, and a quick check over at the Paramount website revealed no plans to release it, although it wouldn't exactly surprise me if somebody at the studio wises up and schedules it for DVD in the near future. In any event, next time it shows up on the tube, it's definitely worth checking out; I'll keep you posted.


Tags: Revolutionary Road, Sam Mendes, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Little Nicky, The Man, William Windom

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