Jimmy Carter, Movie Junkie

On Film / Short Takes — Sep 21, 2015
Jimmy Carter

During his off hours from running the country, President Jimmy Carter was quite the film fanatic, according to an amusing piece by Matt Novak on the Gizmodo site Paleofuture. Novak, after “painstakingly going through the president’s daily journal,” reveals that during Carter’s four years in office (January 1977 to January 1981), he screened over four hundred movies at the White House and Camp David. The list—fairly even split between newly released and older films—may be too vast and varied to glean any particular insight from, but it’s entertaining to see just how eclectic his tastes were. Even just the sixteen Criterion Collection–destined titles show a range in the president’s preferences, from iconic classics (The Gold Rush, The Lady Vanishes, On the Waterfront) to westerns (My Darling Clementine, Red River, 3:10 to Yuma) to contemporary American cinema (The Last Picture Show, Nashville, Days of Heaven, All That Jazz, The Black Stallion, The Rose, and, Dressed to Kill). Perhaps most endearingly, there are even a few of the day’s latest offerings from international art-house auteurs like Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun), Akira Kurosawa (Kagemusha), and Ingmar Bergman, whose Autumn Sonata was, writes Novak, attended by “approximately 48 members of the White House staff,” in what must have been a rather grim night of entertainment for colleagues.