Film Forum will spend election week showcasing some of the most prominent cinematic demagogues, in a programming move highlighting the fact that the 2016 campaign has been as strange and dramatic as even the most improbable of motion pictures.
It’s not exactly escapism, per se; if you’re seeking out entertainment that’s far removed from the real world this weekend “Doctor Strange” is a better bet.
But the series does offer a comprehensive portrait of the ways Hollywood has confronted powerful authoritarian figures in a range of genres over the decades and it features the never-to-be-minimized chance to experience some of the all-time greatest films on the big screen.
Chief among them, of course, are “Citizen Kane,” which is so highly regarded in the firmament that it’s possible to lose track of the thrilling, pure cinema that defines it, and the movie that for this writer’s money is Stanley Kubrick’s best: “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
“Strangelove” comes packaged as a single-admission double feature with another dark Cold War relic, John Frankenheimer’s “Seven Days In May,” starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in a Rod Serling-scripted thriller about a general plotting to overthrow the president.
Programmers combine another Frankenheimer classic, “The Manchurian Candidate,” and George Clooney’s Oscar-winning “Goodnight and Good Luck,” in a double feature of movies that collectively illustrate the insidious subversion of the American political system and the heroic struggle of lonely heroes (Frank Sinatra’s Capt. Bennett Marco; David Strathairn’s Edward R. Murrow) to stop it.
Finally, on election day itself, you can step away from the TV set however briefly and spend some time with President Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) in “Duck Soup” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Saboteur.”