Television viewers said goodbye to The West Wing and Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet tonight, but Sheen will be back in The White House in time for the Fourth of July, as the acclaimed documentary, All The Presidents’ Movies, is finally released on DVD.
Movie buffs and historians alike have literally been clamoring to get their hands and eyes on the wildly entertaining three-hour look at Presidential movie tastes and influences, ever since it premiered on Bravo to kick off the network’s run of The West Wing. It hasn’t been seen in the USA since.
But now, in a star-spangled salute, WPOE Entertainment is releasing a deluxe DVD package of the Sheen-narrated film the week of July 4th, so folks all over America can top off their barbecues and fireworks by watching movies with the Presidents.
The long-delayed doco is cultural dynamite that blasts a new path of history. From the shocking first selection to the viewing habits of George W. Bush, the film goes inside the East Wing screening room and inside the hearts and minds of the most powerful men in the world.
At its heart is White House projectionist Paul Fischer, who screened movies at the White House and Camp David for seven Presidents-- from Dwight D. Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan—and from Day One, kept a written record of what they watched and who was there watching them. Those logs are revealed for the first time—and in conjunction with the DVD release, will be heading to an honored place in the Smithsonian.
The documentary is packed with movie clips, rare film and video, and lots of Presidential insides, including Presidential relatives Ron Reagan, Steve Ford and Ike’s granddaughter Susan Eisenhower; Presidential insiders, including Kennedy aide & Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy & Johnson aide George Stevens, Jr., Truman aide and former Congressman Ken Hechler, Johnson aide and former MPAA head Jack Valenti, Carter adviser Jerry Rafshoon, Nixon aide Herb Klein, Reagan aide and Bush appointee Linda Chavez; Hollywood stars like James Earl Jones and Academy Award winning actors Robert Duvall and Cliff Robertson; directors David O. Russell (Three Kings), Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), Lionel Chetwynd (9/11), Roger Donaldson (13 Days); producer and Reagan pal A.C. Lyles; and authorities like Pulitzer Prize-winning Reagan biographer (“Dutch”) Edmund Morris, and film historian and author Richard Schickel.
Amid rave reviews from critics and historians, The Hollywood Reporter said: “A fascinating three hour documentary that takes us inside the East Wing screening room and inside the hearts and minds of the most powerful men in the world…All the Presidents' Movies makes tremendous television, mainly because it skillfully blends bits of inconsequential but juicy trivia with powerful insight into the presidential psyche.
“Although three straight hours on commercial TV can be a challenging sit, the program is crammed with wonderful facts we never figured on caring about. And there are alternately touching and poignant moments that history buffs will cherish.
“There's also information that historians -- and maybe conspiracy theorists -- will find intriguing… Overall it's impossible to resist most of the nuggets presented in the show. Bill Clinton sums it up early on: ‘The best perk of the White House is the theater.’ After watching this, constituents might agree.”
The Frozen Pictures project was produced by Brett Hudson and Burt Kearns of Frozen Pictures (the team that brought you Cloud 9!), and co-produced by William Knoedelseder and Joachim Blunck.