Netflix has already debuted quite an impressive lineup of new films to their streaming service, including great teen comedies like Can’t Hardly Wait and Superbad, forgotten thrillers like Unknown, and classics like Cool Hand Luke and Bonnie and Clyde. In addition to all these, Netflix is also now showing The American President, one of the best films from Michael Douglas, and featuring one of the best movie presidents ever.
The American President stars Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepherd, a widower who starts a relationship with environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening. President Shepherd is trying to pass a crime control bill during his re-election year, but his promises to pass an environmental bill puts his political future in question, as well as his new romance with Wade.
Michael Douglas’s The American President was a hit when it was released in 1995. The film made $107 million worldwide, despite opening at #3 on its opening weekend and never going any higher. On Rotten Tomatoes, The American President currently has a 91% critic rating, with a 77% audience score, and on Metacritic, the film has a 67 score.
The film was nominated for one Academy Award, for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score for Marc Shaiman, but received five Golden Globe nominations, including ones for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Director for Rob Reiner, Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin, and nominations for Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. In 2002, the American Film Institute made a list of the 100 greatest love stories in American film, placing the relationship between President Shepherd and Sydney Ellen Wade at #75.
Yet despite being a film success, The American President’s greatest legacy might be on television. Soon after The American President, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin would make The West Wing. Sorkin even said the first season of The West Wing was mostly based on material that he cut out of The American President, and some of the dialogue in that first season of The West Wing is remarkably similar to The American President. Instead of having Michael Douglas as the president, Sorkin chose Martin Sheen, who played A.J. MacInerney, White House Chief of Staff in The American President. Even the Oval Office set from The American President was reused for The West Wing.
The American President also inspired the show Spin City. After seeing Michael J. Fox as Lewis Rothschild, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the creators of Spin City decided they wanted Fox for their own show, and to play a similar character. Even though Michael Douglas made one of the greatest movie presidents of all-time, and the film made Aaron Sorkin an important writer of political drama, it seems as though the importance of The American President has been the various television series it inspired.
The American President isn’t just one of Michael Douglas’s best movies, as the AFI put it, it’s one of the best romances of all-time, it’s one of the most intriguing films about the process of being president, and it features an incredible cast and crew. If you have never seen Michael Douglas as one of the greatest movie presidents, now is the time, since The American President is now streaming on Netflix.