By now you’ve probably worked through most of your streaming list, so for your movie-watching inspiration we’ve put together a list of movies that will bring Congress into your living room (in a slightly more glamorous fashion than C-SPAN).
Before Schoolhouse Rock, many Americans learned how a bill becomes a law from Frank Capra’s 1939 classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. While the film remains the granddaddy of all movies about Congress -- and includes a remarkably accurate recreation of the Senate chamber -- the story is pure fiction.
For movies that draw on real congressional investigations (and one real Congressman!), try watching one of these six:
- Quiz Show (1994): Rob Morrow plays congressional staff investigator Richard Goodwin whose House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce delved into the world of rigged game shows in the 1950s.
- The Aviator (2004): Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes testifies before Senator Owen Brewster’s Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program about Hughes’ airline, TWA.
- The Notorious Bettie Page (2005): Senator Estes Kefauver’s Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency features in this tale of the 1950s pinup girl. OK, this one is here mostly just to make the list a little more fun.
- Charlie Wilson’s War (2007): Tom Hanks plays Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who embarks on a mission to support the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s.
- Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg’s film culminates with the passage of the joint resolution that will become the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- Trumbo (2015): Bryan Cranston plays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo -- one of the Hollywood Ten -- whose experience with the House Un-American Activities Committee changed his life.
But even Hollywood can’t beat real congressional hearings for highlights. Take, for example, the exchange during a hearing on the sinking of the Titanic, when Senator William A. Smith asked the witness, Harold G. Lowe, the ship’s fifth officer, what an iceberg is made of and Lowe replied “Ice, I suppose, sir.” Classic!
Do you have any other movie favorites featuring Congress?