Top 6: Political Satires

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

Movies seem to be particularly well suited for satire, and political satire in particular. We came up with so many great political satires, it was difficult to prune them out to six apiece for Episode 39. But we persevered, and we emerged triumphant. What are your favorite political satires?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  2. The Great Dictator (1940)
  3. Being There (1979)
  4. Team America: World Police (2004)
  5. Election (1999)
  6. Wag the Dog (1997)
  1. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  2. The Great Dictator (1940)
  3. Wag the Dog (1997)
  4. Duck Soup (1933)
  5. The Mouse That Roared (1959)
  6. The President’s Analyst (1967)


  1. joem18b (231) said,

    June 26, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    In a “Making of…” extra on the Being There DVD, Sellars goes in and out of character onscreen; gives a hint of how hard it must be to act; he changes before your eyes.

    My six:

    1. Tanner ‘88 (1988) - Altman/Trudeau
    2. Animal Farm (1954)/(1999) - Orwell
    3. The Candidate (1972) - Redford gets elected and then says (last line) “What do we do now?”
    4. Primary Colors (1998) - Travolta does Clinton
    5. Silver City (2004) - Sayles. Chris Cooper does Bush
    6a. History of the World: Part I (1981) - Mel Brooks
    6b. Naked Gun - The one where Barbara Bush ends up dangling from the balcony.

    Honorable mention: Napolean Dynamite (school election); Dave; Head of State; Kisses for My President (Fred MacMurray as First Lady); Dick (Dan Hedaya, best Nixon look-alike)

  2. LaZorra (60) said,

    June 26, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I really want to see the Mouse That Roared now. Peter Sellers + multiple roles + political satire = win. *sigh* My list of movies to see grows exponentially longer every time I listen to this show. :-p

  3. Sam (405) said,

    June 26, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I have to take issue with half your list, joem18b. Animal Farm is a great choice, and I considered The Candidate. But I’m not so sure Primary Colors is a satire, and I’m pretty definitely sure History of the World and the Naked Gun aren’t satires and they’re only barely political. I don’t think Dave is a satire either, although I’d have let that one slide.

    We were after a very specific idea when we came up with this Top 6 subject, and it was to separate satires from more general political comedies. It’s not enough to have politics as a subject. It’s not enough to have something to say. It’s not enough to use comedy. To fit this list, a movie has to have all three, and moreover deliver the message and comedy with irony and hyperbole and all the power tools great satire employs. It’s probably worth talking about how and why this so often elevates political stories to a whole separate level from more straightforward political dramas or comedies. We didn’t directly address the question in our segment, but I think our discussion wound up shedding a lot of light on it.

  4. joem18b (231) said,

    June 27, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    As with rock and roll movies, seemed like the selection was limited.

    History of the World: Sid Caesar as Chief Caveman; Dom DeLuise as Nero; the Spanish Inquisition; Mel Brooks as Louis XVI. “It’s good to be king.” Maybe too goofy to be satire but I’m laughing just thinking about it.

  5. Ferrick (140) said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Is this the closest that Sam and Stephen’s lists have matched? Top two are exactly the same and both have Wag the Dog in the list.

    I’m trying to think of any argument that can be made that would move Strangelove out of my top spot and I can’t think of a thing. That movie is genius. Genius, I tell you.

  6. Ferrick (140) said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    One that I don’t think would make my top six list but would be considered is Idiocracy. Not a great movie but it fits the theme well.

    Would Dick fit into this category? It is essentially a satire of All the President’s Men so it definitely includes politics.

    I also liked Election but the main reason I have heard for people who could not like it is because they didn’t care at all about any of the characters as they are all revealed to be incredibly flawed.

  7. Nyperold (116) said,

    June 27, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    This Top 6 indeed has the greatest number of list items that match in their respective rankings.

    Episode 33 also has three movies in common. Both ranked Westworld #5, and had Terminator 2 and Metropolis in the top 2, but swapped.

    Episode 23 had Back to the Future, Terminator 2, Groundhog Day, and Twelve Monkeys in common, though Sam & Stephen’s respective rankings of each one don’t match.

  8. Outatime (13) said,

    July 4, 2007 at 12:54 am

    Canadian Bacon
    Rob Robertson

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