This is “Recommended Viewing”, section 3.6 from the book 21st Century American Government and Politics (v. 1.0).
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Amistad (1997). This Steven Spielberg dramatization of the legal aftermath of a revolt on a slave ship examines interactions between local, state, national, and international law.
Anchorman (2004). This vehicle for comedian Will Ferrell, set in the 1970s, spoofs the vapidity of local television news.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Small-time criminals become romanticized rebels in this famous revisionist take on the expansion of national authority against crime in the 1930s.
Cadillac Desert (1997). A four-part documentary about the politics of water across state lines in the American West.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010). Alex Gibney’s interviews-based documentary about the interweaving of hubris, politics, enemies, prostitution, the FBI, and the media.
The FBI Story (1959). James Stewart stars in a dramatized version of the Bureau’s authorized history, closely overseen by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
First Blood (1982). When Vietnam vet John Rambo clashes with a monomaniacal local sheriff in this first “Rambo” movie, it takes everyone from the state troopers, the National Guard, and his old special forces colonel to rein him in.
George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire (2000). A compelling documentary on the political transformations of the Alabama governor who championed states’ rights in the 1960s.
Mystic River (2003). A state police officer investigating the murder of the daughter of a childhood friend faces “the law of the street” in a working-class Boston neighborhood.