This is “Recommended Viewing”, section 12.11 from the book 21st Century American Government and Politics (v. 1.0).
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Advise and Consent (1962). This political thriller depicts hardcore partisan politics when a president seeks Senate confirmation of a candidate for secretary of state in the Cold War era.
Big Jim McClain (1952). A film starring John Wayne that celebrates the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Born Yesterday (1950). A journalist uncovers corruption when a wealthy businessman attempts to buy influence in Congress.
Committee on Un-American Activities (1962). The first film made by a private citizen to question the legitimacy of a governmental agency, this documentary views the congressional investigation into alleged members of the Communist Party from the perspective of an average person seeking to understand the proceedings.
The Congress: History and Promise of Executive Government (1988). A Ken Burns documentary that examines the history and functions of Congress as well as some of the colorful characters who have been members.
The Distinguished Gentleman (1992). This Eddie Murphy comedy provides some insights into the ways in which interest groups and their associated political action committees interact with Congress.
The Front (1976). Woody Allen stars as a small-time bookie who lends his name to blacklisted entertainment industry writers in this landmark film whose credits include six Hollywood artists blacklisted in the 1950s.
Guilty by Suspicion (1991). A prominent film director (Robert De Niro) is falsely accused of being a communist and must appear before a congressional committee in the first major Hollywood film to portray the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee hearings.
H.R. 6161: An Act of Congress (1979). An award-winning documentary about the conception, committee action, and passage of an amendment to the Clean Air Act featuring an unprecedented look at the behind-the-scenes workings of Congress.
I’m Just a Bill (1973). A popular “Schoolhouse Rock!” cartoon featuring an animated bill named Bill who goes through the steps of becoming law, which are recounted in a catchy song.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003). A comedy following the escapades of a debutante-turned-lawyer who fights for animal rights on Capitol Hill, which provides a somewhat accurate view of office politics on congressional staffs.
A Member of the Hollywood Ten (1999). Documents the life of director Herbert Biberman during the period of the HUAC hearings.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Jimmy Stewart stars in this Frank Capra classic about an idealistic small-town youth-group leader who is appointed to the Senate, where he fights against political bosses.
On the Waterfront (1954). A film by director Elia Kazan, who cooperated with the HUAC, in which the protagonist testifies in front of a state investigative committee to expose corrupt union practices.
Taxes Behind Closed Doors (1986). An examination of the relationship between lobbyists and members of Congress, depicting strategy sessions and meetings as real estate interests fight a major tax bill.
The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979). A drama focusing on the political dilemma faced by a young, liberal senator who holds a deciding vote in a US Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
That Delicate Balance 1—The President versus Congress: Executive Privilege and Delegation of Powers (1984). This documentary examines the extent to which the executive branch is bound by limitations imposed by Congress.
True Colors (1991). Two law school graduates take divergent political paths, as one becomes an aide to an influential senator and is involved in political maneuvering while the other works for the Justice Department prosecuting criminals in government.