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A Perfect Candidate
A Perfect Candidate
Actors: Don Baker, Mark Goodin, Mark Merritt, Bill Clinton, J. Marshall Coleman
Directors: David Van Taylor, R.J. Cutler
Genres: Documentary
NR     2004     1hr 45min

When right-wing icon Oliver North tried his hand at electoral politics in 1994, running for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, documentary filmmakers R.J. Cutler and David Van Taylor came along to record all the action. The ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Don Baker, Mark Goodin, Mark Merritt, Bill Clinton, J. Marshall Coleman
Directors: David Van Taylor, R.J. Cutler
Creators: Nick Doob, David Van Taylor, R.J. Cutler, Mona Davis, Dan Partland, Ted Skillman
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Politics
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/20/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A must for any political junkie, still worth it for the rest
Jeffrey Jotz | Rahway, NJ USA | 05/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A fascinating documentary about Oliver North's failed US Senate race that parallels the apex of political power held by the Religious Right in the US.As a former Democratic campaign staffer and consultant myself, the documentary captures the trials and tribulations of any busy statewide campaign and should be shown to all political science majors seeking a career in politics. However, I recommend that you view this film more than once, because by the end of the film, it can be argued that the filmmakers put the Democratic candidate, a very wishy-washy Chuck Robb, in a poor light. The scene where he was running around a supermarket looking for a hand - any hand - to shake was as hilarious as it was pathetic. By the end of the film, I thought that Chuck Robb was a nice guy who was willing to say anything to get elected, and North was a creepy demagogue who pressed a lot of populist buttons out on the stump.I also felt that the filmmakers successfully captured North's ruthless and egocentric campaign manager as he struggled with the campaign and even some of the "big questions" of his life. He was the most fascinating character in the entire film, and I'm glad that the filmmakers paid so much attention to him. They had this leftie actually ** rooting ** for North's campaign manager by the end of the film.Although they also are wont to show North and some of the far-right characters who supported him on the campaign trail, the documentary-makers did a fine job of stripping the film of any ideological bias and freely savaging both characters. Again, a must-see for political junkies, and a worthy view for the rest of the viewing audience."
A Very Good Look at American King-making
hermione31 | California | 03/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"He once embodied one of the most flagrant abuses of power ever exercised by an out of touch president, but in 1994, Oliver North took to the campaign trail, in a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. From beginning to end, North's campaign seems to embody all the dark and hypocritical realities that American citizens suspect, but don't generally believe, our elected officials embrace in running for office. North's ruthlessness in plotting to use sexual rumors against his opponent, Senator Chuck Robb, contrasts sharply Robb's naive but honest political hayseed public persona. North is willing to stoop and crow, which may sadden those who always saw him as the fall-guy in the Iran-Contra scandal. Taylor and Cutler juxtapose North's Congressional testimony, admitting that he lied to Congress, to his "on the campaign trail" act, proselytizing to high school students about honesty. North comes off even worse than his right-wing counterparts, for while they enjoy abusing their naive opponent, they seem to know that their mean-spiritedness is a tactic, whereas North seems to enjoy the prospect of punishing Robb more than the idea of being elected. North's campaign advisors make just as interesting a spectacle as North himself. They are, without exception, hard-working, extremely successful people. They make their living by being the sort of people who get called to either back up, or respond to, threats, attacks, complaints, schemes, and calamities. Their bravado thickens the air of the chaos that bleeds through the entire documentary. The most revealing moment of the entire documentary is when, upon writing North's concession speech, his campaign advisor pauses in a rare moment of reflection and remarks that, while running for office is about building walls up between people, governing is about tearing them down and coming together. We soften towards him in the end, as his eyes well up upon hearing North deliver the speech, part of it being lifted from a poem inscribed on a coffee mug belonging to his grandmother. Only upon reflection during the rare calm moments can the audience occasionally sense his disquiet. In high school civics I read that extremism in defense of liberty is no sin, but I now wonder if schmoozing, snarling, misleading, browbeating and back-scratching are. A Perfect Candidate gives the audience a glimpse into the heart of American electoral politics."
Blind Leading The Blind
David Bradley | Sterling, VA USA | 06/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"What's most fascinating about A PERFECT CANDIDATE is the inability of North and his staff to see what's going on around them: openly despised by a large percentage of their own party, publicly rebuked by fellow Republican and wildly popular US Senator John Warner and campaigning in the shadow of some of the largest negative polling figures in US political history, the North For Senate people still arrogantly assumed the office was theirs for the taking.Seeing their stunned faces on election night is worth the price of this tape."
You don't have to like North to like this film
Lee L. | Washington DC | 12/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An obvious comparison can be made between this film and Journeys with George. While the latter is more entertaining (Bush makes a much better movie star than North), this film is brutally honest in how it portrays politics in America. With that in mind, A Perfect Candidate is the better choice if you're looking for more than entertainment.

Like all good documentaries, this film doesn't come across as having an agenda. If there was an underlying agenda, it doesn't come through. The film allows you to be a fly on the wall during this campaign and I was truly amazed at what North's campaign team did and said in front of the cameras. They came across as making no effort to hide any of the bad or cynical things they did or said. At several points in the film you'll find yourself rewinding just to make sure you heard these guys right.

I don't think this film would appeal to casual observers of politics the way that Journeys with George would, but anyone that follows politics seriously will enjoy this film, regardless of your partisan or ideological leanings."