President Gerald R. Ford died this week. Among the many things for which he will be remembered: overseeing the official end of the Vietnam War, pardoning Richard Nixon, and serving as both vice president and president without earning a single vote for either office.
Despite these historic, if not notorious, accomplishments, there are almost no films featuring America's 38th Commander in Chief. In fact, there are none specifically about him, and very few that even feature an actor playing him.
There are, however, many films about the era in which Ford served, and the tumultuous events that brought him to power. Here are a few movies worth checking out:
All the President's Men (1976) The most regarded, although not necessarily most definitive, film about the Watergate scandal. Featuring Robert Redford and a feisty Dustin Hoffman as Washington Post journalists Woodward and Bernstein. Gerald Ford is featured in archival footage. While I personally believe we will never know all the true
events surrounding Watergate, this movie gives you a good head-start understanding.
Nixon (1995) Oliver Stone's biopic of the 37th president features an all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins as RMN. But once again, Ford is only found in archival footage. Stone couldn't find a spot for Ford in this movie or in his previous film, JFK, despite the fact that Ford served on the Warren Commission.
The Fog of War (2003) Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's observations on the Vietnam War and much more. It's half documentary, half one-man show. Not much about Ford himself, but one of the better Vietnam docs I've seen, done in an entertaining style by filmmaker Errol Morris. Learned a lot I didn't know about WWII as well, including the shocking firebombing of Tokyo.
The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002) Another documentary, and again, not really about Ford. But you get a glimpse of some of the world events going on in places like Cambodia, Indonesia and Chile, all of which Ford inherited after a disgraced Richard Nixon left office.
Many historians would agree that, despite his brief term in the country's highest office, Gerald R. Ford was one of the most earnest, likeable and honest presidents of the 20th Century. Perhaps someday a filmmaker with similar qualities will bring us a closer look, for better or worse, at this president whom Hollywood seems to have overlooked.
Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.