In compiling my Top 10 film list, I tried to avoid obvious choices based on general consensus. Movies like Modern Times, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Searchers are great, and I respect them for what they are, but I almost never stop what I’m doing to watch them. The list below includes 10 films I must make a pilgrimage to at least once a year.
10. The Candidate (Michael Ritchie, 1972). Films about political campaigns and governance generally don’t do much for me. They are often melodramas that just clumsily use the world of politics as a backdrop, and don’t give the audience any more insight into political environments than Star Wars provides insight into how aerospace technology works. A fine film, Franklin J. Schaffner’s The Best Man does attempt to show the proverbial sausage being made, but it hedges its bets by not naming a specific party, and ultimately feels watered down by obviously trying to be too even-handed. Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate follows a man running for office, Robert Redford’s Bill McKay, who expresses a clear progressive agenda, but without delivering any condescending, Aaron Sorkin-type monologues. I’m a right-of-center person, but every time I see this film, I’m tempted to go out and vote not only once, but twice, for Bill McKay.