THE BEST MAN - Political Film Festival


Cinema Arts Centre - Cinema 1 Thu, Jul 11 7:00 PM


Political Film Festival

Film Screening & Discussion

Henry Fonda & Cliff Robertson in Gore Vidal’s

35mm screening!

Guest Speaker: Rep. Steve Israel

Thursday, July 11 at 7pm

Presidential politics may loom larger and darker since Watergate, but this disenchanted peek behind the scenes of an American election still bites and remains relevant, thanks to a Gore Vidal script (based on his own play) which dissects with gleeful cynicism the machinery of tub-thumping, image-building and chicanery that goes into motion as rival presidential candidates Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson fight to cut each other's throats. Russell (Fonda) is a Harvard man, an intellectual, and Secretary of State. Unlike most people around him he has principles: he wants to wage a scrupulously honest campaign for the nomination. But Cantwell (Robertson), Russell's opponent, plays dirty, and Russell must decide whether he should use Cantwell's own methods to fight back. The personal battle is played against the noise and glitter of a wide-open convention, done up for the screen with superb realism. Vidal weaves in memorable lines galore, like the Southern senator's all-purpose reply to awkward questions about how many integrated schools there are in his state (“None, thank God, but we're making remarkable progress”), and the film features a whole string of brilliant performances from Ann Sothern, Edie Adams, and Shelly Berman, along with Lee Tracy, in his recreation of his Broadway role of the dying, crusty ex-President whose endorsement is sought by both candidates. (USA, 1964, 102 mins, b/w, 35mm)


Former Congressman Steve Israel left Capitol Hill – unindicted and undefeated – to pursue a career as a writer. In addition to writing two critically acclaimed satires of Washington, he now owns Theodore's Books, an independent bookstore in Oyster Bay. He also heads the non-partisan Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairswhere for several years he taught a course on "Politics, Media & Popular Culture." Israel was a Member of Congress for sixteen years. He left in 2017, having served as House Democrats chief political strategist between 2011-2015 as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. President Bill Clinton called him “one of the most thoughtful Members of Congress.” Which, Israel states, isn’t really saying much at all. Israel is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC. His insights appear regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic Magazine, as well as The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. He was profiled on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and appeared on CBS’ Sixty Minutes.