This Week’s Review: Political Themes

The recent violence in Washington, DC, reminded the Curmudgeon of several movies with political themes; e.g., “All the President’s Men,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and, on a darker note, “Seven Days in May” and both versions of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Another film, based on Allen Drury’s novel, “Advise and Consent,” was based on the politics of the 1940s and ’50s, with whiffs of McCarthyism, remains relevant today. I wish the other five volumes in the series had been filmed; they seem highly prophetic of our times. The first sequel, “A Shade of Difference,” involved civil rights and the rise of independent nations in Africa and Asia; the next volume, “Capable of Honor” involved political conventions and the tensions between liberal and conservative factions within a party; the fourth book, “Preserve and Protect,” was much darker, starting with a presidential assassination and growing violence in the cities. The ending of that book was ambiguous; another assassination left one candidate alive and the other dead, but the reader could not determine which was which; Drury then produced alternate sequels; the first “Come Nineveh, Come Tyre” described the presidency of the surviving candidate who turns out to be both popular and dangerously incompetent, unable to control the mobs out to destroy the Capital, the Supreme Court, and other pillars of democracy; he eventually leads America into chaos and occupation by a very a hostile Soviet Union. The final novel, “The Promise of Joy,” describes the survival of the other candidate; he is unpopular with a seriously divided electorate and also has to contend with violent mobs, a hostile media, and the threat of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and China. I always hoped Drury would produce more sequels, but he did not, instead to ancient Egypt for his inspiration.