The Contender movie from 2000 came about almost three years after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and two years after President Clinton was impeached in the House on a party-line vote. President Clinton was actually mentioned in this movie, and about two years after the Clinton impeachment trial in the Senate I believe The Contender at least to some degree was influenced by the Lewinsky scandal and the point that President Clinton was making.
President Clinton’s point being that his private life is just that and that even public officials elected officials president’s even have a Right to Privacy even as it relates to their sex life. And that if adultery is involved which it is in both cases that it’s between the adulterer, their family and the person the affair was with. Not 265-300M Americans as was the case back then and especially an opposition party that’s looking to embarrass the President or Vice President.
Or even bring the top leaders down, which was the case with the Lewinsky scandal as well as in this movie. And it has Jeff Bridges who’s personally one of my favorite actors, especially for his great sense of humor. But he can also act, playing a President who’s wrapping up his presidency and looking to build his legacy. His Vice President just died in office and he has to fill that vacancy and basically has a choice between a popular Democratic Governor of Virginia GOV. Jack Hathaway played by a great character actor Bill Peterson. Famous for his role in CBS CSI. And a junior Senator from Ohio played by a very good actress Joan Allen. And these are the top two contenders for the Vice Presidency.
The President has to nominate a new Vice President and appoint them to both chambers of Congress because the House has an Advise and Consent role in nominating a new Vice President. And then you throw in the cast in the movie Jeff Bridges as the President, Sam Elliot as WH Chief of Staff, Saul Rubinek as WH Press Secretary, Joan Allen as Sen. Lane Evans nominee for Vice President. Gary Oldman as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Bill Peterson as GOV. Jack Hathaway who wants to run for president and become vice president to help him with that.
Christian Slater who plays a freshmen Representative from Delaware who doesn’t like Sen. Evans because she used to be a Republican. And wants GOV. Hathaway to be Vice President. And actually works with the Chairman who presides over the Vice Presidential confirmation hearings for the House. To make sure that Sen. Evans does not get confirmed because the House Republicans of course see Sen. Evans as too liberal. So you have all these little side stories and motivations and everyone involved has stake in the game so to speak.
Joan Allen plays the first female nominee for Vice President in American history who has a wild history from college. And seen as someone who slept around and even had an affair with one of her friend’s husband played by Robin Thomas. Who she later marries and starts a family with. Sen. Evans is also the daughter of the former Governor of Ohio who’s a Republican, but supports his daughter’s nomination for Vice President. And the House Republicans and their special interest allies try to make the most of Sen. Evans private life to bring her down. So she doesn’t become Vice President of the United States one step away from the Presidency, great movie.