11 Surprising Movies Jimmy Carter Watched While He Was President
By Anna Green
What’s the first movie you’d watch if you were elected President of the United States? Would you choose a political thriller? A victorious underdog story? Or just an old favorite?
Thanks to his public daily agendas, we now know that Jimmy Carter chose to inaugurate his stay at the White House with All the President’s Men. He was sworn into office on January 20, 1977, and watched the 1976 Watergate thriller just two days later.
Over the course of the next four years, Carter would go on to view more than 400 movies, both at the White House and Camp David. The films were an eclectic assortment of new releases, noted classics (Carter was apparently a huge Humphrey Bogart fan), war movies, dramas, goofy comedies, and even a few sci-fi adventures.
Recently, Gizmodo writer Matt Novak took the time to comb through the meetings and missed phone calls that make up the former president’s daily journal to make a list of all the films Carter watched during his presidency. The full list can be seen over at Gizmodo, and includes links to Carter’s corresponding journal entries. Out of the hundreds of movies on that list, here are 10 that we found particularly interesting.
The only X-rated film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture is also the first X-rated film to be screened at the White House.
2. THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE (1978)
Carter’s taste in movies tended to veer toward Westerns and well-established classics, so it seems out of place to see this extraterrestrial feline flick on his list.
3. STAR WARS (1977)
That Carter would watch Star Warsseems like a given. But it's interesting that the president took time out of a secret strategy session for peace in the Middle East to enjoy some Jedi adventures with Anwar Sadat, Egypt's then-president.
The president hosted a private screening months before the film was released with about 75 guests, director Francis Ford Coppola among them.
5. AND 6. THE ISLAND OF ALLAH (1956) and HERBIE RIDES AGAIN (1974)
The only presidential double feature, Carter watched the two films back-to-back with his daughter and the First Lady. The former is a largely forgotten semi-documentary about the history of the Arab people, while the latter is the sequel to The Love Bug (1968), about the adventures of an anthropomorphic car.
7. ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
There are only a few comedies on Carter’s list—of which Animal House is among the most raunchy. Carter’s journal notes that he watched the film with multiple guests, though the details of the gathering aren’t listed (so there’s no way to know whether it was a formal gathering or a presidential toga party).
EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE
Clint Eastwood’s co-star in this movie is an orangutan. The existence of this film, in itself, is hilarious; now add to that the fact that it was screened officially at the White House.
9. THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN (1969)
The famously heavy-handed dark comedy starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr featured greedy Londoners wading through a vat of feces to retrieve "free money."
10. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)
It’s not that surprising that Carter would watch a classic Christmas film. What is strange is that he watched it on September 24th. Maybe he was just getting excited for the holidays a little early? Only three months 'til Christmas Eve!
The Bo Derek sex comedy was one of seven films Carter viewed twice. The others were Manhattan (1979), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Rocky (1976), The In-Laws (1979), Tribute (1980), and Lost Horizon (there's no indication whether it was the 1937 version or the 1973 one).