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Primary Colors (1998)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 20 March 1998 (USA)
1:20 | Trailer

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A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for president of the USA.



(novel) (as Anonymous), (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mamma Stanton
Rebecca Walker ...
Lucille Kaufman
Tommy Hollis ...
William McCullison (Fat Willie)
Arlen Sporken
Uncle Charlie


Jack Stanton is running for president. The election is seen through the eyes of young Henry Burton. Along the way Stanton must deal with a sex scandal. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What went down on the way to the top. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | | |


Release Date:

20 March 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mit aller Macht  »


Box Office


$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,045,395, 22 March 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$38,966,057, 21 June 1998

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| | |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The lead was originally offered to Tom Hanks, who turned it down because of his friendship with then-President Bill Clinton. See more »


When Henry first meets Mrs. Stanton with the Governor at the airport in New Hampshire, the shadow of the camera is visible on all three actors as it pans around them. See more »


[about Jack Stanton]
Libby Holden: He's poked his pecker in some sorry trash bins.
See more »


Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.45 (2011) See more »


Written by John Hall, Johanna Hall
Performed by Orleans
Courtesy of Elektra Records
by arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

A sparkling cracker of a political thriller
21 January 2001 | by See all my reviews

It's said that only the very best actors can compete with children and animals, and to this should be listed bright-eyed, cute-as-a-button young newcomers like Adrian Lester, who steals every scene he's in as an idealistic young aide until a larger-than-life Kathy Bates steamrolls her way onto the crowded scene. This film, based on Clinton's 1990 campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is a fictionalized, not factual, view of the man and his character and ideals, and quite simply one of the best films ever made about the confusing maze that is American politics.

Just as the American media, spurred on by the Republican witch-hunters, rubbed our noses in the dirt surrounding Clinton's indiscretions, the movie doesn't spare Jack Stanton for his moral weaknesses and poor personal judgements, but makes the point that the dirt grubbing and trivializing media are equally immoral in seeking to denigrate a man's political ideals because of his sexual peccadillos. The media is one Enemy of Truth, but the real Enemy of the People, lurking, malevolent and unseen, in the murky shadows at the edges of this film, is the Republican Party, and it's interesting that it takes a British director to take such a decisive stand, as Hollywood has always been reticent to take sides in the Democrat/Republican debate. The point made here, from the testimony of the battle-scarred "true Believers", from the idealistic young party aides, from the would-be President's wife (an uncanny portrayal of Hillary by a dynamic Emma Thompson) and Stanton himself (although physically unlike Bill Clinton, John Travolta gives a very believable performance), is that the President needs to be a man of the people, to be able to understand the people, and to be able to communicate with the people, despite the lies of his opponents and the mud slinging of the media. If America doesn't always get the President it deserves, it's because these very qualities are often blocked by his political enemies and a sensation-seeking media, particularly the television networks. An uninformed Democracy is no Democracy at all, and it's a mark of the inherent strength of the American people and their political system that it has withstood these obstacles, despite the many mediocre Presidencies we have seen in our times.

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