A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for President of the U.S.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Governor Jack Stanton
Emma Thompson ... Susan Stanton
Billy Bob Thornton ... Richard Jemmons
Kathy Bates ... Libby Holden
Adrian Lester ... Henry Burton
Maura Tierney ... Daisy
Larry Hagman ... Gov. Fred Picker
Diane Ladd ... Mamma Stanton
Paul Guilfoyle ... Howard Ferguson
Rebecca Walker Rebecca Walker ... March
Caroline Aaron ... Lucille Kaufman
Tommy Hollis ... Fat Willie
Rob Reiner ... Izzy Rosenblatt
Ben Jones ... Arlen Sporken
J.C. Quinn ... Uncle Charlie
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

They're Not Exactly A Well Organized Well Oliled Machine But That's Their Secret See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final theatrical movie of Tommy Hollis (Fat Willie). See more »

Goofs

When watching the New Hampshire returns, one TV station says that Governor Stanton is still out campaigning on the street until the polls close while the other simultaneously says 15 percent of the vote has already been counted. Votes aren't counted until after the polls close. See more »

Quotes

[on the fealty of political bosses]
Richard Jemmons: That's what these guys do. They love you and then stop lovin' you.
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Connections

Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #19.131 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Written by Curly Putman (as Claude Putman, Jr.) and Bobby Braddock
Performed Tammy Wynette
Courtesy of Epic Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

 
A sparkling cracker of a political thriller
21 January 2001 | by cruiseaboutSee 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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Details

Country:

UK | USA | France | Germany | Japan

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 March 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Primary Colors See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,045,395, 22 March 1998

Gross USA:

$39,001,187

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$52,090,187
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS | DTS-Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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