In this election year, if you get the chance to see the movie “The Best Man,” with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson, do so. It’s a potent drama about the backstage machinations between two candidates for president during a party convention (back when the party conventions actually got to decide the nominee). Fonda plays an idealistic candidate, albeit with some personal flaws, while Robertson, as his opponent, is a pragmatist who has some dirt on Fonda and threatens to release it. The two men are also maneuvering for the endorsement of a Trumanesque former president (played by Lee Tracy) from their (unnamed) party.
Anyway, the movie was a Broadway play first, by Gore Vidal. And the play is currently in a revival. It’s just too bad they couldn’t come up with any big names for the cast: John Larroquette and Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”) in the Fonda and Robertson roles, James Earl Jones as the former president, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen and Michael McKean in supporting roles. I would call that an all-star cast.
When the play originally appeared on Broadway in 1960, a movie actor auditioned for one of the lead roles but Vidal rejected him, saying he wasn’t presidential enough.
You guessed it: Ronald Reagan.