This week, Neil Calloway looks at the 45th US President’s favourite movie…
If you haven’t been too busy watching and re-watching the international trailer for Rogue One, you may have noticed that there was a US Presidential election this week, resulting in Donald Trump being elected to the White House.
During the election campaign, as happens, trivia about the candidates’ cultural tastes comes out during interviews and profiles, in an attempt to make those who are running for office seem more like normal people instead of narcissists who believe only they can save the world.
When asked about his favourite movie, Donald Trump didn’t say Razzie Award winning 1990 film Ghosts Can’t Do It, in which he had a cameo alongside Bo Derek, nor did he chose Home Alone 2: Lost In New York which he also appeared in. Neither did he name either of the Sex and the City films, the TV series of which he popped up in once. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he apparently doesn’t constantly re-watch the Playboy Video Centrefold 2000 that has recently resurfaced and in which he cracks open a bottle of champagne and pours it over the Playboy logo on the front of a tour bus. He didn’t even chose a film made by WWE Studios, despite his long association with wrestling.
It turns out Donald Trump’s favourite film is the 1941 classic Citizen Kane. It’s a solid choice; if there was a Mount Rushmore of movies, it’d be chiselled on there along with Gone with the Wind, Psycho and The Godfather. It’s also the sort of film people say they love when they haven’t actually seen it, like when they say their favourite novel is Ulysses or War and Peace when really they love The Da Vinci Code or Fifty Shades of Grey.
Watching Citizen Kane, however, it brings up several parallels between the protagonist Charles Foster Kane and the new President-elect. Even the poster for the film exclaims “It’s terrific!”, the sort of empty, hyperbolic statement Trump might tweet about his latest casino project. Some similarities are superficial; both Kane and Trump have sprawling estates in Florida – Kane has Xanadu on the Gulf Coast, and Trump has Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Just as Trump has been, Kane is accused of being fascist; his response is the assertion that he’s just a patriotic American. The newsreel obituary for Kane shown at the start of the film features effigies of him being burnt, something that happened on the streets of several American cities with models of Trump after the election result this week.
It is also said that millions of people love Kane, and millions also hate him – it’s hard not to see the analogy with Trump, who gained millions of votes but was also reviled by millions. Kane is said to support some political candidates, then denounce them; something Trump did by publicly voicing his approval of Hillary Clinton in 2012, before clashing with her in the debates this year.
Like Trump, Kane inherited his wealth, before embarking on a high profile career, Trump in property and Kane in newspapers. In one scene Kane states he doesn’t know how to run a newspaper, he just tries everything he can think of; a precursor to some of Trump’s less then successful business ventures, like Trump Steaks and the Trump Shuttle (not a spacecraft but an airline route between Boston, New York and Washington, DC that only lasted from 1989 until 1992; reportedly Trump wanted marble fittings in the bathrooms on the company’s planes, before he was told that this would make them too heavy to fly).
Unlike Trump, despite running for office several times, Kane is never elected; like Trump despite being fantastically wealthy he paints himself as a friend of the working man. In one scene as the results to one election come in Kane’s newspaper has two possible headlines – one pronouncing his victory, and in case of a loss one making the accusation of fraud at the polls; reminiscent of Trump saying he’d only accept that the result wasn’t rigged if he won the election.
It seems strange that Trump would claim Kane as his favourite film, and his picking it suggests he may not understand the film; it’s a warning, not an instruction manual, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sledge hidden somewhere in Trump Tower.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.