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Film / The Contender

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The Contender is a 2000 political drama written and directed by Rod Lurie, starring Jeff Bridges as the President, Sam Elliott as his chief of staff, and Joan Allen as the woman he picks to succeed his late vice president. Gary Oldman plays the very Straw Misogynist Republican Congressman heading up the Judiciary Committee that must confirm her while she faces allegations of lewd sexual acts from her college days. There's a Rousing Speech or two.


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This film provides examples of:

  • Big "NO!": President Jackson Evans yells one in frustration.
  • Debate and Switch: So, will Laine win the Vice Presidency despite the furor of controversy surrounding her? Will she prove to the world that the bending of the truth and exposure of someone's shady moral history should never be used for political gain and need not necessarily ruin your chances of a high-powered career? Never mind, the girl in the photos wasn't actually her after all. Oh, and her main rival's a backstabbing liar. Crisis averted.
  • First-Name Basis: President Evans allows Laine this near the end of the movie.
    President Jackson Evans: Well, can I tell you I'm just bustin' to know what really happened?
    Laine Hanson: You mean, this would just be between Laine and the President?
    President Jackson Evans: I'll go one better. This will be between Laine and Jackson.
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  • Hollywood Atheist: Invoked with Laine Hanson during her confirmation hearing, as she's openly atheist. One of the House committee members snarkily says she swore to tell the truth "so help me God", invoking a deity that she doesn't believe in and mentions that she said religion was a fairy tale in the past. The chairman, who's out to get her, surprisingly lets it go after confirming she'll tell the truth under penalty of perjury, shifting the focus to an alleged sex tape of her during a college orgy instead. Being an open atheist, let alone one who had also insulted religion, would almost certainly be a death sentence for any nominee's Real Life chances, however, as many Americans (and especially Republican politicians like those she faces) believe this trope to be true, so it's somewhat zigzagged by them appearing to not care about it.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Laine's husband's ex-wife testifies at her congressional hearing that she realized the two were having an affair when she noticed them holding hands like this at her victory party.
  • Not So Different: Invoked by Chief of Staff Kermit Newman against his own side.
    Laine Hanson: Come on, Kermit. If we do that, we are no better than (Shelly Runyon) is.
    Kermit Newman: We are no better than he is!
  • Trademark Favorite Food: President Jackson Evans enjoys shark steak sandwiches.
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