The Contender

October 13th, 2000


The Contender

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Still of Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott and Saul Rubinek in The ContenderStill of Joan Allen and Mike Binder in The ContenderMariel Hemingway at event of The ContenderCongressman Shelly Runyon discusses tactics with Congressman Reginald WebsterGary Oldman stars as Congressman Shelly RunyonRobin Thomas stars as Se. Hanson's husband, William

Sexy secrets from a womans past come to light as she runs for Vice President.

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 6.9/10 (15,032 voted)

Critic's Score: 59/100

Director: Rod Lurie

Stars: Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges

A political thriller about Laine Hanson, a senator who is nominated to become Vice President following the death of the previous office holder. During the confirmation process, Laine is the victim of a vicious attack on her personal life in which stories of sexual deviancy are spread. She is torn as to whether she should fight back, or stick to her high principles and refuse to comment on the allegations.

Gary Oldman - Shelly Runyon
Joan Allen - Laine Hanson
Jeff Bridges - President Jackson Evans
Christian Slater - Reginald Webster
Sam Elliott - Kermit Newman
William Petersen - Jack Hathaway
Saul Rubinek - Jerry Tolliver
Philip Baker Hall - Oscar Billings
Mike Binder - Lewis Hollis
Robin Thomas - William Hanson
Mariel Hemingway - Cynthia Charlton Lee
Kathryn Morris - Paige Willomina
Kristen Shaw - Fiona Hathaway
Douglas Urbanski - Makerowitz
Noah Fryrear - Timmy

Taglines: Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth

Release Date: 13 October 2000

Filming Locations: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $5,363,900 (USA) (15 October 2000) (1516 Screens)

Gross: $22,361,811 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Every time President Evans calls a meeting (formal or informal) he is either eating or orders food to be eaten.

Crew or equipment visible: When Hathaway walks out the doorway of the Oval Office to meet his wife in the hall, in the edge of the doorway can be seen a reflective card presumably set up for lighting purposes.

Laine Hanson: [closing remarks at Congressional confirmation hearing] ... And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism...

User Review

Riveting performances and a thought-provoking story. One of the best movies of the year. **** (out of four)

Rating: 9/10

THE CONTENDER / (2000) **** (out of four)

After our recent presidential conflicts, Rod Lurie's political drama, "The Contender" is of the most timely and uncommonly absorbing movies this year, even though we may be sick and tired of politics. The film examines political figures and their stand of such controversial issues like abortion, infidelities, and even Clinton's impeachment trial, making this production feel real, as if a behind the scenes look at a sex scandal in Washington DC because it is so well written and portrayed. Interlaced with much thought-provoking material and Academy Award worthy performances, "The Contender" is one of the best pictures of the year.

As the film opens, the country's vice president has recently died, leaving Democratic President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges), who is near the end of his final term, choosing a vice president for replacement. Although he recently bared his courage in a failed attempt to save a woman from drowning, Governor Jack Hathaway (William L. Peterson) is turned down by President Evens. Instead, Evens wants to leave a legacy by selecting a woman as vice president, thus chooses a Senator who currently shifted from the Republican party to the Democratic party, Laine Hanson (Joan Allen). The Republican confirmation committee chairman, Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), thinks Evans' choice to be self-dignified and inaccurate, and desires Hathaway to take the place of the vice president.

"The Contender" begins on a strong note, only displaying the necessary events. We do not witness the death of the original vice-president because it is not important. We do get to see the heroic action of Governor Hathaway, however, squarely because this event, concluding with a shocking twist, plays a vital role in the movie at a later time. Through brilliant directing and editing, the story provides an increasing amount of tension within the characters, especially the Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges characters.

In a cruel attempt to prove the insecurities of the vice-presidential candidate, Runyon uncovers information that places Hanson's morality in question. The situation is whether or not she participated in public sex with two men (at the same time) while 19 years of age in college. The information is leaked to the press, while Runyon uses the discussion to bring the subject in the hearings. "What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me," states Runyon. The democrats are extremely weary over this case because 1) they know Runyon's statement is true and 2) Hanson refuses to acknowledge anything regarding her alleged sexual adventures. Even so, the president supports his candidate.

The movie succeeds with its accurate and involving performances. Joan Allen is Award material in a performance that is tense, taut, and engaging. Christian Slater is frantic and energetic as a novice reporter. Jeff Bridges is entirely convincing as the President of the United States. His prestige is convincing and he exhibits a powerful, detailed attitude, resulting in a superb performance. Gary Oldman is perfect with a sly, cunningly cocky and self-confident performance that fits his character extremely well; there is a very real possbility his work will be remembered come Academy Award time.

"The Contender" succeeds to a high degree because it makes us to examine our own beliefs and possible reactions to such a pragmatic issue; would we, as individuals, want a vice-president who is a sleaze ball, or as a character puts it "with a mouth full of c*ck." What makes the film even more extraordinarily enthralling is that it never until the end reveals whether Laine actually did participate in the immoral acts. This is a very thought-provoking story, full of surprising twists and a meaningful message.


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