Seal of Approval: Archives Screens Presidential Pix

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The films Karate Kid, Patton and High Noon have one thing in common: Former U.S. presidents loved them. The National Archives is screening presidential favorite flicks through the summer. Debbie Elliott gives some fun film facts from the Oval Office.


And now, a story about the entertainment industry and politics here at home. This month and continuing through the summer, the National Archives is screening favorite flicks of our commanders-in-chief.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Karate Kid")

Mr. PAT MORITA (Actor): (As Mr. KESUKE MIYAGI) Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand.

ELLIOTT: "The Karate Kid" was the first in the series. It's a favorite of the first President Bush. For those of you who were asleep in 1984, "The Karate Kid" follows the friendship of Daniel, a struggling teenager, and his wise karate instructor, Mr. Miyagi. As the fatherless Daniel learns about martial arts, he learns about life.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Karate Kid")

Mr. RALPH MACCHIO (Actor): (As Mr. DANIEL LaRUSSO): I'm just scared, you know. The tournament and everything.

Mr. MORITA: (As Mr. MIYAGI): You remember lesson about balance?

Mr. MACCHIO: (As Mr. LaRUSSO): Yeah.

Mr. MORITA: (As Mr. MIYAGI): Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life.

ELLIOTT: Since the Eisenhower administration, presidents have watched their favorite films in the White House family theater. Many - Ike and Bill Clinton, among them - sat in the theater's plush seats to watch the 1952 Western "High Noon." That's the one where Gary Cooper plays a town marshal who goes it alone in his quest for justice.

"Patton" also made the list. President Nixon reportedly watched it three times. The 1970 movie tells the story of the maverick World War II general George Patton played by George C. Scott.

(Soundbite of movie, "Patton")

Mr. GEORGE C. SCOTT (Actor): (As General GEORGE S. PATTON): All this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.

ELLIOTT: Nixon was a well-known movie buff. Jimmy Carter was another. We found this surprising tidbit in the logs of the White House projectionist - Carter screened more films in his one term of office than his Hollywood successor, Ronald Reagan, showed in two terms. And Carter was the first to watch an X-rated film in the White House theater, "Midnight Cowboy."

The National Archives, however, is screening only family-friendly presidential picks. Next stop is "Bright Eyes," with Shirley Temple - it was one of FDR's favorites.

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