Primary Colors

( 1 )

Overview

Mike Nichols directed this Elaine May screenplay adapted from the 1996 bestseller by "Anonymous" (Joe Klein), who fictionalized Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) convinces Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), grandson of a respected civil rights pioneer, to become his deputy campaign manager. Stanton's smart wife Susan (Emma Thompson) always comes through with public support for her philandering husband. The film's parallel for James Carville ...
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Overview

Mike Nichols directed this Elaine May screenplay adapted from the 1996 bestseller by "Anonymous" (Joe Klein), who fictionalized Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) convinces Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), grandson of a respected civil rights pioneer, to become his deputy campaign manager. Stanton's smart wife Susan (Emma Thompson) always comes through with public support for her philandering husband. The film's parallel for James Carville is Stanton's redneck advisor Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob Thornton), who knows every strategy and tactic but worries, "The woman thing, that's the killer." Sure enough, problems during the New Hampshire primary include charges of adultery. To get a handle on past peccadillos, Stanton's staff brings in an old family friend, lesbian Libby Holden (Kathy Bates), who knows how to clean up dirt. Stanton, a strong debater, moves on to Florida and New York. When one opposing candidate drops dead of a heart attack, he's replaced by Florida's Governor Fred Picker (Larry Hagman), but Holden holds the skeleton key to the skeleton in Picker's closet. Just how the Stantons put this information to use reveals whether they are ruthless politicians or inspirational leaders with ideals.
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Special Features

Production notes; Cast & filmmakers' bios; Film highlights; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Arriving in theaters shortly after the Monica Lewinsky scandal shed new behind-the-scenes light on the Bill Clinton presidency, Primary Colors was perhaps too much a film of its moment. Adapting Joe Klein's roman à clef about the 1992 presidential campaign, director Mike Nichols asserted that the story of a young campaign strategist's eye-opening experience on Southern governor Jack Stanton's White House run was more about general issues of personal and political honor than specific events. John Travolta's honeyed Arkansas drawl, graying hair and affection for donuts, however, left no doubt about Stanton's Clintonian roots; one or two journalists even questioned whether Clinton had tried to influence the film's content. Either way, critics agreed that while Nichols and long-time collaborator Elaine May mined sardonic humor out of the Stanton campaign's sexual shenanigans and dirty dealings, the final turn toward a serious message about the contemporary political process somewhat tempered the film's satiric bite. Despite enormous (and unexpected) publicity from the Lewinsky affair, and pitch-perfect performances from Travolta, Emma Thompson, Oscar nominee Kathy Bates, Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, and Larry Hagman, Primary Colors failed to find a large audience, suggesting that one presidential media spectacle at a time was probably enough.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/9/1998
  • UPC: 025192028328
  • Original Release: 1998
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 2:24:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 34,531

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Travolta Gov. Jack Stanton
Emma Thompson Susan Stanton
Billy Bob Thornton Richard Jemmons
Kathy Bates Libby Holden
Adrian Lester Henry Burton
Maura Tierney Daisy
Larry Hagman Gov. Fred Picker
Diane Ladd Mamma Stanton
Paul Guilfoyle Howard Ferguson
Rebecca Walker March
Caroline Aaron Lucille Kaufman
Tommy Hollis Fat Willie
Rob Reiner Izzy Rosenblatt
Ben Jones Arlen Sporken
J.C. Quinn Uncle Charlie
Allison Janney Miss Walsh
Robert Klein Norman Asher
Mykelti Williamson Dewayne Smith
Tony Shalhoub Eddie Reyes
Brian Markinson Randy Culligan
Ned Eisenberg Brad Lieberman
O'Neal Compton Sailorman Shoreson
Chelcie Ross Charlie Martin
Bonnie Bartlett Martha Harris
John Vargas Lorenzo Delgado
Stacy Edwards Jennifer Rogers
Gia Carides Cashmere McLeod
John Milford
Harrison Young Sam
Robert Symonds Bart Nilson
Sally Insul
Technical Credits
Mike Nichols Director, Producer
Arthur Schmidt Editor
Michael Ballhaus Cinematographer
Juel Bestrop Casting
Cheryl Carasik Set Decoration/Design
Ry Cooder Score Composer
Thomas A. Duffield Art Director
Michael Haley Associate Producer, Asst. Director
Sean Haworth Set Decoration/Design
Michele Imperato Co-producer
Gary Jones Costumes/Costume Designer
Jonathan D. Krane Executive Producer
Ellen Lewis Casting
Neil Machlis Executive Producer
Elaine May Screenwriter
Chris Newman Sound/Sound Designer
Ann Roth Costumes/Costume Designer
Juliet Taylor Casting
Robert W. Welch III Production Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter List
1. The Candidate (Main Titles) [3:03]
2. The Literacy Class [2:45]
3. My Uncle Charlie [1:19]
4. Working for the Cracker [1:21]
5. The Candidate's Wife [3:58]
6. The Real Thing [1:59]
7. Mammoth Falls [4:42]
8. Willie's Place [1:24]
9. The Redneck and the Honky [1:04]
10. Ozio's Son [1:21]
11. The Ozio Problem [3:27]
12. Friends of the Family [1:18]
13. The First Debate [:52]
14. The War Thing [2:14]
15. Ready for the Boar [4:04]
16. The Dust Buster [:22]
17. The Cashmere Problem [2:45]
18. The Hair Slut's Tapes [2:11]
19. Libby Gets It Done [1:45]
20. An Innocent Man [1:51]
21. Still the One [4:39]
22. Primary Day [:44]
23. Going Negative [3:08]
24. Willie's Daughter [4:46]
25. Harris Hangs Up [2:43]
26. The Last to Know [5:07]
27. The Substitute Candidate [:51]
28. The New York Campaign [2:30]
29. He's the Man [1:37]
30. Galloping T.B. [1:42]
31. A Leave of Absence [4:57]
32. Something About Picker [1:41]
33. Picker's Secrets [:26]
34. The Stantons' Test [1:42]
35. Bleak, Cold and Airless [5:41]
36. The Death of a True Believer [4:03]
37. The Honorable Thing [2:32]
38. The Price You Pay to Lead [:28]
39. The Next President [4:20]
40. End Titles [2:10]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Bonus Materials
      Production Notes
      Cast & Filmmakers
         John Travolta
         Emma Thompson
         Billy Bob Thornton
         Adrian Lester
         Maura Tierney
         Paul Guilfoyle
         Larry Hagman
         Kathy Bates
         Mike Nichols
      Theatrical Trailer
      Universal Web Links
   Language Selection
      Spoken Languages
         English
         Français
      Captions and Subtitles
         Captioned for the Hearing Impaired: English
         Subtitles: Español
         Subtitles: None
   Play
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Bill Clinton embodied in Travolta

    Presciently, "Anonymous," (Joe Klein) predicted Bill Clinton's foibles and his virtues played devoutly by John Travolta and the almost Lady Macbeth qualities that behold Lady Clinton, as some blindingly do not see in this campaign as many Republicans did not see the nefariousness of the Bush monarchy as we can see demonstrated by both families in different parties.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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