Truman (1995)

American politics is sustained by a populist mythology, and occasionally a public figure of humble origins arises to justify these hopes.

The Emmy-winning Truman, a cable-TV movie based on David McCullough's book, presents our 33rd President as a flawed, uncertain everyman who grows in office until he approaches greatness. Harry S. Truman (Gary Sinise) is a bankrupt Missouri haberdasher and World War I veteran who's chosen by corrupt political boss Tom Pendergast (Pat Hingle) to be first a county judge and then a U.S. senator.

Selected by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be his vice president in 1944, he becomes commander-in-chief upon FDR's death.

The variety of crises Truman faces is awesome. He must decide whether to use the atomic bomb against Japan to end World War II and how to cope with the Cold War against the Soviet Union and the rise of McCarthyism in his own country.

The movie emphasizes the importance of Truman's relationship with his long-suffering wife Bess (Diana Scarwid).

Where is the Friend's Home? (1989)

The flowering of Iranian cinema is one of the wonders of contemporary culture, and its undisputed master is Abbas Kiarostami. The strict censorship of the Islamic regime has forced him to learn how to tell emotionally involving stories without the use of sex and violence. Where Is The Friend's Home?, written and directed by Kiarostami, is set in a poor, mountain area of Northern Iran. When the 8-year-old Ahmed (Babek Ahmed Poor) discovers he's accidentally taken the homework notebook of a classmate (Ahmed Ahmed Poor), he sets out to return it the same day. The journey on foot takes him into a neighboring village where he quickly gets lost.

Kiarostami films this simple premise in a semi-documentary style that captures the rhythms and textures of his characters’ harsh way of life. The relationship between children and adults is presented in fresh, unexpected ways, and there are occasional hints of a subtle critique of the regime's authoritarian methods.

Seven Cities of Gold (1955)

Nowadays Hollywood is unlikely to hold up Catholic missionaries as role models. Most contemporary mass entertainment toes the politically correct line and presents these dedicated individuals as destroyers of indigenous cultures and hypocritical front men for imperialist expansion. Seven Cities of Gold, based on Isabelle Gibson Ziegler's novel, is one of the last in the cycle of the old-time major-studio productions that celebrated the priests and religious who saved souls in the non-Christian world. Spanish conquistador Gaspar de Portola (Anthony Quinn) and his top lieutenant, Jose (Richard Egan), head out into unexplored territory in 1769 to find the Indians’ rumored cities of gold. Accompanying them is the lame Franciscan priest Junipero Serra (Michael Rennie), who is determined to establish a series of missions.

The party stops in the area that is today San Diego. The soldiers and the priest clash when famine, disease and hostile Indians put them to the test. Father Serra is shown to epitomize the virtues of faith, charity and self-sacrifice in time of trouble.

------- EXCERPT: