With The Front Runner, Jason Reitman and J.K. Simmons revisit the downfall of philandering presidential candidate Gary Hart. (Oh, how times have changed!)
Director Jason Reitman knows that most of us have a way of misremembering history. We collectively believe Humphrey Bogart said “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca (the line is “Play it, Sam”) and that the beloved ursine family is called the Berenstein Bears when it’s actually the Berenstain Bears. This is known as the Mandela effect, named after the persistent internet claims that African leader Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s when in fact he lived until 2013.
We have committed the same historical mangling with 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Gary Hart, the subject of Reitman’s provocative new biopic, The Front Runner. It’s commonly accepted that a photo of former beauty-pageant winner Donna Rice sitting on Hart’s lap aboard the yacht Monkey Business forced the charismatic Colorado senator to cancel his White House run in May 1987. In fact, the National Enquirer published the picture weeks after the Miami Herald and The Washington Post had already exposed the married father of two as an adulterer.
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