Watching the Polls

Watching the Polls

7 Episodes

Is it November yet? Let the countdown to election night 2020 begin with a full ballot of films showcasing the drama, dysfunction, and high-stakes tension of the American political process. From groundbreaking looks at pivotal presidential runs like the cinema verité landmark PRIMARY (Kennedy ’60) and the eye-opening behind-the-scenes procedural THE WAR ROOM (Clinton ’92) to Hal Ashby’s bitingly cynical sixties elegy SHAMPOO (Nixon ’68) and Robert Downey Jr.’s gonzo campaign-trail odyssey THE LAST PARTY (Clinton/Bush ’92), this wining ticket of campaign classics is an all-American ode to the once-every-four-years, can’t-look-away spectacle that is our political theater of the absurd.

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Watching the Polls
  • Watching the Polls Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Primary
    Episode 2


    Episode 2

    Directed by Robert Drew • 1960 • United States

    Robert Drew’s groundbreaking 1960 film PRIMARY is one of the most important and influential documentaries in the history of the medium. A pioneering work in the documentary movement that came to be known as cinéma vérité, PRIMARY follows the young c...

  • The Best Man

    Episode 3

    Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner • 1964 • United States
    Starring Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Lee Tracy

    Gore Vidal scripted this biting adaptation of his own caustic stage play, which remains one of the most cynical—and eternally relevant—looks at the down-and-dirty sideshow that is the Americ...

  • Shampoo
    Episode 4


    Episode 4

    Directed by Hal Ashby • 1975 • United States
    Starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn

    SHAMPOO gives us a day in the life of George (Warren Beatty), a Beverly Hills hairdresser and lothario who runs around town on the eve of the 1968 presidential election trying to make heads or tails ...

  • The War Room

    Episode 5

    Directed by Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker • 1993 • United States

    The 1992 presidential election was a triumph not only for Bill Clinton but also for the new breed of strategists who guided him to the White House—and changed the face of politics in the process. For this thrilling, behind-clo...

  • The Last Party

    Episode 6

    Directed by Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin • 1993 • United States
    Starring Robert Downey Jr.

    It’s 1992 in America, and George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton are tussling for the soul of the country. Amid the partisan mayhem, a young Robert Downey Jr. hits the road for a freewheeling cross-country jou...

  • Election

    Episode 7

    Directed by Alexander Payne • 1999 • United States
    Starring Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein

    Perky, overachieving high schooler Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of social-studies teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches h...