The Contender

October 13, 2000 0 By Fans
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Still of Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott and Saul Rubinek in The ContenderStill of Joan Allen and Mike Binder in The ContenderMariel Hemingway at event of The ContenderCongressman Shelly Runyon discusses tactics with Congressman Reginald WebsterGary Oldman stars as Congressman Shelly RunyonRobin Thomas stars as Se. Hanson's husband, William


Sexy secrets from a womans past come to light as she runs for Vice President.

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 6.9/10 (15,032 voted)

Critic's Score: 59/100

Rod Lurie

Stars: Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges

A political thriller about Laine Hanson, a senator who is nominated to become Vice President following the death of the previous office holder. During the confirmation process, Laine is the victim of a vicious attack on her personal life in which stories of sexual deviancy are spread. She is torn as to whether she should fight back, or stick to her high principles and refuse to comment on the allegations.


Gary Oldman

Shelly Runyon

Joan Allen

Laine Hanson

Jeff Bridges

President Jackson Evans

Christian Slater

Reginald Webster

Sam Elliott

Kermit Newman

William Petersen

Jack Hathaway

Saul Rubinek

Jerry Tolliver

Philip Baker Hall

Oscar Billings

Mike Binder

Lewis Hollis

Robin Thomas

William Hanson

Mariel Hemingway

Cynthia Charlton Lee

Kathryn Morris

Paige Willomina

Kristen Shaw

Fiona Hathaway

Douglas Urbanski


Noah Fryrear


Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth

Release Date: 13 October 2000

Filming Locations: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000


Opening Weekend: $5,363,900
(15 October 2000)
(1516 Screens)

Gross: $22,361,811

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Every time President Evans calls a meeting (formal or informal) he is either eating or orders food to be eaten.


Crew or equipment visible:
When Hathaway walks out the doorway of the Oval Office to meet his wife in the hall, in the edge of the doorway can be seen a reflective card presumably set up for lighting purposes.


Laine Hanson:
[closing remarks at Congressional confirmation hearing]
… And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism…

User Review

Riveting performances and a thought-provoking story. One of the best movies of the year. **** (out of four)

Rating: 9/10

THE CONTENDER / (2000) **** (out of four)

After our recent presidential conflicts, Rod Lurie's political drama, "The
Contender" is of the most timely and uncommonly absorbing movies this year,
even though we may be sick and tired of politics. The film examines
political figures and their stand of such controversial issues like
abortion, infidelities, and even Clinton's impeachment trial, making this
production feel real, as if a behind the scenes look at a sex scandal in
Washington DC because it is so well written and portrayed. Interlaced with
much thought-provoking material and Academy Award worthy performances, "The
Contender" is one of the best pictures of the year.

As the film opens, the country's vice president has recently died, leaving
Democratic President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges), who is near the end of
his final term, choosing a vice president for replacement. Although he
recently bared his courage in a failed attempt to save a woman from
drowning, Governor Jack Hathaway (William L. Peterson) is turned down by
President Evens. Instead, Evens wants to leave a legacy by selecting a woman
as vice president, thus chooses a Senator who currently shifted from the
Republican party to the Democratic party, Laine Hanson (Joan Allen). The
Republican confirmation committee chairman, Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman),
thinks Evans' choice to be self-dignified and inaccurate, and desires
Hathaway to take the place of the vice president.

"The Contender" begins on a strong note, only displaying the necessary
events. We do not witness the death of the original vice-president because
it is not important. We do get to see the heroic action of Governor
Hathaway, however, squarely because this event, concluding with a shocking
twist, plays a vital role in the movie at a later time. Through brilliant
directing and editing, the story provides an increasing amount of tension
within the characters, especially the Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges

In a cruel attempt to prove the insecurities of the vice-presidential
candidate, Runyon uncovers information that places Hanson's morality in
question. The situation is whether or not she participated in public sex
with two men (at the same time) while 19 years of age in college. The
information is leaked to the press, while Runyon uses the discussion to
bring the subject in the hearings. "What I say the American people will
believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in
front of me," states Runyon. The democrats are extremely weary over this
case because 1) they know Runyon's statement is true and 2) Hanson refuses
to acknowledge anything regarding her alleged sexual adventures. Even so,
the president supports his candidate.

The movie succeeds with its accurate and involving performances. Joan Allen
is Award material in a performance that is tense, taut, and engaging.
Christian Slater is frantic and energetic as a novice reporter. Jeff Bridges
is entirely convincing as the President of the United States. His prestige
is convincing and he exhibits a powerful, detailed attitude, resulting in a
superb performance. Gary Oldman is perfect with a sly, cunningly cocky and
self-confident performance that fits his character extremely well; there is
a very real possbility his work will be remembered come Academy Award time.

"The Contender" succeeds to a high degree because it makes us to examine our
own beliefs and possible reactions to such a pragmatic issue; would we, as
individuals, want a vice-president who is a sleaze ball, or as a character
puts it "with a mouth full of c*ck." What makes the film even more
extraordinarily enthralling is that it never until the end reveals whether
Laine actually did participate in the immoral acts. This is a very
thought-provoking story, full of surprising twists and a meaningful message.