The Contender

Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Rod Lurie
Production: Dreamworks Distribution
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 20 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
126 min

I bet you've been

gettin' a lot of, uh...

Churchills, probably Mandela.

Some de Gaulles.

I'd have to go with, uh...

Anwar Sadat.

Anwar Sadat?

- The former Egyptian president.

- Right.

No, no. Two years at the paper,

I never heard that one.

I'd have to say Sadat. Talk about standing

up to political and popular pressure.

I'd like to think

that I had those kind of balls.

There's a guy who did not die

in vain. He died for peace.

Any ideas you'd die for,


Obviously I'd die

for this country.

- I served, you know, not in Vietnam but Desert Storm.

- Right. The Bronze Star.

There wasn't a lot of sh*t

to get into there, but I was in it.

What I meant was,

would you take a bullet...

to advance abortion rights, flat taxes,

things you've been behind for years?

I'd like to think

that I'd die for civil rights.


Jesus Christ! What the...

Governor! Governor!

Governor Hathaway!

Christ! What the...

Governor! Governor! Jesus!

Yes! No... A car...

I'm under a br...

Somebody's obviously in the car.

The governor is in the water.

Yes, Governor Hathaway

is in the water.

You gotta send

somebody out...

No, no, I want to see the car

come out of the water.

- Back it up.

- Rewind!

- You okay?

- I don't know about this, Fiona.

Governor, excuse me.

Bottom line. You put your ass on the

line out there. This guy from the Post...

Paul Smith is his name.

He's describing what you did as if

you should get the Medal of Honor.

That isn't the reality, is it? She died.

In the end, that's the reality.

There's one reality here,


The people have given you

Reagan-like approval numbers.

- Last week were in the 50s, today you were at 82.

- Look at it this way.

That girl died.

That's a tragedy.

But you did everything

you could possibly do to save her.

They couldn't save the Alamo, either,

but everyone who died there's a hero.

- We're at a commercial. You're almost up, okay?

- Okay.

Show your remorse,

but don't be broken.

You're a national leader now.

Think that way.

- Is Bert on our side?

- Absolutely.

- Three, two, one.

- This is it.

After this,

everything will be on our side.

He has long been considered

at the top of President Evans's list...

to fill the vacancy left by the death

of the vice president three weeks ago.

But after the heroics that have become

the stuff of national legend...

Governor Hathaway has become

the nation's choice...

to take on the post of

the heir-apparent to the presidency.

- Governor, thank you for joining us.

- Thank you, Bert.

That's a nasty bit of business,

what happened on that river. Nasty.

It's a damn shame you were

the unlucky bastard in that spot.

Six and a half years in the White House, press

still hasn't gotten wind of these bastards.

Yeah, pretty, uh...

pretty heroic,

what you tried.

Just like everybody's

been saying, very, uh...

- Pure Audie Murphy.

- Thank you, sir. I only wish...

If it was me, I don't know if

I would've dove in there.

Might have.

But honestly, I don't know.


At least for once, the press

is turning one of us into a hero.

What was it like?

It was...

It was cold.

Oh, sure, this time of year. You were

risking your life saving that woman.

- The cold alone could've snapped you like a twig.

- It was dark under the water.

The headlights were on.

So were the interior lights.

I could see her face.

She was very pretty. Young.

- She was terrified.

- Wow.

It was like

she was being buried alive.

She looked at me.

And then she had

this look of helplessness.

I, I tried to pull

at the door, but, uh...

I needed air, you know?

I couldn't...

No. By the time I got back down

to the car, she was dead.

Her face was frozen in that look.

She carried that look of terror...

right into her death.

You did more

than most men would.

I wonder.

Look, Jack, it's just not gonna happen.

I can't nominate you.

I can't put you up.

We can't have

another Chappaquiddick.

- I tried to save her. Kennedy ran away, remember?

- You failed.

Nobody's saying

it was your fault, but you failed.

It's a bad beef, Jack.

You're one of the leaders

of this party, a rising star...

but you've got

a Republican-heavy Judiciary.

They're not gonna give

a rat's ass about that.

They're not gonna care about your years of

service or what you've done for education.

This would be it.

A girl died and...

- This administration needs a smooth confirmation.

- You let it happen.

We had a rocky time

over the crime bill.

Can't have any more obstacles

put in front of us.

Well, I appreciate you

telling me personally, Mr. President.

I'll, uh...

I'll support

whoever you select, of course.

I know that.

You're the future

of the Democratic Party...

and you always will be.

Well, there's a boatload

of press out there.

I don't think

you should avoid them.

Take it easy, Jack.

I don't understand this, Kermit.

Six years ago I was the best man for

the job, and I'm still the right guy.

- I have a great relationship with Runyon...

- Listen to me.

- Isn't there something we can do about this?

- Believe me, I've tried.

He's made up his mind. Filling this slot

may well be his swan song.

Wants to be careful with it.

Let's not push it.

Why not keep

in his good graces?

You're a good man, Jack.

Want to see the governor out?

- Jerry, you want to come in?

- Yes, sir.

Mr. President,

Jerry's here.

That was as rough as it comes.

Never seen anybody look so defeated.

- Yeah, poor son of a b*tch.

- Mr. President?

Saw the governor out there. Looks like

he had the sh*t kicked out of him.

If I have any more caffeine,

I'll be voting for the flat tax.

I got this tea

from the Greek ambassador.

Go on, sit. Never thought of Greece

as a tea-producing country...

but, Jesus Christ,

if this isn't the tea to end all teas.

Well, looks like Jack Hathaway's

had a shitty week.

So Hathaway, he's out?

That's solid?

That leaves us

with Malloy or Hanson.

It's gotta be Hanson.

Malloy's out.

- Now, Mr. President, I think you know...

- It's Hanson.

You know how I feel. Hanson may have

turncoated our way, but a turncoat's a turncoat.

We've had a vacancy for three weeks. The

nation's moved from mourning to anxiety.

I need a vice president. And I need a

person who's gonna reflect my politics.

- Fill it with Frank Malloy.

- No, no. Malloy's got an inflammation of ambition.

He won't be doing his job. He'll be preparing

to do mine. He's not even my second choice.

If it doesn't work with Hanson,

we're gonna go back to Hathaway.

- Do you think Hanson's a team player?

- Senator Hanson is gonna work.

And it's the job of you two to make sure

that confirmation gets through.

- I need to know I can count on you.

- Of course you can.

The president and I discussed several

issues, including the vice presidency.

- Did the president offer you the position?

- I asked him to withdraw my name.

Don't answer it, please.

I gotta get it.

It's the red line.

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Rod Lurie

Rod Lurie (born May 15, 1962) is an Israeli-American director, screenwriter and former film critic. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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