Unhinged? Movies That Feature Leaders ‘On the Edge’

A smorgasbord of leaders in the movies (elected or otherwise) who are in danger of ‘losing it’ – or actually have. Can’t think why the subject occurred to me…


In chronological order of release:


300: Rise of an Empire (2014) – Xerxes’ God Complex

300: Rise of an Empire (2014) - The Birth of Xerxes Scene (2/10) | Movieclips


American Dreamz (2006) – Dennis Quaid’s POTUS has a nervous breakdown

American Dreamz (2006) Official Trailer #1 - Dennis Quaid Movie


The Last King of Scotland (2006) – Idi Amin

The Last King of Scotland (3/3) Movie CLIP - Hung From Hooks (2006) HD


Downfall (2004) – Hitler’s last days in his chi-chi Berlin bunker

Downfall (2004) - Clip 1: Steiner's Attack


Gladiator (2000) – Joaquin Phoenix’s unstable Commodus

Gladiator (2000) - Commodus enters Rome


Dick (1999) – a paranoid Nixon

Dick (1999) ~ "Arlene is in love with the President"


Absolute Power (1997) – the homicidal President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman)


Escape from LA (1996) – far right religious nutter Prez-for-life Cliff Robertson

Escape From L.A Ending


The Madness of King George (1994) – he lost the colonies. Fool. George III in the stage play, but apparently there were worries that the US audience would think that the picture was a sequel to George I and George II. FFS.


"The Madness of King George" (1994) - best scene


Americans…and the English (Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, 1982)

Americans Englishmen and Death


Secret Honor (1984) – more Dick Nixon madness

Secret Honor (full final scene)



The Dead Zone (1983) – Martin Sheen’s insane wannabe POTUS

The Missiles Are Flying - The Dead Zone (9/10) Movie CLIP (1983) HD



Being There (1979) – Mentally-challenged Chance the Gardner (Peter Sellers) – the next Leader of The Free World?

Being There Ending ᴴᴰ



Ludwig (1973) – the wacky Wittelsbach

Coronation of Ludwig II. 루드비히 신들의 황혼



Little Big Man (1970) Soap‘s Richard Mulligan as a deranged General Custer:

Little Big Man clip Custers insanity 3

On TV:

Caked in makeup and wearing a stupid blonde wig, John Hurt as the mental Emperor Caligula. Deja vu?


I, Claudius (1976)


"Your Emperor has returned..." In memory of John Hurt (1940 - 2017)

(John Hurt): ‘Do you think I’m mad?
Claudius (Derek Jacobi): ‘Mad?’
Caligula: ‘Yes. Sometimes I think that I’m going mad. Do you — be honest with me — has that thought ever crossed your mind?’
Claudius: ‘Never. Never. The idea is preposterous. You set the standard of sanity for the whole world.

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'