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Strange but True Tales from Hollywood: The Bureaucrat as Movie Hero

PAM, Vol. 6 No. 4, (2001)

Popular culture reflects the hostility to government and bureaucracy
that is deeply embedded in American history, society and culture.
Therefore, movies that depict evil government or villainous bureaucrats are
relatively common. Are there any movies that defy this stereotype? As an
exploratory research effort, the authors sought to identify any movies that
depict admirable, even heroic, bureaucrats. Has the movie-going public
ever seen a good public administrator? Using a wide variety of sources and
exploratory research methodologies, the authors were able to identify 20
movies that presented positive characterizations of government managers.
All were men and most were involved in a uniformed service.
Notwithstanding the small number of bureaucratic heroes in movies, public
administrationists can proudly identify themselves with these Hollywood
crumbs. Faculty may wish to use these 20 movies as visual examples of the
courage sometimes needed to be a moral and ethical public administrator.
Finally, readers are invited to submit to the authors nominations of
additional films that meet the criteria used in the article in order to enhance
the ongoing comprehensiveness of the list.

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