Since Woodrow Wilson screened Birth of a Nation, presidents have enjoyed the privilege of watching seemingly any film they wanted at any time. In the century since – and especially since FDR installated of a formal White House movie theater – we’ve heard stories about Eisenhower’s love for Westerns or Clinton’s private screening of Independence Day. But our most movie-obsessed film president might not have been former actor Reagan: it was Jimmy Carter.
At least according to a list assembled by Gizmodo’s Matt Novak, who dug through presidential records and discovered that Carter watched 400 films over the course of his presidency, everything from All the President’s Men to, for some reason, Blue Lagoon. Carter occupied the White House during the end of the New Hollywood era, so his screenings have a pretty good track record: in his first year alone, he saw The Godfather, Network, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Blazing Saddles. But there’s also the funny mental image of him watching The In-Laws the day before his famous “crisis of confidence” speech.
It sounds like this list took some serious manual compiling, so don’t expect similar lists from other presidencies any time soon. Weirdest of all, we don’t have much anecdotal evidence for why Carter watched so many movies. We’re willing to chalk it up to the stress of the job.