The Making of the President: The 1960s DVD review - watch history as it happened

Theodore White is the author of The Making of the President series of books that documents United States Presidential elections.  The Making of the President, 1960 is the most notable as it kicked off the series and won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1962.  The book was then adapted into an Emmy-Award winning television special the following year by executive producer David L. Wolper.  White continued writing about the presidential elections and Wolper and his team continued making specials.  The three from the '60s are collected for this amazing set from Athena.


Disc One is The Making of the President: 1960, which saw Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard M. Nixon battle to follow Dwight Eisenhower as President.  However, the story began in the primaries.  Nixon had an easy run with an early drop out by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  On the other side of the aisle, a number of Democrats like Senator Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson are seen jockeying for position as they travel across the country and up through the convention.  Then Kennedy and Nixon are shown making their case to the American people, including their famous televised debate, a first in U.S. politics.  Archival news footage allows modern-day viewers to witness the men campaigning and narration fills in the rest of the story. 

The second disc is The Making of the President: 1964.  After the first few minutes cover Kennedy's assassination, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson is revealed to be continuing the work Kennedy started.  Incumbent Johnson had an easy time securing his party's nomination.  On the other hand, the Republicans were in a similar position as the Democrats last time around: divided as they searched for a candidate to unify the party.  East Coast liberal Republicans wanted Governor Rockefeller while Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona appealed to the conservatives of the party.  Goldwater was triumphant but his strong ideological beliefs and remarks kept the party fractured.  It also kept him from doing well on Election Day as the Johnson re-election team made him out to be a racist and unstable as seen in news stories and campaign materials like the infamous Daisy commercial.

Disc Three is The Making of the President: 1968.  The special is slightly different from the previous ones being in color and featuring Theodore White as the host.  The country's turbulence from the Vietnam War to the fight for Civil Rights even affected the presidential race.  Johnson lost the first primary in New Hampshire to Senator Eugene McCarthy and then dropped out of the race.  The field opened up as many other Democrats jumped into the race like Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Robert Kennedy, with the latter sadly meeting the same fate as his brother as as assassin took his life.  The anarchy of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, in the building and out on the streets, is on display.  Though challenged, Nixon was the Republican front-runner and had an easier time securing his party's nomination.  Another major player in the election was former Alabama Governor and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace, whose pro-segregation policies had an appeal. 

The set comes with a few extras. "A Thousand Days: A Tribute to John F. Kennedy" (25 min) on Disc One was first shown at the '64 Democratic Convention to honor the former President.  Narrated by William Conrad, "The March of Time: Seven Days in the Life of the President," (51 min) on Disc Two is a week with Johnson.  All three discs have the inaccurately titled "The Contenders After Their Campaigns," which presents brief bios about the political lives of the men who ran for president and isn't restricted to after the campaign.

The Making of the President: The 1960s is as important document of presidential politics as any book.  Getting to see the men in their own words provides a historical record that is hard to argue with.  I was especially fascinated by the party primaries that don't always get the historical attention they deserve.  I was so impressed with these programs that I believe they should be available in schools and libraries.

By Gordon S. Miller

About the author

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003.  Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher.  Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as Blogcritics, FilmRadar, and High Def Digest.  He became the Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Sentries upon its inception in 2011.

More From Gordon S. Miller

The quality of this '80s syndicated series led to a worldwide multimedia franchise.
Read More
Day One round-up of PBS at the TCA Winter 2012 Press Tour.
Read More
The cast and crew stave off a sophomore slump.
Read More
1 Comment
On: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

I love all of this kind of stuff, and this series sounds great (especially as I'm deep into Mad Men Season One this summer, which takes place in 1960!). 


Email (Will not be used):


characters left

Featured Articles

Popular Today


Recent Comments

"Mysterion Rises" with The Cute Lord Cthulhu - South Park review
Actually, the birthing of Kenny in "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" doesn't necessarily conflict with the circumstances of Kenny's reincarnation...
Alien Encounters, "The Message": a hard to find little show that's worth the search
Mind Reading Technologies and Tongues Governments from around the world have been using mind reading technologies that can read...
Dog The Bounty Hunter, "And Baby Makes Three": revisiting an old favorite
i do like your show i wish can be your fan club i want all of your show on dvd please
Boardwalk Empire, "Two Boats and a Lifeguard": daddy issues
Are you looking for a partner for the relationship or for fun? Then you came to the right place. We are providing you the best dating...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I can verify Bear Claw. Good man. I cant vouch for the other participants. It is to bad society does suck so bad that this type...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
Lake Michigan is not an ocean. Has anyone seen my white dog? Lost him while hiking in Arkansas
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too also as well live on the island, I can attest that Dan lives in the ocean as he has for hundreds of decades. We locals call...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
It's funny because its so not funny.
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain...