In 1939, John Ford (more below), the iconic director of the Hollywood western, made Stagecoach. It was a big hit and is still considered a classic. It also made John Wayne a star.
The plot was stereotypical: a good guy/bad guy story with cowboys, Indians, a few pretty ladies and a banker. In the film, Henry Gatewood, the banker, sayeth [whilst clutching the bag containing money he’s embezzled]:
I don’t know what the government is coming to. Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business! Why, they’re even talking now about having *bank* examiners. As if we bankers don’t know how to run our own banks! Why, at home I have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books.
I have a slogan that should be blazoned on every newspaper in this country: America for the Americans! The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking. Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for president!
More about the film here and more about John Ford:
Ford was well-known as a lifelong Republican and political conservative. But he was the kind of libertarian conservative who places great value on individualism and has the populist’s faith in the ability of ordinary people to detect corruption and power-mongering in their leaders. That his favorite presidents reportedly were Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and John Kennedy shows perhaps that he was more impressed with strength of character and the ability to respond forcefully to crisis than with adherence to political dogma. So it’s not surprising that in Stagecoach the great humanist movie maker who was able to find both noble and not-so-noble personal qualities in his characters reserves his most negative feelings for the banker, a thorough hypocrite willing to cheat and rob while condemning the morality of others.
Was this character the first Tea Party Republican?