SPOILER ALERT: Breaking Bad, The Godfather, Taken 2, and Silence of the Lambs virgins should read no further.
A Texan woman named Shannon Richardson recently pled guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Most fans of good television will instantly remember that ricin is one of the more famous murder weapons in the show Breaking Bad, and I can’t be the only one to think that she might have been inspired by Heisenberg during this assassination attempt. Thanks to Vince Gilligan, millions of people now know there is a powder that causes respiratory failure if inhaled and is difficult to detect.
Which got me thinking about how Hollywood might have helped some other would-be assassinators throughout history. Here’s what I came up with:
The Would-Be Assassinated President: Teddy Roosevelt
The Movie/Show That Would Have Helped The Would-Be Assassin: The Godfather
Three and a half years after he left office, Roosevelt was running for President as a member of the Progressive Party. Before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John F. Schrank, a saloon-keeper from New York who had been stalking him for weeks, shot Roosevelt once in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver. The 50-page text of his campaign speech folded over twice in Roosevelt's breast pocket and a metal glasses case slowed the bullet, saving his life.
Now if Moe Green’s death at the end of The Godfather taught us anything, it’s that you should always attempt to murder a man while he’s naked. The near-sighted Green was enjoying a massage without the protection of his clothes, speech papers, or metal glasses cases when he was shot through the eye. Roosevelt, a famous member of The Rough Riders, was known for his outdoor excursions. Maybe the next time he's taking a dip in a stream to wash off, you show him what it's like to be hunted.
The Would-Be Assassinated President: Herbert Hoover
The Movie/Show That Would Have Helped The Would-Be Assassin: Breaking Bad
On November 19, 1928, President-elect Hoover embarked on a seven-week goodwill tour of several Latin American countries. While in Argentina, he escaped an assassination attempt by Argentine anarchists, led by Severino Di Giovanni, who tried to blow up his railroad car. The plotters had an itinerary but the bomber was arrested before he could place the explosives on the rails.
Not content to just settle on being a how-to guide for things like meth cooking and poisoning, Breaking Bad showed us also how to pull off the perfect train heist as well. I’m pretty sure if Severino Di Giovanni had Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Todd Alquist on his team, Herbert Hoover would be in a lot of different pieces by now.
The Would-Be Assassinated President: Harry Truman
The Movie/Show That Would Have Helped The Would-Be Assassin: Taken 2
On November 1, 1950, two Puerto Rican pro-independence activists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, attempted to kill Truman at the Blair House, where Truman lived while the White House was being renovated.
Now, I like what they were thinking, going after the President when he wasn’t staying on his home turf. Vacation is a perfect time to attack someone. Just look at how well they pull it off in Taken 2. I'd say wait until Truman tries to go to the bathroom at night. He's fumbling around aimlessly, he's a little sleepy, he has to pee. Perfect time for an assassination. Remember to take care of the daughter too though, she’s feisty.
The Would-Be Assassinated President: Ronald Reagan
The Movie/Show That Would Have Helped The Would-Be Assassin: Silence of the Lambs
On March 30, 1981, as he returned to his limousine after a speech at the Hilton Washington Hotel in the capital, Reagan and three other men were shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr.. Reagan was struck by a single bullet which broke a rib, punctured a lung, and caused serious internal bleeding. Hinckley was immediately subdued and arrested at the scene. Later, he claimed to have wanted to kill the president to impress the teen actress Jodie Foster.
The Silence of the Lambs proves that what really impresses Jodie Foster is a brilliant mind and a quick tongue.