Click here to buy Amazon movie bestsellers

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mr. Smith goes to Washington by Frank Capra

This is another great movie by Frank Capra; one that is not so famous right now, but very famous and controversial in its time. Because it was about corruption in Washington, in the seat of Government and in the legislature, the Washington Press and Congress members labeled the movie as a movie pandering to Communist interests and against American interest. This was not only a US politician reaction, with the other dictatorships (Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Fascist Italy and Spain under Franco) all banning the movie as well. Other countries took liberties in the dubbing of the movie to alter the tone of the script and the dialog.
The movie was well-received (it got 11 Academy nominations after all - not a small number by any standard, although it did not win any of the major ones, and in fact won only one Academy award, for Best Screenplay).

Frank Capra presents Mr. Smith goes to Washington

The movie was released in 1939, and starred James Stewart in the lead role (the movie also had the effect of giving a major filip to his career); it had some well know stars of that era such as Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Charles Lane, and Thomas Mitchell. The movie was based on a novel called 'The Gentleman from Montana' (by author Lewis R. Foster), with the script of the movie written by Sidney Buchman.
The movie is about a guy called Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), who is the head of the Boy Rangers and seen as a non-corrupt guy. When a senator for a US state (the state is not specified in the movie) dies, the Governor, Hubert "Happy" Hopper (Guy Kibbee), has to balance between the public demand for a honest person to be the next Senator vs. the demand from the political chain to have another corrupt and connected politician. Eventually, the Governor decides to select Smith to be the next Senator; soon, he is condemned by the Washington Press as not being like a Senator, more of a bumpkin.
Goaded into making a name for himself, Smith decides to float legislation for getting Government money to buy land for a boy's camp, with the money coming in from donations by kids all over America. Unknown to him, politics and corruption is already involved in this bill. Soon, things are manipulated such that Smith is soon shown to be owning the land, and Smith decides to run away. However, he is beseeched by his formerly cynical aide / secretary to try and do a legislative tactic called a 'filibuster' (wikipedia) to stall the vote to expel him. He tries to stay the course, and starts drawing support while he is talking non-stop (and the political opposition clamps down on the media to prevent his statements from being displayed). His tactic is to continue speaking, and he does so to the point of exhaustion; when he faints, the Senator who had manipulated him, Senator Paine, has remorse and confesses all.

Post a Comment