Watch this movie and pine for this kind of Government
May 26, 2001
OK I admit it I'm a sentamentalist, and a political junkie. Some movies just get to me and I live for politics. Combine the two of them, add fine performances by James Stewart, Claude Rains, Et-al and cap it off with the Capra style and I'm hooked. The story of an innocent thrust into the Senate by a political machine is at times gripping and at other times (ok frequent times) amusing. The dinner table with the Governer and his children is classic. I can't watch this movie without being in tears, particularly at a particular scene where a young boy is reading the Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Memorial while an elderly Black Gentleman, (Who looked old enough to be a former slave and may well have been.) takes off his hat in reverence. (I keep thinking what he would say to the idea that the civil war wasn't about slavery.) In the end I think the movie is (like the Star Wars series) less about the brave struggle of a youth fighting for his ideas than about the guilt and struggle of the man who has abandoned his. This may be quite unfair of me but I suspect many in congress have with the best intentions made the same deal that Sen Payne (Raines) makes in this film. I think it was the real reason this movie was so unpopular in Washington when it came out and why for some there today it would be unbearable to watch.
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About the reviewer
Peter Ingemi (DaTechGuy)
I am a blogger who hosts a Saturday evening Radio show on WCRN 830 AM out of Worcester Mass. I blog about politics, religion, baseball and doctor who at datechguy.wordpress.com I also cover … more
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Political heavyweights decide that Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), an obscure scoutmaster in a small town, would be the perfect dupe to fill a vacant U.S. Senate chair. Surely this naive bumpkin can be easily controlled by the senior senator (Claude Rains) from his state, a respectable and corrupted career politician. Director Frank Capra fills the movie with Smith's wide-eyed wonder at the glories of Washington, all of which ring false for his cynical secretary (Jean Arthur), who doesn't believe for a minute this rube could be for real. But he is. Capra was repeating the formula of a previous film,Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, but this one is even sharper; Stewart and Arthur are brilliant, and the former cowboy star Harry Carey lends a warm presence to the role of the vice president. Bright, funny, and beautifully paced,Mr. Smith Goes to Washingtonis Capra's ode to the power of innocence--an idea so potent that present-day audiences may find themselves wishing for a new Mr. Smith in Congress. The 1939 Congress was none too thrilled about the film's depiction of their august body, denouncing it as a caricature; but even today, Capra's jibes about vested interests and political machines look as accurate as ever.--Robert Horton