Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

directed by Frank Capra
Category: "Drama"
Year of Release:1939
Date Added:02/23/2005
Date Watched:10/11/2004
Description:Jean Arthur .... Clarissa Saunders
James Stewart .... Jefferson Smith
Claude Rains .... Sen. Joseph Harrison Paine
Edward Arnold .... Jim Taylor
Guy Kibbee .... Gov. Hubert 'Happy' Hopper
Thomas Mitchell .... Diz Moore
Eugene Pallette .... Chick McGann
Beulah Bondi .... Ma Smith
H.B. Warner .... Sen. Agnew (Senate Majority Leader)
Harry Carey .... The Vice President
My Rating:8

Reviews for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Review - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

When the senator from a western state dies, the governor is torn between appointing the popular candidate the people want or the machine-controlled stooge party boss Jim Taylor wants. He compromises by appointing Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers. The party figures it can control Smith and make him do what they want. He arrives in Washington and is awed by the place. When the senior senator from his state, Joseph Paine makes an offhand suggestion that Smith write a bill for a boys’ camp, Smith does it with the help of his secretary, Saunders. But it soon transpires that Smith’s camp is on the very site where Jim Taylor wants the government to build a dam. Taylor and his cronies have already bought up the land and plan on selling it to the government for a big profit. When Smith refuses to back down, Paine demands his ouster from the Senate on the grounds that he’s planning on profiting from the boys’ camp bill —a total fabrication. Smith is ready to quit, but Saunders talks him into a final effort — to gain the floor of the house and filibuster until the people of his state rise up and demand an end to Taylor and Paine. He talks for 24 hours, but the people of his state never find out. Taylor controls the newspapers. Saunders (who has by now fallen in love with Smith) and Smith’s mother get the boys of the state to spread the news, but Taylor strong arms them also. Paine brings in baskets of telegrams from the state demanding that Smith give up the floor, but Smith proclaims that he will never quit because he knows he’s right. But his strength is gone and he faints. This causes Paine to listen to his conscience. He stands up in the Senate and admits that Smith is right and that he and Taylor are crooks. That’s how the movie ends.

• It was hokey to an incredible degree, but it works because Jimmy Stewart plays the part of Mr. Smith. No other actor could have pulled it off.

I enjoyed it. It was a feel-good movie. But at the same time I couldn’t help thinking that Mr. Smith’s vision has still yet to be realized. Our national politics are as graft-ridden and corrupt as ever.
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