MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 42 this week

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

 -  Drama  -  19 October 1939 (USA)
8.3
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.3/10 from 61,264 users  
Reviews: 226 user | 68 critic

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (story), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 28 titles
created 02 Sep 2011
 
a list of 25 titles
created 04 Dec 2011
 
a list of 49 titles
created 11 Sep 2012
 
a list of 30 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 39 titles
created 8 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) on IMDb 8.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

User Polls

Top 250 #118 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who's actually a reporter looking for a story.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
The General (1926)
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
All About Eve (1950)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean
Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Leonard Vole is arrested on suspicion of murdering an elderly acquaintance. He employs an experienced but aging barrister as his defense attorney.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton
The Apartment (1960)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Rebecca (1940)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Guy Kibbee ...
Governor Hopper
...
...
Chick McGann
...
Ma Smith
...
Senate Majority Leader
...
President of the Senate
Astrid Allwyn ...
Susan Paine
Ruth Donnelly ...
Mrs. Hopper
...
Senator MacPherson
Porter Hall ...
Senator Monroe
Larry Simms ...
Hopper Boy (as Baby Dumpling)
Edit

Storyline

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state's senior senator--presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal. Written by James Yu <jamestyu@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Capra at his greatest! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The Washington press corps were highly indignant at the way they were portrayed in the film. Consequently a great deal of the initial reviews from the capitol were very negative. One of their chief objections was that the film made them all out to be drinking too much. See more »

Goofs

Twice, Saunders says that Jefferson Smith is going to go "up" to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. Mt. Vernon is approximately 15 miles south of the Capitol in Washington [you can check that using Google maps], and is right on the Potomac River downstream from Washington, so it is not "up" in a north-south sense nor in the sense of elevation. The script should have had Saunders saying that Smith was going "down" to Mt. Vernon, which is how anyone living or working in Washington would have put it. See more »

Quotes

Jefferson Smith: [His voice very hoarse] Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Topper: Topper Goes to Washington (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(ca 1856) (uncredited)
Music by William Steffe
In the score when Smith is at the Lincoln Memorial
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Required viewing for anyone elected or appointed for public office.
2 June 1999 | by (South Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

Since the beginning of the art form, movies have generally fallen into two categories: the realistic, and the fantastic (fantasy-based). There are some that point out that the films of Frank Capra unduly fall into the latter, that they are completely far-fetched and fastened in their own time, and even invented a pejorative term "Capra-esque" to describe any non-cynical, heartwarming picture that has a message. His great films, like It Happened One Night, It's a Wonderful Life, and of course, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, however, are not fixed in a single era, but all eras, the truest definition of a classic. And considering it was released among true powerhouses in 1939, a year as important to movies as 1998 was to baseball, its ideals, story, and general excellence shine as bright today as it did over 60 years ago.

A Senator from an unnamed, middle America state dies and a new one must be appointed by Governor Hubert Hopper, a puppet whose strings are held by newspaper magnate Jim Taylor. They need to find one that would be easily controlled by the now-senior Senator Joseph Paine (played brilliantly by Claude Rains), so a bill allowing a building of a dam near land by the Willett Creek owned by Taylor can pass in the Senate. After his initial choice is rejected by Taylor, and Taylor's handpicked man is shot down by the public, the governor chooses Jefferson Smith, played to perfection by James Stewart, a boy scout leader and local hero who is both wholly idealistic in his patriotism for America but naive and blind to the actual process. After he gets embarrassed by the local print media, Mr. Smith begins to learn the harsh realities of DC. Paine, Smith's boyhood hero, takes him under his wing and suggests that Smith try to create a bill. Smith agrees, and with his assistant, Clarissa Saunders (played by Jean Arthur), they create a bill to create a campground for boys from all over the country to learn about each other and the civic process, much to the initial dissuasion by Saunders. Smith then wants to choose a site near the Willett Creek, the same site where the dam is to be built and when his superiors and true string-pullers find that out, major complications ensue.

Although the basic premise is David vs. Goliath, the story is wholly originally and was probably one of the earliest pictures to suggest the government as corrupt. The characters are played excellently by all principal actors, with Mr. Smith you root for whole-heartedly, Mr. Taylor you root against for his sheer arrogance and greed, and Mr. Paine, who you pity as you see a man who lost his initial zest to serve the public and is now a jaded shell of his former self. A great performance was given by Harry Carey, Sr., who plays the Vice President/President of the Senate for comic relief. The lines where completely believable and the parts of Smith's final filibuster that were shown give the most impact. There is a beautifully shot scene with images of the monuments and sights of Washington with several national anthems synchronized as the score. The climax is as tension-packed as drama can get, and while the ending may seem rather sudden, and everything isn't completely or neatly resolved, it works perfectly and ends the movie on a happy note.

Obviously, few if any people elected to public office has the moral character, conviction, and general good heartedness of Jefferson Smith, and I doubt whether the government would be better if it was. The movie showed an ideal, a supposed "lost cause" of truth in government. And although it is next to impossible for Capra and the eternal good guy Jimmy Stewart to ever fully change the world of politics with just a motion picture, at least it shows that maybe once in a great while, being the good guy has its definite rewards. If (using the same analogy of the 1998 baseball season) The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of 1939 moviemaking, then this would be like Cal Ripken voluntarily ending his Iron Man Streak, something done with full class and the highest respect in mind, and that elevates an ideal of being the good guy and sticking to your dedication brings the greatest of riches. This picture is flawless in all respects and a true classic, with thought-provoking ideas, wit, a little bit of platonic romance, and an excellent cinematography and score, and deserves the rank as a 10 out of 10. And in giving this rating, either I'm damn right or I'm crazy.


73 of 89 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Sentimentalist rubbish siluad2
Jefferson Smith: liberal or conservative gbromberg
Mr Smith punching people? luks-11
Would like to see a colorized version of this film cadams-5
Casting a Remake. laffalott1
I don't understand something... Angel_Buffy
Discuss Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?