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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joseph P. Kennedy, the ambassador to Great Britain, sent Harry Cohn a cablegram urging him to withdraw the film from European distribution. Kennedy wrote, "I have a high regard for Mr. Capra ...but his fine work makes the indictment of our government all the more damning to foreign audiences... I feel that to show this film in foreign countries will do inestimable harm to American prestige all over the world. ...Pictures from the United States are the greatest influence on foreign public opinion of the American mode of life. The times are precarious, the future is dark at best. We must be more careful." Cohn and Frank Capra had sent Kennedy many clippings from American reviews and editorials, all praising the film and expressing the opinion that Democracy can withstand, and in fact encourages, such questions as the film raises. See more »
(About 45 mins) Smith and Susan Paine have a conversation wherein Smith's hat, held in his hand, is the camera's sole focus for about 30 seconds - at the expense of the characters conversing. And yet when Smith leaves the room, he is without hat, and the hat is nowhere to be seen. See more »
H.V. Kaltenborn, Himself:
[Speaking into a CBS Radio microphone]
Senator Smith, has now talked for 23 hours and 16 minutes. It is the most unusual and spectacular thing in the Senate annals. One alone and simple American, holding the greatest floor in the land. What he lacked in experience, he's made up in fight. But those tired Boy Ranger legs are buckling, bleary eyed, voice gone, he cannot go on much longer. And all official Washington is here to be in on the kill.
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The media and those in Washington, D.C. cringed in 1939 when Frank Capra (Oscar-nominated for directing) come out with "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". Capra, fresh off amazing successes like "Lady for a Day", "It Happened One Night", "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", "Lost Horizon" and "You Can't Take It With You", used his power to slap some bigwigs in the face with a powerful medium---the motion picture. The result was an immediate backlash by publications and politicians, but cheers from critics and the audience. As with society, the critics and the masses won out as the movie is a masterpiece in every way. A U.S. Senate vacancy leads to a dilemma. Who should be put in office? Everyone believes the apparently naive and gullible James Stewart (Oscar-nominated) is the logical choice because he will be easy to manipulate and he won't rock the boat. Stewart, the leader of the Boy Rangers (a local camp association for youngsters), gets blind-sided by many high-ranking officials who have alterior motives (Oscar nominees Harry Carey and Claude Rains in particular) when his idea for a national boys' camp goes by the wayside. Thus the only thing left for Stewart is to beat those in charge by beating them at their own game---creating a filibuster (a never-ending governmental argument for his cause). Stewart is solid as always here and the supporters (love interest/reporter Jean Arthur and drunk newspaper man Thomas Mitchell included with the aforementioned players) are all terrific throughout. The Oscar-winning screenplay is deceptively intelligent and Capra just had the uncanny ability to mix comedy, drama and interpersonal characterizations together to make consistently wonderful American film experiences. 5 stars out of 5.
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