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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  19 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 71,988 users  
Reviews: 239 user | 92 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.



(screen play), (story), 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #126 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
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)


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


Capra's Greatest Hit --- The Screen At Its Most Inspired! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One reason Frank Capra made this film was to help him get over the loss of his infant son, who had died following complications from a tonsillectomy. Initially Capra wanted to make a film about Frédéric Chopin, but Columbia head Harry Cohn nixed that on the grounds that it would be too expensive. Capra and Cohn were constantly at loggerheads over budgets, despite Capra being Columbia's most successful director with - at the time - two Oscars under his belt. See more »


The President of the Senate repeatedly recognizes Jeff Smith on the floor of the Senate as "Mr. Smith." Senators are not recognized by name but as junior or senior senator from the state they represent. See more »


[after all the other Senators walk out]
Jefferson Smith: Oh, Mr. President, we seem to be alone. I, I'm not complaining for a social reason; it's just, I think it'd be a pity if these gentlemen missed any of this, and...
[Clarissa starts waving from the visitors gallery, and making hand signals]
Jefferson Smith: And, uh...
[he grabs the rule book]
Jefferson Smith: I, I call the chair's attention to... to, uh... Rule 5 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, Section... Section 3. "If it shall be found that a quorum is not present, a majority of the ...
See more »


Referenced in Dawson's Creek: Hurricane (1998) See more »


O Bury Me Not On the Lone Prairie
Traditional cowboy song
In the score when Smith and Paine reminisce, and later when Smith is at the Lincoln Memorial at night
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

This movie is awesome! No complaints here!
29 April 2004 | by (Troutdale, OR) – See all my reviews

`Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' is not as well known of a movie as it should be. It is a very good movie that is very interesting and a very good way to learn how some things involving the Senate work. This reviewer absolutely loved this movie and wishes she could run out and buy it right now. It definitely grabs the audience's attention and keeps it there. While watching this movie, this reviewer was laughing, smiling, getting really, really angry, learning, and even getting a little teary-eyed. How can a movie that brings out all those different emotions in someone not be great, or even spectacular! `Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' is definitely one of the best movies ever made despite the fact that it is mostly about politics! It's still interesting!

While watching this movie, the audience might be thinking that the acting isn't half bad and is actually quite realistic. They would be right too! All of the acting is really very good and it draws the audience in and keeps them in. This movie was so close to not having one single cheesy line or unbelievable acting job that it's really a shame that it did. At the very end of the movie Saunders, played by , stands up from her seat in the balcony and yells `Stop Jeff! Stop!' and then falls to the floor. The line and the way says it is very, very cheesy and something the audience might find themselves laughing at. That line is just about the only time in the entire movie where the acting was lacking. James Stewart was, of course, phenomenal. He is a very good actor and one that should be remembered for a very long time. He's awesome!

The only other not so great thing about `Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' is the ending. It's a happy ending but, well, it just ends. It's an abrupt ending. It ends so abruptly that the audience isn't even expecting it to end when it does. It has one of those endings where the audience knows a bunch of things that will be happening, they just aren't shown happening. This reviewer doesn't really care for those kind, it is much better when you get to see the things carried out. Although the ending could have been better `Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' is still an awesome movie and the ending doesn't take away from that at all!

This movie is so great that every person in the world should be able to see it because it is definitely worth the time it takes to see it.

28 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
people have gone over this but still didn't explain it. mrwnmero
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
I don't understand something... Angel_Buffy
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