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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | | Drama | 19 October 1939 (USA)
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)
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Top Rated Movies #128 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
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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)
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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:

Entertainment As Powerful As the Strength of the People! As Great As the Genius of Capra! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Washington press corps was highly indignant at the way it was 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

(at around 9 mins) When the governor enters the Smith's home (with the band playing) we see, from the inside, Ma closing the door almost shut. When the scene shifts to outside the house, Ma is again closing the same door. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Clarissa Saunders: [shouts] Yippee!
See more »


Soundtracks

Red River Valley
(uncredited)
Traditional
In the score when Smith is at the Lincoln Memorial
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Capra & Stewart Make It Work Very Well
27 September 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Frank Capra and James Stewart were nearly unsurpassed at the task of taking the kind of story that is optimistic but that borders on being trite, and making it into a satisfying, worthwhile movie. In "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", they accomplish this with a little help from Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, and Edward Arnold. It's not quite on the level of "It's a Wonderful Life", but it is as good as almost anything else of its kind.

Stewart's performance is important right from the beginning - hardly anyone else could have been believable as the earnest unknown who suddenly becomes an important political figure. Even his wide-eyed appreciation for what he sees in Washington comes across believably. As the story gets more complicated and his character is developed further, Stewart is even better.

The secondary characters are also important, because the story itself is a rather stylized, though still worthwhile, statement about politics. The characters are more believable than are many of the plot developments. Rains contributes a lot as Stewart's troubled colleague, and Jean Arthur is a natural for this kind of role. Arnold plays his devious character well. Capra holds it all together with his craftsmanship, keeping the story on track and getting the most out of the situation.


34 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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people have gone over this but still didn't explain it. mrwnmero
Sentimentalist rubbish siluad2
Jefferson Smith: liberal or conservative gbromberg
The system has been rotten for a long time pinkybanana2000
Mr Smith punching people? luks-11
Would like to see a colorized version of this film cadams-5
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