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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 19 October 1939 (USA)
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

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Writers:

(screen play), (story)
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Top Rated Movies #142 | 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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H.V. Kaltenborn ...
H.V. Kaltenborn

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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

Plot Keywords:

senator | dam | bill | senate | corruption | See All (98) »

Taglines:

Romance, drama, laughter and heartbreak ... created out of the very heart and soil of America ... by a great director and cast! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | 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)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

(at around 18 mins) When Smith arrives in Washington on the train, he's seen walking towards the exit with a porter behind him carrying his bags. The next shot shows the same porter coming into the station carrying someone else's bags. See more »

Quotes

Senator Joseph Paine: I wish to ask my distinguished colleague, has he one scrap of evidence to add now to the defense he did not give and could not give at that same hearing?
Jefferson Smith: I have no defense against forged papers!
Senator Joseph Paine: The Committee ruled otherwise! The gentleman stands guilty, as charged. And I believe I speak for every member when I say that no one cares to hear what a man of his condemned character has to say about any section of any legislation before this House.
President of Senate: Order, order, gentlemen.
Jefferson Smith: Mr. President, I stand ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in JAG: Mr. Rabb Goes to Washington (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(ca. 1755) (uncredited)
Traditional music of English origin
Played during the opening credits and often in the score
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It works in a way no other movie could, THERE IS PROOF
1 May 2006 | by (Morton Grove Il) – See all my reviews

Now, I must admit that this is one of my top five favorite films. There is a warmth, idealism, and kinda simple feeling of hope, that makes one believe that things will work out in the end. Capra knew exactly what he wanted, and it shines. Jimmy Stewart, in the role of his life, makes us believe, what we know is almost impossible in todays crass world.

Claude Rains is incredible as Senator Smith's evil mentor. Jean Arthur, as his confidant, plays the part so well,that we just want her to save the day.

The final scene, where the filibuster is taking place, is among the greatest ever made.

BUT THE PROOF, YOU ASK?

In the early 80s, I showed this film, over three days, to a group of 15 year old inner city teenagers. I taught Political Science in a very difficult school in Chicago. It was a new class, and not all of the "best" students took it.

I decided to show this film at the end of the year, just to see how long I could keep the students attention. I didn't expect much. Fifteen is a very tough age to keep any kind of attention span, and it was at the end of the day, 2:30 -3:15 pm. which made things worse. As the film began, there was rustling in the seats, boredom, that famous oh what a waste of time look...Mind you, this is 43 year old film, about a white Senator, in those "old" days, and being shown to a totally Afro-American crowd of 15 year olds, late in the day, (over a three day period, which meant the students would have to wait till the next day to see what was going on. ..By the end of the third day, Capra had worked his magic, and the entire class was spellbound by this film. They were there till the very end, and you could see how much they enjoyed seeing a film, that they wouldn't have looked at in a thousand years..Comments were wonderful. Any film that could accomplish this, more than 40 years after its conception, to a crowd that one would believe would have no interest deserves to be truly called a "great film."


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