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The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 290 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 2 critic

A bumbling, long-winded and crooked Southern senator, considered by some as a dark horse for the Presidency, panics his party when his tell-all diary is stolen.

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Title: The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Peter Lind Hayes ...
Arleen Whelan ...
Valerie Shepherd
...
Fred Houlihan
...
Farrell
Charles D. Brown ...
Dinty
...
Waiter
...
Oakes
Milton Parsons ...
Joe aka 'You Know Who'
Francis Pierlot ...
Frank
...
Indian
Chief Thundercloud ...
Indian (as Chief Thunder Cloud)
Chief Yowlachie ...
Indian
...
Indian
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Storyline

Dim-witted blowhard, Melvin G. Ashton, is a US Senator who wants to be President. He hires Lew Gibson, a talented PR man who gets Ashton in newsreels and on the front page, never thinking he'll win. But Ashton has a secret weapon: a diary documenting every shady deal his party's made for 35 years. With the diary, he blackmails the party leaders to support his candidacy, and he's on his way to the nomination. An unseen political enemy is after the diary, using the young and lovely Valerie Shepherd to get into the Senator's room. Plus, Lew's fiancée, reporter Poppy McNaughton thinks she can get her hands on it, too, and stop Ashton. Will the otherwise unemployable dope become President? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 December 1948 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

De senator was indiscreet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the only film directed by playwright and stage director George S. Kaufman. Kaufman directed the film in the same manner that he directed in the theater by closing his eyes and listening only to the actors speaking the dialogue, with no regard to how the scene looked. Since Kaufman knew nothing about the technical aspects of filmmaking, associate producer Gene Fowler Jr. looked after those issues, with Kaufman allowing Fowler to cut a take at his discretion if there was a technical problem. See more »

Quotes

Senator Melvin G. Ashton: [to Houlihan] Owning a nice little diary is like owning a nice little atom bomb. Even if you don't do anything with it, it's a comfort to know it's there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedication: To every politician who has ever jeopardized a baby's health with unsanitary kisses, who has ever delivered a three hour Fourth of July oration about himself and George Washington, who has ever promised peace, prosperity and triple movie features in exchange for a vote, this picture is not too humbly dedicated. See more »

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User Reviews

 
"You can't go around quoting politicians accurately; that's dirty journalism, and you know it!"
15 August 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

It seems that politicians – or, perhaps more accurately, our perception of politicians – have changed very little in the sixty years since this film was released. Not only are they deceitful, power-hungry fast-talkers, but, most worryingly of all, they're not all that bright, either. George S. Kaufman's 'The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)' is the earliest American political satire that I can recall seeing – though earlier examples almost certainly exist – and the film traipses many of the paths that would be echoed in subsequent films such as Hal Ashby's 'Being There (1979)' and Barry Levinson's 'Wag the Dog (1997).' At the forefront of these films is the complete trivialisation of the political system, portraying politicians either as dim-witted blow-hards or as ruthless power-grabbing tacticians, sometimes both. William Powell's Melvin G. Ashton falls into the former category, a white-haired Senator with more than a few loose screws upstairs. Nevertheless, he possess one vital item of leverage, a diary detailing every nasty political scam of the last thirty-five years, and so his influence is limitless.

William Powell, recently free from the 'Thin Man' series (1934-1947), is perfect as the IQ-challenged Senator with big ambitions. When he's not proposing absurd new regulations – for example, that all Americans should write letters on tissue paper to ease the burden on mail-men – Ashton is publicly and vigorously denying that he will run for Presidential Candidacy. In political terms, this means that he will run for Presidential Candidacy. Party colleague Houlihan (Ray Collins) attempts to talk Ashton out of his ambitions, almost convincing him to enter into a football career, but his persuasion is ultimately fruitless, especially considering the important historical document that Ashton has in his possession. When the coveted diary unexpectedly goes missing, every politician currently in office is thrown into chaos, and personal secretary Lew Gibson (Peter Lind Hayes) is sent to retrieve it, with journalist girlfriend Poppy McNaughton (Ella Raines) snapping at his heels. Even if all this doesn't seem your thing, wait around for the ending, which reveals a pleasant surprise.

'The Senator Was Indiscreet' was adapted from a screenplay by Charles MacArthur {co-author of "The Front Page"}, and the sole film directed by George S. Kaufman, a prominent playwright. There are several classic lines of dialogue ("Don't you think it's time you cut out the part where you laugh at the idea of the U.S. going to war against Japan?"), but the story unfolds fairly predictably. This, of course, doesn't necessarily negate the film's entertainment value, but I'd have liked a more daring degree of satire. The comedy style itself has its roots in the likes of 'His Girl Friday (1940),' but the jokes are more conservative, the laughs are scarcer, and the characters do not speak with the hilariously-frantic overlapping dialogue of Howard Hawks' film. Nevertheless, the lighthearted jibes at politicians are enjoyable, and it's not much of a stretch for the audience to believe that a clueless half-wit like Senator Melvin Ashton might potentially find himself at the doorstep of the White House. Indeed, recent history has shown us that he could even have gone further.


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