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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
"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on October 3, 1949 with William Powell reprising his film role. See more »
Senator Melvin G. Ashton:
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.
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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 »
As Will Rogers said he got a lot of his material from reading the Congressional Record. If Rogers were alive he'd have gotten several humorous monologues from William Powell as Senator Melvin Ashton, United States Senator from some unfortunate state and pompous windbag extraordinaire.
I'm reminded of former Senator Roman L. Hruska from Nebraska who in defending Richard Nixon's nomination of G. Harrold Carswell for the Supreme Court said that in his defense mediocre people also need representation on the Supreme Court. Or Senator Charles Curtis of Kansas who became Vice President under Herbert Hoover who went into partnership with a doctor who prescribed the extract from goat glands for his patients. Sad to say we do have a boob who gets through every now and then.
And Powell has decided that he's got so many relatives on the public payroll now that only the presidency will satisfy all the demands being made on him. He's decided to run for president with a cross country tour denying his ambition on every occasion to the dismay of party bosses like Ray Collins who is updating his role of Boss Jim Gettys from Citizen Kane.
Unfortunately this lummox decided to keep a diary which could sink the whole immediate world something like the expense account kept by that hood from Kansas City in Casino. Powell's publicist Peter Lind Hayes is mad to get it back thinking that investigative reporter Ella Raines might have it. Hayes knows what a boob he is, but also knows the accolades from the political manager types he'll get if he can put the boob over. That's an attitude that's fresh and alive today with many.
Bill Powell looked like he was having a ball in the part of Ashton. 1947 was the year Powell decided to surrender to age and began playing fatherly types. He was after all 55 years old. Had he not been nominated for Life With Father, Powell might well have gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in this part.
One part of the film I'm afraid audiences might not get. As Powell contemplates that his political career might be finished they go through many jobs he could fill and it seems he just hasn't the qualifications for anything. One possibility might be as a sports 'czar' or commissioner of some professional sport as would have a colleague of Powell's just was made.
Albert B. 'Happy' Chandler who was a corn-pone politician of the highest order who was a former governor and then United States Senator from Kentucky became baseball's commissioner in 1945 succeeding Kenesaw M. Landis.
Landis who when he took the job was guaranteed a lifetime contract and ruled like a 'czar' of the major leagues. When he died the owners wanted a presentable front with some reputation and turned to Chandler. He actually surprised them all by overruling the whole lot of them and permitting the integration of major league baseball as Branch Rickey wanted. That show of independence cost him his job when his seven year contract was up and Chandler was succeeded by a group of nonentities that Melvin Ashton would have been superbly qualified to be among for the most part. Powell was just a tad ahead of his time.
Written by Charles MacArthur and directed by George S. Kaufman a pair of the best wits of the last century, The Senator Was Indiscreet is as fresh a political satire now as it was then. It's a short film with a laugh guaranteed every ten seconds.
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