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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
No member of the party has the right to deny he is not a candidate unless he is a candidate.
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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 »
Melvin Ashton is a U. S. Senator. He is also a blithering idiot, who feels that we should help the American postal worker by making their loads easier to lug. How? By hiring more workers and cutting down the average load that way? No. Everyone should write on tissue paper. It is lighter than current stationary.
Ashton is representative of the men (like Franklin Pierce and Warren Harding) who managed to get the nomination to the U.S. Presidency (and in those two disastrous cases, won election to that office) when they did not deserve such distinction. In this send-up of our political process, Ashton is facing an unnerving problem. He has risen to the U.S. Senate, and has only one of two places to go: either he is defeated in a reelection bid (not too hard to imagine) or he is nominated and elected President. If party head Ray Collins had his way Melvin would be allowed to gracefully bow out of the U.S. Senate (he could easily be replaced). But Ashton is made of sterner stuff than that. He has a diary, and it includes the story of every dirty political deal made by his party since he first entered office. If published it would send his party into a tale-spin. And Melvin is very willing to publish it...unless the party gives him the nomination.
"The Senator Was Indiscreet" was directed by George S. Kaufman. Recalling that he (with Moss Hart) created John Wintergreen and the immortal Vice President Alexander Throttlebottom in the musical "Of Thee I Sing" (and subsequently did a political spoof of FDR "I'd Rather Be Right") it is no surprise that Kaufman went back to this theme for the only film he ever directed. He did a good job with this one, which shows the shallowness of our political leadership and punches holes in the whole Presidential campaign system. Look at the brief series of vignettes where Melvin is shown making political speeches like, "Not inflation, not deflation, but good old American "Flation"." That makes sense, doesn't it? Or how Melvin, to show himself a capable engineer for the country, is shown taking over a modern super-train, which his incompetence wrecks (a headline suggests it was foreign agents).
I can go on with the jokes of this wonderful comedy. But I will only add that it comes close to showing its actual hand. Just which party is it? Most of us would say does it really matter if it is either the Democrats or the Republicans? Well one could say it does not matter, except there seems to be a hint it is the Republicans. Ashton keeps worrying about the leading opponent he has, whose name is never mentioned. It appears to be some other Senator that Collins and the other party leaders are fully willing to see as their standard bearer. At one point Collins politely tries to reason with Powell that he has to know what a total jerk he is and he could not possibly deserve the job. Powell shoots back, "Well, what makes you think HE does?" Collins looks at him incredulously ... like saying "Are you for real?"
My guess is that (unsaid as it is) Kaufman and the screenplay writers of 1947 were thinking of Senator Robert Taft, at that time one of the three front-runners for the Republican nomination in 1948. Taft did not get that nomination (he never got his party's nomination, which in retrospect was very unfair to the man known as "Mr. Republican"). Too starchy a person (and far too straight talking and honest), Taft did deserve an opportunity to run. And, yes, his political career (culminating in the labor law that still bears his name) showed how deserving he was. So Ray Collins incredulous stare had some real point to it.
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