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
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 »
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 »
I've been waiting to see the 1947 film "The Senator Was Indiscreet" for years - ever since walking by a TV and hearing Ray Collins utter the line: "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?" I finally got a copy of the film, and I wasn't disappointed.
"The Senator Was Indiscreet" concerns a senator, Melvin Ashton (William Powell), who announces that he is not, not, not a candidate for President - meaning, of course, that he is. He has several speeches that he recycles, "Whither America" being one. At one point, a neon sign announces: "Tonight: Senator Melvin Ashton: Whither America. Tomorrow: Dog Show." The film is filled with hundreds of little touches like that. Old, blustery, and a buffoon who gives four-hour speeches and proposes bills like having people write on tissue paper to lessen the weight of mailbags, the party doesn't want him. However, they can't get rid of him - he has a diary that he's kept for years. When it goes missing, all hell breaks loose. One man sits on a phone helping party members plan their escape, saying: "There is no extradition between those two countries...We have four people traveling to Siberia..."
William Powell, normally elegant and smiling despite the chaos around him, gets right into it here. He is a RIOT. He looks like Colonel Sanders in his white wig and mustache. His funniest scene (to me anyway) is when he is locked out of his hotel and winds up in the subway while wearing his pajamas and bathrobe. He grabs a broom and quickly sweeps while walking up the stairs, then drops the broom and starts running. Peter Lind Hayes plays the publicist who got him into this high-profile mess. A very versatile and good-looking man, Hayes not only acted but worked as a composer, later pairing in performance with his wife, Mary Healy. His girlfriend is played by Ella Raines. Raines never made it to superstar status despite her striking prettiness and good performances. However, she was in some marvelous films, and this is one of them. She is terrific as an ambitious reporter who refers to Ashton as Ashcan in her writings. One of her headlines reads: "Ashton Declares Opposed to Assassination." Hans Conreid is funny as a bitter Yugoslavian hotel worker, and Ray Collins is great as the frantic head of the party.
The denouement is hilarious, with a very special cameo at the end you won't want to miss. Highly recommended for its comedy and statements about politics and politicians - most of which still apply.
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