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Enviromentalist Anne Richards goes to Washington D. C. to fight for getting legislation passed to save the last remaining sanctuary of the almost-extinct California Condor. She enlists the aid of Johnnie Adams, an engraver, and Washington's most successful party-crasher, and Steve Bennett, a lobbyist for the opposition who comes over to Anne's side. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Oddly Prescient Mismatch Comedy of Oil Lobbyists vs. Environmentalists
Hard to believe this script was written in the early 1950s -- it sounds like it might be a pitch for some mismatch comedy of today. Neal is an environmental activist sent to Washington to help stop a bill that would allow drilling for natural gas in the habitat set aside by the government for the endangered California Condor. An evil oil company is sponsoring a bill in Washington that would allow them, and only them, to drill -- thus disrupting the Condor's delicate breeding patterns. She crashes a swank DC party to try to gain access to the Department of the Interior bureaucrat who's been ducking her, where she runs into a kindly retired Admiral (Gwenn, better known as Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street"), who is taken by her and agrees to introduce her to one of his many Washington pals, the sleazy but suave lobbyist lawyer played by Mature. What neither of them knows is that the Admiral is in fact an engraver at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving who's been forging party invitations for himself for years and has adopted the persona of a retired admiral. And Mature, infatuated with Neal, has to hide the fact that he's in fact the lobbyist hired by the gas company to get the special interest bill through Congress! Screwball complications ensue, of course, while Neal tries to get protection for the condors, Mature tries to seduce her without actually helping her against the interest of his client, and Gwenn finds his cover story unraveling the more he tries to help Neal, all under the comic theme of the whiff of corruption in government business.
The acting is fine here, hardly true screwball, but with believable performances by all three principles. Neal isn't quite enough of a sex bomb to explain Mature's infatuation, and her natural intelligence and self-possession bely the fact she's supposed to be something of a naif around DC. Nevertheless her portrayal is earnest and just enough tongue in cheek. Mature himself is just creepy enough to be credible as a sleazoid lobbyist, although his B-list looks also don't suggest much chemistry with Neal. Gwenn is his usual sophisticated self, playing the double role of Washington insider and humble engraver.
Modern sensibilities may be a bit perturbed by the comic use of the Condor's plight, but on the other hand it's a sober reminder of how little has changed that the plot would be just as plausible if remade today.
Wait for this hilariously obscene line in the middle of the movie, which somehow slipped by the censors: "Unpack that 16" gun!"
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