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Van Johnson's character is a congressman. Reporter Alice Kingsly arrives in Washington D.C. determined to uncover a tabloid-worthy scandal, and chooses Representative Joseph "No Comment Joe, the human clam" Gresham as her target. However, problems arise when the senator's wholesome image looks to be true and Alice becomes torn between her desire for a scandalous story and her growing attraction to Gresham. Written by
Does The Name of Drew Pearson Strike A Familiar Note?
A young generation of American movie viewers cannot possibly appreciate the significance of Washington Story and the performance of Philip Ober as a Drew Pearson type columnist. But back when I was a lad, his was a name that struck fear in the hearts of many Washington politicians, mostly those of the conservative bent. His column from the capital was a weekly expose of all the crooked wheeling and dealing going on there, written in a Walter Winchell like vein. Like Philip Ober in this story, Pearson was a man both feared and despised in many quarters.
A lot of people thought Pearson was a crusading hero, but Washington Story doesn't make Ober anything like that. He's a raker of tabloid mud who's currently drawing a bead on young Congressman Van Johnson from Massachusetts. To do his dirty work Ober gets young Patricia Neal, an ambitious reporter herself, to get close to Johnson and dig up the top soil.
Of course as what usually happens in films like these Johnson and Neal fall for each other with unforeseen consequences for Ober. Louis Calhern is in the film as a wise older Congressman from the other party who befriends Johnson and helps steer him through the crisis. And Sidney Blackmer does a nice job as a lobbyist for the shipping industry whose pet bill is giving Johnson a lot of grief.
If you think Johnson and Neal sound a lot like James Stewart and Jean Arthur you'd be right. MGM filmed Washington Story inside the environs of the real Capitol Hill. It's not Mr. Smith with Jimmy Stewart fighting against a blind establishment, blind to the corruption in Stewart's state. Here the establishment is given a nice coat of whitewash. Remember this was the beginning of the Cold War when we were putting our best foot forward at all times. The villain here in fact is our press.
Or at least a part of it as represented by columnists like Drew Pearson. I have a funny feeling that the genesis of Washington Story came from someone at MGM running afoul of Pearson and getting back at him cinematically speaking.
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