A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
Robert Leffingwell is the president's candidate for Secretary of State. Prior to his approval, he must first go through a Senate investigation to determine if he's qualified. Leading the Senate committee is idealistic Senator Brig Anderson, who soon finds himself unprepared for the political dirt that's revealed, including Leffingwell's past affiliations with a Communist organization. When Leffingwell testifies about his political leanings, he proves his innocence. Later, however, Anderson learns that he lied under oath and even asks the president to withdraw Leffingwell for consideration, especially after the young senator begins receiving blackmail threats about a skeleton in his own closet. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Senator Kanaho, the Senator from Hawaii, is shown seated on the minority side of the aisle in the Senate chamber, but in the subcommittee hearing on Leffingwell's nomination he's sitting with the majority. See more »
[a boy is selling newspapers outside the U.S. Capitol, with the headline "Leffingwell Picked for Secretary of State"]
[to a customer]
[taking change from Danta]
Good morning, senator... thank you.
[Danta gets into a taxicab]
See more »
Although I had seen it when it first came out (I was 18) and again about about 6 months ago (Winter, 2004), this screening (May, 2005) was even more insightful.
It really has aged very well, and is, obviously, at least as relevant today as it was in 1962 --"realistic" in its depiction of the congressional situation in its own day, positively prescient in its relation to our own.
Fonda is good, but curiously second fiddle to the other, more subtle characters.
It's Walter Pigeon's best flick (by far), well cast as the Senate Majority Leader and he carries the role off with an almost Shakespearean aplomb.
Almost Charles Laughton's best (only because that's a very hard call), with his hopelessly crumpled white suit and hat, shufflin' gait, positively Irvinesque homespun witticisms and wonderful, drawling, contemptuous "Mis-ter Rob-ert A. Leff-in-well".
Might be Franchot Tone's best, as well, as the ailing, frail, chain-smoking president, a little bit too close to Life (filmed 6 years before he died of lung cancer).
Gene Tierney is very good as the D.C. socialite hostess "Dolly Harrison" --a character clearly based on Averill Harriman's wife Pamela or, as a type, a later Katherine Graham.
Definitely Peter Lawford's best film --which, admittedly, is not saying much, but he's very well cast as a rather dissolute, philandering Kennedyesque senator who is, nonetheless, not without his Qualities.
Lew Ayres' Casper Milquetoast "Vice President Harley M. Hudson" is an excellently wrought character, from his "bucket of warm spit" role as the impotent President of the Senate to the wonderful twist he gives it at the end, which expounds quite beautifully the subtleties and definitiveness of the Reality of Power.
The scenes of D.C. are positively nostalgic --imagine anyone being able to catch a cab to the capital and then walk right up the steps and go inside ; or an aged night-watchman making his rounds as *the* Security for the inside of the Senate building.
As are the various aspects of the underground "Gay Scene" in NYC with the wonderfully cast Larry Tucker, Jerry Fielding's fine music and "the voice of Frank Sinatra" (as credited). (Some might object to the "clichés" in these scenes, but, to me, those clichés are part and parcel of the ambiance of the period of the film and the culture it portrays and should be seen as such --rather like appreciating the overt racism in "Birth of a Nation" for what it is. I am glad that Preminger didn't "sanitize" his presentation of this matter, especially given the crucial nature of it to the plot of the film.)
But the contrast between the civility --albeit occasionally a rather raw one-- of the senate of circa 1960 and that of the present day is not nostalgic quite so much as it is just heart-rending ("The World We Have Lost"), and the roots of our present grotesque, take-no-prisoners congressional savagery are fully exposed in the intertwined plot lines of McCarthyesque ideological rigidity and homosexual blackmail.
All in all, a "Roman à Clef" to the political world of 1960's Washington, vividly relevant to our own time.
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