Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Allen Drury, who was a congressional correspondent for The New York Times during the 1950s, while he was writing the book. Nearly every character is based on a real person (Lafe Smith is based on John F. Kennedy; Orrin Knox is based on Robert A. Taft, Fred Van Ackerman is based on Joseph McCarthy and the president is modeled on Franklin D. Roosevelt). Even the blackmailing pf Brig Anderson, and how it's resolved, is based on a real incident. And the Leffingwell nomination is based on the House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of Alger Hiss. See more »
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]
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Preminger's masterpiece and one of the greatest of all American films and yet critical opinion is strongly divided on this one. Some people believe that the melodramatic elements of the plot, (homosexuality, blackmail, suicide), denigrates the film's authenticity and takes away from it as drama but the characters are so beautifully drawn, (and the performances of such a uniformly high standard), that the mechanics of the plot seem startlingly real. By being overt about homosexuality in 1962 the film broke new ground, though the gay characters, briefly seen, are cringe-worthy stereotypes.
What makes the film a masterpiece is Preminger's extraordinary mise-en-scene and possibly the best use of the widescreen for dramatic effect in any American movie. By keeping some characters on the periphery of the screen while the main characters in the scene interact in the foreground Preminger creates tensions and psychological relationships between them that cutting would only dissipate.
The plot centres on a dying President's controversial nomination of a left-wing Secretary of State. On the one hand, there are consequential melodramas inherent in pushing the plot forward, (the President's nomination is opposed; the politicians play dirty), while on the other is the almost documentary-like approach Preminger applies to the political machinations that take place on the floor of the senate and in the offices, houses and hotel-rooms where the characters live and work.
It is also the most entertaining of all political movies. (filmed luminously in black-and-white by Sam Leavitt it feels like a cracking film noir). The cast are matchless and many of them did their finest work here. This is particularly true of Walter Pigeon as the Majority Leader, (he's as decent and as noble as Ghandi), Franchot Tone as the President, Don Murray as the senator who is being blackmailed, (he was never to get a better part), Lew Ayres as the invisible Vice-President and Burgess Meredith as the mentally unstable witness, (it's a great cameo). Charles Laughton, too, gave a career-defining performance as the wily old senator whose opposition is the source of everyone's troubles, (it was his last film).
George Grizzard's character and performance is a mistake. He's the villain of the piece and he's demonic; he goes around spitting fire but he's a necessary evil. And the ending doesn't ring true; it's too convenient, a cop-out even if we are on the edge of our seat. But these are minor quibbles when everything else is so extraordinarily good. The script, by Wendell Mayes, is one of the great adaptations of a book, (even if it does reduce the roles of some characters and leaves out the back-fill). Amazingly, this great film wasn't nominated for a single Oscar. It rose above the brouhaha of the Academy.
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