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.
Two aging playboys are both after the same attractive young woman, but she fends them off by claiming that she plans to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Both men determine to find a way around her objections.
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>
Certain errors are made in the way senators are usually called upon or addressed in the Senate chamber. In the film, senators are almost always referred to as "The senior (or junior) senator from" a state, but in fact the terms senior or junior are seldom used in recognizing or referring to a senator on the floor or in committee. Also, when Senator Lafe Smith is called on during the climactic roll call and at first doesn't answer, the clerk repeats his name, at which point he responds "No". But in actual Senate practice a senator's name is not called a second time until after the initial roll call has been completed. 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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A stately, dry, involving film--with some edgy social issues for the day
Advise and Consent (1962)
A moving look at a fictional moment in American politics. We see the dirty deals behind the scenes, but also that dignity and wisdom is preserved by some of the men (and one woman, shown). And we see the power of the system, the value of begrudging respect for those with opposite views, and plain old simplicity of being on the Senate floor and making points, orally, in front of a bunch of others, some of them actually listening.
Reminds me of my classrooms, and that brings government down to a level of believability. That's the secret to the movie, overall, it's ability to make the people real, including a host of really great actors like Charles Laughton and Walter Pidgeon, and of course Henry Fonda, who has a smaller role. Franchot Tone makes a believable ailing president, and it's great to see Gene Tierney in 1962, perfectly cast as a cool, smiley Senator's wife.
Otto Preminger is one of those revered directors who was always tweaking the moral edges of Hollywood, and therefore of America, and the spectacular thread that rises as the movie goes along, of a homosexual subculture existing at all in 1962, and arising from the activity of soldiers, and penetrating the Senate directly, was weirdly controversial stuff. Of course, it's almost ridiculous now, but it wasn't then, and to hear the central senator refer to another senator's gay military experience as a "tired old sin" is hard stuff for those of use who have grown up thinking "each to their own," or even "don't ask don't tell."
Preminger also irked a few anti-Communists by using a couple of left-wing actors, including Burgess Meredith, who has a small but memorable role. And the whole notion of a potential Secretary of State once having been superficially involved in a "Communist cell block" is interesting here partly because it shows how silly accusations can be, attacking things you do when you're twenty and have fully rejected or outgrown. Fonda is that figure of utter respectability for the good reason that he represents utter morality and patriotism, without become a cardboard flag-waver.
Though released to a public well into the Kennedy era, it feels like an Eisenhower world, with a couple younger senators easily looking like the Kennedy type, but still not President. The belligerent Old South conservative is, tellingly, a Democrat, back in the days when the South was pretty much conservative democratic. There are no parties mentioned, actually, but the leading voices seem to be liberal in their foreign policy, more like the Kennedy tone (or from the 50s, the tone of Adlai Stevenson, who lost the nomination bid to Kennedy in 1960). The book that led to the movie, by Allen Drury, was finished in 1959, and Drury was a bit of a right-winger, critical of the media he was part of, and openly anti-Communist. The events in the story (book and movie both) take one notable liberty: the Senator with a "homosexual scandal" in his past was Lester Hunt of Wyoming, whose son was a homosexual. That was enough to make the father a blackmail target, leading to Hunt's suicide.
That none of this matters is tribute to the movie, which really captures 1950s style American politics in a bright, Hollywood way. I mean that positively. It's not a gritty documentary, and it doesn't make scandal out of everything. But the air is familiar, the tone, the looks, the clothes. And it is supremely well done, from the dignified camera-work (nothing film noir here) to the solid editing and storytelling, to of course the acting itself. Not exciting, but very involving and interesting.
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