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The Best Man (1964)

 -  Drama  -  5 April 1964 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,918 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 21 critic

The two front runners for their party's Presidential nomination, one principled and the other ruthless, vie for the ex-President's endorsement.

Director:

(as Franklin Schaffner)

Writer:

(screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
William Russell
...
Joe Cantwell
...
Mabel Cantwell
Margaret Leighton ...
Alice Russell
...
Sheldon Bascomb
...
President Art Hockstader
...
Sue Ellen Gamadge
Gene Raymond ...
Don Cantwell
...
Dick Jensen
...
Herself
...
Howard K. Smith
John Henry Faulk ...
Gov. T.T. Claypoole
...
Sen. Oscar Anderson
Penny Singleton ...
Mrs. Claypoole (scenes deleted)
George Kirgo ...
Speechwriter
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Storyline

The other party is in disarray. Five men vie for the party nomination for president. No one has a majority as the first ballot closes and the front-runners begin to decide how badly they want the job. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Does The Best Man Always Get To The White House?

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 April 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gore Vidal's The Best Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gore Vidal cheerfully admitted that he meant the character of William Russell to remind people of Adlai Stevenson and that Joe Cantwell was based on Richard Nixon. Stevenson and Nixon were, of course, in different parties. Similarly, the character of the former President played by Lee Tracy bore resemblances to both the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Democrat Harry S. Truman. See more »

Goofs

Several times, stock footage of actual political rally doesn't match scenes shot especially for movie. In several shots, no one is sitting in upper seats of auditorium that are nonetheless packed in newsreel footage of same alleged event. See more »

Quotes

President Art Hockstader: Bill, do you believe in God?
William Russell: Do I? Well, I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church.
President Art Hockstader: Hell, I'm a Methodist, and I'm still asking. Do you believe in God? Do you believe in a day of judgement, a hereafter?
William Russell: No. I believe in us, I believe in man.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, a picture of every single U.S. President appears in order, from George Washington to Lyndon Johnson. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 12 April 1964 (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

The more politics changes the more it remain the same..
9 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I work at a movie theatre and in a time of one-week wonders ( yes, one film with an action star lasted 3 days in our chain !) it is refreshing to see a film again where the acting is good and the story keeps your interest.

I am watching this movie after not seeing it for 30 years. It made an impression on me and I started listening to both Gore Vidal and William F Buckley because of it.

Henry Fonda's character is clearly based on Adlai Stevenson. Cliff Robertson echoes Richard Nixon so much it is scary. His arrogance is such that he gives the former President orders !

People decried the smoke-filled room politics of this era but I wonder if we got better leaders back then. They seemed to make decisions based on the courage of their convictions and not what the latest poll says. Fonda's character comments on his ignoring polls, whereas now, politicians can't seem to brush their teeth without worrying about public opinion and not what is best for the country.

The actors in this movie didn't need special effects and could ACT unlike so many of the baby-faced wanna-bes of today.

This movie reflects sex, immorality, infidelity, integrity. God and judgement day are even mentioned, something that is anathema today. And what's shown in here shows that times change but one could replace current politicians for these actors and see them immediately.

Lee Tracy is great in this movie and it could be easily watched for just his performance.

Of note, is the glad-handing by William Russell at a public pool. No security guards, no secret service people.

And mention of a nervous breakdown by Fonda's character. Remember Thomas Eagleton?

If you haven't seen this movie, see it and Seven Days In May afterward. It will give you an idea of how poliiics was looked upon in a totally different era.

George Senda Concord, Ca.


26 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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