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The Best Man (1964)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  5 April 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,028 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 23 critic

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


(as Franklin Schaffner)


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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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
Howard K. Smith
John Henry Faulk ...
Gov. T.T. Claypoole
Sen. Oscar Anderson
Penny Singleton ...
Mrs. Claypoole (scenes deleted)
George Kirgo ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Does The Best Man Always Get To The White House?




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 April 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gore Vidal's The Best Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ronald Reagan was rejected for a role in this film because a studio executive didn't think he had "that presidential look." See more »


When Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) enters the helicopter he sits in the right seat. When he exits, he exits from the left seat. See more »


Sue Ellen Gamadge: You are not the ideal candidate for women.
William Russell: Which women do you have in mind?
Sue Ellen Gamadge: The women don't like you trying to be funny all the time.
William Russell: Oh, no. It is a flaw, I agree.
Sue Ellen Gamadge: They want a regular kind of man, like, well, like General Eisenhower. With that nice smile. And he's not pushy or aggressive, or any of those things we women don't like about men. He was just grand... Just don't try to be smart aleck and talk over our poor heads.
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 »


Referenced in It's My Party (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Hail, Dirty Politics! - And May The Best Man Win!
24 February 2014 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Released in 1964 - It was on account of Cliff Robertson (one of my favourite actors of the 1960s) that I decided to watch The Best Man. And, after the show was all over, I was certainly very impressed by both Robertson's powerful performance and by the riveting intensity of this first-rate political drama.

Filmed in b&w, The Best Man's story is set in sunny Los Angeles, during a huge political convention, where the 5 delegates running for the office of U.S President meet (along with their many, many supporters) to see which one of them will be the victorious winner in this race for the most-coveted of all positions.

The two reigning front-runners in this "winner-takes-all" campaign are Joe Cantwell (played by the young and handsome, Cliff Robertson) and William Russell (played by the older and somewhat weary, Henry Fonda).

Soon enough Cantwell and Russell, as the ultimate favourites, square-off for a literal political showdown.

With each of these men vying to gain the all-important endorsement from the present U.S. President, Art Hocksteader, matters inevitably turn to ruthless muck-slinging where the name of the game is, yes, "Dirty Politics".

With its top-notch cast, its superb direction by Franklin Schaffner, and its scathing screenplay penned by Gore Vidal, I'd confidently rate The Best Man (now 50 years old) as one of the best political dramas ever made.

From start to finish, this film holds the viewer's undivided attention with its compelling story-line of a behind-the-scenes look at dirty, American politics.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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