7.7/10
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39 user 24 critic

The Best Man (1964)

Approved | | Drama | 18 June 1964 (West Germany)
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
...
Alice Russell
...
Sheldon Bascomb
...
President Art Hockstader
...
Sue Ellen Gamadge
...
Don Cantwell
...
Dick Jensen
...
Mahalia Jackson
...
Howard K. Smith
John Henry Faulk ...
Gov. T.T. Claypoole
...
Sen. Oscar Anderson
...
Mrs. Claypoole (scenes deleted)
George Kirgo ...
Speechwriter
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Storyline

Intellectual William Russell and down-to-earth Joe Cantwell are front runners for a party nomination that will almost certainly mean the Presidency. Cantwell is prepared to use anything to achieve his goal while Russell sees himself as a man of principle - though his philandering means he is relieved his wife is prepared to appear alongside him. Both men crucially need the support of the ailing President, and as the stakes become higher each team has to decide how dirty they are prepared to get. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Best Man is Dynamite See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 June 1964 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Gore Vidal's The Best Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gore Vidal: Uncredited, the film's source playwright and screenwriter as a delegate at the party convention. See more »

Goofs

When Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) is watching the convention floor on TV monitors and talking on a walkie-talkie he is holding a coffee cup in his right hand when the shot is of his back but it disappears when the shot is from the front. See more »

Quotes

President Art Hockstader: There have been moments when I have questioned your methods.
Joe Cantwell: Well, you have to fight fire with fire, Mr. President.
President Art Hockstader: And the end justifies the means?
Joe Cantwell: Well, yes, sir. Yes. That is what I believe.
President Art Hockstader: Well, son, I have news for you about both politics and life... and may I say the two are exactly the same thing? There are no ends, Joe, only means...
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

Featured in Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Excellent Morality Play
16 May 2005 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" is one of my favorite films. Though written at a time when political conventions still mattered, the subject matter is still very appropriate. Basic moral questions are asked and soul searching by the thoughtful viewer takes place. How far would you go to win? Would you knowingly slander a political opponent with false information to gain the upper hand? How much of a candidates past is relevant today?

The cast is brilliant. Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Lee Tracy, Ann Sothern, all are wonderful. Mahalia Jackson makes a cameo singing her heart out at a pre-convention gathering. One of the candidates is rumored to have had psychological problems. Womanizing is another issue. There are homosexual rumors flying around concerning another candidate. Another candidate is a racist.

What is really interesting is Vidal's take on the supposed "two party system". In this movie, there is only one party, as the candidate to be nominated is according to the former President "almost certain to become our next President". This is prophetic on Vidal's part, as the two major party's today have drifted so similarly close to each other on many issues, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them.

To correct the other reviewer of this film, Cliff Robertson does not play a bachelor candidate. Edie Adams does a great job playing his attractive wife.

"The Best Man" is great film, nearly as relevant today, as it was over 40 years ago. Now, if it was only available on DVD.


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