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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)

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(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

Film debut of George Furth. 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: Y'know, it's not that I object to your being a bastard, don't get me wrong there. It's your being such a stupid bastard that I object to.
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 The 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at political conventions
10 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson are neck and neck for the Presidential nomination in "The Best Man," a 1964 film based on the play by Gore Vidal, who also wrote the screenplay. The film sports an outstanding cast including Margaret Leighton, Kevin McCarthy, Edie Adams, Lee Tracy, Edie Adams, Ann Sothern, Shelley Berman, Gene Raymond and Howard K. Smith.

Fonda is William Russell, a wealthy man of principle, though he cheats on his wife; Robertson is Joe Cantwell, who chases Communists, is a "man of the people," and plays dirty. At one point, each candidate has something on the other that could lose them the nomination. Nowadays, of course, these items would have come out long, long before the convention. "One word from me and Joe Cantwell is out of politics," Russell muses to his wife (Leighton). But can he say the word? This is a fascinating look at the machinations of getting a President nominated, and asks the question, can a man retain his integrity and still be a politician? Vidal's answer comes as not much of a surprise.

Fonda played presidents and politicians throughout his career. As Russell, he has reserve and dignity. He keeps you guessing. Robertson does a great job as a disloyal sleaze. Lee Tracy, who started in silents, is fantastic as the current, ill President, repeating the role he played on Broadway. The rest of the cast is uniformly good.

So much of what is stated in "The Best Man" remains true today. I doubt these races are handled much differently now. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Especially in politics.


15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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