The Best Man (1964)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  5 April 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,041 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?


One of the filming locations is the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated here during his campaign to win the Democratic Party's nomination for president. See more »


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 »


William Russell: [speaking of Mrs. Gamadge] The only known link between the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan.
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 What's My Line?: Episode dated 13 September 1964 (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

The Great Lee Tracy Actually Gets To Curse On screen
22 February 2006 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

What a pleasure to see Lee Tracy in his later years! He plays a President who is terminally ill-- not that Conservative, mudslinging candidate Cliff Robertson cares about his health.

The movie has some weird, faux cinema verite angles. It may not be great art as a movie. But what a screenplay, courtesy of Gore Vidal! Rarely are audiences treated to such literate dialogue and politic insight and wisdom.

Henry Fonda is very good as the upright candidate in a primary. Margaret Leighton, whom I love, is charming as his wife, though it's odd that a senator would have a British-accented wife.

Robertson, not a particular favorite generally, is superb as his rival. His tactics make the flesh crawl.

Kevin McCarthy as Fonda's aid is very good. Edie Adams as a political hostess is a scream -- and she seems just right.

And Tracy. He is both funny and touching. What a splendid actor that man was! In so many early movies, he delivered long, elegant bits of dialogue in what seemed to be a single take. That guy was load with talent. What a shame he self-destructed. But here he was, back again.

This is one of a kind and most definitely worth a visit.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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