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The Best Man (1964)

 -  Drama  -  5 April 1964 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,910 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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Title: The Best Man (1964)

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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
Edit

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

Adapted from a stage production that opened on March 31, 1960, at the Morosco Theatre in New York and ran for 520 performances. Lee Tracy repeated in this film the role he created on Broadway and for which he was nominated for the 1960 Tony Award for Best Actor, losing to co-star Melvyn Douglas, who played William Russell (the role Henry Fonda played in the film). The play was also nominated for the 1960 Tony Award for Best Play, written by Gore Vidal (who also penned the screenplay for the movie version), losing to William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker." 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

Joe Cantwell: I don't understand you.
William Russell: I know you don't. Because you have no sense of responsibility towards anyone or anything. And that is a tragedy in a man, and a disaster in a president.
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

 
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.


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