MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 557 this week

The Best Man (1964)

 -  Drama  -  5 April 1964 (USA)
7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,956 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 22 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)

Writer:

(screenplay)
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb Picks: March

IMDb's editors share the movies and TV shows they are excited to see in March.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 45 titles
created 23 Oct 2010
 
a list of 41 titles
created 13 Oct 2012
 
a list of 35 titles
created 4 months ago
 
a list of 41 titles
created 1 month ago
 
a list of 35 titles
created 2 weeks ago
 

Related Items

Search for "The Best Man" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Best Man (1964)

The Best Man (1964) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Best Man.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Sphinx (1981)
Adventure | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

Egyptologist Erica Baron finds more than she bargained for during her long-planned trip to The Land of the Pharoahs - murder, theft, betrayal, love, and a mummy's curse!

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Lesley-Anne Down, Frank Langella, Maurice Ronet
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An isolated sculptor is visited by his three sons just before the start of WWII.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: George C. Scott, David Hemmings, Gilbert Roland
The War Lord (1965)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A knight in the service of a duke goes to a coastal villiage where an earlier attempt to build a defensive castle has failed. He begins to rebuild the duke's authority in the face of the ... See full summary »

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Charlton Heston, Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth
Lionheart (1987)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A young knight sets out to join King Richard's crusaders. Along the way, he encounters The Black Prince who captures children and sells them as slaves to the Muslims. It is Robert Narra's ... See full summary »

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Eric Stoltz, Gabriel Byrne, Nicola Cowper
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March
Fail Safe (1964)
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

American planes are sent to deliver a nuclear attack on Moscow, but it's a mistake due to an electrical malfunction. Can all-out war be averted?

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver
Certificate: GP Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Czar Nicholas II, the inept monarch of Russia, insensitive to the needs of his people, is overthrown and exiled to Siberia with his family.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Michael Jayston, Janet Suzman, Roderic Noble
The Candidate (1972)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Bill McKay is a candidate for the U.S. Senate from California. He has no hope of winning, so he is willing to tweak the establishment.

Director: Michael Ritchie
Stars: Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Comedy western in which a traveler bets more money than he can afford in a poker game, and unusual events follow.

Director: Fielder Cook
Stars: Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The filmmakers follow Oliver North's unsuccessful 1994 bid for a Virginia Senate seat, focusing on North's campaign strategist, Mark Goodin, and a Washington Post reporter. Mudslinging ... See full summary »

Directors: R.J. Cutler, David Van Taylor
Stars: Don Baker, Mark Goodin, Mark Merritt
Blessed Event (1932)
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Al Roberts writes a gossip column for the Daily Express. He will write about anyone and everyone as long as he gets the credit. He gets into a little difficulty with a hood named Goebel who... See full summary »

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Lee Tracy, Mary Brian, Dick Powell
Chad Hanna (1940)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Country boy joins a circus in the 1840s and falls in love with the bare-back rider. Later he falls in love with another circus runaway.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, Linda Darnell
Edit

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:

 »
Edit

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  »
Edit

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

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: Bill, do you believe in God?
William Russell: Do I? Well, I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church.
President Art Hockstader: Hell, I'm a Methodist, and I'm still asking. Do you believe in God? Do you believe in a day of judgement, a hereafter?
William Russell: No. I believe in us, I believe in man.
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 It's My Party (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Time Capsule
1 July 2002 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

The movie version of Gore Vidal's play The Best Man is an excellent time capsule of its period, the sixties, when political conventions still mattered, getting one's picture on the cover of Time magazine was the best thing that could happen to a national politician's career, and when hints of mental illness and sexual peccadilloes were still whispered about rather than discussed openly. Franklin Schaffner directs energetically, and the film has an air of urgency to it that make it seem like it's saying something of great importance. It does have something to say, and while I wouldn't call it trivial the movie and its writing is nowhere near as good as it's been cracked up to be. A good deal of one's appreciation of this film will depend on one's opinion of Gore Vidal's literary status. If one rates him as great, the movie a splendid interpretation of his work and his ideas. But if one doesn't, and I don't, then it's a different kettle of fish. First to the movie.

The story revolves around a power struggle that is going on behind the scenes at a national political party's convention (it isn't made clear what the party is, but one can safely assume it's the Democrats). Leading candidate for the presidential nomination William Russell is a former secretary of state, intellectual, writer of books, deep thinker, and liberal conscience. To anyone familiar with the period the character is obviously based on Adlai Stevenson. His chief opponent for the nomination, Joe Cantwell, is a somewhat younger man, a ruthless opportunistic conservative more or less in the Nixon mould. What Nixon or someone like Nixon is doing seeking the Democratic nomination is never made clear, but no matter. That bachelor Cantwell has a skeleton or two in his closet is indicated by rumors of his homosexuality. But Russell has his problems, too, womanizing, an apparent nervous breakdown, and worst of all for a politician, indecisiveness. Both men seek the support of ailing former President Art Hockstader, a pragmatic diamond in the rough politician of the old school, and clearly based on Harry Truman, who, though he leans toward and agrees with liberal Russell, has his doubts about him personally. He'd like to stop Cantwell from getting his party's nomination and isn't sure that Russell is the man to do it. A former officer in Cantwell's unit from the war is willing to squeal on him regarding the homosexual issue. Russell hears the man out, and takes an instant dislike to him. He wants to stop Cantwell, but not that badly. There is a confrontation between Russell and Cantwell. Russell equivocates. Ex-president Hockstader is disgusted with him for not using the "dirt" on Cantwell, and chaos ensues at the convention.

This is a perfectly respectable play and movie, and I have no problem with it except that its insight into people is skin-deep. The actors are not to be blamed. Henry Fonda is appropriately dignified as Russell, Lee Tracy, in his last screen role, is salty as Hockstader, and Cliff Robertson is correctly one-dimensional as the venal Cantwell. The outstanding supporting cast, which includes Ann Sothern, Kevin McCarthy and Gene Raymond, is flawless. What Vidal has to say, which is that politics is an often ugly business, has been said before. He has nothing new to add but the sexual angle, which is mildly interesting. There's little imagination in The Best Man. It's never inspired. The dialogue is adequate, yet never brilliant; and the characters credible without being dynamic. During the course of the film I felt like I was watching a reasonably well-thought out essay. It was never boring, and often skillfully done, and yet I was never drawn into it emotionally, or cared for the people it was about. There's something lacking in Vidal here and in all his work. Maybe it's a contempt for humanity, or maybe just a lack of caring. I find it hard to take anyone seriously who opines as often as Vidal does on a variety of issues, who cares so little for the people those issues ultimately concern.


18 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
William Russell - Liberal Wimp marathoner1
what party do you think they were in? teejay6682
William Russel and Robert Leffingwell? ghayes-2
The Fires of Autumn white_868
This may become required viewing for 2012 ween-3
William Russell latinloner
Discuss The Best Man (1964) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?