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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:

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:

18 June 1964 (West Germany)  »

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gore Vidal cheerfully admitted that he meant the character of William Russell to remind people of Adlai Stevenson and that Joe Cantwell was based on Richard Nixon. Stevenson and Nixon were, of course, in different parties. Similarly, the character of the former President played by Lee Tracy bore resemblances to both the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Democrat Harry S. Truman. 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

William Russell: [in response to reporter's question 'do you think people mistrust intellectuals like you in politics?'] Intellectual, you mean I wrote a book? Well, as Bertrand Russell said, people in a democracy tend to think they have less to fear from a stupid man than an intelligent one. I think it's the other way around. I think it's the stupid 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 »

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User Reviews

 
Hail, Dirty Politics! - And May The Best Man Win!
24 February 2014 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Released in 1964 - It was on account of Cliff Robertson (one of my favourite actors of the 1960s) that I decided to watch The Best Man. And, after the show was all over, I was certainly very impressed by both Robertson's powerful performance and by the riveting intensity of this first-rate political drama.

Filmed in b&w, The Best Man's story is set in sunny Los Angeles, during a huge political convention, where the 5 delegates running for the office of U.S President meet (along with their many, many supporters) to see which one of them will be the victorious winner in this race for the most-coveted of all positions.

The two reigning front-runners in this "winner-takes-all" campaign are Joe Cantwell (played by the young and handsome, Cliff Robertson) and William Russell (played by the older and somewhat weary, Henry Fonda).

Soon enough Cantwell and Russell, as the ultimate favourites, square-off for a literal political showdown.

With each of these men vying to gain the all-important endorsement from the present U.S. President, Art Hocksteader, matters inevitably turn to ruthless muck-slinging where the name of the game is, yes, "Dirty Politics".

With its top-notch cast, its superb direction by Franklin Schaffner, and its scathing screenplay penned by Gore Vidal, I'd confidently rate The Best Man (now 50 years old) as one of the best political dramas ever made.

From start to finish, this film holds the viewer's undivided attention with its compelling story-line of a behind-the-scenes look at dirty, American politics.


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