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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Adapted from a stage production that opened on Mar. 31, 1960 at the Morosco Theatre in New York and ran for 520 performances. Lee Tracy repeated the role that he created on Broadway and was nominated for the 1960 Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance, losing the award to co-star Melvyn Douglas , who played William Russell (the role Henry Fonda depicted 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 »
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 »
An inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at political conventions
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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