7.7/10
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40 user 24 critic

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 former President's endorsement.

Director:

(as Franklin Schaffner)

Writer:

(screenplay)
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On TV

Airs Thu. Dec. 28, 10:45 AM on TCM

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Mabel Cantwell
...
...
...
...
...
Don Cantwell
...
Dick Jensen
...
Mahalia Jackson
...
John Henry Faulk ...
...
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? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 June 1964 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Gore Vidal's The Best Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Screenwriter and the film's source playwright Gore Vidal cheerfully admitted that he meant the character of William Russell (Henry Fonda) to remind people of Adlai Stevenson and that Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) was based on Richard Nixon. Stevenson and Nixon were, of course, in different American political parties, Democrat and Republican respectively. Similarly, the character of former President Art Hockstader played by Lee Tracy, bore resemblances to both former Republican U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and former Democrat U.S. President Harry S. Truman. See more »

Goofs

As Cantwell is chasing Bascomb out the door of the basement fallout shelter. Bascomb runs into one of the stacks of water ration cans. Those cans held five gallons of water and weighed around 30 pounds each. When they were hit they had a decided hollow sound. Like they were empty, just props. Many of these rations remain tucked away in forgotten lower areas of building to this day. And they don't keep stacks of empty water cans around. See more »

Quotes

Sue Ellen Gamadge: You are not the ideal candidate for the women.
William Russell: Which women do you have in mind?
Sue Ellen Gamadge: The women don't like you trying to be funny all the time.
William Russell: Oh, that is a flaw. I agree.
Sue Ellen Gamadge: Yes. They want a regular kind of man, like, well, like General Eisenhower, with that nice smile. And he's not pushy or aggressive, or any of those things we women don't like in our men. He was just grand. Why, you could imagine him washing up after dinner, or listening to his wife's views on important matters.
William Russell: Yes, indeed you can.
Sue Ellen Gamadge:
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 13 September 1964 (1964) See more »

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User Reviews

 
mutually assured destruction
8 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

A sharp as nails look at US politics, maybe a bit old fashioned, but in a good way, with great performances and writing, and very well put together. It pits the packaged candidate of "the people", a scary Cliff Robertson against the principled liberal played by Henry Fonda, with Lee Tracy as the dying ex-president whose endorsement both vie for. While he favors Robertson for his decisiveness, he fears his utter lack of principles, but can't support the wavering Fonda. Sex, mental illness, shady characters dredged up by political operatives (in this case a great part by Shelley Berman), the fabulous portrayals of both of the wives (especially a cute and dangerous Edie Adams), the film transcends the characters, and hits home as much today as when it came out in 1964.


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