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The Candidate (1972)

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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.



Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marvin Lucas
John J. McKay
Senator Crocker Jarmon
Karen Carlson ...
Nancy McKay
Quinn K. Redeker ...
Rick Jenkin (as Quinn Redeker)
Morgan Upton ...
Wally Henderson
Paul Corliss
Floyd J. Starkey
Christopher Pray ...
David (as Chris Prey)
Joe Miksak ...
Neil Atkinson
Jenny Sullivan ...
Tom Dahlgren ...
Gerald Hiken ...
Station Manager


Californian lawyer Bill McKay fights for the little man. His charisma and integrity get him noticed by the Democratic Party machine and he is persuaded to run for the Senate against an apparently unassailable incumbent. It's agreed he can handle it his own way, on his own terms. But once he's in the race and his prospects begin to improve, the deal starts to change. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing matters more than winning. Not even what you believe in. See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 August 1972 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

El candidato  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A prop campaign button from this film is on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History in Washington. It is on display with several authentic campaign buttons. See more »


(AT 51:00) When David opens the door to the office Bill and Marvin are in. See more »


Dinner MC: [Introducing McKay to fund-raiser dinner audience] Seriously folks, you better watch your step when he comes out here because he's a man who shoots from the hip and a man who's hip when he shoots. Join me in welcoming Bill McKay!
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A Better Way
Music by John Rubinstein
Lyrics by David Colloff
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User Reviews

Like they say, it's all about politics.
5 December 2005 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Robert Redford plays idealistic senate candidate Bill McKay. He's mainly running to bring certain political issues into the open, although he never actually plans to win. But as time goes by, he realizes that whether or not he wins, he might not be able to hold on to his values.

"The Candidate" is one of the many great movies about the world of politics. It holds up as well today as it did in 1972 (maybe even better). Redford gives a solid performance, as does Peter Boyle as campaign manager Marvin Lucas. One of the most insightful scenes is the debate between McKay and his opponent about the issues. A great movie in every way. Look for appearances by Natalie Wood, Groucho Marx, and Howard K. Smith.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Melvyn Douglas is so great in this old_tv_guy
note handed to Jarmon xchar
Does McKay have an affair? the_ccramaster1
Groucho Marx karmacoupe
Question on why they wanted McKay as candidate ednalyn99
McKay's secret probably would have cost him the election cryptical70
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