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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Preface: I think Robert Redford is a great actor and plays his roles
very well. None of the below criticism and comment is directed toward
It was an OK movie, but very lacking as a political movie goes. The movie had a lot of potential for the first half, where their was actually a dialogue! In the first half: Characters were being developed, difficult political questions were being discussed, and even the personal difficulties of running for office and selling vs. keeping true.
THEN the second half of the movie came. There was almost no dialogue, and the little that there was, was seriously not compelling. There was a lot of music cutting from scene to scene, and cinematography showing this or that and then back again. But there was very little point.
Maybe I'm exaggerating a little to make a point. If this is your first politics related movie, or you really don't know much about politics, and your interested to 'see THE VERY SURFACE of what it might be like', then you could enjoy this movie.
Otherwise, avoid it like the plague. It will certainly make you feel like you wasted your time. And, if you're like me and have a very hard time turning off a movie if you thought it had potential near the beginning stay away. You know, as it trends into an abysmal spiral from the middle to the end, even though your 90% sure it will crash and burn on the same predicted trajectory, you WAIT TO SEE THE END and are even more frustrated. The end was fairly pathetic.
Serious bottom line: Watch any of The West Wing and you will be so much happier.
Did I miss anything? How did this movie win an academy award for its writing of all things! blah to that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'The Candidate' isn't a great film but it does have its perceptive moments and a certain sly, knowing quality about the subject it deals with, big-time politics. This shouldn't be too surprising, as its screenwriter, Jeremy Larner, was a former speech writer for Eugene McCarthy during his presidential bid. Perhaps it's the passage of time and the advent of 24-hour cable news networks, but much of the film seems obvious now, almost quaint. Robert Redford plays Bill McKay, son of a famous California governor, who has no interest in running for office at the start; he's a liberal activist lawyer helping Indians, hippies, and the downtrodden in general. A political consultant, Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle), seeks him out to become the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, mainly because no one else wants to take on the popular Republican incumbent. Lucas presents the idea to McKay like this: you don't have a chance of winning, so you can say whatever you want. McKay brushes aside his initial misgivings, finding that the idea appeals to him. After the campaign has been underway a while and McKay has secured his party's nomination, Lucas tells McKay the polls show that not only will he lose, he'll be "humiliated." Now why he would be humiliated, much less why it should matter to him, is never made clear and is a weakness in the script. Wasn't he supposed to lose? In any event, it does change McKay's thinking and so an effort is made to 'broaden' his appeal. He begins watering down his speeches and his campaign takes on a more generic tone, with upbeat TV commercials and a cheerful slogan, "For a better way: Bill McKay!" The candidate and some of his supporters become increasingly disillusioned even while his standings in the polls rises. Finally, there is a televised debate between McKay and his opponent, where at the end, a frustrated McKay lets loose and ticks off a litany of social problems that he says haven't been addressed in the debate. This return to his liberal roots has a mixed reception; Lucas thinks he's ruined everything but some of McKay's disheartened followers are buoyed. McKay follows this approach through to the election in which to everyone's surprise, not least him and Lucas, he defeats the incumbent to become senator. The famous last shot is of McKay sitting in a hotel room during the election celebration, asking Lucas, "Marvin, what do we do now?", which never receives an answer as a crowd of media and campaign volunteers swarm into the room to congratulate him. There's a lot of truth in 'The Candidate,' and though it is written from a liberal perspective, it doesn't spare that side of the political equation from some hard questions, especially that very last one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Considering that this movie was made in 1972, it holds up surprisingly
well - which, since it came from an age when cynicism with government
and politics was rampant - is hardly a positive message about modern
society! Robert Redford stars as Bill McKay - an idealistic young
lawyer who is largely an unknown, except for the fact that his father
(Melvyn Douglas) was once Governor of California.McKay allows himself
to be reluctantly recruited by backroom organizers for the Democratic
Party to run against the popular Republican incumbent for a seat in the
U.S. Senate. When first recruited, McKay is told that he can be his own
man - that he can say whatever he wants and campaign however he wants.
As the campaign progresses, though, he unwillingly falls more and more
under the control of his handlers, and especially Lucas, played by
I liked the portrayal of Lucas and the other backroomers. It seemed realistic; like a look into a real campaign for the Senate. I also appreciated Don Porter's portrayal of Crocker Jarmon (the Republican candidate) as well as the fact that the movie avoided the temptation of turning this into a simplistic evil right-winger vs. righteous left-winger story. Instead, both candidates came across as sincere and well-meaning, even while they are clearly the products of their respective machines. Melvyn Douglas as McKay's father had one of the great lines of the movie. Reflecting on his son's apparent disdain for politics (one gets the impression he had not been happy as the Governor's son) McKay, Sr. looks at his son with satisfaction and says "you're a politician now."
Both the beginning and the ending of the movie were well done. In the beginning Lucas is just finishing up working for a losing campaign. Far from being broken hearted by his candidate's defeat, however, he simply packs up and moves on to McKay. There's no depth of commitment to the candidate; playing the game is all that counts. At the end, McKay is somewhat unexpectedly elected, and he pulls Lucas aside and with a bewildered look on his face says, "so what do we do now?" Lucas, of course, looks back uncomfortably and simply leads him out of their hotel room to greet his supporters. The point is clear: Lucas couldn't care less what McKay does now. He's probably already on the lookout for the next candidate and the next campaign. After they walk out, director Michael Ritchie has the camera linger, and the final few seconds of the movie are simply a shot of an empty hotel room - surely a commentary on the emptiness of the political scene.
This movie is solid rather than spectacular; interesting rather than riveting, very well put together and believable in almost every way. 7/10
Great look at a political campaign that remains timely despite it's age. Redford is good as the young, glamour-boy candidate, but Peter Boyle carries the movie as his campaign manager. Boyle's performance is Oscar-quality, one of my favorites of all-time. Look for Natalie Wood in a cameo, she's never looked better.
This film tries to show how pointless and shallow politics is, by being pointless and shallow. It's amusing to see how nothing has changed in thirty years. But don't waste two hours on this film. Redford does better as a director than as an actor.
I like Robert Redford quite a bit as an actor. I especially like him in
anything political. His run for senate as a nobody has the makings for
a great movie. Great, it wasn't.
I found it entertaining, however, it seemed slow and at times boring. In fact, I wasn't impressed with Redford as much as usual. Most of the rest of the cast was just filler.
One problem I had was that the movie fails to explain in any meaningful way how Redford continues to close the gap to his opponent. Surely good looks isn't going to get you from 32% to over 50%.
Overall, I wouldn't even waste a minute on this movie, but any political movie with Redford as a star has got a big advantage up front. You default to liking it and you only change your mind if there are serious problems. There weren't any serious problems, but I have seen Redford in many better movies - Sneakers, The Natural, All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor and The Sting, for example.
Michael Ritchie's 1972 The Candidate is a sharp satire about a good
looking and idealistic young lawyer who becomes compromised by
political handlers that are more interested in images than issues. The
film contains one of Robert Redford's best performances as Bill McKay,
a labor and environmental activist lawyer who is the son of former
Governor John McKay (Melvyn Douglas). Although Ritchie is even handed
in allotting blame to both the candidate and the system for the
eventual outcome, the implication is strong that the pursuit of
political power in today's America is inherently flawed.
Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) is a savvy political boss who is looking for a candidate to oppose long time Republican incumbent Crocker Jarman (Don Porter). He approaches McKay, telling him that, though he will probably lose, he will have a platform in which to speak his mind. McKay accepts but stumbles right from the start, being upstaged by the overly aggressive Republican incumbent at a fire in Malibu and in speaking to an almost empty audience in central California. McKay says the right things but his platform manner is halting and unfocused and he lacks a coherent message.
When Lucas notices a slight uptick in his poll numbers, however, he hires Allen Garfield, a media specialist who transforms the campaign into an exercise in image making and slogans such as "McKay: The Better Way." Though McKay has his heart in the right place, he defers to his strategists and begins to tone down his rhetoric about abortions and school busing and learns how to play the game. The film even hints that he is not above seducing young campaign workers in a hotel room. With his son's prospects increasing by the day and impressed by Bill's debate performance against Jarman, his estranged father comes out to support him, even arranging for a deal to give political favors to a Teamsters boss in return for the delivery of a large number of blue-collar votes.
McKay ends up being a packaged candidate spouting liberal rhetoric without any substance or style. Compromise and manipulation is the order of the day. Written by Jeremy Larner, a former speech writer for Senator Eugene McCarthy, The Candidate delivers some funny moments such as McKay cracking up in laughter before a television camera and a memorable scene in which he spouts platitudinous nonsense in the back seat of his car on the way to a rally. Unfortunately, now that the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign has shown that victory and integrity do not have to be mutually exclusive, The Candidate seems about as relevant as a hula hoop. Even against long odds, the Senate seat in California is one of the most sought after prizes. Potential nominees campaign for years to achieve name recognition in the largest state in the country.
Even then, no one undertakes running for the Senate without previously amassing a sizable amount of money, support from labor and key interest groups, and an understanding that the huge media market requires professional advertising and marketing. Ritchie has a political boss calling the shots, ignoring the fact that California, because of the work of the California Democratic Council in supporting grass roots participation in the selection of candidates, was free of political bossism at the time. While The Candidate may once have had some relevance, today it comes across as irrelevant. Ritchie's cynical attempt to demonstrate why "politics is b.s." only succeeds in showing that the film's premise is b.s.
This movie spends an hour and a half convincing you that it will reveal some great truth about politics, about our world, about life. Then it spends the last 2 minutes convincing you that you wasted an hour and a half.
I disagree with the other reviews. I think that this movie tries hard, but it falls short due to bad acting and inept directing. One of the cheesiest movies I have seen in a while, and I'm a fan of these things. This movie just lends itself to so many jokes. Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, this is the one!
Maybe because I'm 18 and my favorite movie is "Armageddon",or maybe
this film is awfully dull,or most likey both; But what I do know is that
this film didn't hold my interest at all...They could of made a political
movie just interesting enough to hold my attension until the end,which
The ending,which is supposed to be ironic,was very inconclusive.But it didn't matter.This is a dull,dull movie.No matter what political messages they tried to convey or whatever story they told,it just doesn't work because it's boring,and there's no getting around it!
And I thought "Spy Game" was the most dull Robert Redford movie.
1 1/2 stars out of 4.
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