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The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

R | | Drama | 17 August 1979 (USA)
Respected liberal Senator Joe Tynan is asked to lead the opposition to a Supreme Court appointment. It means losing an old friend and fudging principles to make the necessary deals, as well... See full summary »



6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Tynan
Senator Kittner
Senator Birney
Carrie Nye ...
Aldena Kittner
Michael Higgins ...
Senator Pardew
Maureen Anderman ...
Joe's Secretary
Chris Arnold ...
John Badila ...
Reporter on TV screen
Robert Christian ...
Arthur Briggs
Maurice Copeland ...
Mr. Edward Anderson
Congresswoman at Party


Respected liberal Senator Joe Tynan is asked to lead the opposition to a Supreme Court appointment. It means losing an old friend and fudging principles to make the necessary deals, as well as further straining his already part-time family life. But it could be a big boost to his career, so he takes it on. Helping him prepare the case is pretty southern researcher Karen Traynor, and their developing relationship further complicates and compromises his life. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What drives a man to his limits... the power of love or the love of power? See more »




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Public Affair  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Actor Rip Torn, who portrays Senator Kittner, later played Lyndon B. Johnson in the tele-movie J. Edgar Hoover (1987). Torn has also appeared in such politics movies / politically themed pictures as Welcome to Mooseport (2004), The President's Plane Is Missing (1973), and The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977). See more »


Referenced in The Contender: The Making of a Political Thriller (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

The political issues are still relevant...but the film cannot keep itself on point
4 December 2010 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Well-acted, occasionally well-observed drama which fails to deliver on its early promise. Joe Tynan is a forthright U.S. Senator, the latest young liberal hotshot, who jeopardizes his long-term marriage and home-life by initiating an affair with a civil rights activist. He's been carrying on with this also-married woman in various hotel rooms on the road, though Tynan's unhappy wife has more on her mind than his infidelity: she wants a life away from the political arena. As Tynan, Alan Alda, who also scripted, opens the film pressing Congress to pass a bill that would create a million new jobs in a distressed economy. One may watch this sequence and feel he's come upon a recent Congressional hearing via C-SPAN. Unfortunately, Bill Conti's animated music reminds us this is just a political lark--a vehicle for Alda, then a hot property from television's "M*A*S*H"--while the film's poor color and visual composition give hint this theatrical release was made on a limited budget. Alda becomes a Presidential hopeful practically off-screen, while his constituents bray in the background and play trade-off with each other's wives at Washington parties. This is all quite trenchant, and Tynan's face-off with a bigoted fellow senator is topical, but Alda's screenplay isn't really interested in the inner-workings of Capitol Hill. He's too anxious to get his character into bed with honey-voiced Meryl Streep (third-billed), who is shown to be a smart and savvy lady--though one who is just as unable to control her desires as Tynan. We don't learn much about the Streep character's situation, however the actress's sneaky, intricate force wheedles its way through and she just about walks off with the picture. Melvyn Douglas is surprisingly frittered away as an elder Senator, while Barbara Harris as Joe's wife isn't allowed to showcase her fringe assets (that dazed-and-dreamy voice coupled with the wobbly retorts). Alda is, of course, ideally cast for the lead, and his pained, sensitive expressions are contrasted quite well with his pent-up exasperation. The movie ultimately doesn't offer much because Alda can't stick with one scenario long enough for the picture to take-off as a whole. The film's overall design is dreadful, and director Jerry Schatzberg shows no style whatsoever, yet those little pinpoints scattered about show that not much has changed in Congress (nor in our country) in the last 31 years. ** from ****

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