A simple, small town man inherits a massive fortune, making him the target for scammers and publicity-seekers. Overwhelmed by the turn his life has taken, and awoken to another use for his new-found fortune, he makes a momentous decision.
Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state's senior senator--presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal.Written by
James Yu <email@example.com>
In his autobiography, Frank Capra states that after the film's general release, he and Harry Cohn received a cablegram from U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph P. Kennedy saying that he felt the film would damage "America's prestige in Europe" and should therefore be withdrawn from European distribution. In response, they mailed favorable reviews of the film to Kennedy, which persuaded him not pursue the matter any further, even though he still maintained his doubts. See more »
On the Senate floor, Mr. Smith says the "Lady on top of the Capitol that stands for liberty." The statue on top of the US Capitol building since 1863 is the Statue of Freedom, also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom rather than Liberty. See more »
So, you wanna be a Senator, huh? You're gonna build a camp on a little creek. See this? Deficiency Bill. Section number 40. A dam going up where you think your camp's going to be. Ever hear of it? Noooo! They read all about it in the Senate today. But, you weren't supposed to hear. That's why that ritzy dame took you in tow. That's why they sent you here in the first place! Because you don't know a dam from a bathtub. Go ahead! Be a Senator. Try and mess up Mr. Taylor's little graft. But, you ...
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Frank Capra and James Stewart were nearly unsurpassed at the task of taking the kind of story that is optimistic but that borders on being trite, and making it into a satisfying, worthwhile movie. In "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", they accomplish this with a little help from Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, and Edward Arnold. It's not quite on the level of "It's a Wonderful Life", but it is as good as almost anything else of its kind.
Stewart's performance is important right from the beginning - hardly anyone else could have been believable as the earnest unknown who suddenly becomes an important political figure. Even his wide-eyed appreciation for what he sees in Washington comes across believably. As the story gets more complicated and his character is developed further, Stewart is even better.
The secondary characters are also important, because the story itself is a rather stylized, though still worthwhile, statement about politics. The characters are more believable than are many of the plot developments. Rains contributes a lot as Stewart's troubled colleague, and Jean Arthur is a natural for this kind of role. Arnold plays his devious character well. Capra holds it all together with his craftsmanship, keeping the story on track and getting the most out of the situation.
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