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Joe Gresham is a hard-working but reticent congressman from Massachusetts. Reporter Alice Kingsley arrives in Washington, DC hired by Gilbert Nunnally, a tabloid columnist and cynic who wants Alice to uncover a ripe political scandal. They target "No Comment Joe" Gresham, and she begins developing a story on him, telling him it will be a benign "profile." Gresham is struggling with a genuine legislative dilemma, weighing the funding of a ship building facility which would favor his own district against broader national defense requirements. To get to know him better-and to dig up some appropriate dirt, Alice agrees to travel with Joe to his home district, where she meets his mother and observes him in his local context. She finds Gresham's wholesome image appears unfeigned and becomes torn between her commission to write a "tell-all" story and her growing attraction to Joe.Written by
Mike Canning (email@example.com
Does The Name of Drew Pearson Strike A Familiar Note?
A young generation of American movie viewers cannot possibly appreciate the significance of Washington Story and the performance of Philip Ober as a Drew Pearson type columnist. But back when I was a lad, his was a name that struck fear in the hearts of many Washington politicians, mostly those of the conservative bent. His column from the capital was a weekly expose of all the crooked wheeling and dealing going on there, written in a Walter Winchell like vein. Like Philip Ober in this story, Pearson was a man both feared and despised in many quarters.
A lot of people thought Pearson was a crusading hero, but Washington Story doesn't make Ober anything like that. He's a raker of tabloid mud who's currently drawing a bead on young Congressman Van Johnson from Massachusetts. To do his dirty work Ober gets young Patricia Neal, an ambitious reporter herself, to get close to Johnson and dig up the top soil.
Of course as what usually happens in films like these Johnson and Neal fall for each other with unforeseen consequences for Ober. Louis Calhern is in the film as a wise older Congressman from the other party who befriends Johnson and helps steer him through the crisis. And Sidney Blackmer does a nice job as a lobbyist for the shipping industry whose pet bill is giving Johnson a lot of grief.
If you think Johnson and Neal sound a lot like James Stewart and Jean Arthur you'd be right. MGM filmed Washington Story inside the environs of the real Capitol Hill. It's not Mr. Smith with Jimmy Stewart fighting against a blind establishment, blind to the corruption in Stewart's state. Here the establishment is given a nice coat of whitewash. Remember this was the beginning of the Cold War when we were putting our best foot forward at all times. The villain here in fact is our press.
Or at least a part of it as represented by columnists like Drew Pearson. I have a funny feeling that the genesis of Washington Story came from someone at MGM running afoul of Pearson and getting back at him cinematically speaking.
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