7.7/10
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44 user 25 critic

The Best Man (1964)

Approved | | Drama | 18 June 1964 (West Germany)
The two front runners for their party's presidential nomination, one principled and the other ruthless, vie for the former President's endorsement.

Director:

Franklin J. Schaffner (as Franklin Schaffner)

Writer:

Gore Vidal (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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From the John le Carré novel about a British spy, who sends a Polish defector to East Germany, to verify missile sites.

Director: Frank Pierson
Stars: Christopher Jones, Pia Degermark, Ralph Richardson
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... William Russell
Cliff Robertson ... Joe Cantwell
Edie Adams ... Mabel Cantwell
Margaret Leighton ... Alice Russell
Shelley Berman ... Sheldon Bascomb
Lee Tracy ... President Art Hockstader
Ann Sothern ... Sue Ellen Gamadge
Gene Raymond ... Don Cantwell
Kevin McCarthy ... Dick Jensen
Mahalia Jackson ... Mahalia Jackson
Howard K. Smith ... Howard K. Smith
John Henry Faulk ... Gov. T.T. Claypoole
Richard Arlen ... Sen. Oscar Anderson
Penny Singleton ... Mrs. Claypoole (scenes deleted)
George Kirgo George Kirgo ... Speechwriter
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Storyline

Intellectual William Russell and down-to-earth Joe Cantwell are front runners for a party nomination that will almost certainly mean the Presidency. Cantwell is prepared to use anything to achieve his goal while Russell sees himself as a man of principle - though his philandering means he is relieved his wife is prepared to appear alongside him. Both men crucially need the support of the ailing President, and as the stakes become higher each team has to decide how dirty they are prepared to get. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Best Man is Dynamite See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 June 1964 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Gore Vidal's The Best Man See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The nick-name of Senator Joseph Cantrell (Cliff Robertson) was "Joe"; the nick-name of former Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda) was "Will"; whilst the nick-name of former American President Arthur Hockstader (Lee Tracy) was "Art". See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, while with his wife in a car on the way to the convention center, we see traffic in the opposing lanes. A white Cadillac passes by and about two seconds later those same cars, including the white Caddy, pass again. See more »

Quotes

Sue Ellen Gamadge: You are not the ideal candidate for the women.
William Russell: Which women do you have in mind?
Sue Ellen Gamadge: The women don't like you trying to be funny all the time.
William Russell: Oh, that is a flaw. I agree.
Sue Ellen Gamadge: Yes. They want a regular kind of man, like, well, like General Eisenhower, with that nice smile. And he's not pushy or aggressive, or any of those things we women don't like in our men. He was just grand. Why, you could imagine him washing up after dinner, or listening to his wife's views on important matters.
William Russell: Yes, indeed you can.
Sue Ellen Gamadge:
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, a picture of every single U.S. President appears in order, from George Washington to Lyndon Johnson. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Great Lee Tracy Actually Gets To Curse On screen
22 February 2006 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

What a pleasure to see Lee Tracy in his later years! He plays a President who is terminally ill-- not that Conservative, mudslinging candidate Cliff Robertson cares about his health.

The movie has some weird, faux cinema verite angles. It may not be great art as a movie. But what a screenplay, courtesy of Gore Vidal! Rarely are audiences treated to such literate dialogue and politic insight and wisdom.

Henry Fonda is very good as the upright candidate in a primary. Margaret Leighton, whom I love, is charming as his wife, though it's odd that a senator would have a British-accented wife.

Robertson, not a particular favorite generally, is superb as his rival. His tactics make the flesh crawl.

Kevin McCarthy as Fonda's aid is very good. Edie Adams as a political hostess is a scream -- and she seems just right.

And Tracy. He is both funny and touching. What a splendid actor that man was! In so many early movies, he delivered long, elegant bits of dialogue in what seemed to be a single take. That guy was load with talent. What a shame he self-destructed. But here he was, back again.

This is one of a kind and most definitely worth a visit.


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