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The Best Man (1964)

Approved | | Drama | 6 April 1964 (USA)
The 2 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)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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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:

Does The Best Man Always Get To The White House? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was Lee Tracy's final film before his death on October 18, 1968 at the age of 70. See more »

Goofs

As Cantwell is chasing Bascomb out the door of the basement fallout shelter. Bascomb runs into one of the stacks of water ration cans. Those cans held five gallons of water (8.34 pounds per gallon) and weighed approximately 42 pounds each. When they were hit they had a decided hollow sound, like they were empty, just props. Although now long turned stale, many of these rations remain tucked away in forgotten lower areas of buildings to this day. No one stores and stacks empty water cans. See more »

Quotes

President Art Hockstader: [slyly] Oh, those rumors about you and your lady friends, they won't do you a bit of harm. You haven't written them any letters, have you?
William Russell: No, no letters
President Art Hockstader: Ah, good.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Barbra Streisand (1964) See more »

User Reviews

 
An inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at political conventions
10 September 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson are neck and neck for the Presidential nomination in "The Best Man," a 1964 film based on the play by Gore Vidal, who also wrote the screenplay. The film sports an outstanding cast including Margaret Leighton, Kevin McCarthy, Edie Adams, Lee Tracy, Edie Adams, Ann Sothern, Shelley Berman, Gene Raymond and Howard K. Smith.

Fonda is William Russell, a wealthy man of principle, though he cheats on his wife; Robertson is Joe Cantwell, who chases Communists, is a "man of the people," and plays dirty. At one point, each candidate has something on the other that could lose them the nomination. Nowadays, of course, these items would have come out long, long before the convention. "One word from me and Joe Cantwell is out of politics," Russell muses to his wife (Leighton). But can he say the word? This is a fascinating look at the machinations of getting a President nominated, and asks the question, can a man retain his integrity and still be a politician? Vidal's answer comes as not much of a surprise.

Fonda played presidents and politicians throughout his career. As Russell, he has reserve and dignity. He keeps you guessing. Robertson does a great job as a disloyal sleaze. Lee Tracy, who started in silents, is fantastic as the current, ill President, repeating the role he played on Broadway. The rest of the cast is uniformly good.

So much of what is stated in "The Best Man" remains true today. I doubt these races are handled much differently now. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Especially in politics.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 April 1964 (USA) 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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