Though controversial when it first appeared on the big screen, Frank Capra’s masterpiece Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is, to this day, one of the most talked about films from that era. Many have tried to remake it, but none have even come close to this tale of a rookie United States Senator who filibusters in order to see that truth reigns in the United States of America.
The story goes that a long-serving senator of an unnamed state has passed away. Governor Hubert “Happy” Hopper (Guy Kibbee) is being pressured to promote someone friendly to lobbyist and political boss Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), but the people want someone that represents them. As a compromise, he takes his sons’ suggestion and appoints Mr. Smith (Jimmy Stewart), who is seen as someone who is easy to manipulate. He is taken under the wing of his state’s fellow Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), who Smith develops an attraction to Paine’s daughter
However, things go awry when Mr. Smith, with the help of his assistant Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur) and decides to try to build a place for young boys to camp on the very same property that Taylor wants to expand his fortune with developments. Smith is framed for a crime, but before he is charged, he stands and delivers a filibuster. Though he is met with derision from his fellow senators, the President of the Senate (Harry Carey) seems to admire the young senator for his courage.
It is said that the film angered members of Congress in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for its portrayal of US Senators of both parties giving in to special interests and lobbyists. However, the film, because of its superior quality was nominated for eleven Academy Awards but won for Best Original Story. It was also added into United States National Film Registry and featured in AFI’s 100 years, 100 films list.
It propelled Jimmy Stewart into stardom and forever labeled Frank Capra as a popular director. It is no wonder why. The engaging story and the moving way it challenges the corruption of the day is both moving and inspiring. It tells its story in a timeless. It is sad, but I doubt Hollywood would have the courage to make a movie like this today.
FAVORITE QUOTE: You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well I’m not licked. And I’m gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Mild thematic elements
Check out the trailer below:
That is my review. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below and tell me if there’s a movie you’d like me to review. Check out my thoughts on The Haunted Strangler and The Wizard Of Oz. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.