Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (BLACK AND WHITE, 1939)

Director
Frank Capra

Cast
James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Norton, Guy Kibbee, Beulah Bondi, H.B. Warner, Eugene Pallette, Astrid Allwyn, Harry Carey,  Porter Hall and Pierre Watkin

Ages
10 and up

Plot
A senator dies and Governor Hubert (Kibbee) needs to elect someone to replace the deceased senator. He selects the na├»ve Jefferson Smith (Stewart), a boy scout who runs a newspaper, Boy’s Stuff. On his way to Washington DC, Smith meets Senator Joseph Harrison Paine (Rains), who is his father’s old friend. Paine has a secretary, Clarissa Saunders (Arthur), who helps Smith draft his first bill, which is to have a boy’s camp at Willet Creek in Montana, Smith's home state. This is the place, however, where Paine and the powerful state political boss Jim Taylor (Norton) want to build a dam. Thus, they accuse Smith of graft. Can Smith and Saunders wreck Paine and Taylor's political machine with whatever they’ve got?

Confrontation between Paine (Rains, left) and Smith (Stewart, right) at the senate.

Why it’s good
I just watched this film and had a scary dream that included our own politicians .... This movie is an introduction to political corruption and tells us about the politicians vs. the people. The two sides do not agree all the time (well, at least in here).

Made just in the same way as "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", this centres on how it is like to be a senator. Joseph and Jim are two very bad and pro-business characters, if you ask me. Stewart is playing a good-hearted youngster who’s got to spoil their graft.

“The difference between this guy and the rest of the senators is that he’s honest,” Joseph Paine tells Jim Taylor. But will Paine, under Taylor's influence, stop Smith from continuing with his plans?

Newspapers and reporters also appear in the movie always thirsty for the story. For example, Diz Moore, played by Thomas Mitchell, is the poet of Washington Correspondence. There are a few newspaper articles shown with staged photographs. However, Jim Taylor controls them all. 

Trivia
In 1942, a ban on American films was imposed in German-occupied France. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was the last film to be screened.

Parent’s Guide
Not much. However, there are some minor scuffles in the senate.


If you like this…
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), starring Gary Cooper.         

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