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The Best Man Reviews

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Michael G

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2011
The Best Man starts off with all the promise of being a biting political satire minus the humor. As it goes on it looks like its going to draw blood, but by the end you're drenched in saliva from getting gummed for the last 20 minutes. This movie had a great cast and a simple premise with plenty of minute details that could've made the movie but a weak third act keep The Best Man from being a Henry Fonda movie you've actually heard of. Worth the watch though.

Super Reviewer

February 18, 2011
A great movie from 1964 that shows what goes on behind the door in politics and the running for president of the United States/ Henry Fonda is Mr. Nice Guy do everything by the book, Cliff Robertson played the cutthroat role. Its presidential Primary time, watch what both do to become the next president of the United States. What I found interesting was the statement made in the movie we don't want another Nixon problem.. Remember this was filmed in 1964 long before Nixon became president. Another interesting item was the meeting between both candidates where one promises the other anything to stop running against him, reminded me of the meeting between Hilary Clinton and Obama. Film in B&W which was another surprise for 1964, Watched this one instantly on Netflix, which is a awesome deal, video quality as good as having the DVD. 4 Stars for this one.
cody f

Super Reviewer

July 20, 2008
Great political film that really translates into politics today. Its about 2 men running for the president, Fonda is a rich intellectual who uses reason to get ahead. Robertson is a brute who uses fear and threats to get ahead. It's pretty much Bush vs Kerry. The acting is great and Gore Vidal's script is flawless and Wexler's cinematography is stunning as usual.
June 10, 2011
Very good political film pitting two opposites vying for the Presidential Nomination. The film is well made and well acted, but Cliff Robertson's character is so thoroughly over-the-top evil that it hurts the film.
May 22, 2010
The film's obviously dated, but it contains excellent dramatic performances and intelligent dialogue that have aged well.

Robertson and Fonda are on two different sides of the ethical fence as they vie for the Presidential nomination of their party. Robertson's flipping through his set of index cards on the delegates, using the dirt - or the price - they contain to line up his votes.

Not exactly the stuff of leadership from Fonda's point of view. And Fonda's got some dirt on Robertson, but using it to stop Robertson is against his better nature and involves collateral damage.

The film's payoff is a face-to-face facedown of wills between the two - and between ethics and politics as usual - leading to a photo-finish on the convention floor.

From a 1960 Broadway play and 1964 screenplay, both inked by Gore Vidal.

The film's most famous for studio execs taking a pass on Ronald Reagan for a role, deciding Reagan was a great guy but that he didn't look presidential. Despite that lapse in judgment, Fonda's extraordinarily well suited for his role as a leader accepting responsibility for difficult decisions, not so unlike his delivery in "Fail-Safe."

Such dirty dealings in smoke-filled back rooms is seen as business-as-usual these days, but it was likely a new perspective for many viewers back in 1964.

Given the material was developed in the late 1950s and given the nature of the characters, it's not much of a stretch to presume that Vidal had Nixon and Adlai Stevenson in mind when creating them. Especially when Fonda points out Robertson's self-serving egotism is a disastrous Presidential characteristic - and when Robertson labels Fonda as a fool who doesn't understand how politics really works.

RECOMMENDATION: Both prescient and dramatic, the film's still well recommended four decades later.

Super Reviewer

February 10, 2010
(1964 Director: Franklin J. Schaffner) This is no All the King's Men but it does deal with just how much one man can want to become President. Stars Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Ann Sothern.
June 16, 2007
after all these years, expected it to be a total bore!lol, saw it just the other day on tcm i believe, & was knocked out! won't give away anymore to all you younger its not released,lol.
January 14, 2012
An excellent political satire with fantastic performances that is still so relevant in today's political noise.
Monsieur Rick
November 3, 2010
Henry Fonda plays the role of a lifetime in this election era film where politics is a dirty word. Men trying to be nominated President of the United States at a nominating convention court the outgoing President of their party, but he decides to not favor either one publicly.

Sheer tension, as this one is for all the marbles in a political showdown that starts slowly but builds to a ruthless climax.

For political junkies, fans of Henry Fonda and political drama lovers in general, this one is carried primarily by Henry Fonda at the peak of his movie career while his advisary, Cliff Robertson has just started.

All those backroom deals you hear about are shown here at the convention. All the backstabbing and infighting revealed. The smear campaign of Roberson (as Cantwell) as a right wing, self rightous candidate is brought to bear on Fonda. Fonda has a past of being treated for mental illness and Cantwell, his opponent, is going to release the embarressing truth to a voting convention.

Black and white drama that is brisk and builds with tension as the vote for the party's nomination and sure succession to the Presidency hangs like low fruit on a tree, just waiting to be picked.

Henry Fonda fans will thrill as this "thinking man's" candidate looks as though he could be a real President.

Original Release Date: May 23, 1964

Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson square off as political adversaries during a presidential primary in this sardonic, insightful drama that brings out the best, and worst, in American politics.

Based on a novel by Gore Vidal, famous writer of the 1960's and real arch enemy of noted right wing columnist William F. Buckley, politico incarnate.

Henry Fonda (as Bill Russell, candidate)
Cliff Robertson (as the evil candidate)
Shelley Berman (1960's comedian)
Edie Adams (real life wife of Ernie Kovacks, comedian)
John Henry Faulk
Margaret Leighton
Kevin McCarthy
Gene Raymond
Ann Sothern
Lee Tracy

Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Composer: Mort Lindsey
Set Decorator : Richard Mansfield
Producer: Stuart Millar
Editor: Robert Swink
Director: Franklin Schaffner
Producer: Lawrence Turman
Screenplay: Gore Vidal (author of the book made to film)
Cinematographer: Haskell Wexler
Art Director: Lyle R. Wheeler
September 5, 2005
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