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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)



Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 44,956

My Rating

Movie Info

Frank Capra's classic comedy-drama established James Stewart as a lead actor in one of his finest (and most archetypal) roles. The film opens as a succession of reporters shout into telephones announcing the death of Senator Samuel Foley. Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), the state's senior senator, puts in a call to Governor Hubert "Happy" Hopper (Guy Kibbee) reporting the news. Hopper then calls powerful media magnate Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), who controls the state -- along with the


Drama, Classics, Comedy

Sidney Buchman

Feb 22, 2000

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Watch It Now


Latest News on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

June 22, 2007:
AFI Announces Top 100 Movies of All Time ... Again
Ten years ago the AFI gave us a list of the Top 100 American Films Ever Made -- and when that was...


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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (2) | DVD (8)

This is classic Capracorn.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is going to be the big movie explosion of the year, and reviewers are going to think twice and think sourly before they'll want to put it down for the clumsy and irritating thing it is.

February 15, 2011 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the finest and consistently interesting dramas of the season.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quintessential Capra - popular wish-fulfilment served up with such fast-talking comic panache that you don't have time to question its cornball idealism.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Smith is one of the best shows of the year. More fun, even, than the Senate itself.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is so far the best Hollywood picture of the year. It is pleasant to be able to say this without if's and but's.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

Wonderful classic movie for the family.

December 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Well, this one certainly feels fresh and relevant today, doesn't it?

April 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

It competes only with It Happened One Night for the title of Capra's most entertaining film ever.

November 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Capra's Depression era film is a classic, timeless statement about American ideals, featuring a bravura turn from Jimmy Stewart as a young idealistic Senator, fighting corruption in Washington D.C.

January 20, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Pick it apart, dissect it and even roll your eyes at the ridiculous ending. Still, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" will get to you, even if you're in your most cynical mood.

February 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Every citizen should be made to watch in exchange for the right to vote.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Resisting Capra's manipulation -- manipulation in service of what? -- may well place one in violation of the Patriot Act today. But surely I'm not the only one who resents it.

June 12, 2004 | Comments (7)
F5 (Wichita, KS)

Pure cornball idealism.

May 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Simplistic and preachy, but effective due to the performances.

May 23, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Jean Arthur está genial como a secretária Saunders, que explica como funciona o Senado americano - que, infelizmente, nos faz lembrar do cenário político brasileiro.

July 25, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Stewart was the real deal, he was no sunshine patriot.

December 21, 2002 Full Review Source:

Every citizen should be made to watch in exchange for the right to vote.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Capra's classic of democracy, decency and faith still matters, 60 years later.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

definitely a highlight of both Stewart and Capra's careers

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Audience Reviews for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Frank Capra's tale of an idealistic, yonug junior senator's revelation about, (and subsequent revolution against) Washington's rampant corruption is among his finest (and most typical) works.

This film is easily one of the cornerstones for stories about the pure hero standing up for truth, justice, and the little guy, no matter how daunting the opposition and odds of success. It's cliched with how heartwarming and feel good, and unsurprising it all is, but nevertheless is a very great film.

Jimmy Stewart cemented his status as a legend his, and this is one of his best and archetypical roles. He really brings the feverish determination of his everyman hero to life and delivers a great guy you can't help but root for. Supporting him are notable names like Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, and Edward Arnold, among others, all of whom deliver some strong performances.

The writing is sharp, the direction strong, and the cinematography and editing are pretty top notch, especially for the time. And of course, the message is quite timeless and still relevant.

All in all, this is one of the greats. It's overly simplistic, sentimental, and idealistic, but we do need films like this, and I will always defend Capra and his work for this reason, even if I don't want to watch this sort of thing all the time.
January 17, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

James Stewart and Jean Arthur are amazing in this magnificent political drama, a film that is still relevant with regard to corruption and our powerless indignation - reflected in an idealistic young Senator who boldly demands honor from the ones betraying their vows in Washington.
November 8, 2012

Super Reviewer

I could watch this movie a million times and still get chills when he won't yield. The only film I really feel like deserves a standing ovation when the credits roll.
October 18, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

    1. Jefferson Smith: And this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light; they're right here! You just have to see them again.
    – Submitted by Matthew J (20 months ago)
    1. Sen. Joseph Paine: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
    2. President of the Senate: Will the Senator yield?
    3. Jefferson Smith: No, sir, I'm afraid not, no sir.
    – Submitted by Al R (3 years ago)
    1. Jefferson Smith: You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Jefferson Smith: I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Mr. Smith geht nach Washington (DE)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (UK)
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