Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
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 lawmakers. Taylor orders Hopper to appoint an interim senator to fill out Foley's term; Taylor has proposed a pork barrel bill to finance an unneeded dam at Willet Creek, so he warns Hopper he wants a senator who "can't ask any questions or talk out of turn." After having a number of his appointees rejected, at the suggestion of his children Hopper nominates local hero Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), leader of the state's Boy Rangers group. Smith is an innocent, wide-eyed idealist who quotes Jefferson and Lincoln and idolizes Paine, who had known his crusading editor father. In Washington, after a humiliating introduction to the press corps, Smith threatens to resign, but Paine encourages him to stay and work on a bill for a national boy's camp. With the help of his cynical secretary Clarissa Sanders (Jean Arthur), Smith prepares to introduce his boy's camp bill to the Senate. But when he proposes to build the camp on the Willets Creek site, Taylor and Paine force him to drop the measure. Smith discovers Taylor and Paine want the Willets Creek site for graft and he attempts to expose them, but Paine deflects Smith's charges by accusing Smith of stealing money from the boy rangers. Defeated, Smith is ready to depart Washington, but Saunders, whose patriotic zeal has been renewed by Smith, exhorts him to stay and fight. Smith returns to the Senate chamber and, while Taylor musters the media forces in his state to destroy him, Smith engages in a climactic filibuster to speak his piece: "I've got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not gonna leave this body until I do get them said." ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
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.
Quintessential Capra - popular wish-fulfilment served up with such fast-talking comic panache that you don't have time to question its cornball idealism.
Mr. Smith is one of the best shows of the year. More fun, even, than the Senate itself.
It isn't a political film at all. In fact, it draws its power from its simple underdog story and its modern resonance from the fact that little has changed since then.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington remains one of the quintessential films about American politics to this very day.
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.
It competes only with It Happened One Night for the title of Capra's most entertaining film ever.
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.
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.
Every citizen should be made to watch in exchange for the right to vote.
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.
Simplistic and preachy, but effective due to the performances.
Jean Arthur está genial como a secretária Saunders, que explica como funciona o Senado americano - que, infelizmente, nos faz lembrar do cenário político brasileiro.
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.
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.More
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.More
A classic film, among the all-time best. Perfect and timeless.
The ending is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. Powerful, almost depressing...you forget it's a movie. Jimmy Stewart gives an astounding performance, also one of my favorite performances in a movie.
Nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director Frank Capra, and Best Actor James Stewart.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Quotes
- 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.
- Sen. Joseph Paine:
- Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
- President of the Senate:
- Will the Senator yield?
- Jefferson Smith:
- No, sir, I'm afraid not, no sir.
- 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.
- 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.
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