The Candidate 1972

The Candidate

Critics Consensus

The Candidate may not get all the details right when it comes to modern campaigning, but it captures political absurdity perfectly -- and boasts typically stellar work from Robert Redford to boot.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

74%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,974

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Movie Info

Without a candidate to run for the senate seat against admired Republican Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter), campaign manager Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) recruits leftist lawyer Bill McKay (Robert Redford). McKay's appearance piques the public's interest, and gradually Lucas pushes McKay toward a more centrist message. As McKay's original and honest platform gets watered down, his popularity increases so much that he is running even with Jarmon as Election Day approaches.

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Critic Reviews for The Candidate

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (4)

  • Neither the authentic political atmosphere nor canny performances by Redford, Boyle and Porter go far to cut through the basic glibness of the film.

    June 29, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Much of it has a pleasing air of accuracy. But Redford's inability to suggest any irony about himself finally sinks it -- it's the only sanctimonious satire you'll ever see.

    June 29, 2018 | Full Review…
  • If this candidate doesn't prove to be a winner, I'll demand a recount.

    June 29, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Redford fancies himself so superior to the electoral process that he ends up with a completely fatuous characterization of a politician.

    January 14, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Redford's superior acting talents, which not-often-enough are tapped by the scripts he decides to do, are nearly all on display herein in a virtuoso peformance.

    June 3, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Ritchie and Redford's follow-up to Downhill Racer is one of the more intelligent films to have been made about political machinations in America.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Candidate

  • Jul 13, 2016
    I'm not inclined to hail the movie as the incisive political commentary everyone seems to believe it is. Now I do like a lot of the subtle humor but I just don't buy Redford's character . . . he's both too stubborn and too much of a pushover.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    The Candidate is disappointing. Redford hardly comes across as someone that can win a Senate race. His character displays little-to-no drive which makes it hard to sympathize with his frustrations. The movie is not helped by a very poor DVD transfer. I was surprised to see that it was nominated for best sound since I found it to be very poor in that respect. The Candidate is not an awful movie, but when I tried to write a review recommending it, I found I couldn't.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2014
    A left-wing lawyer runs for the Senate, but the campaign forces him to make concessions in his values. Robert Redford, with his natural sense of integrity and propriety, is at his best in this film because we get to see that integrity slowly crumble. The change is subtle -- sometimes too subtle, to the point that the film's plot isn't fully realized -- but it's there. The film's plot follows McKay's campaign, and as the process of getting elected strips McKay of his principles, the political process is appropriately satirized. The best part of the film is the famous last line: "What do we do now?" which is a quote echoed by many a modern politician. Overall, while I think the film's subtlety worked against it at points, the overall message is ahead of its time.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 29, 2012
    A satirical and modern political chronicle.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer

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