Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Reviews

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September 26, 2016
Fondly remembered as a landmark film in cinema, and it still feels good today, if a little slow. It feels like it wants to say a lot, but not going too far. Does it really feel as bad towards government as it does? Is it holding back? Is the studio interfering? Maybe, but it does leave you with hope, if a little phoned in.
September 25, 2016
Finally got to watch this classic. Stewart did an amazing job of playing the young naive idealist, who is representative of something nonexistent in Washington, D.C. Great performances all around and I thoroughly enjoyed how this film tackled themes we still struggle with today-private interests influencing government, lack of journalistic integrity, no real freedom of the press, popular resignation and cynicism regarding the system, etc.

In December 2014 it's very interesting to watch a film from 1940 about politics on Capital Hill only to realize how the influence of industry in government hasn't really changed. That back then just as today those with great wealth are the ones who assert their will through the current practice of our political economy. For me this film demonstrates how historically this sanctioned (and sometimes not so sanctioned) corruption has been the common practice in government for such a long time now. And when something is common, it is often confused for what is normal. When the thing that's common and seen as normal is not a healthy situation and many people know it, but worse accept it, then it leads to resignation and cynicism.

It's very easy for the cynical to view this film as somethings being an expression of cornball idealism under the weight of business as usual that has been the business for so long. I prefer to see those ideals as something still worth fighting for, because they are human ideals of a functional society that were intended to be a code of honor for government. They were supposed to be a values system for our views and behaviors toward one another in our communities so that government had something vital to protect and serve. Those were the original intentions. Cornball idealism? To the easily accepting cynic-of course. After all, how could we possibly end business as usual and truly move toward practicing those ideals? A question that the resigned very easily have an answer for-we can't.
September 10, 2016
A must see classic! Jimmy is a gem as always!
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2016
Few films succeed in being relevant a decade or two after its release, but Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is still relevant 77 years later, especially in a voting year with questionable candidates.

Before Frank Capra ventured into his war propaganda films in the early-to-mid 40's, he made some of the most important and acclaimed films of all time. In back to back years he directed the 1938 sleeper hit, You Can't Take it With You, and the classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Capra carried some of the same cast members over to the ladder, as Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Edward Arnold are among the many who acted in both films. Continuing with the tradition of Capra's other works, Mr. Smith deals with a common man taking on big ideas and ideals, only to be shut down by those more powerful and privileged.

This was the film that really showed the world what Stewart could do. Even though I have seen tons of his films, this one stands out as some of his finest acting and most demanding roles of his filmography. He was always great at playing an everyman and someone you can undeniably root for, and Jeff Smith is a defining role for him. Smith represents the audience in going along for this political ride and I loved the way Stewart gave the character a certain amount of innocence and vulnerability while also displaying a graceful and powerful presence as well.

Having wonderful chemistry in You Can't Take it With You, it's no surprise that Stewart and Arthur's work together here is just as good, if not better. Arthur plays Clarissa Saunders, who manages to keep Smith afloat even though he's constantly swept away by Washington and all of the extra perks for being in the Senate. It's also not a forced romance, like a lot of 30's films, it takes a while for it to be developed as its handled with care. Arthur may very well be the best romantic partner Stewart ever had.

1939 was a fantastic year for film, with Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind also being released. But perhaps no film from that year is still as relevant as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Capra covers the film with patriotism with beautiful shots of Washington D.C. and a patriotic song here or there, but its his step into a pessimistic style of filmmaking that's most intriguing here. The last 30 minutes with Stewart giving an Oscar worthy performance and Capra seamlessly twisting the story into unpredictable territories is truly something special.

+Stewart becoming the Stewart we all love

+Arthur is marvelous

+Capra's balanced directing

½ August 21, 2016
Classic film that attacks the truth of how government functions. With help of one of the best actors of all time, this film still brings something to be learned 75 years later.
August 7, 2016
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a gem. But it's not gem for reasons revolving around the overall story, which quite frankly is not that interesting. What is interesting is Stewart, who's chops as an actor can be clearly seen in this film. Many of us are familiar with Stewart because of his roles in Hitchcock's films, or even his relationship to Hitchcock in general. But this is a must see film for fans and critics solely because the opportunity to see a whole new side to Stewart is available. Note that the story is interesting to a point. It's campy, silly, and at times cliched with a sense of patriotism that really does not exist in America, and those are its flaws. The strengths of this film is that Capra isn't afraid to go there with his philosophy on morals and ethics. The film is about a man an innocent and naive man in a situation where is tempted to become as corrupt as our government is. That is Capra's message, and I find that interesting since it is in a film that cleverly disguises it.
July 28, 2016
a little boring at the beginning, but in the end it's worth the time......great movie
July 23, 2016
While on a technical level it is clearly still early in the history of filmmaking and it's also dabbles in plenty of the typical Hollywood sap and patriotism, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-in its last minutes-demonstrates that Capra's classic can be original, challenging, and heartfelt.
Super Reviewer
½ July 19, 2016
James Stewart and Jean Arthur are both amazing in this magnificent political drama - a film still relevant when it comes to corruption and our powerless indignation reflected in an idealistic young Senator who boldly demands honor from the ones betraying their vows in Washington.
July 11, 2016
The story of an wide-eyed innocent who goes to Washington DC full of enthusiasm and ideals, only to discover that politics is full of corrupt puppets controlled by big business. With that premise, it's as relevant today as it was then. It's also powerful. Very powerful. The idea of the little guy taking on a hopeless fight against a machine he can't possibly defeat and which is bent on breaking him but which he fights anyway because he must, his refusal to be broken, his indomitable spirit and unshakeable belief that one day, kindness, goodness and love of ones neighbour can triumph, the strength to be the lone voice in a crowd and to never give up no matter what, the idealistic determination to 'always see life as if you've just come out of a tunnel', it's just everything I love about a movie. Jimmy Stewart must be one of the best actors I've ever seen. Saunders was captivating and adorable (the note she sent to Jeff while he was on the floor was so good). And Frank Capra...It's A Wonderful Life is my favourite film of all time and he's produced another classic here. Worthy of all those Oscar nominations it apparently received.

"I do not yield!"
June 6, 2016
Way more into this than I thought I'd be. Solid movie. Not a lot happens but the 2+ hours fly by. Simple story well-told and well-acted.
April 25, 2016
This political comedy-drama certainly is patriotic and Stewart gives a very good performance in the lead role. Although the editing is sometimes poor and there are a few too many slow or tedious moments, it all comes together in final memorable courtroom scene. Considered to be one of the best movies of all time. AAN 1001
½ March 8, 2016
The masters were at work when a 77 year old film still has this much social suspense in a political situation that never lost its relevance, not to mention the amazing chemistry among the lead protagonists.
February 1, 2016
It's interesting how Mr. Smith Goes to Washington feels so dated and yet so relevant at the same time. This movie itself feels like Jefferson Smith, naively striding into the homes of the cynical and skeptical modern public, only to prove that it does, indeed have something important to offer. This movie still packs an emotional punch almost 80 years after it was made and it's easy to see why it's a classic.
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2016
Idealistic fantasy meets cynical reality. An endearing film which some actually true-to-life (though, perhaps, a tad simplistic to be sure) points to make about the dark, bleak underbelly of corruption in politics, and how greed and cynicism can infect and corrupt even the most idealistic hearts, until they no longer recognize their earlier glory. One idealistic man refuses to be corrupted, tries to shake the bee's nest, and faces the staggering powers that be. A classic. Definitely in the 4-4.5 range. Giving it the 4.5.
January 15, 2016
this was a pretty good james stewart movie
December 25, 2015
Frank Capra's films encapsulate what we pretend are American ideals now: hopefulness, love for your fellow man, and trust in something much greater than one's own intellect. Similar to his iconic masterpiece, "It's a Wonderful Life," this charming tale works as both a comedy-drama and as an amalgam of all those beautiful, forgotten ideals.

Today's America (I don't care if you are a Republican or Democrat) has completely forgotten all about the ideas that give legs to Capra's dream country.

James Stewart is America's big brother, and this is Stewart the everyman at his most relatable. The man worked with the greatest cinematic mind of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, multiple times, but he never reached the heights of his true acting prowess in the presence of Hitchcock like he did with the likes of America's director Frank Capra.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2015
*whistles admiringly
November 14, 2015
The film ends rather abruptly. Apparently there was a longer ending. It might have made it even better.
½ November 6, 2015
Saw this on 7/6/15
James Stewart and Jean Arthur gives phenomenal performance and it has few moments of shear originality and tension, but the fact that it is a Frank Capra film deprives it of all the seriousness that the subject matter deserves and in turn makes it a feel good film. The performances, the betrayal are all fantastic and after the first half, what happens outside the senate hall is interesting and often tense, the confusion among the public, the riots both in protest and in support of Mr Smith and also the scenes where even the children are being threatened. But all that happens inside the senate after the first half are boring and you expect Mr Smith to throw in evidence about his innocence and the other group's crimes, instead he recites the Constitution of America and all Non-American viewers are bound to feel just the same way as the other senators who are often seen as tired and sleeping. The film is illogical and simply wants you to believe that pouring in patriotism can in turn save one and even turn to enemies into being dutiful. The film is extremely predictable at instances as well, like the hero loosing all hope after being betrayed, now you know there's got to be some motivating dialogues, then at least in here, for a change the lead actress gives the motivation. Then again, the way it handles the character of Senator Paine shows you how it's going to end after all. Capra has succeeded in making the audience almost comfortable through the entire film despite of all these and the film's use of children are also refreshing but illogical. This is just like a Peter Pan story unfolding in a senate hall.
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