Day: June 15, 2016

Mr Smith Goes To Washington – tape 1578

Courtesy of the Movie Channel, here’s Frank Capra’s Mr Smith Goes to Washington, a sort of West Wing for the 1930s.

A US Senator dies, and the party leaders want to appoint a stooge who will push through a bill to build a dam, in which a lot of party bigwigs have bought up a lot of land, to make money when the dam is built. But when the party rank and file reject their selection, they select Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) who is a youth leader, and who will, they think, do exactly what they want him to do because he’s young and naive.

And he really is young and naive. He goes for a walk for five hours around Washington, represented by a five minute montage of all the most patriotic sights in the capital. All his staff think he’s a chump – they’re all hardened politicos, and think his gosh-wow patriotism is a front.

Not that he’s necessarily all good. When the press make him out to be a chump on his first day by printing ridiculous photos, he spends the afternoon punching anyone holding a newspaper (I assume they’re all reporters). I’m not sure that’s entirely admirable behaviour.

The reporters give him a lecture on how he’s not a real senator, and he’ll just vote the way his senior senator tells him. The main reporter, Diz Moore, is played by Thomas Mitchell, who played Uncle Billy opposite Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Diz Moore

Smith’s big idea is to set up a boy’s camp in a beautiful part of his state. But he doesn’t know that the area he’s thinking of is right in the path of the proposed dam – putting him rather at loggerheads with his senior senator, and the party machinery who planned to propose a dam once they’d bought up all the nearby land.

Helping him is his assistant, Jean Arthur, initially as cynical as everyone else, but won over by his honesty and passion.

Jean Arthur

Claude Rains is the elder senator, a father figure for Stewart, but who begs him to let the Dam bill go through. And when Stewart stands to speak against the bill, Rains accuses him of owning the land in question, bringing huge amounts to evidence showing that he’d purchased the land, with signed documents and witnesses – all faked, of course, paid for by the business interests wanting to build the dam.

Claude Rains

So when the Senate are set to expel him, he starts a filibuster, speaking without interruption, and not yielding to other senators. It’s unclear what his ultimate goal is. And the press baron who’s stitching him up isn’t printing any news about it in Smith’s state, so Jean Arthur and Thomas Mitchell mobilize the youth of the state to print up their story and get it distributed.

I’m not sure how the timescale of this story really works – relying on printing and distribution of newspapers. It would work far better today, with social media and 24 hour news.

In the end, Smith appeals to Claude Rains’ better nature, and when his exertions finally causes him to faint, Rains finally has a change of heart and admits that the whole thing was fabricated. Cue an abrupt happy ending, with Stewart still unconscious, which seems an odd directorial choice.

After the movie, there’s a ton of Sky promotional material, before the recording finishes.

Adverts:

  • Instant Horlicks
  • Aero
  • Trailer: Edward Scissorhands
  • trail: Edward Scissorhands
  • trail: Class Action
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Diana Her True Story
  • trail: Fashion Television
  • trail: Cricket
  • Movie Channel Interview: Class Action
  • trail: Honeymoon in Vegas
  • trail: Look Who’s Talking
  • trail: Football
  • Movie Channel Interview: Francis Ford Coppola on Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • trail: Arnie Mania
  • trail: Diana Her True Story
  • trail: Roving Report
  • trail: A Week At War
  • Interview: Darrell James Roodt on Sarafina!
  • trail: Edward Scissorhands
  • trail: Class Action
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Whose Baby
  • trail: Fashion Television
  • trail: Cricket
  • preview: Class Action
  • trail: Movies in March
  • trail: Honeymoon in Vegas
  • trail: Look Who’s Talking
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Diana Her True Story
  • interview: Francis Ford Coppola
  • trail: Arnie Mania
Advertisements