Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart, and featuring Claude Rains and Edward Arnold. The film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, and was written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. Foster's unpublished story "The Gentleman from Montana". The film was controversial when it was first released, but successful at the box office, and it made Stewart a major star.

Why It Rocks

  1. James Stewart and Jean Arthur both do incredible performances as Jefferson Smith and (Clarissa) Saunders.
  2. It's considered one of Frank Capra's greatest films.
  3. The film represent how corrupt American systems can get a times, in the form of Senator Paine and Jim Taylor.
  4. Multiple symbols of American culture throughout the film, including beautifully shot scenes with images of the monuments and sights of Washington and several national anthems synchronized as the score.
  5. Excellently portrayed, and well-written characters
    1. Jefferson Smith is an optimistic hero who wants to create a Boys Ranger Camp for the boy scouts.
    2. Jim Taylor is the evil corrupt executive boss who criminalized Mr. Smith using his media machine.
    3. Senator Paine is a sympathetic anti-villain, who lost his initial zest to serve the public and is now a jaded shell of his former heroic self
    4. The Vice President/President of the Senate is a funny comic relief character who often supports Smith and it an overall reasonable figure.

Bad Qualities

  1. The film attracted some controversy for painting senators as corrupt and the Senate susceptible to demagogic manipulation.