Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1939

Action / Comedy / Drama

34
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 97% · 100 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 94% · 25K ratings
IMDb Rating 8.1/10 10 121667 121.7K

Director

Top cast

James Stewart as Jefferson Smith
Jack Carson as Sweeney Farrell - Newsman
Claude Rains as Senator Joseph Paine
Beulah Bondi as Ma Smith
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU 2160p.BLU.x265
1.03 GB
988*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 9 min
Seeds 27
2.03 GB
1472*1072
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 9 min
Seeds 92
6.13 GB
3840*2160
English 5.1
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 9 min
Seeds 47

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by AlsExGal 9 / 10

Probably what won James Stewart his Best Actor Oscar in 1941...

... since James Stewart is really not a lead in "Philadelphia Story". Instead he was more of a supporting actor there. But the Academy probably felt they should have given Stewart the Best Actor trophy for this film and were just correcting a bit of history, which they have often done over the years. But I digress.

In an unnamed state - because if Capra had named it they would have sued - a sitting senator dies. The corrupt state political machine ends up appointing babe-in-the-woods Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) to fill the seat because they see him as so naive that they can control him. His dad, a newspaper editor, was murdered when he was fighting for a lost cause. Smith's dad's lifelong friend happens to be his state's senior senator, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains).

It so happens that Paine is in on the plan to put forth a bill that will build an unneeded damn on land that has been bought up by state machine puppet master Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) so that he can get a big payout from the federal government. Paine has justified this and a hundred other corrupt acts over the years by the thousand ways he has served his state honestly. Selling oneself to the devil is seldom done in a single transaction. The problem is that Smith wants to use the same land to build a summer camp for boys, and in the process he learns of the corrupt land deal he was never supposed to know about. Complications that involve famous cinematic history ensue.

Today, post Watergate, it's hard to believe that somebody such as Jefferson Smith could exist as an adult who knows so much about American history but nothing about corruption in government to the point he is flabbergasted by it. Lots has been said about Stewart's performance, with him rising from playing in all kinds of inane and minor MGM films to a leading man in an American classic in just a couple of years. But consider Claude Rains's performance. Rains portrays a complex character who struggles with his conscience and past choices and it is killing him that he has to betray the son of his best friend the way that he does. He is an essential gray character in a bunch of black and white ones.

Apparently this received lots of backlash during its release for portraying US Senators as folks capable of being corrupted through money. Maybe that was unrealistic for the 1930's, but in 2023, this film is practically a documentary.

Reviewed by Vartiainen 8 / 10

Politics, the politics never change

A senator suddenly dies and a replacement needs to be named. The other senator for the state, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), along with Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), his corrupt businessman backer, decide to name a truly surprising candidate, one Jefferson Smith (James Stewart). He's meant to be nothing more than a seat warmer so that Paine and Taylor can push through a new piece of legislation concerning a dam, meant to make them filthy rich. Unfortunately Mr. Smith is something they've rarely seen and are utterly incapable of understanding: a good and honest man. And a boy scout to boot.

The film is corny and filled with pathos. Phrases like "the American dream", "truth and honesty", "reliability", and so many like those, get thrown around all the time. Politicians are nothing more than hungry jackal fat cats, aiming to filch the hard-earned pennies of the good American people. True way of life is to be found outside, on the prairies where grass leans on the wind. On the mountains reflected against the noon sun. I could feel my spleen turning red, white and blue as I watched this film.

And yet, despite all that, the film is magnificent. Perhaps it's because 'It's a Wonderful Life', another film from director Frank Capra, also stars Stewart, but for some reason or other this film reminds me of Christmas. Because Christmas is also corny and filled with pathos. It is. But it's also the best time of the year. When it's okay to be a bit sentimental. Or a lot sentimental. When it's okay to remind ourselves of the values we all hold dear, but which we usually don't talk about because it's seen as embarrassing.

Hopefully people still watch this film. Because even though it's old, and corny, and sentimental, and even a bit silly, it's values, themes and lessons are as relevant today as they were back then. Perhaps even more so.

Reviewed by grantss 10 / 10

Brilliant

Through a series of fortunate, and unfortunate, events, an unsophisticated local hero, Jefferson Smith, is appointed a US Senator. The people pulling the strings in his party and State figure that he will be compliant and malleable and basically stay out of the way of their plans, some of which aren't entirely ethical, or legal. However, a well-intentioned deed sets off a dramatic chain of events, a series of events that will see him at odds with his colleagues, with the shadowy, bullying powerbrokers and with the entire Senate.

Brilliant movie from Frank Capra. While Capra also gave us such great movies as It's A Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe and It Happened One Night, this is his greatest work. A superb indictment of politics and how democracy has been undermined and corrupted, told with the trademark Capra brand of wholesomeness and practical idealism. Considering how politics has even further degenerated since 1939, even more relevant today than when it was released in 1939.

Clever, engaging plot that doesn't waiver for a second. Not an ounce of deadwood in the movie - every scene is perfect and important. Some great twists and turns and some great tension towards the end as Smith struggles to preserve his name and ideals. Wonderful themes and morals too, as you would expect from Frank Capra.

Add in some excellent performances, especially from James Stewart in the lead role and Jean Arthur as Ms Saunders. Both received Oscar nominations, as did Harry Carey for playing the President of the Senate.

In all, Mr Smith Goes To Washington was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, but won only one, for best original screenplay. Unfortunately for it, the 1940 Oscars belonged to a juggernaut known as Gone With The Wind...

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