Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The vid you see is the film trailer.

I finally saw it last night on TCM. It started off so great and then bam here comes trouble. The only thing that made Jimmy Stewart's character, Sen. Jefferson Smith a US Senator was a coin toss. Turn out that Governor may have chosen the wrong man for the job.

He finds himself ridiculed, a picture of him pinching his nose with the headline taking a wiff of Washington was published in the newspaper. Man, when he saw a person laughing reading the paper he took a punch at all of them. Not exactly good conduct for a new US Senator. But that wasn't the real test.

It was when he wanted to right legislation for securing some land for his Boy Rangers group. Unfortunately the land to be set aside was to be used by the prevaling political machine in Smith's home state. And this sets aside the betrayal.

The betrayal was set aside by Smith's senior Senate colleague, Sen. Joseph Paine, who was helped along in his career by the machine. He doesn't want to go after Smith. Apparently Smith's father and Paine go back a few years. The betrayal is about Smith owning the land in question for his boy rangers and Washington really has a field day with these accusations.

At the best of his secretary, Clarissa Saunders we see Smith engage in a fillibuster. And that's how the film ends, Mr. Smith collapses as he vows to continue his fillibuster. Paine attempts to kill himself but confesses that hes not fit to sit in that august body and to the trickery. Looks like Mr. Smith has won his first victory.

In this film well we do see some black faces. One that sticks out in my mind is one with a little black boy who is a member of the Boy Rangers. He is active in helping the Boy Rangers get some news out about Sen. Smith. Unfortunately the political machine is making sure that only negative news gets out about Smith so this black boy had his wagon run right over.

Other boy rangers in this movie well had their papers and newsletter snatched from them by the machine. They even went to their presses to take away messages with one of the Boy Rangers getting a nice slap across the face for standing in his way. One can only expect mild behavior like this in places where freedom of speech can be taken away on a whim.

There's nothing very childish about this movie. Realistic in some ways yes, and still relevant because there are still corrupt politicians amongst us. Perhaps there are no political machines today that can excert the force that the one in this movie was able to.

I was pondering this. Because I watched Duck Soup one night this week. It seems movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood ended suddenly. Mr. Smith goes to Washington ends with Smith collapsing his victory won and colleague having a breakdown. Then here's "THE END"!

Todays movie endings seem to meander. It's like a conclusion to sum up the points of an essay, but back in the late 30s the conclusion was more the action then a summing up. Sometimes I wish we can go back to that style.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
I've gotta find this movie

Thursday, February 26, 2009