Film Club Review – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
I don’t know why its taken me so long to watch this movie. I suppose its just one of those that fell through the cracks. But man am I sure glad I watched it now. I was one of the first collaborations between Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart and dealt very coherently and intelligently with the corruption of Washington politics.
Jimmy Stewart gives a very sincere performance here as an everyman who has the chance to become a Washington senator. We also get a very charming and moving performance from Jean Aurthur and a solid outing by the ever-reliable Claude Rains, one of the best character actors of his day.
This movie is almost perfectly engineered and has a lot of heart and emotion which really gripped me as I watched it. Capra uses the very heart o American principles and ideals at its core which add a lot of resonance. Meanwhile, the story moves along in a way where every scene makes sense and every action adds to the motives of the character. I also thought that it was a brilliant stroke to have Rains’ character a man whom Jeff Smith admires and knows from his youth so that when we see his corruption, it has a lot of impact for both Smith and we as the audience.
So many things work so well here, and they all come together to reach that fantastic filibuster at the end. By that point Stewart and Capra have prepared us well to be moved and roused by Smith’s speeches as he holds the senate floor, and we cheer him on every step of the way.
This is one of the greats. 10/10