Movie Review – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith goes to Washington is innocence personified in every frame. If you had seen “It’s a wonderful life” this film may not interest you much but it comes close second to “It’s a wonderful life”. Frank Capra has played a major role in elevating James Stewart to star status. Though Stewart got recognition in his prior movie it’s in this movie that he exceeded the expectations and proved the world about his acting prowess. Till this movie his name has never appeared first in the casting list. Even for this movie its Jean Arthurs name which appears first.


Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is the head of the Boy Rangers who’s selected as next senator due to governors’ children’s insistence but majorly due to his naiveté. He is so excited of being in Washington that his eyebrows get lit up for every monument he sees and poses as per the wish of the press. It takes him some time to get to the role of senator. But once being a senator he incurs everyone’s wrath by proposing a bill to build a campsite in a place marked for dam building by Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), the man who controls all these politicians.

Jefferson Smith knowing about the conspiracy happening around him gets very disappointed and walks out to Lincoln Memorial dejectedly. It takes a lot of consoling by Claurissa (Jean Arthur) to make him come back to senate again and launch a filibuster. He does that without anyone’s support and finally gets his bill approved.

James Stewart as naïve Jefferson Smith has done an amazing job. When he roams around Washington in broad day lightswe could see how happy he is. When he’s sad he shows it equally. Both his happy and sad sequences come in the same museum. His face is as refreshing as the morning sunlight when he visits the Lincoln Memorial during daytime and when he’s down he visits the same place during darkness with a dull face. His best act is when he fiddles with the cap while talking to Senator Joseph Paine’s (ClaudRaine’s) daughter Susan (Astrid Allwyn)

The whole movie has a lot of wonderful characters. The first look of ClaudRaine when he shows his surprise knowing that Jefferson Smith is a son of his friend is enough for us to know that he’s a good guy. The father of the six kids Hubert Hopper(Guy Kibbee) provides us the instant charm which every fat person does. And above all it’s the president of the senate (Harry Carrey) who was most impressive. All he does is smile but does it effectively. Not being a star he was very much nervous to take the role. In the only scene he has some dialogues – the scene where he makes Smith take oath – he seemed to have taken so many re takes. But all is well that ends well, what we see on picture is purely flawless.

This is the basic storyline of even “It’s a wonderful life”. And both films have kids who in spite of not having any significant role continue to charm us. All in all it’s a wonderful film by Frank Capra. It takes a bit of courage to make straightforward films because simplicity is not considered a genuine quality of film making by some critics. This film tells how a genuinely simple a movie could have effect on people. I’m a fan of any movie which is made convincingly. I don’t mind what the film imparts; it’s about how the film is made. And this film is indeed well made.


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