Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (#26 Greatest American Movie of All Time) - Review

We scored a free copy of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the 1939 Frank Capra classic staring a very young Jimmy Stewart.  This film has been called one of the greatest whistleblower films in American history.
Due to the sudden death of a sitting senator, the state's corrupt governor appoints political novice Jefferson Smith to fill the role - expecting that he can be easily manipulated.  Smith stumbles into disrupting a plan for graft, and his lonely, innocent patriotism faces the Goliath of a well-oiled system of corruption and intimidation.
Smith's idol and senior senator from his state demonstrates the bargain that many politicians make.  Compromise your values for the sake of political productivity.  He finally admits to Smith that he has cooperated with corruption for the sake of the greater good.  Smith holds to his ideals and reminds us that some things are too sacred for compromise. 
Apparently, this movie was intended to highlight the reality of corruption in Washington, and it garnered quite a bit of criticism in the process.  Unfortunately, its naive characters and simple dialog sound overwhelmingly cheesy to 21st century ears. 
Some classics stand the test of time in terms of entertainment and maintaining interest.  We often found ourselves drifting away into conversation or out of the room for snacks or not particularly caring when the kids came chattering into the room.  Unfortunately, however meaningful this Mr. Smith was in its own time, and however important its message is for our time, its weak plot and dialog leave it a little lost in our time.
Sadly, the Josh rating is less than it could be: JJJ.

Post a Comment