The movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington directed by Frank Capra is clearly a political film. It would fall under the category of a Pure Political Film. The reason behind this is very simple. It has to do with political issues. The thematic elements in the movie that deal with politics are very clear; there is no hidden agenda here. A virtual no body gets appointed to the United States Senate. There he feels like a no body and develops a bill to learn his proposal is going to be shot down by another bill that is to be heard in the Senate. The newly appointed Senator finds his way through the crooked aspects of the political machine and how some people in government are there for the all mighty dollar. This infuriates Senator Smith and he filibusters. All the key ingredients for an obvious political movie are right here.
I believe the message here is that no matter how corrupt politicians can be that America is still a great country with great men in it who are out to do what is right. Throughout the beginning of the film they play very patriotic tunes which give people that sense of hope and patriotism and makes people feel like they live in a great country. When Jefferson Smith first gets to Washington the movie brings the audience through the big sights in the city. We see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery and so on. It fills the character with much joy to see these places he has never seen before but have read so much about. It is very clear the image that is being presented in the film. The dialogue is where the contrary takes hold. From almost the beginning of the movie, the talks of not so honest deals were being made in the Senate and bills being passed to better the life of maybe one or two men and not the whole state. It was a special interest bill that was to be voted on in the midst of all this joy and patriotism. The message here is very central to the story. It gives that sense of good and bad in Washington and the images and dialogue play off one another to show that very well.
The film does a miraculous job and portraying the political machine for what it has endured and what it can be. It has endured many crooked people and also very good people. It is very effective due to the aforementioned reasons concerning imagery, music, and dialogue. I believe that the political view here is very accurate. It shows both sides of Washington. The good versus the evil is something our country has been dealing with within its political machine since its inception.
This film was made in 1939, at the time the Great Depression was on the verge of coming to an end, World War II had begun in Europe, the country was at a stand still in many ways. The film in ways deals with that stand still at the end of the movie with Jefferson Smith’s filibuster. It really reflects any point in our countries history. At any given time we are stuck at a crossroads from one thing to another about one thing or another. This movie could have been anytime and it would reflect any aspect of our history.
I thought this movie was a lot better then I was expecting it to be. I love old movies but many are very long winded and dry. Although this movie ran over two hours it was a gripping two hours. The first forty five minutes or so were a little slow, but once Jimmy Stewart’s character (Smith) got to Washington, the movie picked right up. There were pieces of the film that I did not think were needed, most in the films opening. I feel at times it took too long for the movie to get to its point. It was not necessary for it to take ten minutes of the movie to decide who the Governor was going to appoint to the seat and for his decision coming on a recommendation of his children well under the voting age was a bit far fetched to me. That issue alone is my only complaint. I would rate this movie on a scale of ten a seven. I recommend it for those interested in politics and those fans of Jimmy Stewart. However, if you have no interest in either of those aspects, I am not sure one would find this very interesting at all.