In 1972, Robert Redford starred in the Oscar winning film, The Candidate. Redford (Bill McKay) stars as a California lawyer who is running on the Democratic ticket against the already sitting California Senator Crocker Jargon. McKay was approached by Marvin Lucas a political election specialist to take the job. The only catch is that McKay has to lose. In exchange, Bill can get up there and campaign about everything and anything he wants too. As McKay campaigns and reaches out to voters, the pretty boy from California ends up winning the election coming out of know where.
This film is purely political. It deals with modern day campaign issues as well as ways to handle a campaign. It shows all the interesting aspects of campaigning and the way a debate goes on. This film comes off as very serious and very to the point. It has many instances of subtle comedy. Redford really portrays his character as a sincere political candidate and the kind of person you would feel best fit for the United States Senate. This can be seen as a real feel good movie from the early ‘70s. At a time when Vietnam was coming to its end and the politicians in Washington were doing nothing but bickering back and forth, here comes a movie about an average American running for office saying and doing the things the American people wanted to hear.
The political messages are seen from beginning to end. From the issues discussed in the campaigning as well as the debate, are all clearly represented. The film does a very good job at showing the Republicans and the Democrats in their views and in the view from within their parties. Senator Jargon is clearly a Republican in many ways. It may sound cliché and I apologize for that, but it’s the only way to really see it. Jargon believes in an old time American way of life. He can not really relate to the people of the time, which many Republicans have not been able to do. At the time of its release, Richard M. Nixon held the office of President, and oddly enough it was an election year in 1972 when this movie was released. It also came in the same year that the Watergate scandal broke out in Washington. The American people needed a film like this. Jargon represents someone who can not relate to the people of California as Nixon had his issues with relating to the American people.
Bill McKay does the opposite and does it very well. McKay can be seen as the John F. Kennedy of the 1970s, if this movie was indeed real life. McKay, like Kennedy can relate to the common man if not in reality, he can make himself look as if he is that middle class everyday guy who is in the same boat as the American people. McKay does not hide behind things to make him look good, he goes out there and fights for what he believes in.
Much of the dialogue and the music and the symbols are classic examples from government and that good old U.S. of A patriotic rhetoric that Americans love so much. I can not say it enough; this movie is a feel good movie about politics. It takes away all the dullness of what politics can be and makes it fun and makes it feel like the everyday man can be in government. As previously stated, the times were tough, and the American people needed some sort of hope. Bill McKay gave them that hope.
This film does what it was intended to do very successfully. The compassion of McKay and the seriousness he reflects really grasps the audience to see if he will in the end prevail or fail as Lucas wants him too. The political climate here is challenged and looks for some aspects of change. There are many instances were the political climate of the time is mentioned. There is a scene where McKay is talking to himself and he is the backseat and he puts up two peace signs as Nixon used to so famously do. This movie could have been released within the last year or so, or even the last eight years. The American people needed the sense of hope we may have finally gotten. With the newly elected President in office, America has a sense of hope once again. President Obama has done for this nation what Bill McKay and men like John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and many others who have given the office of the President the hope and the prestige it deserves.
This is the best movie to be reviewed since the beginning of my reviews. It’s a movie the average person can relate too. Unlike Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Lifeboat, and Network, this movie really speaks to the average person. In Mr. Smith, the average person was chosen by luck as was Bill McKay but, it lacks that identity quality that this film has. In Lifeboat, well, there was not much to that movie at all except a lot of dialogue and some issues the audience really had to dig deep to find. And finally, Network, as good as it was, it had the same plague that Lifeboat had. A message that was so deep that the average person would never even think about. The message in this movie is clear as day and that is really important for an average American, the same person that this movie is looking to grasp. This film gets 9 out of 10 stars. There were a few things here and there missing, but those aspects missing were essential to the story so it can be dealt with.