“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” Film Review
Black and white films are considered classics, but are often overlooked by viewers. If one were to present the idea of a black and white movie to a class, it is fair to assume that an audible groan would be emitted from majority of the students. Black and white movies pale in comparison to modern graphics and high-speed action movies featured in theatres today. This was my perception, until I saw “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. The movie is a 1939 political drama that stars Jean Arthur and James Stewart. From the very beginning this movie sparked controversy, as many feared the ramifications of the negative perception of politicians. James Stewart plays Mr. Smith, a naïve man, whom fate (and corrupt politicians) name the newest Senator. Smith’s boyishly worship for the government, innocence, and passion for the Ranger Boys help him not only capture his secretary Sauder’s (Jean Arthur) heart, but the audience’s affection as well. Mr. Smith’s love for the government and for Washington is soon tarnished when he unwittingly uncovers Taylor (Edward Arnold) and his boyhood hero, Senator Paine’s (Claude Rains) plan to use the government to graft near Willets Creek. Smith’s understanding of politics, dedication, and ultimate conviction is tested when he attempts to thwart Taylor and Paine’s plan and rid the government of the corruption that sneaked its way into the House of Senators.
Although “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” lacks modern elements of film, including color and intense graphic scenes, it still captures the audiences’ attention through humor, thorough character development and an interesting storyline. The director, Frank Capra, could not use explosions or flashy images to attract audience members. Instead, the movie relies on great writing, talented actors, and interesting subject matter.
Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James Stewart . Columbia Pictures, 1939. DVD.”