Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), produced and directed by Frank Capra.

Appointed to the US Senate, an earnest wide-eyed innocent runs afoul of a corrupt political machine. They will destroy him rather than give up a plush opportunity for graft. Can one man make a difference? Will the spunky office assistant help him?

Famous bit of Americanna. Both promising -- one man can make a difference -- and cynical, because he is one in 96. Washington, both the politicians and press corp, hated it. The word "dangerous" was used. And yet: this was the film playing to full houses in Paris when the Germans rolled in.

James Stewart seems born to play Jefferson Smith; I think he had to work to escape the image, hence his films with Hitchcock and Anthony Mann.

Many familiar faces and particularly endearing roles for Jean Arthur (cynical gal pal reformed by idealistic Smith) and Thomas Mitchell (hard-drinking reporter who would like to stick it to the Machine).

I want to make special note of two more actors:

"The more things change" notes:

Dimitri Tiomkin score. Photographed by Joseph Walker.

Criterion Blu-ray with a commentary track by the director's son.