The Great Movie Re-Watch
Lewis R. Foster
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn’t back down.
When I last watched this movie I had a more positive outlook on my country. I ended up watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington through different eyes this time around. At many points through my re-watch I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. There were scenes that felt straight out of a propaganda film. It was in love with the ideals of the United States even as it bashed the lawmakers. There was always this hope that one man could change it all. They just had to try.
Imagine my surprise when I read the films Wikipedia entry and discovered that senators of the day accused the film of being anti-American and pro-communist. Several senators spoke out against it. I’m not sure how you can watch that movie and think it’s attacking the US unless you are complicit in the same crimes as the characters in the movie.
There were, of course, dated jokes and treatment of women. However, they did a good job acknowledging that Smith wouldn’t be where he was without the help of Saunders, Jean Arthur’s character. I do wonder, though, where the little girls will all be going while the little boys are off to a camp in the middle of the country.
Even watching it with a different mindset I enjoyed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I like hopeful, though, I do find that hard to pair with government. Stewart does an amazing job portraying a naïve man who just wants to do good. The ending was abrupt but I actually liked that. I didn’t need to see an epilogue, I think it would have lessened the impact.
Next up, The Shop Around the Corner, another Jimmy Steward movie.