Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

This is a movie every person needs to see again, considering the political unrest sweeping America. Much of the Occupy Wall Street protests center on corporate greed and selfish decisions from financial leaders. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is about one man’s stand against political corruption in the U.S. senate.

You know the movie is important by the controversy surrounding its release. The 1939 movie portrayed U.S. senators as being greedy, selfish, and drinking too much. It was such a big deal that some real senators walked out during the movie’s screening. Great Britain even asked that it not be shown there because it may decrease positive perception of Americans during a time when they were at war with Nazi Germany.

Many argue the corruption is not exaggerated and that it deserves attention. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is relevant now more than ever.


The immortal Jimmy Stuart plays Mr. Jefferson Smith, a boy ranger leader who is thrust upon the position as senator of his state. Stuart always plays the kind of ‘Aw shucks’ character you can’t help but love. Women can’t help but want to mother the poor man.

Oh gee, look at that building over there! Now isn't that something?

The young, nice, and naive Mr. Smith goes to Washington with his fellow senator he idolizes, Joseph Payne, to take his seat in the senate. Mr. Smith has stars in his eyes as he’s introduced to his new position and all the possibilities that comes with that, but he soon realizes he may be in over his head.

The press start hounding him, taking pictures of him, and spinning its own negative stories about who he is. He also develops an attraction for Senator Paine’s daughter, but realizes she is way out of his class. Worst of all, he has yet to uncover the true hideous nature of the man he idolizes and the senators influencing him.

Mr. Smith gets the idea to commission land in his home state to built a boy rangers camp. This, however, conflicts with some other senators’ ideas to build a damn there that will harm the area around it to exploit it for money. It’s not until later Mr. Smith realizes his idol, Senator Paine, is involved with the plan.

Mr. Smith fights for the building of the scout camp, but Senator Paine and the well-oiled political machine try everything to discredit him. He’s accused of owning the land he is trying to build on by the man he respects, and he originally flees from the senate chambers. Later on, however, he develops a thick resolve to defend his reputation and expose the political machine for what it is.

The movie culminates in a senate chamber filibuster showdown. The papers and radio refuse to let Mr. Smith’s message get out, but he gets support from his boy rangers back at home. Eventually, he begins to lose hope after standing up and talking for many hours and as fraudulent evidence mounts against him.. After he collapses, Senator Paine is overcome with guilt and admits his diabolical scheme.

It was pretty dramatic.

Why It’s awesome

This movie teaches us that, sometimes, the good guy wins. It’s an inspiring film that encourages us to stand up for what is right and not cower in the face of corrupt opposition. Mr. Smith may have been naive, but he held strong convictions of right and wrong that the elite senators had obviously forgotten. It’s always good to remember the value of integrity.

It’s also just a downright fun and entertaining movie. Jimmy Stuart gives an electrifying performance, and every scene he’s in is gold. He plays the good-natured, naive, helpful man role so well, it’s no wonder that’s the role he’s played in almost every movie he’s been in since.

The movie is a great satire on American politics, and it shook the pre-WWII world just a little bit.

*photos from http://metroclassics.blogspot.com

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2 Responses to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

  1. stefaniemoore says:

    I’m going to have watch this one. Jimmy Stuart is one of my favorites, especially in It’s a Wonderful Life. His movies are inspiring and, as you said, teach lessons about right and wrong.

  2. Ryan Collins says:

    Anytime a government tries to censor a film, I think it’s important to find out why. Given the recent anti-establishment protests seen around the country (and the world), films like this show Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party aren’t exactly new sentiments. Fighting corruption has always been important to the American people. Perhaps seeing this film will put that fight into historical perspective for some people, and it will explain why the people in these movements are so angry. Right or wrong, their emotion certainly is real.

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