Jimmy Stewart gets classically political

by Brittney Thompson

Can one person really make a difference? Is all it really takes for one person’s voice to be heard? Director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) attempts to answer these questions in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart (The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, Rear Window) stars as Jefferson Smith, an Everyman character who generations of audiences can’t help but get behind. Jefferson is naïve, but hopeful. As the den father of a boy scouts group, how could he be anything but kind and selfless for sake of his community? Unfortunately, the bigwigs in Washington take him as a simpleton and assume that Jefferson (along with being quite the patriot) will be easy to manipulate into carrying out misdeeds (as long as Jefferson believes what he is doing is for AMERICA) or to set him up as the perfect scapegoat. Ultimately, Mr. Smith is selected by Washington to replace a recently deceased senator if only because he is a ‘good ole boy’ who isn’t quite long in the tooth with politics yet. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington not only has an alluring plotline, but does great things with language. This is a movie that almost everyone knows by one scene (even if they’ve never seen the movie in full): the filibuster ordeal. Here is where some of the best speeches in film history are made. If anything, we could all take a lesson from Jefferson in public speaking. This film also works to spark the audience interests in politics for the previously apolitical. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. The SGA movie collection has two copies.

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