Political heavyweights decide that Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), an obscure scoutmaster in a small town, would be the perfect dupe to fill a vacant U.S. Senate chair. Surely this naive bumpkin can be easily controlled by the senior senator (Claude Rains) from his state, a respectable and corrupted career politician.
Director Frank Capra fills the movie with Smith’s wide-eyed wonder at the glories of Washington, all of which ring false for his cynical secretary (Jean Arthur), who doesn’t believe for a minute this rube could be for real. But he is. Capra was repeating the formula of a previous film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, but this one is even sharper; Stewart and Arthur are brilliant, and the former cowboy star Harry Carey lends a warm presence to the role of the vice president. Bright, funny, and beautifully paced, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is Capra’s ode to the power of innocence–an idea so potent that present-day audiences may find themselves wishing for a new Mr. Smith in Congress. The 1939 Congress was none too thrilled about the film’s depiction of their august body, denouncing it as a caricature; but even today, Capra’s jibes about vested interests and political machines look as accurate as ever.
Encoding: Region One (U.S. & Canada only)
Languages: English, Spanish, PortugueseSubtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, ThaiBonus
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Time: 130 minutes
- Frank Capra Jr. Commentary
- Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
- Vintage Advertising
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Bonus Trailers
- Talent Files
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD):
- Item Price: $21.95
- Listed On: March 13, 2012