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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Frank Capra's classic comedy-drama established James Stewart as a lead actor in one of his finest (and most archetypal) roles. The film opens as a succession of reporters shout into telephones announcing the death of Senator Samuel Foley. Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), the state's senior senator, puts in a call to Governor Hubert "Happy" Hopper (Guy Kibbee) reporting the news. Hopper then calls powerful media magnate Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), who controls the state -- along with the lawmakers. Taylor orders Hopper to appoint an interim senator to fill out Foley's term; Taylor has proposed a pork barrel bill to finance an unneeded dam at Willet Creek, so he warns Hopper he wants a senator who "can't ask any questions or talk out of turn." After having a number of his appointees rejected, at the suggestion of his children Hopper nominates local hero Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), leader of the state's Boy Rangers group. Smith is an innocent, wide-eyed idealist who quotes Jefferson and Lincoln and idolizes Paine, who had known his crusading editor father. In Washington, after a humiliating introduction to the press corps, Smith threatens to resign, but Paine encourages him to stay and work on a bill for a national boy's camp. With the help of his cynical secretary Clarissa Sanders (Jean Arthur), Smith prepares to introduce his boy's camp bill to the Senate. But when he proposes to build the camp on the Willets Creek site, Taylor and Paine force him to drop the measure. Smith discovers Taylor and Paine want the Willets Creek site for graft and he attempts to expose them, but Paine deflects Smith's charges by accusing Smith of stealing money from the boy rangers. Defeated, Smith is ready to depart Washington, but Saunders, whose patriotic zeal has been renewed by Smith, exhorts him to stay and fight. Smith returns to the Senate chamber and, while Taylor musters the media forces in his state to destroy him, Smith engages in a climactic filibuster to speak his piece: "I've got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not gonna leave this body until I do get them said." ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

  • Release date:October 17, 1939

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Claude Rains Best Supporting Actor 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Frank Capra Best Director 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Harry Carey Best Supporting Actor 1939 Nominee
New York Film Critics Circle James Stewart Best Actor 1939 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences James Stewart Best Actor 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sidney Buchman Best Screenplay 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dimitri Tiomkin Best Score 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lewis R. Foster Best Original Story 1939 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gene Havlick Best Editing 1939 Nominee

Cast

James Stewart
as Jefferson Smith
Jean Arthur
as Clarissa Saunders
Claude Rains
as Sen. Joseph Paine
Edward Arnold
as Jim Taylor
Thomas Mitchell
as Diz Moore
Guy Kibbee
as Gov. Hubert Hopper
Beulah Bondi
as Ma Smith
Eugene Pallette
as Chick McGann
H.B. Warner
as Senator Fuller
Harry Carey
as President of the Senate
Astrid Allwyn
as Susan Paine
Ruth Donnelly
as Emma Hopper
Grant Mitchell
as Sen. MacPherson
Porter Hall
as Sen. Monroe
Pierre Watkin
as Sen. Barnes, minority leader
Charles Lane
as Nosey
William Demarest
as Bill Griffith
Dick Elliott
as Carl Cook
Johnny Russell
as Larry Simms
Harry Watson
as Hopper Boy
Dave Willock
as Senate guard
Lloyd Whitlock
as Schultz
Dora Clement
as Mrs. McGann
Eddie Kane
as Reporter
Al Bridge
as Sen. Dwight
Lloyd Ingraham
as Committeeman
Anne Cornwall
as Senate reporter
Gino Corrado
as Barber
Laura Treadwell
as Mrs. Taylor
Philo McCullough
as Senator Albert
Mabel Forrest
as Senate reporter
Byron Foulger
as Hopper's Secretary
Donald Kerr
as Reporter
Maurice Costello
as Diggs
Sam Ash
as Senator Lancaster
Wade Boteler
as Family man
Craig Stevens
William Newell
as Reporter
Harlan Briggs
Margaret Mann
as Nun
Evelyn Knapp
as Reporter
James Millican
as Senate reporter
Gene Morgan
as Reporter
Harry Hayden
as Speaker
Paul Stanton
as Flood
John Russell
as Hopper Boy
Frank Jaquet
as Sen. Byron
George Chandler
as Reporter
George Cooper
as Waiter
Hank Mann
as Photographer
Maurice Cass
as Handwriting expert
Robert Emmett Keane
as Editor
Carl Stockdale
as Sen. Burdette
Russell Simpson
as Allen
John Ince
as Senator Fernwick
Louis Jean Heydt
as Soapbox speaker
Vera Lewis
as Mrs. Edwards
Jack Richardson
as Senator Manchester
Robert Middlemass
as Speaker
Dub Taylor
as Reporter
Frances Gifford
Ed Randolph
as Senate reporter
Charles Moore
as Porters
Erville Alderson
as Handwriting expert
Jack Gardner
as Reporter
Joseph King
as Summers
Frank O'Connor
as Senator Alfred
Adrian Booth
Arthur Loft
as Chief clerk
Frank Puglia
as Handwriting expert
Dulce Daye
as Reporter
Frank Austin
as Inventor
Stanley Andrews
as Sen. Hodges
Matt McHugh
as Reporter
Eddy Chandler
as Reporter
Fred "Snowflake" Toones
as Porter
Frederick Burton
as Sen. Dearhorn
Olaf Hytten
as Butler
Ann Doran
as Paine's Secretary
Milt Kibbee
as Senate reporter
Dorothy Comingore
as Girl
Wyndham Standing
as Senator Ashman
Walter Soderling
as Sen. Pickett
Alec Craig
as Speaker
Larry Simms
as One of the Hopper Boys
Helen Jerome Eddy
as Paine's secretary
Vernon Dent
as Senate reporter
Jack Carson
as Sweeney
Edmund Cobb
as Sen. Gower
Ferris Taylor
as Sen. Carlisle
Mary Gordon
Eddie Fetherstone
as Senate reporter

Crew

Frank Capra
Director
Frank Capra
Producer
Lewis R. Foster
Screen Story
Sidney Buchman
Screenwriter
Joseph Walker
Cinematographer
Dimitri Tiomkin
Composer (Music Score)
Morris W. Stoloff
Musical Direction/Supervision
Gene Havlick
Editor
Robert Kalloch
Costume Designer
Edward Bernds
Sound/Sound Designer
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