8.2/10
85,851
256 user 103 critic

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 19 October 1939 (USA)
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.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (story)
Reviews
Popularity
4,399 ( 735)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #145 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted Vermont tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore
Rebecca (1940)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders
All About Eve (1950)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March
The General (1926)
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Senate Majority Leader
...
...
Susan Paine
...
...
Senator MacPherson
...
Senator Monroe
H.V. Kaltenborn ...
Edit

Storyline

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state's senior senator--presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal. Written by James Yu <jamestyu@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

senator | dam | bill | senate | corruption | See All (98) »

Taglines:

Entertainment As Powerful As the Strength of the People! As Great As the Genius of Capra! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Capra and his crew went to Washington, DC, to film background material and to study the Senate chamber, which was replicated, full scale, in precise detail on the Columbia lot. James D. Preston, who was Capra's technical advisor for the Senate set and political protocol, was a former superintendent of the Senate press gallery. See more »

Goofs

(at around 21 mins) In the montage as Jeff Smith wanders off after arriving in Washington, we see the display of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, and then supposedly a close-up of the document - only the "S"'s are written in modern style script and don't look like "F"'s as in the original document. See more »

Quotes

Nosey: [First lines]
[On the phone]
Nosey: Senator Samuel Foley. Dead. Yeah. Yeah. Died a minute ago. Here at St. Vincent. At the bedside was state political sidekick, Senator Joseph Paine. Yeah.
See more »

Connections

References Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) See more »

Soundtracks

When Johnny Comes Marching Home
(1863) (uncredited)
Music by Louis Lambert
In the score when Smith goes sightseeing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A National Treasure
6 June 2000 | by See all my reviews

James Stewart and Frank Capra. One needn't know much more going in to be assured that this will be an enjoyable film. Together they take on the Washington elite with this dramatic comedy about a naïve Washington outsider who gets appointed to the Senate and stands alone against corruption and graft. Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is appointed from an unnamed state after one of its Senators dies. He is appointed because the political fat cats need someone who will not seem like a crony, but who will not stand in the way of a graft scheme for a pork barrel dam that will make bigwig Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) millions. When the wide eyed Smith gets to Washington, he discovers the corrupt bill because the dam will stand in the way of his own proposed bill for a children's camp. When he tries to stop the project, Taylor's political machine frames him to make it seem like he is the one taking graft. This leads to the dramatic confrontation in the Senate, where Smith filibusters in an attempt to get the truth out.

This film is wonderful in so many ways. The story is a classic struggle between good and evil. In typical Capra style, the protagonist and antagonists are exaggerated so there is no confusion as to who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. If there is one clear message in Capra's films it is that those with strong moral fiber never give up hope. He likes to create utterly hopeless situations for characters to test their integrity, and rewards unswerving adherence to basic values and principles by triumph against the odds.

I was dismayed to see a comment, obviously from a young viewer of this film, that said that the characters weren't realistic because no one used profanity. This is a sad testimonial to our culture, when it inconceivable to young people that there was once a time when profanity was the exception and not the rule.

Stewart is brilliant as the idealistic and awe struck kid from the backwoods who is overwhelmed by the glory of Washington, with its monuments and history. The story brings us a confrontation between political expediency and idealistic principles with the message that the truly great men are the ones that don't compromise their principles to hold on to power. Stewart also brings a whole treasure chest of bumbling comedic sight gags that make him all the more lovable in the part.

Jean Arthur is fabulous as the tough and savvy assistant who is jaded by Washington politics, but gets a fresh injection of fervor as she listens to Smith's noble homespun philosophies. Claude Rains is also masterful as the adulterated Senator, who sold his soul to corruption for a chance at the presidency. He plays the simultaneous sense of guilt and ambition with a torment that is clearly ripping his heart out, and the power of both emotions portrayed in his performance makes his character both repugnant and pitiable.

This film is a national treasure. It is in my top 50 list of all time. The story of corruption in politics and the greatness of the men who resist it is timeless and would not be lost on the politicians in Washington today. A 10/10.


133 of 150 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 256 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

How to Wield a Lightsaber

Legendary sword choreographer Tim Weske teaches our "IMDb Show" Jedis the basics of lightsaber combat. Plus, we break down the origins of some iconic Star Wars creatures.

Watch now