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Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932)

TV-G | | Drama | 15 October 1932 (USA)
Button Gwinett Brown is a freshman congressman on a mission to rid Washington of corruption. He quickly runs afoul of the powerful Senator Norton, while falling for the granddaughter of the... See full summary »


James Cruze


Jo Swerling (screen play), Maxwell Anderson (story)


Complete credited cast:
Lee Tracy ... Button Wynett Brown
Constance Cummings ... Alice Wylie
Walter Connolly ... Senator Wylie
Alan Dinehart ... Edward T. Norton
Arthur Vinton ... Beef Brannigan
Arthur Hoyt ... Willis
Berton Churchill ... Speaker (as Burton Churchill)
Frank Sheridan ... Kelleher
Clay Clement ... Conti
Clarence Muse ... Clarence
Learn more

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Button Gwinett Brown is a freshman congressman on a mission to rid Washington of corruption. He quickly runs afoul of the powerful Senator Norton, while falling for the granddaughter of the kindly senator Wylie. He then teams up with some members of the Bonus Army to foil the villains' plans. Written by Cameron <cmaj@prolifics.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Rips The Lid Off!




TV-G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The title is taken from a popular 1931 best selling book, "Washington Merry-Go-Round," by Robert Sharon Allen and Drew Pearson. Columbia bought the rights to the title only, and then hired Maxwell Anderson to write a fictionalized story about corruption in Washington, D.C.. See more »


Button Gwinett Brown: . . .I don't mind telling you that the biggest crook in Washington is your friend Norton.
Alice Wylie: Why, he could buy and sell people like you by the gross.
Button Gwinett Brown: Sure, that's his specialty, buying and selling people. What's *your* price?
Alice Wylie: How dare you talk to me like that?
Button Gwinett Brown: You think you know your Washington. Your Washington is just a Vassar daisy chain. To you, it's all a merry-go-round: embassies, parties, teas, dances. Why, if you got into a covered wagon, you'd ask for a chauffeur. You're like all the rest ...
See more »


(I Wish I Was in) Dixie's Land
(1860) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
In the score during the opening credits and at the end
See more »

User Reviews

A little movie with a big punch
16 May 2013 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

I think I like this one better than its remake, the famous "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington". Now don't think I just spoiled this one for you, because really, other than the theme, Mr. Smith has a very different script when you dig into the details. Such a film as this could not have been made after the precode era.

Buttons Gwinett Brown (Lee Tracy) has just been elected to a house seat. He's the descendant of a hero of the American revolution, but unlike James Stewart's Mr. Smith, he is no babe in the woods. He knows he was elected by bought votes and via corruption, but he plans to double-cross the double-crossers and help stamp out corruption in Congress, and doesn't care if he's a one-termer. He says all of this when he visits the Bonus Army that is encamped outside of Washington - the WWI vets that are in a sit down strike demanding the bonus they were promised years ago.

Buttons may know what he wants to accomplish when he arrives in D.C., but he doesn't know how to accomplish it. I had my doubts about Lee Tracy playing a Washington reformer, but he was absolutely perfect in a role that requires absolute cynicism intertwined with patriotism. This thing is precode and frighteningly relevant to today's Washington with Tracy's Buttons Gwinett talking about all of the lobbyists attached to Congress and voter apathy allowing the system to go on. There are suicides, murder, bold faced bribes, a man who would be king -literally, and the only boy scouts in this film involve a troop briefly marching through a train station past a group of very self-satisfied women wearing banners saying "No Saloons" the year before Prohibition ends.

Constance Cummings is the closest thing to Jean Arthur's counterpart in Mr. Smith, but here she is a Mary Antoinette like granddaughter of a senior senator, all caught up in Washington society and appearances - at first, that is. Strangely enough Walter Connally is playing a very old man here, at only age 45.

I'd highly recommend this one. The end kind of leaves you hanging, but remember this was released when unemployment was 25% and before FDR. The nation was kind of hanging at that point too, not knowing what was going to happen next.

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Release Date:

15 October 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Washingtoner Karussell See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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