8.1/10
99,211
272 user 110 critic

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 19 October 1939 (USA)
Trailer
1:37 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
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:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Sidney Buchman (screen play), Lewis R. Foster (story)
Top Rated Movies #183 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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
Certificate: Passed Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 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
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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 8/10 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
Rebecca (1940)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A self-conscious woman juggles adjusting to her new role as an aristocrat's wife and avoiding being intimidated by his first wife's spectral presence.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders
The General (1926)
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A tennis player frames his unfaithful wife for first-degree murder after she inadvertently hinders his plan to kill her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 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
Sunrise (1927)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In 1948, an American court in occupied Germany tries four Nazis judged for war crimes.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean
Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Arthur ... Saunders
James Stewart ... Jefferson Smith
Claude Rains ... Senator Joseph Paine
Edward Arnold ... Jim Taylor
Guy Kibbee ... Governor Hopper
Thomas Mitchell ... Diz Moore
Eugene Pallette ... Chick McGann
Beulah Bondi ... Ma Smith
H.B. Warner ... Senate Majority Leader
Harry Carey ... President of the Senate
Astrid Allwyn ... Susan Paine
Ruth Donnelly ... Mrs. Hopper
Grant Mitchell ... Senator MacPherson
Porter Hall ... Senator Monroe
H.V. Kaltenborn H.V. Kaltenborn ... 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

Taglines:

Romance, drama, laughter and heartbreak ... created out of the very heart and soil of America ... by a great director and cast! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

When senator Smith asks a pages name, he replies Richard Jones, which was in fact, the boys real name. Known professionally as Dickie Jones, he also provided the voice for Disney's Pinocchio around this same time. See more »

Goofs

(About 45 mins) Smith and Susan Paine have a conversation wherein Smith's hat, held in his hand, is the camera's sole focus for about 30 seconds - at the expense of the characters conversing. And yet when Smith leaves the room, he is without hat, and the hat is nowhere to be seen. See more »

Quotes

Clarissa Saunders: They're not letting what Jeff says get printed in the state. Now if I give you a raft of it over the phone, can you print it up and spread a billion copies? Swell! Get ready to take this down, Mrs. Smith.
Ma Smith: Boys, everything about Jeff, get pencils and paper.
Clarissa Saunders: Alright, here we go.
Ma Smith: All ready, Clarissa.
Clarissa Saunders: She called me Clarissa. Okay Ma! JEFF TELLS TRUTH, SHOWS UP TAYLOR!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Critic: Dr. Jay (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

(Oh My Darling) Clementine
(1884) (uncredited)
Music by Percy Montrose
In the score towards the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Required viewing for anyone elected or appointed for public office.
2 June 1999 | by lenndoggSee all my reviews

Since the beginning of the art form, movies have generally fallen into two categories: the realistic, and the fantastic (fantasy-based). There are some that point out that the films of Frank Capra unduly fall into the latter, that they are completely far-fetched and fastened in their own time, and even invented a pejorative term "Capra-esque" to describe any non-cynical, heartwarming picture that has a message. His great films, like It Happened One Night, It's a Wonderful Life, and of course, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, however, are not fixed in a single era, but all eras, the truest definition of a classic. And considering it was released among true powerhouses in 1939, a year as important to movies as 1998 was to baseball, its ideals, story, and general excellence shine as bright today as it did over 60 years ago.

A Senator from an unnamed, middle America state dies and a new one must be appointed by Governor Hubert Hopper, a puppet whose strings are held by newspaper magnate Jim Taylor. They need to find one that would be easily controlled by the now-senior Senator Joseph Paine (played brilliantly by Claude Rains), so a bill allowing a building of a dam near land by the Willett Creek owned by Taylor can pass in the Senate. After his initial choice is rejected by Taylor, and Taylor's handpicked man is shot down by the public, the governor chooses Jefferson Smith, played to perfection by James Stewart, a boy scout leader and local hero who is both wholly idealistic in his patriotism for America but naive and blind to the actual process. After he gets embarrassed by the local print media, Mr. Smith begins to learn the harsh realities of DC. Paine, Smith's boyhood hero, takes him under his wing and suggests that Smith try to create a bill. Smith agrees, and with his assistant, Clarissa Saunders (played by Jean Arthur), they create a bill to create a campground for boys from all over the country to learn about each other and the civic process, much to the initial dissuasion by Saunders. Smith then wants to choose a site near the Willett Creek, the same site where the dam is to be built and when his superiors and true string-pullers find that out, major complications ensue.

Although the basic premise is David vs. Goliath, the story is wholly originally and was probably one of the earliest pictures to suggest the government as corrupt. The characters are played excellently by all principal actors, with Mr. Smith you root for whole-heartedly, Mr. Taylor you root against for his sheer arrogance and greed, and Mr. Paine, who you pity as you see a man who lost his initial zest to serve the public and is now a jaded shell of his former self. A great performance was given by Harry Carey, Sr., who plays the Vice President/President of the Senate for comic relief. The lines where completely believable and the parts of Smith's final filibuster that were shown give the most impact. There is a beautifully shot scene with images of the monuments and sights of Washington with several national anthems synchronized as the score. The climax is as tension-packed as drama can get, and while the ending may seem rather sudden, and everything isn't completely or neatly resolved, it works perfectly and ends the movie on a happy note.

Obviously, few if any people elected to public office has the moral character, conviction, and general good heartedness of Jefferson Smith, and I doubt whether the government would be better if it was. The movie showed an ideal, a supposed "lost cause" of truth in government. And although it is next to impossible for Capra and the eternal good guy Jimmy Stewart to ever fully change the world of politics with just a motion picture, at least it shows that maybe once in a great while, being the good guy has its definite rewards. If (using the same analogy of the 1998 baseball season) The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of 1939 moviemaking, then this would be like Cal Ripken voluntarily ending his Iron Man Streak, something done with full class and the highest respect in mind, and that elevates an ideal of being the good guy and sticking to your dedication brings the greatest of riches. This picture is flawless in all respects and a true classic, with thought-provoking ideas, wit, a little bit of platonic romance, and an excellent cinematography and score, and deserves the rank as a 10 out of 10. And in giving this rating, either I'm damn right or I'm crazy.


93 of 115 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 272 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed