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Politics Shmolitics

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Exploring a Great Movie Scene

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Directed by Frank Capra

Interesting Tidbits

  1. The film premiered in Washington DC at Constitution Hall with 4,000+ in attendance. The audience included congressmen, Supreme Court Justices and Cabinet members. Capra, also in attendance, said the aftermath of the premiere was one of the worst in his professional career because of the negative representation of the government. (See here for more details.)
  2. As the governor enters Smith’s home (in beginning of the movie) we see, from the outside, Ma closing the door almost shut. When the shot changes to inside the house, Ma is closing the same door. (Here)
  3. Frank Capra received letters on letters about how his movie inspired individuals to go into politics.
According to IMDb, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is classified as a drama. What exactly does that mean in the world of film though? Drama is characterized by the realistic individuals and the emotional themes they encounter and face. Thus, Mr. Smith, a humble man, moves to Washington DC to face the big, bad, corrupt government. He is a realistic character facing emotional turmoil. The audience of this time period (1939) found this particularly appealing because it was a message to them saying that America is truly an amazing place, and worthy of defending (WWII was underway). I wrote more about this movie & analyzed a scene from it in “Theatrics of Politics.” Read about it if you want.
A Montage of Sorts
These clips combined convey the genre of the movie. It shows how a big fish in a little pond moves to Washington DC with hopes of making a small, but beneficial improvement for America. He soon realizes how cruel the government is and begins to lose hope in his country. Regardless, he fights for his beliefs:

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