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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart, and featuring Claude Rains and Edward Arnold. The film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, and was written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. Foster's unpublished story "The Gentleman from Montana". The film was controversial when it was first released, but successful at the box office, and it made Stewart a major star. It was also loosely based on the life of Montana U.S. Senator Burton Wheeler, who underwent a similar experience when he was investigating the Warren Harding administration.

Plot

The governor of an unnamed western state, Hubert "Happy" Hopper (Guy Kibbee), has to pick a replacement for the recently deceased U.S. Senator Sam Foley. His corrupt political boss, Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), pressures Hopper to choose his handpicked stooge, while popular committees want a reformer, Henry Hill. The governor's children want him to select Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), the head of the Boy Rangers. Unable to make up his mind between Taylor's stooge and the reformer, Hopper decides to flip a coin. When it lands on edge – and next to a newspaper story on one of Smith's accomplishments – he chooses Smith, calculating that his wholesome image will please the people. At the same time, his naïveté will make him easy to manipulate.

Awards