Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Overview:

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) was a Drama - Black-and-white Film directed by Frank Capra and produced by Frank Capra.

SYNOPSIS

Capra's enduring favorite has Stewart as the idealistic, yet naive, politician sent to Washington as junior senator who runs afoul of the political corruption in his state. Capra favorite Arthur plays his cynical secretary and Rains the powerful senior senator who expects Smith to be nothing more than a rubber stamp. As with the best of Capra's films, the sentiment and moralizing are kept in check by wonderful acting and genuine emotion. Based on Lewis R. Foster's novel The Gentleman from Montana.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989.

Academy Awards 1939 --- Ceremony Number 12 (source: AMPAS)

AwardRecipientResult
Best ActorJames StewartNominated
Best Supporting ActorHarry CareyNominated
Best Supporting ActorClaude RainsNominated
Best Art DirectionLionel BanksNominated
Best DirectorFrank CapraNominated
Best Film EditingGene Havlick, Al ClarkNominated
Best Music - ScoringDimitri TiomkinNominated
Best PictureColumbiaNominated
Best WritingLewis R. FosterWon
Best WritingSidney BuchmanNominated
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Quotes from

Jefferson Smith: Well, what do you expect me to do? An honorary stooge like me against the Taylors and Paines and machines and lies?
Clarissa Saunders: Your friend, Mr. Lincoln had his Taylors and Paines. So did every other man who ever tried to lift his thought up off the ground. Odds against them didn't stop those men. They were fools that way. All the good that ever came into this world came from fools with faith like that. You know that, Jeff. You can't quit now. Not you. They aren't all Taylors and Paines in Washington. That kind just throw big shadows, that's all. You didn't just have faith in Paine or any other living man. You had faith in something bigger than that. You had plain, decent, everyday, common rightness, and this country could use some of that. Yeah, so could the whole cockeyed world, a lot of it. Remember the first day you got here? Remember what you said about Mr. Lincoln? You said he was sitting up there, waiting for someone to come along. You were right. He was waiting for a man who could see his job and sail into it, that's what he was waiting for. A man who could tear into the Taylors and root them out into the open. I think he was waiting for you, Jeff. He knows you can do it, so do I.


Jefferson Smith: I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.


Clarissa Saunders: You just make up your mind you're not gonna quit, and I'll tell you what. I've been thinking about it all the way back here. It's a forty foot dive into a tub of water, but I think you can do it.


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Facts about

Frank Capra received many letters over the years from individuals who were inspired by the film to take up politics.
Edmund Mortimer was first chosen for the role of Senator Agnew, and studio records/casting call lists reflected this. However, Mortimer dropped out of the finished film entirely, and the role went to H.B. Warner.
One reason Frank Capra made this film was to help him get over the loss of his infant son, who had died following complications from a tonsillectomy. Initially Capra wanted to make a film about Frédéric Chopin, but Columbia head Harry Cohn nixed that on the grounds that it would be too expensive. Capra and Cohn were constantly at loggerheads over budgets, despite Capra being Columbia's most successful director with - at the time - two Oscars under his belt.
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National Film Registry

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Released 1939
Inducted 1989
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