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MPAA Rating - NR

    129 Minutes

    Comedy Drama

Original Release Date:
    Feb 22, 2000

    Frank Capra

    James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Beulah Bondi, Eugene Pallette, Harry Carey

Movie Summary
Frank Capras classic comedy-drama established James Stewart as a lead actor in one of his finest (and most archetypal) roles. The film opens as a succession of reporters shout into telephones announcing the death of Senator Samuel Foley. Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), the states senior senator, puts in a call to Governor Hubert Happy Hopper (Guy Kibbee) reporting the news. Hopper then calls powerful media magnate Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), who controls the state -- along with the lawmakers. Taylor orders Hopper to appoint an interim senator to fill out Foleys term; Taylor has proposed a pork barrel bill to finance an unneeded dam at Willet Creek, so he warns Hopper he wants a senator who cant ask any questions or talk out of turn. After having a number of his appointees rejected, at the suggestion of his children Hopper nominates local hero Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), leader of the states Boy Rangers group. Smith is an innocent, wide-eyed idealist who quotes Jefferson and Lincoln and idolizes Paine, who had known his crusading editor father. In Washington, after a humiliating introduction to the press corps, Smith threatens to resign, but Paine encourages him to stay and work on a bill for a national boys camp. With the help of his cynical secretary Clarissa Sanders (Jean Arthur), Smith prepares to introduce his boys camp bill to the Senate. But when he proposes to build the camp on the Willets Creek site, Taylor and Paine force him to drop the measure. Smith discovers Taylor and Paine want the Willets Creek site for graft and he attempts to expose them, but Paine deflects Smiths charges by accusing Smith of stealing money from the boy rangers. Defeated, Smith is ready to depart Washington, but Saunders, whose patriotic zeal has been renewed by Smith, exhorts him to stay and fight. Smith returns to the Senate chamber and, while Taylor musters the media forces in his state to destroy him, Smith engages in a climactic filibuster to speak his piece: Ive got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, Id like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, Im not gonna leave this body until I do get them said. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide


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