Gee whiz, did I like this classic.
I vaguely knew the theme of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but I never made time to watch it till I flew back to China a few weeks ago. Jimmy Stewart stars as Mr. Smith, the wholesome leader of a scouting troop, who’s as All American as apple pie. He knows and follows the tenets of the founding fathers. When a governor is pressed to fill a congressional seat, he sees the savviest choice is to select Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) and thus avoid trouble with the sharks around him.
Though innocent and rather naive, Smith isn’t the sleepy hick the politicians thought they’d get. The land deal they’re scheming won’t go smoothly after all. Coincidentally, Smith wants to set aside this as a park for boy scouts. That plan is set to ruin the money-grubbing schemes of the political machine. At first it seems that Smith has no one on his side, but eventually, his jaded secretary sees that he’s for real and she maneuvers to help him. At the climax, things look bleak for Smith as his political opponents make it look like his virtue is just a ruse; it looks like his scout park was just a get rich quick scheme.
The film still speaks to modern audiences as finagling still occurs all over the globe. It’s encouraging and soothing to see a good person stick to his guns — and win by doing the right thing. While the film’s not slick or fast paced, it still works, which makes it a classic worth watching and sharing.
(I’m still on track with my New Year’s Resolution to watch a classic film a week. Last week I saw Casablanca, which I won’t review and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was for the week prior. )