Mr Smith Goes to Washington

Starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Claude Rains
Written  by Sidney Buchman
Directed by Frank Capra
Production year 1939
Running time 124 minutes

  1939 is often called the greatest year in Hollywood's history - giving us an astonishing collection of movies including Gone With The Wind, The Wizard Of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Dark Victory and Wuthering Heights. Among this extraordinary embarrassment of cinematic riches is Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - one of the finest of all comedies featuring one of cinema's most iconic stars - James Stewart.

  The film tells the story of a naive young man who is elected Senator and becomes embroiled in the plot surrounding a corrupt land deal. To try to prove his innocence he must endeavour to speak on the floor of the Senate for 24 hours straight... 

  Mr Smith's director Frank Capra is responsible for some of the funniest and most emotionally affecting films to come out of Hollywood  including Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, Arsenic And Old Lace and It's A Wonderful Life. In Capra's dramas all that is best and most genuine about America is championed whilst they show the dark and dangerous side of that culture too. Mr Smith Goes To Washington was considered controversial at the time for its frank depiction of the corruption in the US political system. 

  The eponymous Mr. Smith is played by James Stewart - an actor whose face and voice were instantly recognisable and almost universally loved. Stewart's career as an actor spanned 50 years - interrupted by a four year spell as a major in the US Air Force during WW2. Unlike many Hollywood stars his military service was genuine and  between 1942 and 1945 he flew dozens of dangerous missions over Germany. The war was to change him  and the roles he took after that time reflected a new darkness in his personality.