Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Youthful idealism

[Screenshot]It’s rare that I can alternately think of a movie as deliciously cynical and hopelessly naïve. Frank Capra directed this one and Jimmy Stewart stars, so you can sort of imagine it’s going to be an inspirational story of the plucky, ingenuous little guy fighting back against a corrupted system. I expected it to end differently, maybe because I‘m too cynical. It would have been a better ending, and a more realistic one, but not a very Frank Capra one. Anyways, it manages to blend sweetness and cynicism pretty well: Claude Rains is a terrific foil to Jimmy Stewart, with his world-weary tarnished-hero ‘tude. And his freakish coiffure. You can’t beat it, can you? Not even with a stick.

Dunno if I’d rank it as an extraordinary film, but it’d be a fun one to show to students. Beats the hell out of that Schoolhouse Rock video about how they pass bills, anyways (before people get their hate-guns out to broil me to a crisp, let me comment that I like that song. But if Mr. Smith is naïvely idealistic, then Schoolhouse Rock is simply off the self-delusion scale).

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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