MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) B/W 130m dir: Frank Capra
w/Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell, Eugene Pallette, Beulah Bondi, Harry Carey, H.B. Warner, William Demarest, Charles Lane, Porter Hall
From The Movie Guide: "Stellar Capra-corn Americana. This great film works on the premise that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is the inaction of good men. Against this danger, director Frank Capra shows a naive everyman to be the true guardian of democratic ideals. James Stewart gives the performance that made him a star as Jefferson Smith, an innocent bumpkin selected by cynical politicians to replace a recently deceased senator in the belief that he can be manipulated by the state's esteemed senior senator, Joseph Paine (Claude Rains). Smith sets off for Washington full of ideals and dreams of working with his idol, Paine, little realizing that he is expected to be a rubber stamp for a crooked scheme to finance a new dam that will profit only Paine and his cronies. The Washington press immediately sizes Smith up as a gullible novice, getting him off to a rocky start, but his idealism captivates Saunders (Jean Arthur), his cynical new secretary. Saunders proves to be a valuable mentor as the innocent Smith slowly comes to realize that his altruistic view of the world doesn't necessarily jibe with reality, and he sets out to expose those who make a mockery of the country he loves so dearly.
"While MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON is the most moral of films, it is so artfully filled with real emotion that it never becomes heavy-handed. Capra supervised every element of the production and used a variety of techniques to accelerate the story line without disrupting it, making every move by every player meaningful and illustrating his credo of 'one man, one film.' This inspiring masterpiece received 11 Oscar nominations but won only for Best Original Story [Lewis R. Foster]. Stewart is tops, and the rest of the much-loved cast, featuring such familiar veterans as Thomas Mitchell, Edward Arnold, William Demarest and especially Harry Carey, provides unforgettable support."
The 10 additional Oscars MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON was nominated for are: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Stewart), Supporting Actor (both Carey and Rains), Screenplay (Sidney Buchman), Editing (George Havlick, Al Clark), Score (Dimitri Tiomkin), Art Direction (Lionel Banks), and Sound (John Livadary).