Best Movies by Farr
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington Poster
Released Runtime Category
1939 129 Drama, Family
Director Language
Frank Capra English
James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

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What's it About

Powerful Senator Joseph Paine (Rains) ensures the appointment of young Jefferson Smith (Stewart) as interim junior Senator of his state, on the basis that he will be too green to ruffle the cozy Washington establishment. Paine then assigns female D.C. operative Clarissa Saunders to be Smith's handler. Initially stunned by her charge's sheer idealism and can-do attitude, she finds it harder than expected to control the freshman Senator. When one of Smith's first initiatives threatens a lucrative project championed by Paine, the embattled young man gets a first, bitter taste of cutthroat politics. Still, he won't back down.

Why we love it

Frank Capra's potent morality tale remains one of actor Stewart's finest moments. (Indeed, when he won the Oscar the following year for "The Philadelphia Story," Stewart considered the award delayed compensation for "Smith.") Stellar support comes from Arthur as the conflicted Clarissa, Rains (superb as the ruthless Paine), not to mention recurring Capra players Edward Arnold and Thomas Mitchell. (Trivia Note: Mitchell actually appeared in five Oscar-nominated pictures that year!) Over 75 years after its release, "Mr. Smith" remains one of our finest political dramas. Don't miss that classic filibuster scene!

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"