I finally got myself to sit down and watch this movie. I had heard amazing things about, that it was a classic must see movie. I tend to hesitate when it comes to movies that came out before the 1950s, but still will attempt to watch them, give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad that I did so with this film. You can tell the age of the film due to (1) its in black and white (2) the way people dress and (3) the way that people talk. What is most interesting about the film is that it is still relevant today. I could see this film coming out today being just as popular and relatable as it was in 1939.
Let’s start with the story. The writing was superb in this film. Older films tend to have these long drawn out sequences of banter/chatter that you could honestly do without, but in this film all of the chatter mattered to the overall story. The story could easily play out in today’s world just as it did in the 30s. The story is basically about a newly sworn in Senator (James Stewart) who is learning the ropes from an older Senator (Claude Rains). The new Senator is patriotic and excited to do something with his new position, he finds that it’s very easy to get on the “wrong” side of politics. It’s a story of patriotism, pride, and heart. It really had magical quality as you watched it and you could relate to almost every character that you came in contact with.
Next we focus on the acting. It’s no secret that I think James Stewart is an amazing actor. I pretty much love anything he’s been in. In this movie he plays the perfect gullible guy that believes in his country, justice and the government. You also see some stellar performances by Claude Rains and Jean Arthur. Rains plays the Senator that mentors Stewart’s character and Arthur plays his assistant. The whole assemble works together beautifully to portray American politics at that time and the roles that each person played. I really can’t say anything bad about any of the actors in this film.
Now we focus on the director. Frank Capra is known for his style and the way he shoots his films. He directed Stewart in another favorite film of mine, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” He has a way of focusing on his characters, on their reactions both emotionally and physically. A unique style is the way I would describe his directing. He does a great job of setting up the story and letting his play out as if it would in real life. His work tends to have a good amount of heart and realism and I think that’s why his movies tend to be successful or at least cult favorites.
So the overall feel of this movie is that it’s important to be patriotic and stand up for those that cannot do so themselves. Do not let people tear you down because you believe in doing the right thing. It’s a good moral story that really does at one point keep you on the edge of your seat. If I had to rate this movie out of 10, would rate it 9/10. It was so close to being perfect, but had just some small things it could’ve taken away and added. I encourage everyone to watch it, at least once.