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Book Vs Movie: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939)

Book Vs Movie Podcast

Release Date: 11/10/2020

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Book Vs Movie: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The 1939 Classic Film Based on a Story by Lewis R. Foster and Starring Jimmy Stewart

 

The 2020 election season is over (finally!) and the Margos want to celebrate by talking about one of the most celebrated films about American politics ever made--Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Director Frank Capra’s ode to decency and fighting the most difficult battles for America’s soul. 

The story “The Gentleman from Montana” (an unpublished story by Lewis R. Foster) was a fictionalized version of the life of Montana Senator Burton Wheeler who investigated then-President Warren G. Harding in 1921over the Teapot Dome scandal. That scandal involved (which involved oil companies, land deals, and payoffs) caused the first U.S. Senator to go to prison--Albert B. Fall and was considered the biggest D.C scandal of the 20th Century (until Watergate in the 70s!) 

Director Frank Capra faced a great deal of opposition bringing the film to life as the media and politicians based in Washington D.C. were completely offended at their portrayal as crooked and dishonest. It didn’t matter, the film became a hit and is now a revered classic nominated for 11 Academy Awards (losing most to Gone With the Wind.

In this ep the Margos discuss:

  • The basics of the Teapot Dome scandal and why it was such a scandal for the 20th century
  • Frank Capra’s movies and main characters
  •  Why the film was controversial for the time
  • The cast: Jimmy Stewart (Jefferson Smith,) Jean Arthur (Clarissa Saunders,) Claude Rains (Senator Joseph Paine,) Thomas Mitchell (Diz Moore,) Harry Carey (President of the Senate,) and Beaulah Bondi (Ma Smith.) 

Clips used:

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington  trailer 
  • “I Will Not Yield!”
  • “Lost Causes”
  • "What do you believe in?"
  • Music by Dimitri Tiomkin

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Margo D. @BrooklynFitChik www.brooklynfitchick.com brooklynfitchick@gmail.com

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