#126: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

When and how did I watch this?

June 3rd, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I like Jimmy Stewart films.  The last one, Anatomy of a Murder, was decent, and I expected more out of this film.

What do I know about it now?

I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life, and it’s as if this one like the first try. I felt that the story was compelling enough to carry through the movie, but left some parts underdeveloped to contribute to Stewart’s likely established silver screen “aw shucks” everyman persona.  Without question, the final 20 minutes, with Smith’s glorious and tenacious last stand, is the shining moment of the film, though it would have made for a better hooray if the love interest aspect were addressed more thoroughly. At least the main antagonist appeared human; most of the characters were plastic, dusty caricatures of what a complacent, anti-patriotic and bureaucratic government must look like.

What are some themes in the film?

Determination, pride, bureaucracy

Did this affect me personally?

Sure.  It was nothing remarkable, but it’s a nice reminder of what the common American citizen should stand for in the midst of corruption.  The U.S. isn’t far removed from this behavior in general.

Why is this ranked #126?

This is Stewart’s first big role, and it’s a Capra classic.  Though its appearance on the list is warranted, the ranking is somewhat inflated.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She enjoyed it.

Would I watch it again?

Probably.  It’s not a high priority, but I’d go for it.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

There are better Stewart films, and if you want a feel-good Capra story, you may as well go for the masterpiece made eight years after this one.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Sure.  It’s a very early film, featuring a newish Stewart and a veteran Capra — a good formula making for a great movie.

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