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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Movie, Properly Restored
MR.SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON is one of the greatest classic of american cinema. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful, Capra's direction is so great. The sory may sound a bit naive, but the emotion of the film so great can overcome this very naiveness and turns into a powerful, truthful idealism. Hollywood then could do that, not today, and I really don't understand why.
I just...
Published on December 9, 2000 by Toshifumi Fujiwara

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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, Poor DVD!
This is a timeless movie that ages pretty well for a 70-year-old film. The story line is still so relevant today about innocence lost and about the underdog defying all odds and who can resist a good David v Goliath story anyway? The script is excellent and so is the acting from the brilliant cast and this movie showed me just how good an actor James Stewart was. This...
Published on February 10, 2008 by Frederick Baptist


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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Movie, Properly Restored, December 9, 2000
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
MR.SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON is one of the greatest classic of american cinema. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful, Capra's direction is so great. The sory may sound a bit naive, but the emotion of the film so great can overcome this very naiveness and turns into a powerful, truthful idealism. Hollywood then could do that, not today, and I really don't understand why.
I just would like to add one fact to praise this DVD, and encourage everybody who visits this page to buy it, even if they have seen the movie; in many cases, great polular classics are oftenly viewed on poor prints and video masters, because of the very popularity of the film, the prints and negatives tend to get damged. overused, often replaced with inferior film elements. Thus, a great classic for everybody becomes a great film that one's grandpa talked about, and would really look that old.
That is why a special notice should be given to this DVD, because The Library of Congress did a wonderful job rescuing and restoring the film. The trasnfer is from their restored print, which they worked out of the original camera negative. Some parts of the negative were also damged, but they succeeded in replacing them with film elements that are not apparently inferior. The result is, a sharper, detailed look that we have been unable to see for over 4 or 5 decades.
These film archive people are doing a wonderful and important job. Restoring a film is not an easy job, and certainly is not cheap. That why these DVDs are so important, so that you can understand the importance of what they are doing.
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97 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jimmy Stewart's Finest Performance in Capra Gem!, March 22, 2000
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This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a timeless, brilliant parable of Good Vs. Evil, played out in the U.S. Senate. Good is represented by Jimmy Stewart, in the film he SHOULD have won an Oscar for (MGM, trying to bolster 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' at the box office, influenced it's Academy members to award Robert Donat with the statue; the following year, Stewart appeared in 'The Philadelphia Story', for MGM, and won Best Actor!). He is magnificent as Jefferson Smith, an idealistic youth leader, who is offered up as an innocent and gullible replacement for a Senate vacancy. Evil is personified by Claude Rains, as the suave and corrupt senior Senator, and Edward Arnold, brilliant as a ruthless party boss.
In many ways, 'Smith' is cut from the same cloth as Capra's earlier masterpiece, 'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town', and both films costar the radiant Jean Arthur, here cast as Smith's secretary. She is an old hand at understanding political wheelings and dealings, and at first, she considers her new boss a total idiot! But Smith's integrity wins her over, and with the help of reporter Thomas Mitchell (1939's busiest actor!), the three manage to outlast the forces of Evil, in the most rousing filabuster Hollywood has ever filmed!
Two supporting characters deserve special attention; Harry Carey, one of Hollywood's most beloved Western stars, plays a warm, sympathetic Vice President, in a small but very crucial role; and Beulah Bondi is terrific as Stewart's mother (she would play his mother again in the Capra/Stewart classic 'It's A Wonderful Life').
The new DVD edition offers the insights of Frank Capra, Jr., son of the legendary filmmaker, as well as trailers, vintage material, and a whole lot more!
If you've seen 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' before, treat yourself with this lavish new edition! If you haven't seen it, you are in for one of the most wonderful cinema experiences you'll ever have, from the best year Hollywood ever had!
Simply put, this film is a masterpiece!
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Capra Masterwork Resonates Still as Both Tribute to and Exposé of the U.S. Political System, December 26, 2008
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
There are films that are purely formulaic and consequently redundant, and then there are select classics that seem to be inspired by the same formula but in a way that make them feel fresh every time you see them. Such is the case with legendary director Frank Capra's political 1939 masterwork, as he and veteran screenwriter Sidney Buchman tell the story of the underdog who must face seemingly impenetrable obstacles to achieve a greater good. Capra made his reputation on films which conveyed such unbridled idealism like his most famous work, 1946's It's A Wonderful Life, but I would argue that this one has a broader sense of resonance since it deals unflinchingly with the corrupted American political structure, a situation that has unfortunately changed little in the nearly seventy years since the film's original release.

A young James Stewart is perfectly cast as Jefferson Smith, the naÔve leader of a local Boy Scouts-type organization, who is swept into office as his state's junior senator by the all-powerful political machine headed by a Boss Tweed-like figure, media mogul Jim Taylor. In awe of the senior senator, Joseph Paine, Smith follows Paine's advice to push a bill for a national boys' camp back in the home state. A problem arises in the fact that the camp is to be built on the Willets Dam site which Taylor and Paine plan to use for graft. Along the way, Smith wins the support of his initially cynical secretary, Clarissa Saunders, who becomes inspired by Smith's integrity and encourages him to push the bill. This leads to his tenacious efforts to pass the bill, going as far as staging a 23-hour filibuster on the U.S. Senate floor. It's a monumental climax that Stewart turns into one of the most classic scenes in film history.

Supporting performances by familiar actors are uniformly strong with the wonderfully acerbic Jean Arthur as Saunders, Edward Arnold in full-bluster mode as Taylor, Harry Carey as the silently supportive Senate president and Claude Rains as the conflicted Paine, with Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Eugene Pallette, H.B. Warner and Beulah Bondi in smaller roles. The one flaw is the abrupt ending in which one character experiences an instant transformation with little pay-off shown for Smith's efforts. Apparently, Capra unwisely cut these scenes out after preview audiences seemed fidgety at the two-hour mark. Regardless it remains an inspiring piece of American cinema. The remastered 2008 DVD from Columbia fortunately contains a pristine print from the Library of Congress vaults, as well as the original theatrical trailer and a featurette and commentary track from the director's son, Frank Capra, Jr.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, February 10, 2009
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This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
Almost anyone who watches movies very much has heard of this classic film about political corruption. People who have not watched it in a long time or have never seen it will be surprised at how topical it is, and how sharp in its critique of Washington insider politics. The claim that this re-issue has been improved by a new digital remastering process is not false. The older version wasn't really bad, but this one is noticeably better, if not by a lot. People who really love this movie a lot will appreciate it.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best portrayal of what it means to be an American, July 18, 2000
By 
Robert James (Culver City, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
I can still remember the first time I watched the crushing scene of Jimmy Stewart's filibuster in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." I was six years old; I was up way past my bedtime, and my parents were both weeping. I looked at the screen; I looked at my parents. I was utterly confused, but I knew that whatever this man was saying had to be important. I can still remember gasping when he collapsed. I didn't see the movie again until after high school, and when I watched it for the first time, aware of what was happening, I found myself crying. When my parents were watching it, Vietnam was in full force; when I watched it, Reagan was denying the lies of Iran-Contra. I still believe that America can be the place Jefferson Smith believed it to be; in many ways, it is this movie which continues to feed that belief. Not because the movie itself creates that belief, but that every single person I have ever watched it with can't hold back when they get to the end of the filibuster. Jefferson Smith's loss is our loss, and his hope is our hope, more than sixty years after the film was made.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time great Hollywood Movies, January 16, 2007
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
This would have to be one of the best movies ever produced by Hollywood under the auspices of the Frank Capra genius. Over 70 years old and it hasn't aged or lost its power - a remarkable achievement by any measure. Replace the typewriters with PCs, and the telephones with mobile phones, and you have a story as relevant and powerful today as it was when it was released in 1939. Perhaps it is sad to say that little has changed in politics or human nature since this film was released but that is why it is so important for people to view this film at least once. Capra understood human nature and he understood the basis of evil, courage and human spirit. This film embodies all these attributes. It is a movie masterpiece. Everyone should see this film at least once. Those who have seen it once will see it again and again. Released the same year as "Gone with the Wind" and, ironically, losing out on academy awards to same, "Mr. Smith" is the movie whose plot has remained as important as ever - that is, that even the most sophisticated and well conceived democratic institutions are, of themselves, insufficient to preserve democracy unless they elicit the participation of great men. Or, as John Stuart Mill once wrote, in 1867, "Bad men need nothing more to compress their ends than that the good men should look on and do nothing". In this film, Jefferson Smith is a man who has chosen to do something, and to thereby endeavor to make democracy work. To this end, those who live in a democracy, and particularly its youth, should watch and learn because the lesson here is profound and far reaching.

Jimmy Stewart is at his all time best; Claude Rains, Edward Arnold and Jean Arthur are all brilliant. This movie is moving, powerful, funny, poignant and relevant to the 21st Century. One has to ask where such talent exists in today's movie making - apparently talent, writing skills and acting skills have all given way to special effects and big explosions.

Those who like this should also see Frank Capra's other masterpieces, including "Lost Horizon", "Meet John Doe" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town".
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie taught me the ideals of America, July 22, 2002
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
I first watched this wonderful movie about six months after I arrived in America from a country where there was little personal freedom. I had just taken an ESL American history class in high school, and had understood little. This movie was simply a great eye-opener for me, a foreigner with little notion of the American freedom.
Capra's masterpiece depicted an America rife with with corruption, with lies and ruthless men to whom America was a money and power machine. Against this backdrops stands Jefferson Smith, the hero, who is picked as a stooge senator for his home state by the political machine. (The original screen play identifies the state as Montana; Capra said it was Illinois; but isn't Jackson City the capital of Mississippi?) His innocence and ideals -- and incorrutibility -- immediately warm the heart of every audience member. He's indeed the light in the dark tunnel, the hope for every American who feels that what this great country stands for is shamelessly disregarded and discarded by our politicians.
The classic filibuster scene is such a joy to watch, esp. for people who don't quite get what a filibuster is. (Of course, how Mr. Smith could go on talking for 23 hours 16 minutes without going to the toilet puzzles me.) The movie also lucidly explains how a bill is written, submitted for consideration, debated, compromised, and finally sent for vote, in the House and the Senate. It's both an entertaining and educational movie.
The filibuster scene may strike some us lecturing. Indeed, the senators in the movie turn a deaf ear to the earnest speeches of Mr. Smith. Democracy, freedom, accountability, "government of the people by the people for the people", all mean nothing to these people. Equally amazing, when the film was screened by Congress in 1939, they damned the film as un-American for depicting them as thieves and stooges. Alas, in film and in real life, politicians are simply people without a conscience. As a naturalized American, I feel all these people should be executed, for betraying the very basic foundation of this country.
I re-watched the movie recently in the aftermath of Sept. 11. My eyes became wet as I listened to Mr. Smith begging his colleagues to wake up their conscience. It's a shame that our politicians, ranging from George W. Bush to the donkeys in Congress to some judges, are still thieves, clowns, and traitors to the American ideal of universal liberty. Every day they chip away at the foundation of America by allowing corrupt business leaders to rob the nation of its wealth, by letting terrorists come in at ease and killing us at will, and by turning blind eyes and deaf ears at the plight of the middle class. Like Senator Paine in the movie, every politician of today pretends they represent the people, while in fact they represent nothing but their selfish needs.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is IMHO the best movie of all time. It's not because it has great acting or fancy special effects. It's because it addresses an endangered concept, first brought forth by America's founding fathers, the concept that this country was to be better than any other country, past or present. And I'm not talking about just being richer or having more Playstation games.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mr smith and ms saunders, December 29, 1999
By 
WSH (NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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It's interesting to note how modern appraisals of this classic film highlight the contributions of male lead, James Stewart, and director, Frank Capra, but relegate Jean Arthur's performance to a lesser rank. Yet both Stewart and Capra themselves respected and acknowledged her brilliance - in an age supposedly more male-oriented than our own - so why don't we? Arthur's character, Clarissa Saunders (or just plain Saunders) is pivotal to the success of this film: making it possible for the audience to believe in Smith's idealism. Arthur brings off this delicate assignment with gusto, conviction and a sure comic touch. It may be Mr Smith's coming to Washington on which the plot turns, but it's Ms Saunders who provides at least as much of the energy and credibility. Just another reason for this film's greatness.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE FAMILY CLASSIC, March 21, 2000
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
Jimmy Stewart is absolutely fabulous in this Capra Masterpiece. The movie left both my wife and I speechless and wanting to get more of the classics in our DVD Library. This is a must have. Great transfer for such an old movie; incredible acting and a just a totally entertaining as well as educational movie.
We were absolutely amazed at the quality of production that Hollywood used to make before resorting to senseless violence and explicit sex. It's wonderful to find films that a whole family can watch together.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood, yet brilliant and still accurate film...., July 4, 2006
This review is from: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD)
When the idiotic TV pundits talk about this film, they always make it sound like it's this perfect, "isn't America wonderful" film that doesn't criticise our country in any way. I have heard numerous times when pundits rally against current Hollywood and their supposedly "anti-American" practices, they always site this film as a great expression of how wonderful and perfect America is. Obviously, they did not see the film. The senators, representatives, governors, and their ilk are portrayed as cynical, corrupt individuals, and, sadly, that's still true today. When Jefferson Smith is appointed, he's like a naive schoolboy. He knows more about US history than all of Washington does. But when he learns how corrupt Washington is, he refuses to be a stooge and decides to stand up for himself. Then the political machines come down on him. Instead of going away, he fights back (which leads to the famous filibuster scene). This is a great film, but it is not the naive film the pundits suggest. It's a sadly accurate portrayal of our political system. It's actually more realistic than an episode of The West Wing. The characters in this film are pretty accurate, as opposed to the silly, idealistic naiviete on the West Wing. The dialogue is wonderful, all of the performances are superb, and Capra's direction are excellent. Notice that Capra doesn't cut as much as modern directors do. The film is still pretty fast, but would be considered slow by today's standards. A great American film, one that probably couldn't be made today. Let's hope that they don't remake this (they already did with Billy Jack Goes to Washington, which was one of the worst films I've ever seen)....
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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington by Frank Capra (DVD - 2008)
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