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The Best Man

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson square off as political adversaries during a presidential primary in this sardonic, insightful drama that brings out the best, and worst, in American politics.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Edie Adams, Shelley Berman, Ann Sothern
  • Directors: Franklin Schaffner
  • Writers: Screenplay by GORE VIDAL
  • Producers: Produced by STUART MILLAR and LAWRENCE TURMAN
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: June 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003B3O5FY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,239 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Best Man" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mark Savary on June 4, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This film is shot in a documentary style, similar to other political pictures from the '60s, like "The Manchurian Candidate", "Seven Days in May", "The Bedford Incident", and "Dr. Strangelove".
What it so skillfully creates is the private, "smoke-filled back room" of political conventions in days of yore. The type of maneuvering depicted in the film is probably a thing of the past, as Presidential candidates are chosen well before the actual nomination process today.
Set at a conservative party's political convention in 1964, we get to see how those in any way connected to the political process are duplicitous, dishonest, and just plain two-faced depending on who is in the room at the moment and what the person wants from them. Even when alone with another of their ilk, the games continue.
Sadly, the film is all too accurate in its depiction of politicians. The fantasy of a Mr. Smith going to Washington, filled with true patriotism and a sense of sacred duty to the People, is quickly dispelled early on in the picture.
The film is amazingly absorbing, and crackling with tension despite usually tedious subject matter of politics.
Hank Fonda plays the candidate we are meant to root for, and Cliff Robertson the Nixon/McCarthy anti-red zealot we are meant to root against. Still, there are moments when Cliff comes across as a good choice as candidate, ready to be a President.
Perhaps that was what made this film so good; every character had more than one side, more to look at. They were truly three dimensional, rather than the stock characters that litter TV and film today.
I think you'll enjoy this one even if you don't like politics or political films. Hank Fonda and Cliff Robertson really deliver.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on August 11, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
"The Best Man" (1964) takes place at the National Presidential Convention of an unnamed political party. A front runner has not yet emerged, and a number of candidates are jockeying for delegates as well as the support of the former President. Unfortunately, the former President is withholding his support until the last minute, so the candidates start to develop alternate and more devious strategies. Seeing how far each will go comprises the remainder of the film.

The script by Gore Vidal is solid; although many of the political specifics are outdated, the characters and situations remain relatable. In addition, the cast is top-notch. Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson star as the two frontrunners, with Fonda displaying the necessary gravitas and Robertson playing the callous younger candidate. Their characters' strengths and flaws are well-developed - the viewer is likely to flip-flop several times in rooting for one of them. Lee Tracy capped his long acting career playing the former President here; his performance is excellent - full of bluster but still realistic and engaging. Accordingly, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ann Sothern also turns in an amusing performance as the powerful head of a women's political league.

This film is not particularly well-known, but it's definitely worth watching. Make sure to catch the opening credits, which feature pictures of all the U.S. Presidents up to 1964 (LBJ). Overall, "The Best Man" is quite entertaining and still relevant to today's politics.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 2, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
The tagline for "The Best Man" was "Does the Best Man always get to the White House?" Today it is obvious to most of us that the answer is "no," and that those who seek the presidency are not the best the nation has to offer. Today is Election Day 2004 and the one common denominator between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry is that they were both nominated because they were seen as candidates who could win. But when you watch this 1964 film, adapted by Gore Vidal from his play, what you will notice how much things have changed in terms of how the sausage gets made. "The Best Man" speaks to the time, now long past, when candidates were selected by political bosses in smoke filled back rooms, although Gore expands the idea to involve some dirty tricks that must have seemed beyond the pale back then, but which would be considered tame by today's standards.

"The Best Man," which obviously comes from the hollow American wish "May the best man win," takes place at a national convention where the party's nominee is in doubt. The party is not named, but we know that it is the party that already controls the White House. President Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy) is very much interested in which of the five men running will follow him as President. When you look at the two main contenders you can see why it is not clear whether these are the Democrats or the Republicans. The favorite is Bill Russell (Henry Fonda), the former Secretary of State (Ironically, two years earlier Fonda had appeared in "Advise and Consent," where his character was being nominated for that same position). Russell comes across as an "egg head" in the Adlai Stevenson mold and while he sounds like a liberal we are told he is an American at heart.
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