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The Candidate

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas, Don Porter, Allen Garfield
  • Directors: Michael Ritchie
  • Writers: Jeremy Larner
  • Producers: Robert Redford, Nelson Rising, Walter Coblenz
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 29, 1997
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304696507
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,247 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Candidate" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

An outspoken, idealistic young California lawyer is persuaded to run for the Senate, and finds himself up against a political machine.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: PG
Release Date: 15-SEP-1998
Media Type: DVD

Customer Reviews

Redford does a good job.
Melvin Hunt
His deal is he can say any outrageous thing because he cannot win anyway, and in so doing shows he has the brains.
Steven Travers
A great look into the inside world of the political campaign.
Ron Houghton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on January 5, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
"The Candidate" was released in the appropriate year of 1972, when Richard Nixon was reelected, using the media to present himself as a solid, trusted leader who was being challenged by liberal elitists operating in concert with the Eastern media establishment. When the full force of Watergate buried Nixon in scandal shortly thereafter, resulting in his resignation in 1974, the messages presented in "The Candidate" became all the clearer as Nixon's hollow facade lay fully exposed.
Jeremy Larner, a former speechwriter for presidential candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy in 1968, used his political savvy to craft a script based on the realism of campaigning in the television age, in which, to use Marshall McLuhan's apt phrase, "the medium is the message." Larner copped a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his effort. Robert Redford plays Bill McKay, who runs a poverty law center and has no ambitions to seek political office. He is urged to do so as the Democrats in California seek an opponent for a solidly entrenched incumbent U.S. Senator played by Don Porter. Redford, whose father, played by Melvyn Douglas, is a former California governor, agrees to run after being told that he can address topics on his own terms. The idea is that he is expected to make a decent run but is not expected to win. Redford articulates ideas near and dear to him that are not embraced by the broad spectrum of California voters. When he runs poorly in the primary, however, he is informed that he needs to make changes or risk being humiliated in the general election by Porter, a prospect he does not relish.
Redford's ensuing frequent turnabouts on major issues make him anything but the refreshingly candid candidate he sought to become.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on November 29, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this when it came out and was utterly riveted by it. It was the first political film I had ever seen and got me interested in politics, of which I became quite the junky. I believe this was one of the first films to attempt to create a realistic and subtle drama about the political process, at least in elections.

This time around, I got it for my kids. I admit that I watched it with some trepidation, hoping I would like it as much as I did the first time. Fortunately, it passed the test! We all became engrossed and discussed it afterwards, which was exactly what I hoped would happen.

One scary thing about the film, as my left-wing wife put it, is how little has changed - the US has scarcely moved on from the issues as presented in the film. First, abortion is a big deal, as is gun control. Second, there is the issue of government involvement in the economy, decried as socialist etc etc. Third, there is the environment, also hotly debated in much the same terms as today - developers v. tree huggers. Finally, the best portrayed issue is the campaign process itself, which transmogrifies the candidate's message with the necessity of TV's dumbing down. As we can see with the incendiary tactics used today, not even the internet has changed things much.

Warmly recommended. This film demonstrates the potential that film can have in sparking thought and debate. That it is so relevant is depressing.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. Travers on June 6, 2004
Format: DVD
Robert Redford was behind the entertaining political movie "The Candidate" (1972), which goes a long way towards explaining how the game works. This film is really not a liberal one, which is what makes it worthwhile even after 30 years. It is supposed to be based on Edmund "Jerry" Brown, former California Governor Pat Brown's son. Jerry Brown at the time was a youthful Secretary of State who would go one to two terms as Governor. He was a new kind of pol, attractive, a bit of swinger who dated rock star Linda Rohnstadt, and representative of the Golden State image of the 1970s. They called him "Governor Moonbeam".
Redford plays the son of the former Governor of California, played by Melvyn Douglas. The old man is old school all the way, having schmoozed his way up the slippery slope through implied corrupt deals with labor unions and other Democrat special interests. Redford is a young man who played football at Stanford and is now a social issues lawyer of the pro bono variety, helping Mexicans in Central California. Peter Boyle knew him at Stanford and is now a Democrat political consultant who recruits Redford to run for Senator against Crocker Jarman, an entrenched conservative Orange County Republican. Jarman could be Reagan, but he is as much a composite of the traditional Republican: Strong on defense, down on affirmative action and welfare, a real "up by the bootstraps" guy who emerged from the Depression and World War II to make up our "greatest generation."
The film does an about-face on perceptions that, in many cases, turn out to be true. Redford is the rich kid with connections. Jarman beat the Depression like the rest of the U.S., without a social worker.
"How did we do it?" he mocks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 1, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
I do not have to tell anyone that the look behind the scenes at the fictional California senate race in the 1972 film "The Candidate" remains realistic and relevant today. The sophistication employed by candidates and their supporters in putting together campaign ads has certainly become progressively slicker and sicker, but what we see in Michael Ritchie's drama is essentially what we still get today. The tagline for "The Candidate" was: "Nothing matters more than winning. Not even what you believe in," a sentiment that is certainly true today, Election Day 2004. Both of the candidates, George W. Bush and John F. Kerry, were nominated by their parties because of the perception that they could win the election. Bush had been re-elected governor of Texas, so he had the requisite weight to going up against Al Gore. Kerry had served in Vietnam, so he would be able to talk about national security. Neither man has ever been accused of being a visionary leader in the mold of John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan.

Since Robert Redford is in the title role he certainly has the requisite charisma to be that sort of candidate. He is Bill McKay, the son of a former governor, John J. McKay (Melvyn Douglas), and he has been working as a lawyer and trying to get away from daddy's shadow. McKay is talked into being essentially the sacrificial lamb against the incumbent, conservative Senator Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter), because it will be a way of publicizing the issues he cares about. Since he is going to lose big-time, the handsome and articulate McKay is given permission to go out and (horrors) say whatever he really wants.
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