Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

 ●  English ● 2 hrs 9 mins

Where did you watch this movie?

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Cast: Beulah Bondi, James Stewart, Jean Arthur

Crew: Frank Capra (Director), Joseph Walker (Director of Photography), Dimitri Tiomkin (Music Director)

Genres: Drama

Release Dates: 17 Oct 1939 (United States)

Tagline: Capra at his greatest!

Movie Rating
Based on 0 rating
Music Rating
Based on 0 rating
Did you know? Frank Capra received many letters over the years from individuals who were inspired by the film to take up politics. Read More
No reviews available. Click here to add a review.
as Ma Smith
as Jefferson Smith
as Saunders
as Susan Paine
as Hopper Boy
as Nosey
as Senator Monroe
as Hopper Boy
as Carl Cook
as Jim Taylor
as Chick McGann
as Hopper Boy
as Senator MacPherson
as Governor Hopper
as Senate Majority Leader
Supporting Actor
as President of the Senate
as Hopper Boy
as Hopper Boy
as Senate Minority Leader
as Mrs Hopper
as Diz Moore
as Senator Joseph Paine
as Bill Griffith

Direction

Director

Production

Producer
Production Company

Writers

Story Writer
Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography

Music

Music Director

Art

Art Director

Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer

Editorial

Film Type:
Feature Film
Language:
English
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Mono
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1
Stereoscopy:
No
Taglines:
Capra at his greatest!
Stirring - In the seeing! Precious - In the remembering!
Capra's Greatest Hit --- The Screen At Its Most Inspired!
Entertainment As Powerful As the Strength of the People! As Great As the Genius of Capra!
Romance, drama, laughter and heartbreak ... created out of the very heart and soil of America ... by a great director and cast!
Goofs:
Revealing Mistakes
When Smith arrives in Washington on the train, he's seen walking towards the exit with a porter behind him carrying his bags. The next shot shows the same porter coming into the station carrying someone else's bags.

Continuity
When the governor enters the Smith's home (with the band playing) we see, from the inside, Ma closing the door almost shut. When the scene shifts to outside the house, Ma is again closing the same door.

Errors in Geography
Twice, Saunders says that Jefferson Smith is going to go "up" to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. Mt. Vernon is approximately 15 miles south of the Capitol in Washington [you can check that using Google maps], and is right on the Potomac River downstream from Washington, so it is not "up" in a north-south sense nor in the sense of elevation. The script should have had Saunders saying that Smith was going "down" to Mt. Vernon, which is how anyone living or working in Washington would have put it.

Factual Mistake
The President of the Senate repeatedly recognizes Jeff Smith on the floor of the Senate as "Mr. Smith." Senators are not recognized by name but as junior or senior senator from the state they represent.

Factual Mistake
Under the Standing Rules of the Senate governing debate, Senator Paine would not technically have been allowed to attack Senator Smith's character and accuse him of graft. The rule states: "No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."

Factual Mistake
In the montage as Jeff Smith wanders off after arriving in Washington, we see the display of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, and then supposedly a close-up of the document - only the "S"'s are written in modern style script and don't look like "F"'s as in the original document.

Miscellaneous
At the train station, Jeff Smith is approached by Susan Payne and three other women. They ask for a dollar contribution each for the Milk Fund. Jeff Smith says "five dollars". It should only be four dollars. Soon after, reporters ask him about the women in Washington. He responds that four came up to him at the train depot.
Trivia:
In 1942, when a ban on American films was imposed in German-occupied France, the title theaters chose Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) for their last movie before the ban went into effect. One Paris theater reportedly screened the film nonstop for 30 days prior to the ban.

Bitterly denounced by Washington insiders angry at its allegations of corruption, yet banned by fascist states in Europe who were afraid it showed that democracy works.

The scenes where James Stewart wanders around in amazement at the Washington monuments were "stolen", since the US Parks Service had denied the studio permission to film near them.

Frank Capra received many letters over the years from individuals who were inspired by the film to take up politics.

According to the New York Times, "the Boy Scouts of America objected to having any part in Mr. Capra's reform movement," and Frank Capra therefore had to use the fictitious name of the Boy Rangers.

Jean Arthur did not get along with James Stewart during filming, possibly because she had wanted her Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) co-star Gary Cooper to be cast as Mr. Smith. Arthur thought Stewart was being deliberately a bit too cute for his own good and that Cooper was more masculine and had a stronger screen presence.

Jean Arthur's left side was considered her best side, so the sets had to be constructed in a way that whenever she entered, she would be photographed on that side.