Quick-Thoughts: Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

I don’t think I’ve been this off-put by a movie’s introduction of cutting in quite some time. There is seriously a carelessly jumpy amount of sequencing occurring in the opening of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; just when you think a scene has started it almost immediately ends to sheer abruptness, plunging exposition down our throats in some of the most abysmally edited segments to date. 

In countless cases, the continuity editing and massive shot numbers that Frank Capra’s political drama, unfortunately, fiddles the screen with, continues to be a glaring issue that could drive the common viewer insane. This flame, contagious enough to possibly ruin a whole movie, becomes no match however to the radiating character that is Jefferson Smith, played impeccably by James Stewart, and additionally, his counterpart Clarissa Saunders, encapsulated wonderfully by the eccentric Jean Arthur. 

You know a film’s story is that absorbing when halfway through it you forget to even pay care to the technical quarrels that had bothered you initially. Like Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, this is another entry of optimism that could put any chin-down persona, who’s tyrannized by the disgusting state that our country can often be in, inspired enough to recognize that change can be made and that the corrupt, at the end of the day, will always be outnumbered and intimidated as long as we commit action in doing so. 

Realistic? Maybe not. Powerful? Yeah; and that’s what’s important, at least, in the case of this movie. 

Verdict: B

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.

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