Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
I love vintage movies.
By “vintage” I mean primarily the films made between 1930 and approximately the mid-1950s. For me, that was the golden age of Hollywood. I am not implying that there are not good films after that era; I just think there are fewer good ones.
As far as actors, it’s hard to say that the past had better stars than Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, and Jack Nicholson but I wouldn’t place them above Irene Dunn, James Stewart, and Humphrey Bogart.
Good political movies have been common in every Hollywood era. Popular entries include “The Informer” (1935), “State of the Union” (1948), “The Last Hurrah” (1958), “Advise and Consent” (1962), “The Candidate” (1972), “Red Dawn” (1984), “Wag the Dog” (1997), and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000).
Probably the best political film made in many years is “The King’s Speech” from 2010. Maybe it’s because most British actors make most current American actors look like hams that I feel that way about this film. It was first class all the way.
As far as my favorites, it’s hard to choose. However, if I had to pick three, I would take them from three different eras: From the 1930s I would choose “Mr. Smith goes To Washington” (1939) starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur.
This film is 1930s idealism all the way and comfortable to watch as Stewart and Arthur work well together with an all star cast of character actors. Directed by Frank Capra it’s fine Americana with a dose of “Capracorn” which always meant that “good” would win out in the end.
From the 1960s, I like “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden. It combines the Cold War with a dark sense of humor especially when Slim Pickens rides the bomb out of a B-52 aircraft.
From 1999 comes “Election” with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. It’s a funny combination of high school and politics as Broderick is a high school teacher in Omaha trying to stop the election of over achiever Witherspoon as class president.
If you enjoy good political films like I do, check these entries. They are worth your time.
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Bio: Jim McAllister has been a Plugged-In Scottsdale blogger, an Arizona Republic Sunday Plugged-In contributor, and a Scottsdale Republic columnist since 2005. He has also written for the Sonoran News and did a weekly column from 2004-2006 for the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley Independent. In 2004 he wrote a 7 part series on The History of Television for TV TOME (now TV.Com). A veteran of the U. S. Air Force, he has done hosting and commercial work in radio and TV and currently does a blog at jmcallister.blogspot.com.