Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1939, this is a masterpiece of movie history. It rings true with a patriotic message that is much needed in these times: a message of integrity, honesty, and I quote, "plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too".
Jimmy Stewart really outdoes himself in my opinion in this picture. He is so sincere and homely, unlike many other "tough guy" actors of his time. He throws himself into the role of Jefferson Smith so that you are captivated by him. His honesty and youthful charm is in direct contrast with Claude Rains's character, Joseph Paine, a puppet controlled by the crooked Jim Taylor, who will stop at nothing to pass a bill that will bring himself profit.
Senator Smith is the only senator who is willing to take a stand for what is right and must try to crush Taylor's political machine singlehandedly. But Jim Taylor frames Smith for his own offense, passing a bill that will bring himself money. Smith is about to be expelled from the Senate when he launches a filibuster, trying to buy time to rally support for himself and expose Taylor's treachery and lies.
Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do! And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!
This is an amazing film with good, Biblical morals, superb acting, and a beautifully patriotic theme: things that are becoming rarer and rarer in pictures all the time. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a monument of movie history, and I don't think there will ever be another of its kind and volume.
You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.