Mr Smith Goes To Washington Review


It’s time to look at an old political film that shows one man’s fight against endless corruption. It can be a lost cause at times but if nobody takes a stand then the situation will never get better will it? It’s a pretty interesting movie even if the ending starts to stretch disbelief a bit. Still, the concept certainly isn’t hard to believe and sometimes things just work out this way.

The film starts off with the local mayor/governor worrying about which new senator to elect as the old one died. He gets pressure from his higher ups to bring in people who are corrupt or have skeletons in the closet so they can be blackmailed. The mayor is close to doing this until his kids guilt trip him into appointing a local ranger leader named Mr. Jeff Smith. Smith is a very down to earth guy who wants to uphold the original ideals of the US, but Mr. Taylor doesn’t like this. Taylor is the kingpin in the shadows who has been controlling the state for years. He decides to do whatever he can to stop this Mr. Smith.

I’m always up for a political film like this, especially when it’s in a court type setting. The senate meetings here are close enough. I remember hearing about how you could hold the floor indefinitely provided the circumstances were right so it was nice to see Smith use such a technique here. I’m sure there is probably a little more to it than this but it’s definitely fun to see. Smith has to talk for essentially an entire day which is pretty impressive for sure. That’s a lot of stamina.

Of course, the corruption was quite deep here so the effects weren’t as powerful as he would have liked. I can buy into Taylor blocking all of the radio channels and newspapers but where it starts to get a little fishy is when he hires a mob to go around and start beating up on the kids. That part’s definitely a little hard to believe. They ran into the kid’s car and actually knocked one to the ground. By the end even the grownups on Smith’s side are telling him to stop because too many kids are being injured.

Even if we are to assume that Taylor’s influence is so strong that all of these guys would be willing to fight kids, what about their parents or other resisters? We see in one scene a large group of adults running around with signs and such until the cops spray them, but then there should have been some adults to protect the kids as well. So while this part was dramatic I think it ends up getting a bit unrealistic by the end.

During the film, Smith’s mentor (Paine) talks to him about the rampant corruption. Paine explains that it isn’t everyone who is corrupt, just most of them. I thought this was foreshadowing for some senators agreeing with Smith by the end and the film would have ended with the Senate in full disagreement. In the end, it appears even he underestimated how corrupt the place was as everyone was involved. He’s definitely the worst character in the film but at least you do know that he’s a traitor from the start so it’s not like you were surprised at this turn of events.

While the writing is pretty solid and the film has good pacing, there is one plot that doesn’t work out well. It’s the comic relief one sided romance plot between Clarissa and a reporter. Their scenes don’t really add to the plot and the drunk bar one goes on for quite a while. I suppose it’s to show how she felt bad for Smith but you could already glean that information early on. Clarissa is a pretty reasonable character even if she does keep flipping from one side to the other. At first she thinks the situation is hopeless for Jeff so she just pretends to be on his side. Finally she does end up going to his side and to her credit she is indispensable by the end. Without her Jeff would have certainly been tricked or have lost the will to fight earlier.

Jeff’s a good character, but pretty gullible. While he ended up sticking to his core values and beliefs despite the overwhelming pressure he wouldn’t have gone far without help. If Clarissa hadn’t tipped him off he would have kept falling for that other girl’s tricks. The instant he let romance get above his duty I had to admit that this senator business may have been a little too much for him. He’s earnest, but to that end I’d figure that he would have done more reading up on what it means to be a senator. Sure, it was harder to get information back in the day but I’d like to have seen him be a bit more pro-active. These are more in-depth critiques of his character though, on the whole he was still pretty solid. It’s just that he could have been even better.

One character who stole the show quite a bit was the chairman for the senate. I like how the whole thing was basically one big joke to him. He’s a fair judge who doesn’t bend to the others. He knows his importance. Whether the right choice is made or not isn’t something he cares about so long as they follow the rules. It may not be heroic, but it is pretty enjoyable to see.

Overall, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a pretty solid film. It definitely shows how hard it is to get your point across when you’re up against corruption. Smith could have stood there all day without the senators reacting and that’s just what he did. Honestly I would have done more whistles to wake them up like he did in one scene, but I suppose he also didn’t want to be held in contempt of court or anything like that. That probably would have backfired. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out. It’s pretty original.

Overall 7/10

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Deadline – U.S.A. Review


It’s time for an old school mafia/gangster film. I haven’t seen too many of these yet so it’s nice to add another one to the list. It’s handled pretty well and makes for an interesting movie from start to finish. I think the main character could have been a little better to make it easier to root for him, but I suppose it was trying to show that he was just an ordinary joe who wanted to stick up for the paper. Bogart plays the role extremely well as always and it’s a film that has certainly aged well.

Hutcheson is a proud newspaper man. He’s never gone for sensational clickbait over the actual news. He goes for the facts and just that. Unfortunately this means that his paper is losing sales and a competitor wants to buy him out to crush it for good. There’s not much Hutcheson can do about it since the board of directors are okay with the sale. He has enough time for one last scoop though and decides to attack the vicious gangster Rienzi after one of his reporters is attacked for following the story. Nobody gets to take down one of his staff, not while Hutcheson is still on the case.

With all of the fake stories being spread around and alternative facts used instead of actual ones, this film is a good reminder that you have to be careful what you believe. All of the papers in this film were either paid off by Rienzi or were too scared to attack him. This meant that Hutcheson and his crew had to dig up all of the dirt on their own. Luckily, these guys are some of the best in the biz and were ready for such a challenge. Hutcheson is also a pretty confident and bold person himself so the villain’s threats never get to him. He defies the villains right up til the end and even if he is taken out of the picture, the facts have now been released for everyone.

The film has a very sudden ending, but one that works well. You can reasonably draw your own conclusions from it and they are positive ones. While we may not have gotten an epilogue, you can see how things will go from here. It may have all come together a little too well in some cases though. For example, Hutcheson’s one flaw is that he’s typically drunk and a little crazy. He forgot that he was divorced to his wife for a while because he had one too many beers and once he remembered, he wanted to call it off. It was a little late for that as she already found the rebound guy. It turns out that the guy didn’t have any dirt on him even though Hutcheson tried to find it. By the end, the ex-wife realizes that she doesn’t want a new man and comes back. It’s nice for the lead of course, but that part was maybe a little over the top. It was the one subplot where I couldn’t sympathize with Hutcheson at all. He’s a great newspaper man, but that was part of the problem for his social life. He had very clear priorities and his ex-wife was apparently not one of them.

As you’d expect from a newspaper film, the plot is very intricate and there are twists upon twists. More elements continue dug up by the reporters and then you get the full story at the end. It’s definitely a sad story all around, but one that will keep you guessing. It always seems like a fair mystery with my only issue being that some characters look really similar. For example, the rebound guy looked just like one of the gangsters so I was waiting for that twist. Rienzi is a decent main villain although he doesn’t get to appear all that much. He’s clearly a lot smarter than his minions, but it wasn’t enough as he gets outsmarted by the newspaper the whole time.

The court scenes were pretty fun. There wasn’t much that the heroes could do there since the paper’s owners had already given their consent, but it was still nice to see. The court rooms definitely haven’t changed much at all as it looks like an exact replica to the one I sat in a while back. The Judge made the right call since an appeal to emotion isn’t the right way to win a case. One of the executives did stand up in the end though so the paper got to have a happy ending thanks to that. Hopefully sales pick up so she can gain back her money.

Again, old films like this one are so good because of the dynamic writing and plot. The script is leagues ahead of anything you’ll see in the modern day. The characters all feel very real and professional. While this may not always help Hutcheson, it does work well with the film. The plot was good and handled well as we got to see how a lone newspaper can deal with a gangster threat. They may have fallen for the fake cops gambit, but they controlled the game otherwise. All of the reporters were very good at their jobs and everyone brought something to the table. The only plot that the film should have cut out was the drama with the ex-wife. It didn’t eat up too much screen time though so at least it wasn’t a huge issue, just a minor thing that would have made the whole experience even better.

Overall, Deadline USA is a good film. It’s certainly one that I hadn’t heard of before so it was a nice hidden gem to find. The film’s not very long so the pacing never slows down. As one of Bogart’s final films, I can safely say that it was a good decision to be a part of it. The film certainly would have lost some charm and charisma without his inclusion. It’d still be a film, but some leads were just made for the roll and he did a good job here. For once he didn’t even get knocked out despite getting in a car with the villains. You definitely have to love that confidence. I highly recommend checking this film out.

Overall 7/10

White House Down Review

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It’s time to review a recent White House film and I’m not talking about Olympus Has Fallen this time! White House Down has more of a summer blockbuster feel while Olympus tried to take itself more seriously. I definitely preferred this one, but I’ll compare them both in a little bit. This film still had quite a few problems and suffered from the usual terrorists vs America issues, but was decently fun for the most part.

John has always wanted to be a part of the secret services and he’s about to get his chance! He brings his daughter along for the interview and things are going well. The problem is that…he failed the interview. Ah well, he tried. As John is about to leave, the White House is attacked and a traitor among them destroys all of the guards. A handful of other terrorists appear and take out the 50+ guards in the White House. John manages to escape along with the President, but how long can they hold out? Can these villains be stopped or will the heroes have to call for some backup?

Well, the plot’s fairly basic and these films have a bit of a formula to them so you know what to expect. Most of the usual events occur, but the film does try to shake things up a little by having the President get more of a role in the adventure like in Air Force One. The film is a little on the long side, but I wouldn’t say that it drags on as you’ll stay interested during the viewing for the most part.

All right, let’s quickly get the comparisons out of the way between this and Olympus. As I mentioned earlier, Olympus is supposed to be really serious business. The terrorists just want to watch the world burn and it can be pretty gritty as the lead knifed and gunned everyone down. The villains also intimidate and shoot the hostages for a little while which made for overdramatized scenes that were painfully long. The President got a scene where he was boxing in that film, but then didn’t get to throw a punch. This film is the opposite in many ways as it’s more light. There are several scenes for comic relief and the President gets a decent role. The best part is that we don’t have to waste time watching the terrorists mess with the hostages for the most part. It happens a bit of course, but it’s much better. This film was simply better for me on just about every level. The only area where the other film won was probably with the main character. He was a little more intense than John, but I liked both leads.

Back to the film. One of the good things about it was the soundtrack. We got several solid tunes to listen too during the attacks. They were certainly fast paced and helped to make the scenes a little more epic. A little on the generic side…sure, but they still did the job. That’s the important thing. I’d also say that the writing was much better than expected as there was virtually no language when compared to the standard, but this was a TV airing so make of that what you will. It’s possible that it was just edited out.

As I mentioned earlier, John’s a good lead. He wants to be a good father and he’s been working to make himself into a good person who can be dependable for his daughter. He certainly proved his stuff in this film and you can easily root for the guy. The President is also a solid character and I’m glad that he’s always ready for a fight. He gets quite a few big moments and even shoots a rocket at one point. That’s definitely not your average President material! There aren’t any other real notable characters as you have the garden variety terrorists at the ready and the supporting characters. I liked the general of the National Defense military group as he always kept a calm head about everything and I also liked the accent.

Now, let’s get into the main issue that makes the film a little dicey. The whole premise and plot only works on the assumption that the government security staff is inept and that America’s aim for each soldier is about as good as a storm trooper. As I stated earlier, the terrorists essentially entered with 20-1 odds or maybe even worse ones than that and not a single one of them was taken down during the attack. They seriously mowed everyone down without effort and it was embarassing to watch. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the hacker just had to type in 9 digits to immediately override the security of the White House and own everyone with it. He was very adept with the tech and suddenly knew how to operate everything.

There is a lot of plot hax in this film and it never really stops. Even near the end when the President rushes an old guy, I had to wince. The old man is able to overpower him and with a single punch, the President is out of commission for about 10 minutes. A single punch…just let that sink in a little. There’s no way that someone would lose that quickly when the stakes are so high. We do have the whole concept of adrenaline after all. I could list dozens and dozens of other such reasons, but let’s just talk about the big ones. There’s the fact that there is apparently no backup near the White House for some reason and none of the planes get anywhere near there until late into the film. That’s certainly…not very well thought out of our government eh? It’s also sad to see so many random civilians huddled around the White House as it makes things very tough for the army to do their job.

Our tanks were also not very impressive as a single rocket took one down since the tank naturally missed its target with the first shot and decided not to fire any more of them after that. America just did not look good and that’s unfortunately how it has to be if this plot is ever going to look impressive to the masses. It’s also unfortunate that we even have White House tours in real life, but that’s another matter entirely. The White House is mostly for show after all and especially nowadays as the President is always around on peace negotiations and other such things. Still, the concept of it just doesn’t work for me.

Beyond that…and that’s a big beyond, this was a good film. The plot was interesting as the President wanted to unveil a controversial peace treaty that would take all troops from the Middle East. That definitely sounds risky and I’m not sure if it’s a good move, but let’s save the politics chatter for a political site. The film’s attempts to keep things light with the comic relief were decent for the most part. I didn’t mind the antique guy who kept going on about the priceless artifacts. Him throwing one away at the end was a little much, but at least he was brave enough to stand up to the villains. I didn’t like John’s daughter though as she was overly rude to him the whole time and acted like the kid from Jurassic World. We’re definitely not getting good examples of kids in current films. Just look at Pixels and how the main characters were petty thieves in their younger days. Not cool.

Overall, White House Down fulfills its duty as an action blockbuster where the President gets to fight back. There is a lot of plot hax scattered throughout the film and America looks decently bad as expected. Luckily, it’s not to the extent of Olympus Has Fallen and this film was just more fun. It wouldn’t be my first pick, but I would recommend it to viewers. My advice is to just watch it as another action film and ignore the fact that the White House is being invaded. Imagine that it is just a fancy office building and everything will start to make a little more sense. I mean, the US not having any backups whatsoever to our missilles and nukes..? Please! Still, maybe it’s a good thing for foreign countries to believe this so in that sense….right on!

Overall 6/10