Advise and Consent (1962)

Advise and Consent
Directed by Otto Preminger
Written by Mendell Mayes from a novel by Allen Drury
Otto Preminger Films/Alpha Alpina
First viewing/Netflix rental

Senator Seabright Cooley: Haven’t had this much fun since the cayenne pepper hit the fan!

I don’t know how I waited so long to see this fascinating political nail-biter.

The ailing President of the United States (Franchot Tone) makes a controversial pick for Secretary of State in Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda).  He has the luxury of also being in the majority party in the Senate which must advise on and consent to the appointment.

Nonetheless, it will not be easy.  Senator Seabright Cooley (Charles Laughton) a Southern Conservative, will use every trick in his considerable arsenal to block the appointment of a man he believes to have Communist leanings.  He is ably fought by Senate Majority Leader Bob Munson (Walter Pidgeon).

Leffingwell is fanatically supported by Senator Fred Van Ackerman (George Grizzard).  Van Ackerman wants to chair the Senate Sub-Committee on the matter but Munson passes him up for his junior, Senator Brigham Anderson (Don Murray).  The young Senator happens to be an idealist.  He also has a secret and has made an enemy in Van Ackerman.  With Lew Ayres as the Vice President, Paul Ford as the Majority Whip, Peter Lawford as a Senator, Gene Tierney as a Washington society hostess, and Burgess Meredith as a witness.

This was Laughton’s final film.

Well Hollywood and American certainly came a long way from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington!  I can guarantee right now that this will be on my 2017 Best New-to-Me Film list.  I loved every minute of it.

The ensemble cast really shines.  My favorite was Charles Laughton, who captures the accent and mannerisms of a Southern “gentleman” wheeler-dealer perfectly.  Pidgeon, who I am generally not a big fan of, was also perfect in his part.  The script is smart and cynical and is beautifully shot.  Most of the principals are big fans of the expedient lie, which has never fallen from fashion in Washington.  HIghly recommended.

Trailer – SPOILERS