Politics has probably always been a dirty craft in which the worst and most corrupt usually went. And while honest people are fleeing from politics like the devil from incense (that’s why, unfortunately, that’s how it is for us), it usually includes the worst scum, frustrated and unfucked poor people who could not succeed in any other form of human activities. If anyone knows well how politics works it was the American writer and intellectual Gore Vidal, a liberal thinker whose polemics with conservative intellectual William Buckley in the 1960s and 1970s are still legendary today. The screenplay for the political drama, directed by Oscar winner Franklin J. Shaffner (Boys from Brasil, Patton, Planet of the Apes), was written by Vidal based on his own play, and it is a story about the pre-election for the Democratic presidential candidate.
The two main favorites for the presidential nomination are former Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda) and young ambitious Senator Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson). The venue is the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles and both hope to be backed by the still incumbent president, the old and sick Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy was nominated for an Oscar for supporting role), and the two favorites can’t be more different. And while Russell is liberal and modern, but a guy who has a lot of dirty laundry because he liked to “paint”, Cantwell is a classic populist and opportunist, the type of politicians we still have on trucks today. He presents himself as a man of the people, a populist and an ardent anti-communist, a corrupt opportunist who does not hide that the manipulator is ready to do anything to turn the situation to his advantage.
He is one of those extremely hypocritical guys who play big honest people, when in fact they are corrupt to the core, an unscrupulous guy and a young “crusader” who became famous for hunting communists. Russell, on the other hand, is much older and more experienced, but he seems somewhat hesitant, like a guy who doesn’t like to run into statements, a measured man who isn’t thrilled with stage lights. He doesn’t seem to enjoy these political games, dirt and mudslides, but if he really wants a political nomination, it’s certain that he’ll have to start doing things like that because his opponent managed to dig up his dirty laundry. could be expensive.
It was “The Best Man” a film that brilliantly depicts the political race, all the cynicism, opportunism and depravity that surrounds politics. It is a film that is still extremely relevant today and we see that not much has changed in these sixty years, only the ways of fighting and manipulation are still perfected, and it is clear to people that there is no honor, honesty and sincerity. The character of Senator Cantwell, Vidal apparently envisioned after real Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin to whom all populists of this world can be grateful because he probably devised defamatory tactics and twisting facts in his famous communist witch hunt a decade earlier. Such is Cantwell, a pervert and an obvious role model for many current politicians. Rating 8.5 / 10.
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