Incisive, sometimes brutal, study of American high politics, based on Allen Drury's best-selling novel, featuring outstanding performances from the leads and a great collection of character actors.
Fonda has been appointed Secretary of State, and the film revolves around his appointment's confirmation by the US Senate. Pidgeon and his cohorts are trying to push the appointment through, past such ancient pelicans as Laughton, in a marvelous portrayal of a crusty old Dixiecrat. Murray, a
freshman senator whose vote in support of the nomination is vital, will not commit to his party leader, Pidgeon. This leads Grizzard, a ruthless, power-hungry colleague, to attempt to blackmail Murray into siding with his voting block. He digs up Murray's former homosexual activities and threatens
to expose him unless he votes "the right way," with unexpectedly tragic results.
In an all-star cast, Laughton shines in his last role, but the subdued work by Tone and Ayres shows how underplaying can sometimes work best before the camera. Though the film sensationalizes politics, Preminger's touch is more precise and cautious than usual; this is a more realistic if less
human portrait of the Senate than Capra's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. Both films proved to be unpopular with their role models, who refused to comment on them.
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