Monday, January 24, 2011

A Hero for the Libertarian in Us All?

AFI Stills Collection
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It’s a Frank Capra film. Kinda controversial (because it’s political). But typically feel-good and idealist.
Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, the naïve community organizer who by a strange twist of good(?) fortune becomes senator.
As senator, all he really wants is to start a boys’ camp, so boys in the city can at the government’s expense (and by other boys’ voluntary donation) go out
and experience nature, and the welcome company of each other.
Problem is, someone has other plans for the property on which Jeff Smith wants the boys’ camp to be built. And so we have a problem. And Jeff ends up (bravely) filibustering [great word, by the way] for what seems like several days, until he becomes utterly exhausted…
And then --  Well, anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should.
Because, if for nothing else, wikipedia and the Library of Congress have called it “culturally … significant.” And isn’t that reason enough?
I also like that the hero’s name is Jeff, and is played by one of my favorite actors of all time.
My only complaint: While it definitely diagnoses a problem, it doesn’t very well offer a solution. Building boys’ camps everywhere probably won’t much help an economy that’s in recession. But I like Smith’s eager sincerity: At least he’s trying! And inspiring!
Whether or not “the trying” does the world any good … well, for that I’ll let you decide.

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