Our story opens with the death of a longtime beloved Senator. Now the Governor needs to appoint an interim Senator until the next election. It was Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) who had put the call to Governor Hopper (Guy Kibbee) that he would need to get that interim Senator up to Washington. You see here is the problem, there is a big vote in the Senate and Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) wants the vote to go his way. He is the big shot of the state and has a lot of money riding on that vote. So they tell the Governor to get someone who will not make waves and cause problems. Now Governor Hooper has interviewed many a soul but nobody that would make a good dupe. It was his children who suggested Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), the local head of The Boys Rangers Group. They have their dupe.
Jefferson Smith even with all the best intention should never have taken the job. He was too much of an idealist. He is also just too innocent. He arrives in Washington and is taken under the wing of Senator Paine someone he idolizes. The Senator thinks he should fight for a national boys camp. Now this is something simple and will keep Smith busy.
Smith gets involved in his project and even has found a piece of land for it. Problem is it’s the same land that Taylor wants for his project. Smith must go up against Taylor and Paine. Something he doesn’t feel comfortable with. It’s Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), Paine’s secretary who talks Smith into staying and fighting. To win Smith must filibuster the Senate and win over other Senators to his side. Next is History. With the blessing of the President of the Senate (Harry Carey), Smith gives one of the best heart felt speeches ever given on screen or in real life for that matter. You must watch to see the true effect of James Stewart.
You see when this film was aired it was 1939. This country was coming out of the Depression and entering into WWII. It was a time when we needed leaders and even though James Stewart was an actor in this film. He would volunteer for the Air Corp and fly bomber missions. He would eventually become a General and would have a very distinguished military career. If a Senator ever wants to filibuster the Senate he should watch this movie to get some hints. Jimmy Stewart is the man.
Frank Capra directed one of the greatest films ever made. This is classic film and should be seen especially at this time when our country is about to shut down. We need someone to step forward and lead this fine country of ours but it would take someone of the caliber of Jefferson Smith to accomplish it.