Senator Sam Foley dies and the governor of a western state Huburt “Happy” Hopper has to pick a replacement for deceased Senator. Jim Taylor Happy’s political boss tries to pressure him into to selecting one of his corrupt personnel. The popular committee wanted a reformer Henry Hill but the corrupt Jim Taylor was not going to allow that to happen. In the meantime Happy Hopper is struggling on who to select as Senator. While the governor is at dinner with his family his children start heckling him about who to pick as senator the children want him to choose Jefferson Smith the head of the Boy Rangers.
Happy is unable to make a decision between Jim Taylor’s corrupt guy and Henry Hill so he decides to flip a coin. When the coin lands on the side next to the newspaper and the front of the newspaper has Jefferson Smith on the front page. So Happy decides to make Jefferson Smith when Jim Taylor hears the news on who Happy Hopper is making senator he is livid but Happy reassures Mr. Taylor that Smith will be very easy to manipulate and at the same time make the people happy. This is when Senator Joseph Payne steps in and also reassures Taylor that the corrupt bill that they are trying to pass while not be notice by Mr. Smith.
Senator Payne then takes Jefferson Smith under his advisory and tries to make sure Mr. Smith will stay out of the way. When they arrive to the train station in Washington Mr. Smith meets Senator Payne’s daughter and is immediately attracted to her. When Mr. Smith finally makes it to his office the Washington press tricks him into saying things and quickly take advantage of him making him look like a fool on the front page. Senator Payne suggests that Mr. Smith makes a bill to keep him out of the way of catching on to the corrupt Dam Bill that they are trying to get through the house. Mr. Smith thinks it’s a great idea and wants to pass a bill for a boy’s camp so he gets with his secretary Clarissa Saunders who has been in Washington for a long time and is just waiting for a big bonus once the Dam Bill is passed.
Mr. Smith creates a bill to get the government to buy land in his home state for a National Boy’s Camp that will be paid back by each young boy that attends the camp will have to pay a nickel. This is when Senator Payne and Jim Taylor realize that where Mr. Smith plans on putting the Boy’s Camp is on the same land that they plan on building the Dam. Clarissa Saunders has a change in heart because she know Mr. Smith is an honest man that wants to make a difference and tells him about Senator Payne and Jim Taylor’s plan about the Dam.
Unwilling to corrupt Mr. Smith, Payne tells Jim Taylor he wants out but Taylor makes sure that Payne knows the only reason he is Senator is because of him. This is when Senator Payne brings forth to the house evidence that is not true that Mr. Smith owns the land he is trying to get the government to buy for the Boy’s Camp. This is when Clarissa Saunders decides to help Mr. Smith and tells him to do a filibuster to postpone the bill that Jim Taylor wants passed. They were going to vote him out but they were unable to with filibuster. It was Smiths last chance to prove his innocence he talks nonstop for about 24 hours trying to convince every one of the real motives of the Dam Bill. When Mr. Smith has no more hope and is about to give up he says a few thing to Senator Payne which makes him feel extremely guilty and leaves the Senate Chamber to try to commit suicide but isn’t successful and this is when he runs back into the Senate Chamber and confesses everything that him and Mr. Taylor were planning on doing Payne confirms Smith’s incorruptibility, and bellows that Smith was right about everything.
Mr. Smith faced a lot of problems his short time as a Senator one of the problems that he faced was the Dam Bill and how Senator Payne and Mr. Taylor wanted him to just let it pass through congress even though he knew that it was corrupt. He wasn’t going to lower himself into being paid off or even a position as Senator for a very long to cloud his moral beliefs. He was an honest man and stood up for what he believed in even though it almost destroyed his name and kicked out of congress. A lot of members of congress should be more like Mr. Smith and not so easily persuaded. Member of congress face issues like this not to that extant but some of them are easily persuaded by other things like campaign money for someone in particular or even knowing that a certain person might help their bill get passed faster.
Another issue Mr. Smith faced was how the Washington press took everything he said and turned it around on him to make him look like a fool. Even though he was very naïve and didn’t know a lot about what he was doing as a senator. They were asking him question about what he wanted to do while he was Senator and then put it on the front page of the newspaper and made it look like he was something that he definitely wasn’t. People in congress have the same problem they have to be very careful about what they do and what they say because the press is always on them. One little mistake could get them in a lot of trouble. Just because they have good intention doesn’t mean that’s what the press will let the public believe. In the public’s eye it can look like you are doing everything wrong just because of one thing that is in the newspaper.
Members of congress could avoid certain obstacles by making sure that when they are selected into congress they have a clear view of what and how they want to accomplish when they are there. They must know what they are willing to do to get things done correctly and by not being corrupt to get what they are trying to achieve. Morals and being honest would be the way I would good you must have good morals and honesty is everything. A man or woman’s word is one of the strongest and most influential things they can give to someone.
In this paper I gave a brief summary on what the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was about and the characters that were in it. The issues he had to face while being selected as Senator and what he was going to do about being corrupt or being an honest man that stood up for what he believed in. He had a lot of obstacles he had to face to clear his name and almost gave up but when it got tough the truth came out and he his name was cleared. I also talked about what issues the members of congress face in today’s world and compared and contrast it with what Mr. Smith had to deal with in the movie and what ways we could fix the obstacles that they face. In this paper I gave a clear summary of the plot of the movie and why it is not easy to be a Senator and how to be more than just a someone who sits in the Senate Chamber.
Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state's senior senator--presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys' camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal.
Upon the death of Senator Samuel Foley, Governor Hubert Hopper, after careful deliberation upon listening to the recommendations of his closest confidantes, appoints young Jefferson Smith to fill the vacancy, despite or because of Smith's lack of political experience and thus lack of political know-how. Jeff is the model of patriotism: he recites Lincoln, and is head of the Boy Rangers. Most in the know know that Hopper is the political lackey of corrupt and powerful businessman Jim Taylor. What most do not know is that another of Taylor's political lackeys is the state's senior senator, the well respected Joseph Paine, who has White House aspirations. Opportunistic Hopper knew that, due to a previous attempt, he could not appoint anyone that Taylor recommended, but sees Smith as someone who Paine and thus Taylor can easily manipulate, especially important now as Paine, Taylor and Foley when he was alive had been working behind the political scenes to push through a dam project, all for their own personal gain, buried in a deficiency bill. When Smith arrives in Washington, he is seen as a naive lightweight and a country bumpkin by almost everyone with who he comes into contact, including the Washington press corps, his fellow senators, and even his secretary Clarissa Saunders - known professionally purely as Saunders - whose years working behind the political system, including being in the know about what her previous boss Foley and Paine were and are up to about the dam project, has made her a cynic. How Paine believes he can keep Smith out of trouble is for him to introduce a bill of his own into the house about an issue passionate to him. What Paine is initially unaware about is that what Smith proposes in his bill would place the dam project in jeopardy. Taylor and Paine have to decide how much hardball they will play to make Smith comply or in turn ruin him, while Smith will show if he has what it takes to play with the big boys on the senate floor. Smith may have some unexpected help from someone who has let Washington get the better of her.
Jeffrey Smith is a man who believes children are the future and deserve immediate funding for an outdoor camping experience. When Jeff, the idealistic Washington outsider, is appointed to be the new United States Senate, his plans now stand the chance at being fully realized. However, Jeff is appointed with the belief by others that his naïve and gullible nature will be easy to manipulate to get what they want. He soon realizes, after getting blind-sided by high-ranking officials, that he will need to - literally - stand by himself in an inspired fight against corruption and greed.
Through a series of fortunate, and unfortunate, events, an unsophisticated local hero, Jefferson Smith, is appointed a US Senator. The people pulling the strings in his party and State figure that he will be compliant and malleable and basically stay out of the way of their plans, some of which aren't entirely ethical, or legal. However, a well-intentioned deed sets off a dramatic chain of events, a series of events that will see him at odds with his colleagues, with the shadowy, bullying power brokers and with the entire Senate.
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- The governor of an unnamed western state, Hubert "Happy" Hopper (Guy Kibbee), has to pick a replacement for recently deceased U.S. Senator Sam Foley. His corrupt political boss, Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), pressures Hopper to choose his handpicked stooge, while popular committees want a reformer. The governor's children want him to select Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), the head of the Boy Rangers. Unable to make up his mind between Taylor's stooge and the reformer, Hopper decides to flip a coin. When it lands on edge and next to a newspaper story on one of Smith's accomplishments he chooses Smith, calculating that his wholesome image will please the people while his naïveté will make him easy to manipulate.
Smith is taken under the wing of the publicly esteemed, but secretly crooked, Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), who was Smith's late father's oldest and best friend, and he develops an immediate attraction to the senator's daughter, Susan (Astrid Allwyn). The unforgiving Washington press quickly labels Smith a bumpkin, with no business being a senator. Paine, to keep Smith busy, suggests he propose a bill.
Smith comes up with legislation that would authorize a federal government loan to buy some land in his home state for a national boys' camp, to be paid back by youngsters across America. Donations pour in immediately. However, the proposed campsite is already part of a dam-building graft scheme included in a Public Works bill framed by the Taylor political machine and supported by Senator Paine.
Unwilling to crucify the worshipful Smith so that their graft plan will go through, Paine tells Taylor he wants out, but Taylor reminds him that Paine is in power primarily through Taylor's influence. Through Paine, the machine accuses Smith of trying to profit from his bill by producing fraudulent evidence that Smith owns the land in question. Smith is too shocked by Paine's betrayal to defend himself, and runs away.
However, Smith's chief of staff, Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), has come to believe in him, and talks him into launching a filibuster to postpone the Works bill and prove his innocence on the Senate floor just before the vote to expel him. While Smith talks non-stop, his constituents try to rally around him, but the entrenched opposition is too powerful, and all attempts are crushed. Due to influence of the Taylor "machine", on his orders, newspapers and radio stations in Smith's home state refuse to report what Smith has to say and even twist the facts against the Senator. An effort by the Boy Rangers to spread the news results in vicious attacks on the children by Taylor's minions.
Although all hope seems lost, the senators begin to pay attention as Smith approaches utter exhaustion. Paine has one last card up his sleeve: he brings in bins of letters and telegrams from Smith's home state from people demanding his expulsion. Nearly broken by the news, Smith finds a small ray of hope in a friendly smile from the President of the Senate (Harry Carey). Smith vows to press on until people believe him, but immediately collapses in a faint. Overcome with guilt, Paine leaves the Senate chamber and attempts to kill himself with a gun. When he is stopped, he bursts back into the Senate chamber, loudly confesses to the whole scheme, and affirms Smith's innocence.