Featurette from the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I've been looking forward to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer and, so, my mind has been on movies of late. Some folks are complaining that Lincoln is sacrosanct. I have teacher collegues who suggest the book and the movie border on some level of blasphemy. Now, I have an immense appreciation of Lincoln; while Madison is my mancrush, I acknowledge that Abe is probably the best president we've ever had. But ... its a piece of fiction and a movie. 'Nuff said.
I got to thinking the other day what I considered the best 'patriotic' movies out there. Now, I'm not talking about the "America: Love it or Leave it" variety. Some of the movies I came up with aren't even American. The shadow side of patriotism is nationalism. Nationalism is stuff of the Third Reich and empire building and I blanche every time I hear someone belching out some variant of 'love it or leave it'. Patriotism is a love for my country which doesn't dimish your love of yours. Think Olympics. Think the Queen's Jubilee. Think Fourth of July.
So, over the next ten days or so, I thought I'd offer my favorite movies of that vein. Not scientific. Not comprehensive. Not even in any particular order. If you have a movie you want to suggest, please please please do.
My first selection is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Not a surprise to anyone who knows me. I love its honesty. Politicians and the Washington establishment aren't portrayed nicely. It's Frank Capra at his best. Better than Its a Wonderful Life. Better than Arsenic and Old Lace (my wife will probably argue with me on this point). As good as It Happened One Night.
This clip is probably my favorite of the movie. My heart ends up in my throught everytime I see it.
Yes, Mr. Smith is sappy some 75 years later. It was sappy then too. But Stewart's performance is pitch perfect and he is the politician every other tries to emulate on the campaign trail. Aw shucks and idealistic; a straight shooter looking out for the 'kids'; scrappy and willing to take on the big guns.
The movie is also incredibly funny and well written. Jean Arthur as Sen. Smith's secretary is wonderful. Claude Rains as the corrupted senator is excellent as well. It was also controversial in it release in 1939. Many thought it portrayed America politicians as too corrupt and America in a moral freefall. It is also one of the "Class of 1939"--the number of movies which became iconic in their own rights is impressive: The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Stagecoach to name a few.
Next time: possibly the best sports movie ever made.