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The Best Man

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Overview

Gore Vidal adapted his biting and bitter political satire from his hit Broadway play. Franklin J. Schaffner directed and Haskell Wexler provided the sharp-edged cinematography. The story concerns the political back-biting and smear politics involved in a presidential election year scramble by potential presidential party nominees. Lee Tracy in an Oscar-nominated performance and his final screen role is Art Hockstader, a dying president who refuses to throw his support behind any of his party's presidential ...
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Overview

Gore Vidal adapted his biting and bitter political satire from his hit Broadway play. Franklin J. Schaffner directed and Haskell Wexler provided the sharp-edged cinematography. The story concerns the political back-biting and smear politics involved in a presidential election year scramble by potential presidential party nominees. Lee Tracy in an Oscar-nominated performance and his final screen role is Art Hockstader, a dying president who refuses to throw his support behind any of his party's presidential hopefuls. Hoping to get the nod as the party's presidential candidate is liberal do-gooder William Russell Henry Fonda. His wife Alice Margaret Leighton wants to get a divorce from Russell but is delaying the divorce proceedings until after the party convention. Opposing Russell for the nomination is Joe Cantwell Cliff Robertson, a slick and unscrupulous political monster who will use any bit of dirt to get ahead in the party. When he discovers that Russell once suffered from mental problems, he threatens to use it against him. Russell then finds out that Cantwell once had a homosexual relationship. Russell, who abhors smear politics, now has to decide whether to use the information against Cantwell or bury the secret and risk losing the nomination.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Best Man was writer Gore Vidal's liberal counterpoint to Allen Drury's conservative Advise and Consent. Both stories hinge on the potential for blackmail in the political arena, specifically in regard to homosexual relationships. Vidal's dialogue is sharp and insightful, and the film features superb performances from Henry Fonda, Lee Tracy, and Cliff Robertson. Director Franklin J. Schaffner carefully underplays key moments to build toward the film's dramatic payoff. Much of the film's brooding atmosphere is courtesy of Haskell Wexler's expressive black & white cinematography. Both Best Man and Advise represented a small but important step away from the film industry's self-censorship, resulting in the abandonment of the Hays Code and the establishment of the MPAA ratings system. Though Hollywood was still years away from presenting realistic portrayals of gay men, any overt reference at all to homosexuality was unusual in a film of the early 1960s.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/15/2011
  • UPC: 883904219293
  • Original Release: 1964
  • Source: Mgm Mod
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:42:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 18,063

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda William Russell
Cliff Robertson Joe Cantwell
Edie Adams Mabel Cantwell
Margaret Leighton Alice Russell
Shelley Berman Sheldon Bascomb
Lee Tracy Art Hockstader
Ann Sothern Mrs. Gamadge
Gene Raymond Dan Cantwell
Kevin McCarthy Dick Jensen
John Henry Faulk T.T. Claypoole
Richard Arlen Oscar Anderson
Penny Singleton Mrs. Claypoole
George Kirgo Speechwriter
George Furth Tom
H.E. West Sen. Lazarus
Natalie Masters Mrs. Anderson
Tyler McVey Chairman
Sherwood Keith Doctor
Mahalia Jackson Herself
Howard K. Smith Himself
Marie Blake Cleaning woman
Mary Lawrence Mrs. Merwin
Michael MacDonald Zealot
Anne Newman Janet
Bill Stout Himself
Technical Credits
Franklin J. Schaffner Director
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Mort Lindsey Score Composer
Richard Mansfield Set Decoration/Design
Stuart Millar Producer
Richard Moder Asst. Director
Jack Soloman Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Swink Editor
Lawrence Turman Producer
Gore Vidal Screenwriter
Haskell Wexler Cinematographer
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    A great example of how history repeats itself.

    The Best Man is an excellent movie that depicts what politics was like in the 60's and how it really hasn't changed. I recently took a mini course that compared the political maneuverings in both State of the Union and The Best Man. Things hadn't changed between those two movies either. The cast gives very plausible portrayals. I think it's one of Henry Fonda's best. Cliff Robertson was equally talented. Edie Adams showed a side of her we didn't see on The Ernie Kovacs Show.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews