7.7/10
2,651
43 user 25 critic

The Best Man (1964)

The two front runners for their party's presidential nomination, one principled and the other ruthless, vie for the former President's endorsement.

Director:

Franklin J. Schaffner (as Franklin Schaffner)

Writer:

Gore Vidal (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... William Russell
Cliff Robertson ... Joe Cantwell
Edie Adams ... Mabel Cantwell
Margaret Leighton ... Alice Russell
Shelley Berman ... Sheldon Bascomb
Lee Tracy ... President Art Hockstader
Ann Sothern ... Sue Ellen Gamadge
Gene Raymond ... Don Cantwell
Kevin McCarthy ... Dick Jensen
Mahalia Jackson ... Mahalia Jackson
Howard K. Smith ... Howard K. Smith
John Henry Faulk ... Gov. T.T. Claypoole
Richard Arlen ... Sen. Oscar Anderson
Penny Singleton ... Mrs. Claypoole (scenes deleted)
George Kirgo George Kirgo ... Speechwriter
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Storyline

Intellectual William Russell and down-to-earth Joe Cantwell are front runners for a party nomination that will almost certainly mean the Presidency. Cantwell is prepared to use anything to achieve his goal while Russell sees himself as a man of principle - though his philandering means he is relieved his wife is prepared to appear alongside him. Both men crucially need the support of the ailing President, and as the stakes become higher each team has to decide how dirty they are prepared to get. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Best Man is Dynamite See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 June 1964 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Kandidat See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Millar/Turman Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released about four years after its source stage play of the same name written by Gore Vidal had been first performed on stage in 1960. Vidal also penned the screenplay for this filmed adaptation. See more »

Goofs

During the roll call, the chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation begins his announcement by saying "Mr Chairman, the State of Pennsylvania....". Pennsylvania is actually a Commonwealth, and any leading politician would refer to it as such. See more »

Quotes

President Art Hockstader: Oh, there have been moments when I've questioned your methods.
Joe Cantwell: Well, you got to fight fire with fire, Mr. President.
President Art Hockstader: And the end justifies the means, huh?
Joe Cantwell: Yes, I believe that.
President Art Hockstader: Well, son, I got news for you about both politics and life. And may I say the two are exactly the same? There are no ends, Joe, only means.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, a picture of every single U.S. President appears in order, from George Washington to Lyndon Johnson. See more »

Connections

Featured in The 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The more politics changes the more it remain the same..
9 September 2006 | by Falkenberg2006See all my reviews

I work at a movie theatre and in a time of one-week wonders ( yes, one film with an action star lasted 3 days in our chain !) it is refreshing to see a film again where the acting is good and the story keeps your interest.

I am watching this movie after not seeing it for 30 years. It made an impression on me and I started listening to both Gore Vidal and William F Buckley because of it.

Henry Fonda's character is clearly based on Adlai Stevenson. Cliff Robertson echoes Richard Nixon so much it is scary. His arrogance is such that he gives the former President orders !

People decried the smoke-filled room politics of this era but I wonder if we got better leaders back then. They seemed to make decisions based on the courage of their convictions and not what the latest poll says. Fonda's character comments on his ignoring polls, whereas now, politicians can't seem to brush their teeth without worrying about public opinion and not what is best for the country.

The actors in this movie didn't need special effects and could ACT unlike so many of the baby-faced wanna-bes of today.

This movie reflects sex, immorality, infidelity, integrity. God and judgement day are even mentioned, something that is anathema today. And what's shown in here shows that times change but one could replace current politicians for these actors and see them immediately.

Lee Tracy is great in this movie and it could be easily watched for just his performance.

Of note, is the glad-handing by William Russell at a public pool. No security guards, no secret service people.

And mention of a nervous breakdown by Fonda's character. Remember Thomas Eagleton?

If you haven't seen this movie, see it and Seven Days In May afterward. It will give you an idea of how poliiics was looked upon in a totally different era.

George Senda Concord, Ca.


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