The Best Man

The Best Man

DVD - 2010
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Story of two candidates for their party's presidential nomination. One is an intellectual with a sense of morality, the other an opportunist who would win at all costs. The deciding factor is the endorsement of the out-going president who thrives on political in-fighting and deplores indecision.


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Dec 21, 2017

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner in 1964 with a screenplay by Gore Vidal based on his play of the same title, this political drama delves into the dark side of the American politics.
In May 1964, former Secretary of State William Russell (Henry Fonda) and Senator Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) are the two leading candidates for the presidential nomination of an unspecified political party.
Both have potentially fatal vulnerabilities.
Protagonist Russell is based on Adlai Stevenson while Cantwell on Richard Nixon and the former president Hockstader on Harry S. Truman.
Cantwell is a ruthless opportunist, willing to go to any lengths to get the nomination.
Neither believes his rival qualified to be president.
Hockstader despises Cantwell but appreciates his toughness and willingness to do what it takes.
Cantwell attacks Russell with illegally obtained psychological reports.
It is a disgusting yet fascinating political drama.

Since this year we will see a brokered Republican Convention, this movie is a timely treat. THE BEST MAN tells the story of an Adlai Stevensonesque presidential aspirant, played impeccably by Henry Fonda, battling a Joe McCarthy type, played equally impeccably by Cliff Robertson, for the nomination at their party convention. This film is well written and looks great, but what will really knock your socks off is how little our political rhetoric has shifted in half a century.

Mar 30, 2014

since Bubba_Louie earlier here expertly covered all the bases on this movie, I'll simply second everything he said, but add that, to my mind, Shelley Berman, out of all the stellar performances here, steals the show as Sheldon Bascomb, the cringing opportunist, Oscar worthy

Feb 24, 2014

Hail, Dirty Politics! - And may the best man win!

Released in 1964 - It was on account of Cliff Robertson (one of my favorite actors of the 1960s) that I decided to watch The Best Man. And, after the show was all over, I was certainly very impressed by both Robertson's powerful performance, and by the riveting intensity of this first-rate political drama.

Filmed in b&w, The Best Man's story is set in sunny Los Angeles, during a huge political convention, where the 5 delegates running for the office of U.S. President meet (along with their many, many supporters) to see which one of them will be the victorious winner in this race for the most-coveted of all positions.

The two reigning front-runners in this "winner-takes-all" campaign, Joe Cantwell (played by Cliff Robertson) and William Russell (played by Henry Fonda), square-off for a literal political showdown where each man is vying to gain the all-important endorsement from the present U.S. President, Art Hocksteader.

With its top-notch cast, its superb direction by Franklin Schaffner, and its scathing screenplay penned by Gore Vidal, I'd confidently rate The Best Man (now 50 years old) as one of the best political dramas ever made.


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