From the opening prologue to a surprise scene at the end, this film is loaded with laughter. "The Senator Was Indiscreet" is one of the funniest movies of all time – and the zaniest political satire ever put on film. It pokes fun at an uncritical American public that so willingly buys the malarkey. It seems as timely today as it was in 1947.
The film isn't confined to politics. It pokes fun at many things in public life. Every scene is packed with satire or mockery of some sort. Every line makes us laugh at something. Besides politics, it spoofs business, labor, advertising, the news media, professional sports, foreign affairs, communism, and government in general.
Nunnally Johnson, one of Hollywood's wittiest talents, produced the film. George Kaufman directed it, bringing two decades of experience in making some of the great comedy films of Hollywood. The cast leads were particularly suited for their roles.
After watching William Powell as "United States Senator Melvin G. Ashton" from a key state, I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. Powell's persona in the part is unique. He isn't a buffoon, although his ideas are ridiculous. He knows what's going on, yet he's so naïve. He's not mean, but he can be conniving. He speaks well, yet he seems so uninformed. He can be uppity, and he can be down to earth. And he's all of these to our delight. He's the perfect picture of a pompous windbag and dimwit.
Peter Lind Hayes is little remembered today as an actor, but he is perfect in the part of Lew Gibson. His advertising background and public relations experience give him his assured air of confidence. His demeanor is just right for the part. Ray Collins is very good as Fred Houlihan, the political party honcho who is the overseer behind the scenes. In real life his character most likely would be more domineering. Ella Raines is superb as "one of the most talented female New York reporters" – Poppy McNaughton.
All of the rest of the supporting cast are wonderful in their roles. Arleen Whelan is Valerie Shepherd, Allen Jenkins is Farrell, Hans Conried is the waiter. Whit Bissell is Oakes, and the Native Americans in the cast play Indians with some witty lines and scenes.
This movie is a treasured part of my film library of satire. It was deserving of Academy Award nominations and honors. But since the early years of WW II, no comedies were nominated for top Oscars until 1950. And, 1947 was a year with many outstanding films. The competition was so tough, that the feature film Oscars were split between a dozen movies. There might also have been some concern because, at the time, one political party had been in power in the U.S. for 15 years. Still, William Powell won the New York Film Critics Circle Award as best actor for 1947. This film is so jam-packed with humor, that I'll end my comments with some samples. See many more lines of hilarious dialog in the Quotes section of this IMDb film Web page.
Poppy, "I'm just going to quote him accurately, that's all." Lew, "That's unfair, Poppy. You can't go 'round quoting politicians accurately. That's dirty journalism and you know it."
Fred, "And another thing. What's the big idea of telling those reporters you're not a candidate for the nomination? Mel, "Because I'm not." Fred, "Then stop denying it. No member of the party has a right to deny that he's a candidate unless he is a candidate."
Lew, "Boss, I was in the advertising business once, so believe me. If you can sell the American public that one cigarette is different from another, that one tooth paste is better than another, you can sell them anything, even Mel Ashton."
Mel, "There's one thing you can't say about me, Fred. I have never put one man or one woman on the public payroll who was not my own blood kin .. or Mrs. Ashton's, anyway."
Mel, "Owning a nice little diary is like owning a nice little atom bomb. Even if you never do anything with it, it's a comfort just to know it's there. Good night."
Newspaper headline: "Ashton to Fight Tooth and Nail Against Being Made President."
Mel, speaking at the party convention, "The first plan in my platform is to get me in the White House. Two, Social Security -- $200 a week for every man, woman and child in this country, from the date of birth until the date of death, inclusive. Three – Veteran's Relief – Twice what any other candidate offers. Four – Old Age Insurance. No old age insurance. We must economize somewhere. But, at the age of 45, every American citizen who has ever paid an income tax shall have the entire amount that he has paid – every penny of it – refunded to him, with interest. Five – education. The United States government should send every man, woman and child in this country through Harvard."
Campaign rally banner, "Ashton is against inflation, against deflation, FOR flation."
Mel, speaking at a Labor Temple, "But why stop at a five-day week for seven days' pay? This is a rich country. Why not a three-day week and for eight days pay?" Then, the next scene at a Bankers Club, "The time has come for management to take a firm stand. Now, in the Ashton labor control bill, I propose an eight-day week for a two-day pay."
Fred, "Are you the house dick?" Farrell, "House officer. We're trying to get away from vulgarities."
Mel, "I wasn't going to jump. Just trying to get a little fresh air. Dumb flatfoot!" Ferrell, "I'm sorry, senator. We've lost so many guests that way, I guess I'm getting a little jump-minded."
Mel, "Where's that 28th floor waiter? That communist?"
1 out of 1 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.