The Best Man View large image
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Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Produced: 1964

Countries & Regions: United States

DVD Details

Certificate: PG

Studio: Simply Media

Length: 98 mins

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 23 February 2015

Cat No: 163463

Extras:
Languages(s): English
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The Best Man

Cast: Margaret Leighton , Henry Fonda , Kevin McCarthy , Cliff Robertson , Ann Sothern , Edie Adams , Gene Raymond , Shelley Berman , Lee Tracy

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Oscar-nominated drama based on the slyly subversive play by Gore Vidal. The film is set in the months leading up to a presidential... Read More

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Oscar-nominated drama based on the slyly subversive play by Gore Vidal. The film is set in the months leading up to a presidential election and stars Henry Fonda as one of five presidential candidates who are willing to do anything to gain an advantage over their fellow contenders. Cliff Robertson stars as Joe Cantwell, another likely candidate and Lee Tracy plays outgoing President, Art Hockstader.
In 1964, audiences watching this adaptation of Gore Vidal's scathing Broadway assault on the Washington élite would have readily understood the jibes at the leading figures on the American political scene.

The names may not be so familiar today, but the horse trading that Vidal exposes around the nominating convention remains recognisable, as does the emphasis on personality over principle and policy. Consequently, five decades on, Franklin J. Schaffner's drama remains sharp and compelling, as well as erudite and eminently entertaining.

Henry Fonda's principled candidate (modelled on Adlai Stevenson) has skeletons in his closet regarding mental fragility and a recent affair. Brash rival Cliff Robertson and his ambitious brother, Gene Raymond (based on John and Bobby Kennedy) are quite prepared to use skullduggery to secure the support of ex-president Lee Tracy (recalling Harry S. Truman) and win the prize.

The bargaining in the corridors of power is slickly presented, but Schaffner captures the fizzing convention speculation and paranoia with even greater acuity. The performances are exemplary and it's only a shame Fonda and Roberton didn't get to go head to head more often. And, how different it might have been if Vidal hadn't vetoed Frank Capra's appointment as director.

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