Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
Countries & Regions: United States
Studio: Simply Media
Length: 98 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 23 February 2015
Cat No: 163463
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The Best Man
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
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.