Last night I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) for the first time. Upon finishing it, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it sooner. The movie is seventy years old and just as relevant today.
I loved so much about this movie. I was sold fairly early on, when, upon arriving in Washington, Mr. Smith goes around the city, visiting the National Archives and monuments. When he announced he planned to take a trip out to Mount Vernon before starting his first day in the Senate, I was in love.
Congress could use a few Jefferson Smiths, I think: people who have principles and truly believe in them, who will stick to them no matter what, who remember the Declaration, Constitution, and the great men in our history. (Also, Hollywood could use a few Jimmy Stewarts.)
And so I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of the movie.
“Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask. Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see. There’s no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. . . . And it’s not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!”