Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Best Man

At the Democratic National Convention, two candidates have emerged as front-runners for their parties next presidential nominee: a time tested pragmatist (Henry Fonda) and a McCarthy-like tyrant (Cliff Robertson) whose thirst for the presidency knows no bounds. Soon the backroom deals for crucial endorsements and political backbiting begin, with damning oppositional evidence falling into both leading candidates hands. "The Best Man" is Gore Vidal's cynical adaptation of his satirical stage play, providing a seemingly behind closed doors account of the wicked ongoings of our electoral process. As expected, Fonda is excellent as the tried Senator and Robertson is no less his equal as his vicious rival.  The supporting cast is likewise excellent, with Lee Tracy as the current president, and Margaret Leighton and Edie Adams as the candidate's respective wives being particular standouts. Although the nastiness of today's political climate, and in particular betwixt the two lackluster nominees pandering your vote today, make the political jostling in this movie seem like a friendly round of golf, Vidal's script still demonstrates how the worst (though not in all cases) in human nature can be brought out of us through politics.