Monday, January 2, 2012

Advise & Consent

The Secretary of State has just died and the President (Franchot Tone) wishes to have his replacement appointment Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) swiftly confirmed by the Senate. This is not to be as the confirmation hearing becomes a battleground as senior and junior senators from both sides (Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, George Grizzard) and the Vice President (Lew Ayres) get caught up in the nasty business of politics. "Advise & Consent" is an adaptation of Allan Drury's Pulitzer Prize winning political novel which was directed Otto Preminger. The film is rigorous and measured and watching it I was reminded of his classic "Anatomy of a Murder". Where that was a dissection of a murder trial here we have a sharp analysis of a confirmation process, which shows us the inns and outs of the Senate floor and the backroom dealings. The cast is excellent with Laughton in a flashy role and Fonda strong, but surprising taking on a secondary role. Among the supporters, Tone and Ayres are fine as the President and Veep, and Murray turns in fine work as a moral Senator forced to face the skeltons in his closet (this homosexual subplot seems brazen for its time). "Advise & Consent" measured pace may turn away some viewers, but I found it to be an engrossing depiction of the political process.