Sunday, November 4, 2012

Advise and Consent

In 2000, Rod Lurie released The Contender. The film revolved around the somewhat controversial nomination of a vice president candidate and the highly publicized confirmation hearings that would follow. It was a very well-received film, especially since it was an original idea.

Rewind thirty-eight years earlier, and you'll see that Otto Preminger had beaten Lurie to the punch on the subject. Of course knowing the period Preminger's film Advise and Consent was made in, the thing Robert Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) is accused of was dabbling in communism rather than a string of illicit affairs. (I suppose that was the norm back in the day.) That's one of a few things that make the film dated and somewhat flawed.

Knowing that this is a film directed by Preminger, there is bound to be a risky subject as a focal point. (Previous examples include drug abuse in The Man with the Golden Arm and rape in Anatomy of a Murder.) For Advise and Consent, the subject in question is homosexuality. However, it's treated more as a subtheme rather than a main one. Again, another flaw.

The cast is one for the ages. Along with Fonda, the names include Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray (in a role that's very much a far cry from Bus Stop), Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney, Franchot Tone, Lew Ayres and Burgess Meredith. (Also keep your eyes peeled for a young Betty White as a senator.) They're all great, especially Murray.

Advise and Consent is the best film of Preminger's career (that honor goes to Laura) but it's one of them. Released in a year filled with great titles, this seems like a minor blip on the film radar. Still, it's worth a look.

My Rating: ****1/2

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