Reel/Real Impact: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Frank Capra’s 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), starring Jimmy Stewart, had a huge impact on viewers, both at the time and of later generations.

Senator George McGovern wrote in a letter, dated February 6, 1974: “The Capra film definitely helped to awaken my early interest in our national government.”  McGovern was the Democrats Presidential Candidate in 1972, running against Richard Nixon, who won a second term.

Legendary composer Leonard Bernstein stated: “The film was a turning point in my life. In a way, that had not happened in school. After the film, I experienced a revelatory insight into the nature of democracy, one that has never faded.”