I couldn’t help but notice that Rocky and Mr. Smith have many similarities. They’re both sort of quirky, down to earth characters associated with the “people” and they are both offered a one in a million chance to do something big. Both characters are firm believers in the American Dream and regardless of all the terrible things that go on around them, they never stop believing. In both cases there is still the possibility that things can be fixed and get better. The images of Mr. Smith goes to Washington were a bit more cliche (that’s really saying something because Rocky can be pretty cliche as well), but one has to keep in mind that what is cliche to us now was perhaps not so much in 1939. Mr. Smith is a lot more blatant in portraying it’s ideas. I tried to figure out the definition of a Great American in the film. Clearly Mr. Smith is the embodiment and I came up with these descriptions:
-Knowledgeable of American History
– A Hero (save lives!)
-Takes advantage of freedom of speech (he has his own paper)
-Interest in the youth
-Fight for lost causes
-Poor (AKA uncorrupted)
-Simple (small town/working class)
Also, I noticed that one of the major differences between Mr. Smith and the corrupt politicians was their physical builds. All of the politicians are short and fat and rather unhealthy looking. Mr. Smith is tall and strong and healthy looking. Then there’s Senator Paine, who is kind of in the middle of these two physiques and likewise is corrupt, but he wasn’t always.
I took out a few quotes that I thought were particularly powerful about some of the ideas in the movie:
Mr. Smith to Saunders, “For a woman you’ve done awfully well.” I think that the movie supports the traditional female role in some ways, but also it breaks it. Mr. Smith’s success is mainly due to Saunders. She was really the one who manipulated the senate to achieve justice.
Sen. Paine to Taylor, “He’s honest, not stupid.” It’s striking how often these seem to get confused…
“You’re half-way decent. You don’t belong here.” I think this was Saunders to Mr. Smith, but regardless the message is clear that America (that is the government) is losing sight of the original American ideals.