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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Best Man (1964)

Set during the convention of an unspecified political party which will elect its presidential candidate, two different candidates face off for the party's nomination. A cerebral pundit (Henry Fonda) and a "man of the people" (Cliff Robertson). They loathe each other and each has something they can use against the other in order to get the presidential bid. Directed by Oscar winner Franklin Schaffner (PATTON) with a screenplay by Gore Vidal (based on his play), the plot is contrived with each character a straw man for Vidal's agenda rather than any recognizable human being. They stand and they prattle on, pontificating on this and that. That being said, fifty years later and it still stings with truth, politics as dirty now as it was then. The performances vary. Cliff Robertson, Edie Adams are very good and Lee Tracy (in an Oscar nominated performance) something more than that. Alas Fonda is dull as usual, poor Margaret Leighton as his wife hasn't much to do but Shelley Berman as a snitch from Robertson's past is appallingly awful. His performance is shocking in its ineptitude. With Ann Sothern, Kevin McCarthy, Gene Raymond, Richard Arlen and Anne Newman.

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