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USA 1962
Directed by
Otto Preminger
142 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Advise & Consent

Although Henry Fonda gets top billing in this political drama as Robert Leffingwell, a controversial nomination for Secretary of State, he actually has very little to do, with co-star Charles Laughton as the silver-tongued Southern Senator Seabright "Seb" Cooley carrying the bulk of the dramatic load. As usual Laughton’s mannered performance (this was his last, he died later the same year, a mere 63) steals every scene with Walter Pidgeon commendable as the patrician Senate Majority Leader, the even-handed backroom broker charged with task of keeping the wolves from the door of the President (Franchot Tone) during a McCarthyite investigation into his chosen man.

As an exposé of political dirty dealings, by today’s standards the film is relatively benign in its view of politics, restrained in its attitude and dated particularly in its handling of the gay fling of Utah Senator Brigham Anderson (Don Murray) as well as the presence of Cooley’s old-school rhetorician,  rather than being a harbinger of what was to come only a few years later (it was based on Allan Drury's 1959 novel Advise And Consent; which spent 93 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list).

Notwithstanding, it is still a film that engages for its performances and critical agenda. Although stylistically the difference is considerable, morally it is but a short journey from here to Watergate and All The President's Men (1976)




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