The Candidate

1972

Comedy / Drama

2
IMDb Rating 7.1

Synopsis


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110 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell ([email protected])

Michael Ritchie seems to have this thing for competition -- whetherdownhill racing, body building, water skiing, or, as here, politics.This isn&#x27;t my favorite human motive, besting other people, so this onecomes as a rather pleasant surprise, laden as it is with more socialand political content than the with the details of the quest. I mean --Redford doesn&#x27;t even want the office!<br><br>&#x22;The Candidate&#x22; has the appearance of a made-for-TV movie. The creditsare presented simply, as in a TV movies. There is no underscore but themusic that we hear consists of marches with lots of drums and sometimesone or two instruments hitting clinkers, as they would on a bandstandbehind a speaker.<br><br>The photography is highly colored and flat, as in a TV movie. Everybodyseems to be dressed in suits or riding costumes. They look overly madeup, freshly preened and pruned. They drive big new American cars andlive in splendidly arid modern homes. In short they appear to lead thekind of lives to which naive screenwriters aspire.<br><br>That out of the way, this is a pretty brave movie. It&#x27;s a story of aninnocent and blunt lawyer who become progressively corrupted during thecampaign as victory seems more nearly in his grasp and the grasp of hismanagers. They 86 his sideburns and give him a haircut and put him inexpensive suits. Girls love him because he displays such, well, suchRobert Redfordness. One guy belts him in the mouth at a rally and I canunderstand why. All men as handsome as Robert Redford should beillegal.<br><br>But he does a decent job in his minimal way. His forte lies in littlemoves, as when he cocks his head and says quizzically, &#x22;Eh&#x22;? Everybodyelse is quite good too, though his wife is mostly decorative. PeterBoyle is fine, and Allan Garfinkle is always believable as a cynicalscuzz. <br><br>You have to admire the way the script does not spare Redford&#x27;scharacter. He may be an idealist at first. What does he think ofabortion? &#x22;I&#x27;m for it.&#x22; How about property taxes. &#x22;I don&#x27;t know.&#x22; Bythe end of the movie he&#x27;s learned fluent politicospeak. How&#x27;s he feelabout busing? &#x22;You can&#x27;t solve the problems of this country with abus.&#x22; (Right.) He knows that he&#x27;s selling himself out but he wants toWIN. <br><br>As the campaign gets into high gear he&#x27;s late for a meeting with alabor leader, a grizzled Kenneth Toby given to smoking pinched littlecigarettes. Everybody in the room is wondering where Redford is, andhow he can treat an important man like Toby with such disrespect. Andwhere is he? We see the door to a hotel room open and there emerges agirl so gorgeous that if she were an escort instead of a groupie she&#x27;dbe extremely expensive. A few seconds later Redford comes out buttoninghis jacket.<br><br>Nothing much is made of this incident. Boyle watches this parade in thehallway, staring after the girl, but nobody says anything and the scenelasts for only a few seconds. And here is where Ritchie and the writersearn my respect. Think of how easily this very effective scene couldhave been demolished. Boyle stopping the groupie and demanding to knowwhat&#x27;s been going on. Boyle admonishing Redford for cheating on hiswife -- &#x22;If this ever gets out our goose is cooked!&#x22; Redford protestingthat his private life is his own business. <br><br>But none of this happens. Not in this scene or in any of the others inwhich a piece of character is revealed. Ritchie trusts in theperspicacity of the viewer. He shows us, because he doesn&#x27;t have totell us. He figures we&#x27;re smart enough to pick up this clues byourselves. Thank you, Mister Ritchie.<br><br>We should be grateful to the writer as well, and to Redford&#x27;simprovisational talents, when, alone in a car&#x27;s rear seat, half crazed,he mangles the stump speech he&#x27;s given a thousand times and comes upwith a hilarious parody: &#x22;The basic indifference that made this countrygreat.&#x22; <br><br>Also admirable is that the movie deals with specific issues --abortion, busing, unemployment, fire hazard, health concerns -- andRedford is the Democratic candidate while Don Porter is the Republicancandidate (imagine actually NAMING the political parties and riskinglosing half the audience).<br><br>Porter comes across like an actor, an old ham of an actor, which suitsthe part. He&#x27;s smooth and wily at seducing the public, a kind of DonJuan of the political arena. Ritchie has taken some real chances here.Porter comes up with something like, &#x22;Oh, sure, when I was a kid wewere all poor too. Why some of us didn&#x27;t even have our own SOCIALWORKER.&#x22; <br><br>It took guts to make this movie. And talent to make it so well.

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Reviewed by Malcolm Lawrence (Malcs) 10/10

Robert Redford, in one of his unjustly overlooked films from 1972, starsasa lawyer and the son of the former governor of the state of California inanelection year where the senatorial incumbent has no competition. PeterBoyleconvinces Redford to run, fully expecting and anticipating to lose,therefore being able to run on a platform of pure integrity to show howoutof touch the current senator has become. But suddenly the public realizesthat some fresh, younger blood with an idealistic eye might be what theytruly want rather than another in a long succession of terms by the sameoldhuckster.Melvyn Douglas also stars as Redford's father. Even though this film isalmost 30 years old, the Oscar-winning screenplay by Jeremy Larner showsjust how timeless the same old issues the candidate has to decide where hestands upon (abortion, the environment, health care) actually are. Thescript really is eye-opening, because it underlines very well the pointthateven if, say, Jesus Christ were to run for office today, what He would sayis not as important as how and when He'd say it. Directed by MichaelRitchie(Smile, The Bad News Bears, Semi-Tough), one of the few American directorswho has been able to successfully show the black humor of the strange,fetidunderbelly of competition in this society. Blink and you'll miss NatalieWood at a fund-raiser. Completely climatized to the Seventies, she lookslike Donovan's aide-de-camp.<br><br>

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Reviewed by Lee Eisenberg ([email protected]) 10/10

Robert Redford plays idealistic senate candidate Bill McKay. He'smainly running to bring certain political issues into the open,although he never actually plans to win. But as time goes by, herealizes that whether or not he wins, he might not be able to hold onto his values.<br><br>&quot;The Candidate&quot; is one of the many great movies about the world ofpolitics. It holds up as well today as it did in 1972 (maybe evenbetter). Redford gives a solid performance, as does Peter Boyle ascampaign manager Marvin Lucas. One of the most insightful scenes is thedebate between McKay and his opponent about the issues. A great moviein every way. Look for appearances by Natalie Wood, Groucho Marx, andHoward K. Smith.

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