The Best Man (1964) Film Review A+

The Best Man

This 1964 American political drama, beautifully directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (his most significant achievement), is adapted by Gore Vidal from his 1960 play of the same title. The film boasts three outstanding performances:

Henry Fonda as former Secretary of State and presidential candidate William Russell.

Cliff Robertson as Senator and presidential candidate Joe Cantwell.

Lee Tracy as former President Art Hockstader (Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor).

The action unfolds at the nominating convention center in Los Angeles. Neither Fonda’s Russell nor Robertson’s Cantwell can stand each other, and neither believes his rival qualifies to be president. Both desperately lobby for the support of the dying former president Hockstader, who prefers Russell but worries about his indecision and principles. He despises Cantwell but appreciates his toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes.

Both Fonda (who had just played a similar but more ambiguous role in Advice and Consent” in 1962) and Robertson are superb (I think it’s Robertson’s best performance). In his last film, pre-code Warner Bros. stalwart Tracy made a stunning return to the screen and was rewarded with a well-deserved Oscar Nomination.

With Margaret Leighton as Mrs. Russell and Edie Adams as Mrs. Cantwell.

The gorgeous black-and-white cinematography of a spectacularly clean and futuristic Los Angeles is by the master Haskell Wexler.


on Twitter

Popular Articles

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review    B+

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review B+

Hume Cronyn and John Randolph are our happy and well-adjusted gay couple. Yes, they fight and bicker all the time. However, they are clearly madly in love with each other.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review  A+

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review A+

In “Kind Hearts and Coronets”: Alec Guinness has fun playing all eight (or nine) of the unfortunate D’Ascoynes, including Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne. The photograph shows Dennis Price with Joan Greenwood who plays that little minx Sibella.

Subscribe for the latest reviews right in your inbox!