Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Director: Frank Capra | Genre: Comedy, Drama
Released: 1939 | Runtime: 129 min
A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.
Stars of this Movie
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Quotes
[ the filibuster begins ]
President of Senate : The Chair recognizes... Senator Smith!
Jefferson Smith : Thank you, sir.
Clarissa Saunders : Diz, here we go.
Jefferson Smith : Well, I guess the gentlemen are in a pretty tall hurry to get me out of here. The way the evidence has piled up against me, I can't say I blame them much. And I'm quite willing to go, sir, when they vote it that way - but before that happens I've got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before, and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not going to leave this body until I do get them said.
Senator Joseph Paine : Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
President of Senate : Will the Senator yield?
Jefferson Smith : No, sir, I'm afraid not, no sir. I yielded the floor once before, if you can remember, and I was practically never heard of again. No sir. And we might as well all get together on this yielding business right off the bat, now. [ laughter from the gallery ]
Jefferson Smith : Now, I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege, that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a piece to speak, and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it.
Senator Joseph Paine : Will the Senator yield?
President of Senate : Will Senator Smith yield?
Jefferson Smith : Yield how, sir?
Senator Joseph Paine : Will he yield for a question?
Jefferson Smith : For a question, all right.
Senator Joseph Paine : I wish to ask my distinguished colleague, has he one scrap of evidence to add now to the defense he did not give and could not give at that same hearing?
Jefferson Smith : I have no defense against forged papers!
Senator Joseph Paine : The Committee ruled otherwise! The gentleman stands guilty, as charged. And I believe I speak for every member when I say that no one cares to hear what a man of his condemned character has to say about any section of any legislation before this House.
President of Senate : Order, order, gentlemen.
Jefferson Smith : Mr. President, I stand guilty as FRAMED! Because section 40 is graft! And I was ready to say so, I was ready to tell you that a certain man in my state, a Mr. James Taylor, wanted to put through this dam for his own profit. A man who controls a political machine! And controls everything else worth controlling in my state. Yes, and a man even powerful enough to control Congressmen - and I saw three of them in his room the day I went up to see him!
Senator Joseph Paine : Will the Senator yield?
Jefferson Smith : No, sir, I will not yield! And this same man, Mr. James Taylor, came down here and offered me a seat in this Senate for the next 20 years if I voted for a dam that he knew, and I knew, was a fraud. But if I dared to open my mouth against that dam, he promised to break me in two.
[ after all the other Senators walk out ]
Jefferson Smith : Oh, Mr. President, we seem to be alone. I, I'm not complaining for a social reason; it's just, I think it'd be a pity if these gentlemen missed any of this, and... [ Clarissa starts waving from the visitors gallery, and making hand signals ]
Jefferson Smith : And, uh... [ he grabs the rule book ]
Jefferson Smith : I, I call the chair's attention to... to, uh... Rule 5 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, Section... Section 3. "If it shall be found that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present" - and that looks like me - uh, uh, "may direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to request, and if necessary compel, the attendance of the absent Senators." Well, Mr. President, I so direct.
Diz Moore : [ dictating into phone ] In protest, the whole Senate body rose and walked out.
Clarissa Saunders : No! No, not that straight stuff. Now listen, kick it up, get on his side, fight for him! Understand?
Diz Moore : You love this monkey - don't you?
Clarissa Saunders : What do you think? Now listen, go to work. Do as I tell you.
Diz Moore : [ into phone ] Throw out that last, take this. This is the most titanic battle of modern times. A David without even a slingshot rises to do battle against the mighty Goliath, the Taylor machine, allegedly crooked inside and out. Yeah, and for my money, you can cut out the "allegedly."
Clarissa Saunders: They're not letting what Jeff says get printed in the state. Now if I give you a raft of it over the phone, can you print it up and spread a billion copies? Swell! Get ready to take this down, Mrs. Smith.
Ma Smith: Boys, everything about Jeff, get pencils and paper.
Clarissa Saunders: Alright, here we go.
Ma Smith: All ready, Clarissa.
Clarissa Saunders: She called me Clarissa. Okay Ma! JEFF TELLS TRUTH, SHOWS UP TAYLOR!
Jefferson Smith: You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.
Jefferson Smith: Boy, you should have been there!
Clarissa Saunders: I know, it was a wonderful party, and your suit went over big, and she looked beautiful, and when you left she said, Thank you, Mr. Smith, but it was the way she said it, you nearly fell through the floor. Horseradish!
Senator Joseph Paine: He can raise public opinion against us - if any part of this sticks...
James Taylor: Aah, he'll never get started. I'll make public opinion out there within five hours! I've done it all my life. I'll blacken this punk so that he'll - You leave public opinion to me. Now, Joe, I think you'd better go back into the Senate and keep those Senators lined up.
Jefferson Smith : You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that.