Kino Eye: dirty work in US politics

Submitted by AWL on 13 October, 2020 - 3:07 Author: John Cunningham
The Best Man

A film about the US elections seems only appropriate, and there’s much to choose from. In The Best Man (Frank J. Schaffner, 1964), liberal candidate William Russell (Henry Fonda) is up against loud-mouthed populist Joe Cantwell (based on Richard Nixon — actor Cliff Robertson) for the Presidential nomination of an unnamed party. There is much “dirty work at the crossroads”. Cantwell illegally obtains a psychiatric report on Russell and threatens to expose him. Russell hears evidence that Cantwell is a closet homosexual but he refuses to use this against him. Eventually, Russell withdraws and releases his delegates. They vote for outsider Governor John Merwin, who wins the nomination.

This was the first time that the word “homosexual” was ever used in a mainstream US film.

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