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Advise and Consent

Franchot Tone , Lew Ayres , Otto Preminger    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Otto Preminger expanded his vision in the 1960s with a whole series of ambitious, expansive dramas with huge casts and big themes. Advise and Consent, an examination of deal making, party politics, and congressional diplomacy in Washington's legislative halls (based on the novel by Allen Drury), is one of his best. Preminger broke the blacklist with his previous film, Exodus, and it rings through in this drama about a controversial nominee for secretary of state (a confident, stately Henry Fonda) accused of being a Communist. The nomination process becomes the center ring of the political circus, with fidgety accuser Burgess Meredith in the spotlight; devious, silver-tongued Charles Laughton cracking the whip as a southern senator with a grudge against Fonda; and party whip Walter Pidgeon lining up votes behind the scenes. Arm twisting and diplomatic hardball turns to perjury and blackmail, and a melodramatic twist gives this lesson in party politics a salacious soap opera dimension. Preminger's style has been hailed as "objective," but it's really a matter of attentiveness: he gives all the character their due and their say, eschewing heroes and villains for an exploration of people clashing over opposing goals. In fact, the weakest elements of the film are the unscrupulous populist senator played by George Grizzard and the badly dated caricatures that populate a notorious underground club. The video preserves the handsome widescreen black-and-white photography, keeping Preminger's careful and measured editing intact. --Sean Axmaker

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Advise and Consent is really quite a remarkable film. You'd have to search high and low to find a higher-caliber cast, the script's behind-the-scenes look at the reality of politics remains just a relevant today as it was in 1962, and the whole presentation is just flawless. Heck, even Peter Lawford's good in this movie. That Otto Preminger really knew what he was doing; the man still doesn't get all the credit he deserves. I think he must have had his own super-secret superior cameras because the clarity and overall video quality of this film is beyond amazing. This thing looks sharper and better than most movies being churned out today.

The basic premise of the film is rather simple. The President has nominated a controversial man to become Secretary of State, dropping the nomination like a little bomb on his own party and thus setting the stage for a good bit of ugliness in the Senate - with most of the trouble coming from the President's own majority party. On one end, there's a brash, still-wet-behind-the-ears primadonna who wants to use the media attention to make a name for himself; on the other end is an old curmudgeon of the Senate who opposes the nominee largely for personal reasons. The minority party (led by none other than Will "Grandpa Walton" Geer) pretty much sits back and enjoys the show- but this isn't fun and games, at all. The nominee faces charges that he was at one time a Communist, and the back alley manipulations of unscrupulous Senators push the chairman of the relevant subcommittee to the breaking point. The politics of this era played out in exaggeratedly civil terms, but deep down it was just as ugly as anything you'll see today on the floor of the Senate, where civility has quite disappeared.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "C'mon in! Don't just stand there!" July 30 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Talk about an all-star cast: when Otto Preminger brought Allan Drury's epic study of a Senate confirmation of a morally ambiguous nominee for Secretary of State, he got just about everyone in Hollywood to participate. Though the best roles go to Charles Laughton as a manipulative (but intensely likeable) South Carolina senator and Franchot Tone as the tortured President, not everyone got so lucky; the novel had so many characters that some big actors (like Gene Tierney, wasted as a Washington hostess) are pretty much trapped in throwaway roles.
Preminger was pretty progressive by Hollywood standards, and so the Senate he depicts is remarkably diverse, with senators of many ethnic backgrounds. There's a great cameo (the film's standout moment) from Betty White, who, as a shrewd Kansas senator, trounces George Grizzard, the despicable Senator Van Ackerman (from Wyoming, of course, so as to offend the least number of audience members possible) in open debate on the Senate floor. Preminger was really daring (for the time) in his willingness to tackle the subject of the blackmail of homosexuals in the film. It should be said, however, that the film's notorious depiction of a gay bar (the first Hollywood film to do so openly since the institution of the Hays code) as a nightmarish cesspool of vice, where the fat effeminate bartender hysterically beckons in the horrified Don Murray (see my title), probably did more to keep gay men in the closet in the Sixties than anything Hollywood ever did.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Defanged but still worthwhile Sept. 28 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Otto Preminger's film version of Allen Drury's classic political novel was quite the event in 1962 but today, it all seems quite tame. Both the film and novel deal with the political intrigues surrounding the nomination of Robert Leffingwell to be Secretary of State. Drury's deeply cynical novel drew its power through its complex characterizations and its then shocking portrait of an American government dominated by self-interest and hypocricy. Preminger, in his film version, actually tones down the novel but, on the whole, sticks to Drury's basic vision. The film does a pretty good job of establishing the many different conflicts and subplots that swirl around Leffingwell's nomination but the film's characters are never quite as vibrant as they are in Drury's novel. As a director, Preminger usually alternated between being excessively lurid or courageously honest. Here, perhaps intimidated by the scope of the film, Preminger's direction is sadly stodgy and, if not for several fine perfomances, the film's pace would probably be too draggy for most viewers. As well, in today's times, much of the film's controversy seems rather dated. We're no longer shocked to see the President presented as a devious power broker or to find out that a Senator is secretly homosexual. However, in 1962, these were truly bold statements to make. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars American Political Drama from Otto Preminger Nov. 10 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is a good film about the nomination of Henry Fonda for Secretary of State. The only problem is that Fonda has a skeleton hidden in his closet and he perjures himself. The film then shifts focus from Fonda to all the people trying to uncover dirt upon dirt from both sides of the political arena. It is a very interesting film and again we see Preminger as the master technician manipulating the almost documentary style of drama. This film has one of the best casts every assembled and performances to match. Charles Laughton, George Grizzard, Walter Pidgeon, Don Murray, Franchot Tone, Lew Ayres, Burgess Meredith, Gene Tierney, Peter Lawford, Will Geer and young Eddie Hodges are all featured. This film is an exhausting experience and you can really feel for some of the characters. The finale of this drama leaves the viewer numb.
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