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.