Monday, January 19, 2009

Lovely buildings

I mentioned Strangers on a Train, and its tennis scenes, yesterday. It doesn't just have tennis scenes, though; a good portion of it is set in Washington since the father of Farley Granger's girlfriend is a US Senator. So, there are a few scenes set at various monuments in Washington, DC. Apparently there's some political event going on in Washington tomorrow, which got me to thinking of more movies showing the beautiful monuments in Washington, DC.

Most of them have political themes; in fact, Strangers on a Train is probably one of the least political movies to use Washington's monuments. Most of them deal quite directly with Washington politics, such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. James Stewart wants to see the monuments on his first day in Washington, but the most dramatic scenes take place in the US Senate chamber. Another highly political movie with key scenes set in the Senate is Advise and Consent, about a controversial nominee for Secretary of State.

A third sort of Senate deliberation occurred in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. It was made into the 1942 movie Tennessee Johnson, in which Van Heflin plays the impeached president, and Lionel Barrymore plays US Representative Thaddeus Stevens, who prosecutes the trial in the Senate. Sadly, it's not available on DVD.

A movie that has a more indirect look at Washington politics is Born Yesterday. Judy Holliday helps foil her industrialist boyfriend's (Broderick Crawford) corrupt plans when a journalist (William Holden) takes her around Washington and teaches her a few things about the American political system. There's also the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, which has a key scene set at the Washington Monument. Of course, it has the very political message about nuclear weapons, although it doesn't really deal with politicians.

A similar movie to The Day the Earth Stood Still is Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, in which Ray Harryhausen's special effects involve flying saucers crashing into Washington's government buildings. No political comments about that, please!

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