The presidential aspirations of a crackpot senator are put in jeopardy by the mysterious disappearance of his tell-all diary. [ The Senator Was Indiscreet credits: Dir: George S. Kaufman/ William Powell, Ella Raines, Peter Lind Hayes/ 75 min/ Comedy/ Working for Government, Incompetent Government]
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The dedication to this film reads: “To every politician who has ever jeopardized a baby’s health with unsanitary kisses, who has ever delivered a three-hour Fourth of July oration about himself and George Washington, who has ever promised peace, prosperity, and triple movie features in exchange for a vote, this picture is not too humbly dedicated.”
Just such a shallow politician is at the center of this story. He will do or say anything for a vote. As the story begins, this senator is preparing to run for president. No one thinks he has a chance to win. But by making absurd campaign promises — including free income for life for every man, woman, and child in the country — he rises steadily in the polls. It starts to look like he may win after all.
“The Senator Was Indiscreet is an intelligent satire of the political process, poking fun at both the cynicism of the politicos in charge and the naiveté of the voting public.”
Then suddenly his tell-all diary disappears, throwing the senator and his political team into a panic. The diary has, he says, a record of “everything,” a word that sends a chill through those party functionaries who know just what “everything” means. For the rest of the film, a hilarious scramble ensues among the senator’s allies and enemies, all determined to find the tell-all diary.
The Senator Was Indiscreet is an intelligent satire of the political process, poking fun at both the cynicism of the politicos in charge and the naiveté of the voting public. The senator’s willingness to do or promise anything for a vote and the public’s ready acceptance of such promises make for a fair analysis of how we got where we are today.
It’s also an excellent comedy thanks to wonderfully humorous dialogue and the ever hilarious antics of William Powell. If you liked The Thin Man series, this is for you. Look for Myrna Loy, also of The Thin Man, in a cameo at the end.
My favorite line in the film occurs when, in the course of speculating how the senator might live if he loses his job, someone asks why the senator has no savings. The senator’s reply: “How could I have? How [could] I know that that income tax bill meant me too?”
“Unless this country lacks humor, it should get a great deal of amusement from The Senator Was Indiscreet.”
–New York Times