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The Candidate
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 6,722 votes
Release: 17 July 1975 (Netherlands) /

The Candidate

Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Michael Ritchie,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Californian lawyer Bill McKay fights for the little man. His charisma and integrity get him noticed by the Democratic Party machine and he is persuaded to run for the Senate against an apparently unassailable incumbent. It's agreed he can handle it his own way, on his own terms. But once he's in the race and his prospects begin to improve, the deal starts to change. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

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Critic Reviews


I saw this film in 1972 when it came out, and I just saw it again on cable. I am amazed at how prescient this film was. Remember, this was before Jerry Brown, the real life politician most people will think of as a counterpart to Redford's character, had not yet run for governor and was still unknown outside of California. Nixon was still in office and was about to be re-elected by a landslide. Abortion was still illegal in all 50 states, and Roe v. Wade had not yet been decided. The term "sound bite" had not yet been coined. "Spin" was something a washing machine did.

Redford plays an idealistic young storefront lawyer who is persuaded to run for the Senate as a Democrat against a Republican incumbent running for his fourth term. He feels free to speak his mind because he knows he hasn't a chance of winning. His freshness and honesty win over a lot of people favorable to his politics, and suddenly the gap closes. Now he has a chance of winning, but to do so he has to win over the "undecided voters" in the middle of the political spectrum. (Sound familiar? I'm writing this nine days before the Bush-Kerry election, and no one knows who will win.) Guess what happens? Suddenly he's not so fresh and honest anymore. And by the time he finally has a televised debate with the incumbent, he has mastered the art of the non-answer answer, that is, responding to a reporter's question by making a vague statement of his own without ever answering the question.

Fast forward to 2004. The spin doctors now run the show. This film was intended as satire and as a warning. Regrettably, it has become a prediction. 10/10

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