Advise and Consent

A riveting political thriller, Advise and Consent is also proof positive that nothing changes. This decades-old drama of Beltway intrigue reads like a contemporary playbook for political maneuvering. When an ailing president (Franchot Tone) nominates a controversial figure (Henry Fonda) to be secretary of state, the confirmation hearing becomes a blind covering cabals of conniving senators bent on achieving self-serving ends. The two camps are led by Majority Leader Bob Munson (Walter Pidgeon), a glib gladhander lining up the liberals, and Sen. Seabright Cooley (Charles Laughton), a smarmy Dixiecrat agitating for the conservative ranks. From the glitzy estates of Washington power brokers to grimy gay bars in Greenwich Village, the subterfuge and scandal never lose hold. Preminger's screenplay retains the smart precision of Allen Drury's novel, in which the language of innuendo is as lethal as a Luger. Compellingly caustic, Advise and Consent ends with a simple lesson: “This is a Washington, D.C., kind of lie. It's when the other person knows you're lying and also knows you know he knows.”

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