There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Though it is neither the most shocking nor the smartest inside-the-Beltway melodrama ever made—Pauline Kael called it “mindless”—Advise and Consent is still a lot of fun. Some of the greatest stage-trained actors of 1962 populate Otto Preminger’s nonpartisan look at the partisan warfare that erupts when Communist allegations surface about a Secretary of State nominee (played by the noble Henry Fonda). Charles Laughton’s final performance, as a flamboyant Southern senator, feels like Strom Thurmond channeling Falstaff. And a subplot about a closeted senator (Don Murray) must have been startling for its time—though Preminger’s homophobic journey inside a Hawaiian gay bar feels today like a pre-Stonewall relic. Like most Hollywood-painted tales of Washington sleaze, Advise and Consent has its optimistic moments. A senator who tries to get his way via blackmail tells Walter Pidgeon’s majority leader, “What I did was for the good of the country.” Pidgeon replies, “Fortunately, our country always manages to survive patriots like you.” The film screens as part of the “Set in D.C.” series at 6:30 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Mary Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Paul Morton)