Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

He is tall, skinny, earnest. His ears might stick out too much. He’s not a Washington insider. But he is courageous, principled, determined to bring change to our nation’s capital. Sound familiar? Subject of a four-film retrospective (through Dec. 25), James Stewart stars as an untested, first-tern senator in the 1939 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Frank Capra’s classic runs Friday through Thursday this week, and it’s a nice companion piece to the recent elections. Stewart is up against the Cheneys and Halliburtons of his day: a corrupt nexus of business interests and unaccountable leaders (embodied, of course, by Claude Rains). And, worse, the public isn’t taking enough of an interest—until Sen. Smith takes to the floor in a filibuster that may still cause some policy wonks to tear up. (“This country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!”) Jean Arthur plays the reporter who restores Stewart’s faith—where else?—at the Lincoln Memorial. And next Friday: You Can’t Take It With You precedes the GI’s 38th-annual screening of Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (beginning Dec. 12). Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, $5-$8. 6 and 8:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Dec. 1-4, 6 & 8:30 p.m., 2008

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