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The Candidate

The Candidate

Director:Michael Ritchie
Cast:Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Melvyn Douglas, Don Porter, Allen Garfield
Screen Writer:Michael Ritchie

At the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Wheeler Auditorium at 10 a.m. Oct. 18.

By Rahne Alexander | Posted 10/15/2008

The Candidate is among the first of its kind: a movie that both skewers and glamourizes the corrupt organization that is its true subject--in this case, a media-drenched California senatorial race. It helped pave the way for movies--particularly those of Robert Altman--to blur the boundaries between fiction and reality by casting actual politicians alongside the likes of Peter Boyle, who presciently predicts Rob Reiner's beard. An adorable Robert Redford portrays the upstart lawyer-cum-senatorial candidate bent on challenging the status quo, represented by his career politician father (Melvyn Douglas). If the boundary blurring lends some credibility to the cynicism of the Oscar-winning script, it is somewhat unsettling to consider this movie in its true historical context. The Candidate was released in October 1972, one month before Richard Nixon roundly defeated George McGovern (who, along with Groucho Marx, appears here in a cameo) while the Watergate cronies were still awaiting conviction and three months before the Roe v. Wade decision was delivered. So while The Candidate easily seals its place in cinematic history as a bellwether for waning hippie idealism, it also raises a handful of still-relevant questions, such as why are all the women in the movie treated like nothing more than set dressing?

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