One of a handful of truly outstanding political thrillers, Otto Preminger’s Advise and Consent (1962) stars Henry Fonda as Robert Leffingwell, a would-be candidate for appointment to the office of Secretary of State. Although Leffingwell has the President’s (Franchot Tone) political backing, his life must first be put under a congressional microscope and senate investigation.
When scandalous bits of dirt begin to surface about Leffingwell’s past, including links to the communist party, its up to cockeyed optimist, and senate committee leader, Brig Anderson (Don Murray) to defuse the situation. Unfortunately, Brig is keeping his own deep war time secret, and it threatens, not just the hearings, but is life.
Apart from being populated by a veritable who’s who of old-time star talent (including Walter Pigeon, Charles Laughton, Lew Ayres, Peter Lawford, Gene Tierney and Burgess Meredith, who deliver outstanding performances) the film is also a harsh deconstruction of the Washington bureaucratic machinery that functions in cloaked secrecy behind the façade of American justice. With its rogue element, faux patriots, and government conspiracies unraveling, Advise and Consent is pointedly shocking, but never cliché.
Warner Home Video’s DVD is quite marvelous: anamorphic B&W, with solid deep blacks and clean whites. Occasionally dirt and scratches appear but nothing that will terribly distract from the visual presentation. Fine detail is well represented throughout. Tonality is quite refined. The image is sharp without becoming digitally harsh. The 5.1 audio has a nice spread.
Noted film professor, Drew Casper provides an ample film commentary, just a tad meandering at times, but overall offering fruitful reflections and a wealth of historical fact that compliment. First rate in every way, Advise and Consent is definitely one to add to your DVD collection.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)