The Candidate

Michael RitchieUSA110 minutes1972PGColourEnglish

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Robert Redford plays another of his flawed golden boys as an idealistic legal aid lawyer who becomes corrupted by the political process when he agrees to stand as a Democratic senatorial candidate.

Screenwriter Jeremy Larner, a speechwriter for former Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, won an Oscar for this acidic satire about the hollowing out of American politics. Robert Redford plays another of his flawed golden boys as Bill McKay, an idealistic legal aid lawyer who has rejected the corrupt legacy of his father, a powerful former governor (Melvyn Douglas). A wary McKay is convinced by a canny political strategist (Peter Boyle) to stand as the Democratic candidate in a no-win contest against a popular Republican incumbent, which is sold to him as a chance to bring his causes some media attention while giving the Dems an electoral holding action. This seemingly mutually beneficial arrangement turns out to be a deal with the Devil, as McKay progressively waters down his message and, naturally, starts to gain in the polls. "A sharp, unsentimental, mordantly funny dissection of big-time politics" (Time Magazine).

ComedyDramaPolitics