My favorite point of view is a story about how a little guy can fight corruption and win. What makes the “little guy” (Mr. Smith) so likeable are four factors: he believed in ideals, he had determination and grit throughout his struggles, he educated himself on the legislative process, and he had persuasive communication. He chose to be honest and direct when he spoke, and he strove to be a good role model for all the boys back home.
Alternatively, a different view is a story about the corruption of American politics and business. The story revolves around corrupt politicians working with corrupt business men on corrupt projects. Many Americans who saw Mr. Smith related negatively to the story about the dark side of government. Joesph Kennedy, father of JFK, and ambassador to England, said that the movie should not be shown in Europe because it painted American government as dishonest and untrustworthy. Not surprisingly, Joe Kennedy made his millions as a bootlegger during prohibition, so he probably knew a lot about corruption.
It is not surprising that European dictators at the time banned this film. They no doubt were threatened by the idea that a single person can fight against a huge system and win. When Mr. Smith comes to Washington and seeks to change the status quo, he is a huge threat to those in power. His almost child-like naivety and his can-do attitude made it seem as if he would be easily manipulated or could be bullied. But unfortunately for his fellow senators, his character is as solid and unmovable as Plymouth Rock. European citizens facing the threat of totalitarian dictatorships must have felt inspired upon viewing this film. A dictator’s worst fear would be that the citizens would imitate Mr. Smith and rise up to change the system. The fact that a movie theatre in France ran Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for thirty days straight shows how the citizens treasured this film and the message it embodies. In their eyes, the ink blot depicted hope and the possibility of freedom.