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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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MrSmithGoestoWashington

Image credit: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939.

This week, I’m celebrating the Fourth of July with one of the most patriotic movies I can think of. A film that’s stood the test of time, through good presidents and bad, noble politicians and corrupt. I’m talking of course about Frank Capra’s classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD/Download).

It’s astounding how often I’m reminded of the iconic image of Jimmy Stewart as Senator Jefferson Smith, weary after a lengthy filibuster, sweaty, distraught, his face an open wound, realizing his fight is hopeless. The corrupt politicians of Washington have broken him, as they have broken the rest of us too. Jimmy is America in this film. Whether we’re talking about the 1938 or 2018, it’s all the same. Leaders drunk with power can (and often do) run afoul of the people who voted for them. Mr. Smith goes to Washington with a dream of doing good work for the citizens of his state. Though the film has a satisfying ending, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “happy”. Happiness and politics are parallel paths that rarely intersect.

I love a lot of things about this film- plucky Jean Arthur and her little hats, disgruntled newspaperman Diz and his wry cynicism, even Claude Rains as the most sedate villain of all time. But the scene that gets my heart pounding is of course The Filibuster. For 24 hours Mr. Smith tries to postpone a crooked bill from getting through the Senate, and though he eventually falls, the fight is really something to see. While watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I recommend drinking a Filibuster.

Filibuster

4 oz bourbon

2 oz simple syrup

2 oz lemon juice

2 tbsp fresh orange juice

1 egg white

Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients except bitters into a cocktail shaker. Shake until combined, then fill with ice. Shake again with all the rage you feel toward our current United States government. Strain into a coupe glass. Top with a few dashes of Angostura bitters.

Filibuster

The thing I find slightly comforting about this film is that it was released in 1939. So, theoretically, Congress has been doing a crappy job for the last 80 years. And we’re still here!!! We still have joys and triumphs, and yes unspeakable rage and indignities. But we’re surviving, day-by-day.   Jefferson Smith didn’t stop fighting for his American ideals, and neither should those of us who believe in honesty, empathy, kindness, and the beauty of our American land.   Cheers!

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The Invisible Man

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The Invisible Man

Image credit: The Invisible Man, 1933.

For my final “man” film, I’ve chosen to reach all the way back to the 1933 James Whale classic, The Invisible Man (DVD/Download). Although considered by many to be one of the best early horror films, it’s not so much scary as it is fascinating. How the hell did they make Claude Rains invisible, with no computers or digital technology??  I’m still scratching my head.

Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, Rains plays a scientist who’s injected himself with a serum that causes both invisibility and dangerous psychosis. He’s got a soft spot for Gloria Stuart (hey, old lady from Titanic!!), but even that can’t save him from the monster inside. I must say, it’s terrifically creepy when he peels the bandage off his face to reveal an empty hole where a nose should be. And the maniacal laugh as he strangles his victims will haunt my nightmares for weeks.  In the end, I’ve decided the only thing scarier than a villain is the villain you can’t see.

What does mad scientist Dr. Griffin use to become invisible you ask? Monocane. Working with some British spirits he might have had at his disposal, I’ll be putting my beakers and flasks to use this week. While watching The Invisible Man, I recommend drinking a Monocane cocktail.

Monocane

1 oz Pimms No. 1

1 oz Rye

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

3/4 oz Simple Syrup

Twist of Lemon

Mix ingredients together in your favorite scientific glassware. Pour into a tumbler over a large ice cube. Garnish with twist of lemon.

Monocane

The thing that’s great about this classic film is that it doesn’t need blood and gore to inspire terror. Just a few bandages, a disembodied voice from the backseat of a car, some floating props, and boom- instant lifelong fear of an “empty” room. Go ahead and shiver. Cheers!