Headscratchers / Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

  • You know what bugs me? Nobody ever suggests building a camp somewhere else in the state. Or even considers the recreational possibilities of a lake. Even if we accept the contention that the Dam was unnecessary and inappropriate, is it that much of a stretch to sell the land for a camp instead?
    • Boy howdy, that's just scratching the surface. For one thing: Dams are for rivers; YOU DO NOT DAM A CREEK (unless of course you are a beaver). For another, why not move the camp farther up-stream? Also, you have to look closely at it, but in the process of trying to discredit him, Taylor transfers legal ownership of the land to Smith. How exactly are they supposed to build a dam on land that Jeff Smith now owns, and how could it possibly profit Taylor?
      • In the second case, by making him look like a selfish fool trying to save his own property. In the first, a little thing called "Eminent Domain."
      • Taylor bought up land with the intention of selling it to the government for a dam project proposed by his puppet senator. This would net Taylor a hefty profit. That is a graft, and it's illegal.

        When Taylor transfers ownership to Smith, it would discredit him either way, since he had the children who would benefit from a camp make donations for the camp, so if he already owned the land, he would be pocketing the nickels and dimes of school children. Taylor's land would have been bought anyway, but only about 200 acres or less, and he wouldn't have made anywhere near the profit he would from the government, and even if the rest of his land was bought for a dam project, it would have lost its value by the camp.
      • Maybe Willet Creek was just a name, and it was actually a river?
      • It's just a little stream, in Smith's own words. Given smith's concern for areas downstream, it sounds like a dam that serves no legit purpose. Not every dam generates electricity,some just create reservoirs, so Willet Creek Dam would destroy the landscape and cut off downstream areas from their freshwater source.
  • Why didn't the Boy Scouts want to participate? Absolutely nothing in the movie is the least bit derogatory to the "Boy Rangers", so what was the problem?
    • Maybe they thought the movie would flop.
    • Maybe they agreed with the Production Code Administration, whose director Joseph Breen feared it was potentially anti-American. "Loaded with dynamite, both for the motion picture industry, and for the country at large." They felt it had a "generally unflattering portrayal of our system of Government, which might well lead to such a picture being considered, both here, and more particularly abroad, as a covert attack on the Democratic form of government." This picture almost didn't get made at all. It was not well received by Congress or the Washington press. Several senators walked out of the Washington premiere.
  • So as part of the framing of Smith, the ownership of the creek is transferred to him. Doesn't this give Jeff a relatively simple solution? He asks if the land is really his. If the answer is "yes," he gives the land to the Boy Rangers. If the answer is "no", then he asks how he can possibly make profit from land that doesn't belong to him. Either way, the problem is solved.
    • The actual problem at that point in the film is not getting the land or establishing a camp, it's the corruption in Smith's state and his unjust expulsion from the Senate (which will also destroy his reputation back home). His owning the land doesn't solve either of those problems. The filibuster is about exposing the Taylor machine and bringing it down.