The ultimate political thriller

Peter Bogdanovich has called Advise & Consent “by far the best political movie ever made in this country,” and having just watched its restored DVD edition (available now), we’re inclined to agree.

Advise, a 1962 Otto Preminger film based on the novel by Allen Drury, feels entirely contemporary in the way that it chronicles cynical political horse-trading and sexually charged gossip-mongering in Washington. A core group of great performances — including Henry Fonda’s as a controversial secretary of state nominee and Peter Lawford’s as a JFK-esque senator — makes the film seem almost documentary in its realism. And, remarkably, Preminger got permission to shoot on location in the Senate.

In switching back and forth between the foreground of an emotional subcommittee hearing and the background of treacherous back-room dealing, the movie exposes our political process in a way that seems eerily current — especially with regard to a certain recent D.C. sex scandal.

It all must have been very shocking and enthralling in 1962, but what’s amazing about Advise is that its narrative still has the power to shock and enthrall.

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