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Handout G: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Directions: Watch the filibuster clip from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and use the questions below to discuss the themes of the film.

  1. What democratic themes do you see represented in the clip?
  2. Why does Mr. Smith’s speech resonate with us today?
  3. How is the filibuster represented in the film?
  4. To what extent does Mr. Smith hold the Senate hostage?
  5. How is freedom of the press represented in the clip?
  6. How is freedom of speech represented in the clip?
  7. What responsibility does Mr. Smith have to speak the truth, even if that means going against his constituency?
  8. How does the clip show the balancing of individual concerns of senators and the common good of the country?
  9. How would this clip look different if it were filmed in the present day?
  10. Does this clip, as the reporter says, show democracy in action? If so, in what ways?
  11. Do you recognize any of the works he quotes? Which ones? What do you think they reveal about the theme of the movie?
  12. What do you think he means when he says, “…it’s the blood and bone and sinew of this democracy that some great men handed down to the human race”?