The Candidate

Director: Michael Ritchie
Year Released: 1972
Rating: 3.0

The Democratic Party of California decides to throw Bill McKay (Robert Redford), a lawyer and the son of the former governor of CA (Melvyn Douglas), up against incredibly strong incumbent Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter), expecting him to lose ... except his looks and swagger help him to pull ahead. Documentary-style approach by Ritchie (with good camera work by Victor J. Kemper) goes well with Jeremy Larner's shrewd, sometimes quite subtle script (does McKay have a mistress?) about how the process of running for public office can make one lose sight of one's own values and say the things people find acceptable (McKay's stance on abortion, in particular). What isn't so very clear (to me, at least) is how McKay ends up winning the race and why the people start to rally around him so strongly - as the audience, we are informed McKay is climbing in the polls and Jarmon's team is "panicking," but it takes more than a healthy smile and wavy blonde hair to win an election.