The Candidate
Nothing matters more than winning. Not even what you believe in.
Directed By
Produced By
Written By
Distributed By
Release Date
29 June 1972 (United States)
109 min.
Finland: S
Spain: 13
Sweden: Btl
USA, Australia: Rating PG

The Candidate is an American film released in 1972, starring Robert Redford in the lead role. Themes of the film include that of how the political machine can manipulate the political process and how politics can be corrupted by backroom deals and party bosses. There are also parallels between John F. Kennedy and Redford's youthful, energetic and idealistic character, Bill McKay. The film is also said to be an accurate examination of grassroots politics and the inner workings of a political campaign.

The film highlights many criticisms of American politics, such as the importance of money, the strains put on family members and marriages by campaigning, the emphasis on the image of political candidates over the substance of their messages. The 1972 film is dated in style, but the issues remain relevant today.

The film was shot in Northern California. Peter Boyle, later famous for his role as Frank Barone on the 1990s sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, gives a memorable performance as political consultant Marvin Lucas. The screenplay was written by Jeremy Larner, who was a speechwriter for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy during McCarthy's campaign for the 1968 Democratic Presidential nomination. The film won an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay and was also nominated in the Sound category.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Robert Redford plays Bill McKay, who is running for Democratic senator in California against the Republican incumbent Crocker Jarmon. McKay, a public-interest lawyer, is asked to run by a political consultant (Boyle) looking for a "sacrificial lamb" for the race (which is seen as too difficult to win,) and, it is implied, who is in it only for the money.

McKay, son of popular ex-governor John J. McKay, decides to run with Lucas' guarantee he will lose the race and will be allowed to speak his mind. The race tightens as McKay increasingly cedes control of his image and speeches to the consultant as poll numbers show the race will be closer than once thought. McKay's charm and willingness to speak his mind strikes a chord with voters, and he wins on election day.


N.Y. Times (June 30, 1972) reviewer Vincent Canby applauded Redford's performance and commented that, "The Candidate is serious, but its tone is coldly comic, as if it had been put together by people who had given up hope." More recently, Christopher Null from gave the film 4.5/5 and said: "... this satire on an American institution continues to gain relevance instead of lose it.". The film had 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.


Selected quotationsEdit

Bill McKay: It's the basic indifference that made this country great.

Marvin Lucas: You're the Democratic nominee for Senator.
Bill McKay: You make that sound like a death sentence.

Bill McKay (blowing off steam in the back of the car): So vote once, vote twice, for Bill McKay... you middle class honkies.

In an ominous voice, an election-day sound truck bellows: "What has Bill McKay done for California? Not much... but his father was governor."

Bill McKay: What do we do now?


Groucho Marx has an uncredited walk-on cameo in what would be his last screen appearance.


External linksEdit

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The Candidate (1972 film). As with MOVIEPEDIA, the text of Wikipedia is available under the The Film Guide:GNU Free Documentation License|GNU Free Documentation License.