BrianRxm Coins in Movies 81/135
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Governor's special coin decides appointment of senator
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The 1939 Columbia Pictures film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is about the appointment
of Jefferson Smith, a naive and idealistic young man to the United States Senate by a state governor.
The unnamed state's political boss and his gang expect Smith to be their front man but he learns
about the crooked deal they are planning and becomes their opponent.
Smith is the leader of the "Boy Rangers", a scouting type organization for young boys.
Smith moves to Washington DC to take up his duties as a senator and is mentored by
Senator Joseph Paine, the senior senator from his state who was also once young and idealistic but has
become a cynical tool of the political boss.
A more helpful person is "Saunders", a young woman who was the office manager for the previous
senator, who becomes Senator Smith's advisor on Senate procedures and operations.
At the beginning of the film, the state's indecisive governor flips a coin to decide whom to appoint.
The coin's size is that of a US half dollar.
The coin is only shown on it's edge and turns out to be a well-known film prop coin from the
Los Angeles Rubber Stamp Company, a firm which manufactured, among other things, film prop coins.
The company made film prop coins in sizes to match current US coins, from the one cent to one dollar,
and higher gold denominations of 5, 10, and 20 dollars.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
1. Title
The names, characters and incidents used herein are fictitious.
Any similarity to any name, character or incident is unintentional.
The state's senator dies and Governor Hopper has to appoint a new senator.
Jim Taylor is a wealthy man who is the state's political boss and Chick McGann is an assistant.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
2. Jim Taylor, Chick McGann, Governor Hopper
Taylor, McGann, and Hopper can't decide on who to appoint to the position.
Later at home, the governor decides the old fashioned way.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
3. Governor Hopper flips coin
The coin appears to be the size of a half dollar.
The coin lands on it's edge next to a newspaper.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
4. Coin lands on it's edge
The coin is positioned in a still shot with little of the face visible, but from the design, it is obviously
not a real US coin.
It took some research to identify the coin.
An image manipulation tool was used to rotate the image 180 degrees, extract the image of the coin,
and then stretch the coin image horizontally.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
5. Coin image stretched
The image looked familiar and resembled a certain Los Angeles Rubber Stamp Company token
which appears in token catalogs.
The token's obverse style, line count, and line positions appear to match the prop coin in the film,
Los Angeles Rubber Stamp Prop Coin
6. Los Angeles Rubber Stamp Company motion picture prop coin 50 cents
Copper-nickel, 31mm, 10.38gm
The men discuss the appointment of Smith.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
7. Senator Paine, Governor Hopper, Jim Taylor
The men agree to go ahead with the appointment of Smith and he is introduced to the public.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
8. Jefferson Smith acceptance speech
Smith and Senator Paine head to Washington DC on a train along with McGann.
Senator Paine knew and admired Jefferson's father, a crusading newspaper publisher who was
murdered while fighting a mining company.
Smith arrives in Washington and decides to see the city.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
9. Smith tours Washington DC
He visits various national monuments including the Supreme Court and Arlington Cemetery.
He then heads for the office of his predecessor where he meets Saunders, the office administrator.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
10. Smith meets Saunders and Diz Moore
Diz Moore is a reporter and close friend of Saunders.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
11. Smith and Saunders
Smith has a pet project for his home state, a boy's camp in a natural area.
He has an area picked out, however, he doesn't know that members of the Taylor gang have
bought land in the area and want to construct a dam on the site.
Saunders explains the long process of committees and such things in getting the camp funding bill
passed by Congress. She does assist him in writing it.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
12. Smith reads his bill
When Taylor's gang hears about the location of the camp, they become worried about their project.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
13. The Taylor gang is worried
At first the gang members try to convince Smith to alter his bill but that fails.
The gang then decides to get the Senate to expel Smith by producing evidence that Smith
owns the land for his proposed camp.
Senator Paine reluctantly joins the gang in denouncing Smith.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
14. Senator Paine denounces Smith
The Senate has many young boys working as runners who are members of Smith's Boy Rangers,
but hearing the charges, they remove their membership pins.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
15. The page boys remove their pins
A short "trial" is held before a Senate committee which finds Smith guilty.
The gang members celebrate their victory with a party.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
16. Taylor celebrates with his girls
Smith is despondent and heads to the Lincoln Memorial, where Saunders, still loyal, finds him.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
17. Saunders gives pep talk to Jeff
Smith is still a member of the Senate and before the expulsion can be brought up, he begins a filibuster,
or long speech, which will stop all of the Senate business.
A filibuster is a news story and reporters become busy.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
18. Reporters typing their articles
Smith, advised by Saunders from the spectator seats, begins his filibuster.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
19. Senator Smith reads
Smith reads the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and anything else to hold the floor.
The Taylor gang reacts by ordering their pet newspapers to print articles denouncing Smith.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
20. Taylor gang newspaper headline
Note the small article: "Chinese Money dips in Canton, Break Follows Incomplete Reports of Silver Pact".
Taylor's gang puts up advertisements, too.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
21. Taylor gang billboard
Members of veteran's groups are in the seats.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
22. Veterans applauding Senator Smith
The veterans were uniforms, some of an American Legion type group for World War I men and others
of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Civil War veterans.
Smith's Boy Rangers clubs organize for him and are attacked by Taylor's men.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
23. Taylor gang police attack Smith boys
On the Senate floor, Smith has been speaking for 24 hours and Senator Paige brings in baskets of
letters denouncing Smith.
Smith finally collapses.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
24. Senator Smith collapses
Senator Paige has a breakdown, pulls a pistol, and tries to shoot himself but is restrained.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
25. Senator Paige confesses
Paige begins screaming that he is guilty of scheming to manufacture the evidence against Smith.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
26. The President of the Senate is amused
He's seen it all.
James Stewart as Jefferson Smith
Jean Arthur as Clarissa Saunders
Claude Rains as Senator Joseph Paine
Thomas Mitchell as Diz Moore
Edward Arnold as Jim Taylor
Guy Kibbee as Governor Hopper
Eugene Pallette as Chick McGann
Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Sidney Buchman, Lewis R. Foster
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