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Washington Story

Washington Story(1952)

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The film's working titles were Mr. Congressman and Mister Congressman. Although the film's main character, "Joseph Gresham," is supposed to be the representative from the 16th Congressional district in Massachusetts, at the time, Massachusetts had only 14 districts. The city of "Newchester" was also fictional. Various Hollywood Reporter news items, a New York Times feature article and M-G-M press releases reveal the following information about the production: In light of ongoing Congressional investigations of Communist activities in Hollywood, Dore Schary, M-G-M's vice-president in charge of production, wanted to produce a picture showing Congress in a positive light. Schary stated: "We're in an era of sensationalism, which has its virtues, but which also breeds cynicism...As an antidote, we want to examine the plus side of politics. We want to show the dirty punishment a good Congressman can take by `smear,' by pressure from lobbies, by misunderstanding his motives..." Actor Sam Jaffe was cast in the film, but because of Jaffe's alleged "connection with commie causes" he was removed from the production and paid off by M-G-M.
       The film was shot on location in Washington, D.C. Interiors were shot throughout the Capitol Bldg., including the House chambers, the Capitol Rotunda and the Congressional subway that transports members to and from the House and Senate office building. The production had greater access to real Washington locations than any previous film. According to the Variety column "Inside Stuff-Pictures," while the picture was being filmed, the Washington Post ran an editorial criticizing the production crew for reportedly cleaning up the Capitol Rotunda prior to shooting because it was "much too dirty for the fastidious eyes of the movie customer." M-G-M's publicist for the film, James W. Merrick, wrote a letter to the editor after the piece ran, saying that the Rotunda had been thoroughly cleaned by the Capitol staff itself, prior to the company's arrival, and that cleaning done by the film crew was standard procedure for any film to bring out highlights and eliminate footprints. The Washington Post then stated that the original information had come from Merrick himself. Architect of the Capitol David Lynn was largely responsible for granting access for the film crew. Cecil B. Dickson, who appears briefly as a newspaper correspondent, had been a real Washington correspondent for many years.
       Harry Nash, who had worked for forty-five years as a Capitol building guide, played a guide in the film. M-G-M had sought actress Nancy Olson from Paramount for the female lead in the film. Actress Marianne Ravenscourt was cast in the film, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, but her appearance has not been confirmed. In August 1952, screenwriters Mildred Cram and Maurice Revnes sued M-G-M for $855,000, asserting that the studio had agreed to pay them $20,000 if it opted to use their story entitled "Mary Smith, U.S.A." Cram and Revnes claimed that their story was substantially the basis for Washington Story. The disposition of the suit has not been determined.