Allen Drury’s big-selling novel has also served as a stage play. There are recognizable projections of character assassination, McCarthy-like demagoguery and use of the two hard-to-answer smears of this ill-natured generation: ‘Are you now or were you once a homosexual and/or a communist?’
As interpreted by producer-director Otto Preminger and scripter Wendell Mayes, Advise & Consent is intermittently well dialogued and too talky, and, strangely, arrested in its development and illogical.
Preminger has endowed his production with wholly capable performers. Henry Fonda as the Secretary of State nominee, Charles Laughton as a Southern-smooth rebellious Solon, Don Murray as the focal point of the homo-suicidal scandal and Walter Pidgeon as a Majority leader fighting in best stentorian tradition in Fonda’s behalf all register firmly. The characterizations come through with fine clarity.
Disturbing is lack of sufficiently clear motivation for the nub of the action. Why are Pidgeon and Laughton so pro and con about confirmation of the Presidential appointee? And isn’t the Murray character too strong to kill himself?
The settings are powerfully like real. A Senate hearing room, the Senate itself, a party home in immediate Washington and varying apartments plus a place in DC suburbia all have the look of genuineness.