The Candidate

(Dir. Michael Ritchie) (1972)

Before he signed on as that perennial emblem, Bastard Dad, in the shrill and leaden “comedy series”, Everybody Loves Raymond, Peter Boyle did some interesting stuff: Joe, Taxi Driver, and in particular, his role here as a political Svengali to neophyte golden-boy Robert Redford in his against-the-odds shot at the California Senate race.

Fascinating depiction of a modern campaign’s trajectory, with strong performances by supporting players Boyle, Allan Garfield as a bumptious PR guy, Melvyn Douglas as the candidate’s former Governor Father, and Don Porter as the formidable Republican opponent seeking yet another term.  Highly watchable, perhaps the main flaw being Redford’s uneven performance, swinging from spot-on to right-off.  You feel for him when he can’t stop laughing at a speech-taping though!

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