In Advise & Consent, after being nominated by the President of the United States as Secretary of State, Robert A. Leffingwell (Henry Fonda) becomes the name on everyone’s mouths and the headline for all the top-notch newspapers. Sparking controversy in every bureaucratic nook and cranny, including the President’s own political party, this administrative decision puts Leffingwell in the center of attention. Media outlets everywhere are now covering the story and trying to uncover dirt on the new candidate. Although many are against him, like Senior Senator Seabright Cooley (Charles Laughton), who considers Leffingwell a communist defender, the President’s appointee also has resolute supporters. One such supporter is the deceptive Senator Fred Van Ackerman (George Grizzard), who paints him in a good light, as a necessity for maintaining peace.
In order to investigate and assess the nominee, a subcommittee chaired by Senator Birgham Anderson (Don Murray) is elected. The young man is a closeted homosexual and rather unsure about Leffingwell, eventually delaying his report to the committee. Things take a turn for the worse when a witness clerk named Herbert Gelman (Burgess Meredith) is brought forward by Cooley. Gelman claims that he was in a communist cell with Lefingwell at the University of Chicago. Even after the candidate denies the accusation in public but confesses to the President, the latter still refuses to withdraw his nomination. After Lefingwell is coerced into admitting the truth to Anderson, the chairman starts receiving threats. The blackmailers state that unless the subcommittee will decide in favor of the President’s candidate, compromising evidence regarding Anderson’s homosexual affairs will be brought to light.
“Unabashedly “political” Advise & Consent exposes — and ultimately censures — the unbelievably treacherous nature of high-level politics, in which a person’s past actions and acquaintances, no matter how private, can come back to haunt him.”
Did You Know?
The film’s director offered the leading role in Advise & Consent to Martin Luther King Jr., who declined in order to avoid antagonism towards the civil rights movement. Otto Preminger was also the first to introduce a scene with a homosexual bar setting in mainstream cinema and admitted to casting Peter Lawford due to his connections with the Kennedy family. Review our Gay Themed Films Here