Archive of films The Candidate / The Candidate

1972, 109 min

Section: Tribute to Robert Redford
Year: 2005

An inexperienced young man, Bill McKay, allows himself to be persuaded to run for office, and his sincere speeches gain him favour with voters. But he soon finds out that it isn’t easy to maintain his ground in an atmosphere ruled by hypocrisy. He must choose between his conscience and the interests of those financing his campaign.


Delving behind the scenes for a look inside politics has long been an American filmmaking passion. The Candidate makes a significant contribution to this subgenre, analyzing the mentality of those who enter the political arena and their subsequent internal transformation. The hero of the film is an inexperienced young man, Bill McKay, who allows himself to be persuaded to run for office only because he thinks he won’t win - his candidacy is to be a mere formality, to "fill out the ballot," so to speak. But Bill’s indignant speeches, in which he candidly admits that he doesn’t have all the answers, and his cautionary analyses (e.g. about the protection of the environment), earn him ever more adherents. The result is a foregone conclusion: he takes a liking to politics and there finds self-realization. But an election campaign is a costly business and those who finance it are looking after their own interests. Soon the question arises whether or not Bill is corruptible, whether he will sacrifice his principles for the pipe dream of a political career. Robert Redford expertly portrays the transformation of a naive beginner into something he would never have imagined.

About the director

Michael Ritchie (1938-2001), originally a television director, interested Robert Redford enough that the latter agreed to co-finance (and star in) two of his early films: the ski competition picture Downhill Racer (1969) and the 1972 political drama The Candidate. While Ritchie’s first films raised considerable hopes, he failed to fulfil his promise - and work with Redford came to an end. He still drew attention for an ambitious look behind the scenes at a beauty contest in Smile (1974), but then he tried to follow up his victories with box-office hits; the most successful were the "sports" films The Bad News Bears (1976) and Wildcats (1986). At the end of his career he returned to television. As part of a series of portraits of famous people for the L’ encyclopédie audiovisuelle he shot one on Einstein (1992).


Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525

Warner Bros
4000 Warner Boulevard, CA 91522, Burbank
United States of America
Tel: +1 818 954 3058

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Robert Redford
Director: Michael Ritchie
Screenplay: Jeremy Larner
Dir. of Photography: Victor J. Kemper, John Korty
Music: John Rubinstein
Editor: Robert Estrin, Richard A. Harris
Producer: Walter Coblenz
Production: Warner Bros
Cast: Robert Redford, Peter Doyle, Melvyn Douglas, Don Porter, Allen Garfield
Contact: Hollywood Classics, Warner Bros

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