Monday, August 31, 2009

Lost Causes

It has been said that Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) was Meher Baba's favorite movie. I also heard Baba said it was an example of what a film could be.

Meher Baba's Message to Hollywood 1932
I was particularly glad to come to California because of the opportunity which it afforded to contact those who made or appeared in motion pictures, and I am delighted that this gathering could be arranged tonight.

I do not need to tell you who are engaged in the production and distribution of motion pictures what a power you hold in your hands, nor do I doubt that you are fully alive to the responsibilities which the wielding of that power involves. He who stimulates the imagination of the masses can move them in any direction he chooses, and there is no more powerful an instrument for stimulating their imagination than motion pictures.

People go to the theater to be entertained. If the play is strong, they come away transformed. They surrender their hearts and minds to the author, producer, director and stars, and follow the example which they see portrayed before their eyes more than they themselves realize.

Both the press and the radio influence thought, but both lack the power of visible example, which is the greatest stimulant to action, and which the motion picture offers better now than any other medium.
But aside from this powerful message from Baba, and the extent to which this film by Frank Capra seems to embody the principles in it - I can't help but wonder if Baba heard his own heartache somehow echoed in the moving words of Jimmy Stewart.


  1. I also thought Baba saw this movie, but I think I was confusing it with Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, about which is written in Lord Meher "After the interviews were over, Baba and the group went to see the movie Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, starring Gary Cooper. Baba was impressed with the film and remarked that it was an outstanding example of how motion pictures can be produced and used for the upliftment of mankind's consciousness while at the same time providing entertainment" (vol. 6, p. 2042). So do you know where it is written that Baba saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and spoke favorably about it? An internet search came up blank.

    1. Dear Anonymous. Thank you for your hard diligence.