The Senator Was Indiscreet

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The Senator Was Indiscreet
The Senator Was Indiscreet poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George S. Kaufman
Produced by Nunnally Johnson
Written by Charles MacArthur
Story by Edwin Lanham
Starring William Powell
Ella Raines
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography William C. Mellor
(as William Mellor)
Edited by Sherman A. Rose
Nunnally Johnson Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • December 26, 1947 (1947-12-26) (New York City)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Senator Was Indiscreet is a 1947 comedy film directed by George S. Kaufman starring William Powell as a dim-witted U.S. senator who decides to run for president, with Ella Raines as a reporter interested in the detailed diary he has kept about all the political misdeeds of his colleagues. Powell won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his performance.

The film also was known as Mr. Ashton Was Indiscreet (see photo).


The inept, somewhat slow-witted U.S. Senator Melvin G. Ashton wants to run for President of the United States. His eager publicist, Lew Gibson, encourages him with various attention-gaining stunts, disappointing his girlfriend Poppy McNaughton, a reporter for a local newspaper.

When Ashton arrives at his hotel in New York City, his publicist asks him to accept membership into the Cherokee tribe, purely for publicity. Ashton eagerly agrees.

Fred Houlihan, a political boss, asks Ashton to step down as a presidential candidate. Ashton refuses to do so, but in a long speech he publicly and consistently denies he is running for president. The stunning Valerie Shepherd arrives and decides to join the campaign. Lew becomes attracted to her.

Poppy is appalled by Ashton's baffling incompetence, and breaks up with Lew. A series of articles about Ashton's road to the presidency is soon published in the newspapers. Houlihan again tries to persuade him not to run.

Ashton blackmails Houlihan to keep silent, telling him he has kept a diary of all the dealings within the party for the last thirty years. After this, he goes on a tour across the country to court voters. He becomes a popular candidate and soon returns to speak at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

When the diary goes missing, Ashton believes communist hotel employee Karl has stolen it, but Lew suspects it was Poppy. Ashton's former secretary, Robert Oakes, is soon found with the diary, but the man insists someone else stole it before he got hold of it. Lew finds out that Valerie's beau Bill Fisher is a political enemy of Ashton's and has started a petition to investigate the senator in his home state. From various clues, Poppy deduces that Valerie stole the diary.

When Houlihan again asks Ashton to step down, Ashton demands they find him another job in return. He is eventually appointed commissioner of a professional sports league, a job that pays well.

Poppy manages to retrieve the diary from Valerie, but loses it to Lew, who tells Ashton the good news. Houlihan then tries to convince Ashton to get back into the race, but Ashton hesitates. Lew then decides that the truth should be revealed and gives the diary back to Poppy. When it is published, both Ashton and his bosses are forced to flee to a South Sea island, where Ashton soon becomes the chief.


Myrna Loy, Powell's frequent screen co-star, has an uncredited cameo appearance as Ashton's wife.


External links[edit]