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The Distinguished Gentleman

The Distinguished Gentleman
Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Produced by Marty Kaplan
Leonard Goldberg
Michael Peyser
Written by Marty Kaplan
Jonathan Reynolds
Starring Eddie Murphy
Lane Smith
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Joe Don Baker
James Garner
Victoria Rowell
Grant Shaud
Kevin McCarthy
Charles S. Dutton
Victor Rivers
Chi McBride
Sonny Jim Gaines
Noble Willingham
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Gabriel Beristain
Edited by Barry B. Leirer
Tony Lombardo
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
December 4, 1992
Running time
112 min.
Language English
Box office $46,666,502 (USA)
SEK 5.8M (Sweden)[1]

The Distinguished Gentleman (1992) is a comedy starring Eddie Murphy. The film was directed by Jonathan Lynn. In addition to Murphy, the film stars Lane Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Joe Don Baker, James Garner, Victoria Rowell, Grant Shaud, Kevin McCarthy, Charles S. Dutton, Victor Rivers, Chi McBride, Sonny Jim Gaines, and Noble Willingham.

The film's plot is centered on politics, specifically what members of Congress and lobbyists do to get what they want in Washington, D.C.


  • Synopsis 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
    • Critical response 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6


A Florida con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson uses the passing of the longtime Congressman from his district, Jeff Johnson (who died of a heart attack while having sex with his secretary), to get elected to the United States Congress as a freshman Congressman, where the money flows from lobbyists. Omitting his first name, and abbreviating his middle name, he calls himself "Jeff" Johnson. He then manages to get on the ballot by pitching a seniors organization, the Silver Foxes, to nominate him as their candidate for office.

Once on the election ballot, he uses the dead Congressman's old campaign material and runs a low budget campaign that appeals to name recognition, figuring most people do not pay much attention and simply vote for the "name you know." He wins a slim victory and is off to Washington, a place where the "streets are lined with gold."

Initially, the lucrative donations and campaign contributions roll in, but as he learns the nature of the con game in Washington D.C., he starts to see how the greed and corruption makes it difficult to address issues such as campaign finance reform, environmental protection, and the possibility that electric power companies may have a product that is giving kids in a small town cancer.

In trying to address these issues, Congressman Johnson finds himself double-crossed by the Chairman of the Committee on Power and Industry, Rep. Dick Dodge. Johnson decides to fight back the only way he knows how: with a con. Johnson succeeds and exposes Dodge as corrupt. As the film ends, it appears likely that Johnson will be thrown out of Congress for the manner in which he was elected, but he defiantly declares, "I'm gonna run for President!" then breaking the fourth wall.



Eddie Murphy appeared in this Disney-produced film after a string of Paramount Pictures star vehicles.[2] Bernie Weinraub, film reviewer for The New York Times, offered his opinion that Murphy wished to "move beyond the tepid material" he had been given by Paramount.[3] Writer and producer Marty Kaplan said of Murphy's involvement "I feel like I've come close to winning the jackpot".[3]

The film was shot at various locations in Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Maryland, and Pasadena, California.[4]


Critical response

The Distinguished Gentleman was released in December 1992 and went on to gross approximately $47 million at the domestic box office.[5][6] Critical reaction to the movie however was mostly negative. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times liked the premise and what it had going for it, but criticized it for its "slow pacing", despite it being a screwball comedy.[7] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called it "a sterile, joyless comedy, photographed in ugly, made-for-video close-up and featuring a farce plot so laborious it suggests John Landis on a bad day".[8] called it a "tepid Eddie Murphy political farce", and the film currently holds a 13% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[9]

The Environmental Media Awards granted the movie with the award for feature film of 1993, and in 2001 the Political Film Society awarded the film its special award of the year.


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database. Box office / business for (1992)The Distinguished Gentleman. Retrieved on May 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Tinna Elfstrand Corlin (1992-12-04). "Film page at". Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  3. ^ a b BERNARD WEINRAUBPublished: October 16, 1991 (1991-10-16). "Archive Story". Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  4. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1992-10-18). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : THE MURPHY FILE : Some Might Say That Fantasy Isn't Such a Bad Deal, Given the Political Realities".  
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-12-08). "Weekend Box Office : 'Home' Still Alone at the Top".  
  6. ^ Hunt, Dennis (1993-06-18). "National Video Rentals : 'Gentleman' Fends Off 'River's' Rush".  
  7. ^ "A Roger Ebert review". 1992-12-04. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  8. ^ Owen Gleiberman (1992-12-11). "'"Review by ''Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  9. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes reviews". Retrieved 2012-12-12. 

External links

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