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The Distinguished Gentleman: Eddie Murphy’s Satirical Take on American Politics

The Distinguished Gentleman: A Synopsis

Are you a fan of political comedy films? If you are, then “The Distinguished Gentleman” is one movie that you should not miss.

This comedy film, which was directed by Jonathan Lynn and released in 1992, stars Eddie Murphy in the lead role, and features an ensemble cast of talented actors. The movie tells the story of Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a con artist who decides to run for the United States Congress as a Florida representative using the name of a deceased congressman from the same district.

Once he is elected, he uses his charisma and skill to manipulate and make deals with other politicians, while also pushing for some important changes in his the Characters

Eddie Murphy plays the role of Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a smooth and cunning man who is determined to become a congressman. His character is equal parts charming and roguish, making him easy to root for.

The other characters in the movie include Richard Grant as Celia Kirby, a congresswoman, who initially opposes Johnson, but later becomes his ally. Joe Don Baker plays the corrupt congressman, Dick Dodge, who tries to outmaneuver Johnson at every turn.

Finally, Lane Smith portrays Jeff Johnson, Jr., who is the son of the man whose name Johnson used to win the election.

Storyline of the Movies

“The Distinguished Gentleman” is a satirical comedy that pokes fun at political corruption and the power of lobbyists in Congress. The film’s premise is based on the idea of a man who gains political power through deceit and manipulation, but eventually learns to use his influence for good.

Johnson’s character is a fish out of water in Congress, and much of the humor comes from his attempts to navigate the complex world of politics. He is forced to deal with lobbyists, corrupt politicians, and media scrutiny, while trying to keep his true identity hidden in plain sight.

Throughout the film, Johnson uses his personal charm and wit to win over other politicians, and eventually becomes a respected member of Congress. He uses his newfound power to push for legislation that benefits his district, while also exposing the corrupt practices of his fellow congressmen.

The film’s message is ultimately one of hope and perseverance. It shows that one person can make a difference in a system that’s gone awry, and that even the most corrupt politicians can be redeemed.


In “The Distinguished Gentleman,” Eddie Murphy delivers a standout performance as a con artist who finds his true calling in politics. The film’s plot is engaging and entertaining, with enough humor to keep audiences laughing from start to finish.

Moreover, the movie also invites viewers to reflect on the political system and its failings, while showcasing the potential for change and reform. If you’re looking for a movie that combines comedy, drama, and political satire, “The Distinguished Gentleman” is a must-watch.

Plot Summary of “The Distinguished Gentleman”

“The Distinguished Gentleman” is a political satire that tells the story of a small-time con artist named Thomas Jefferson Johnson, played by Eddie Murphy, who decides to try his hand at politics in the hopes of making some easy money. Johnson invests in a particular campaign and is poised to lose when he hatches an ingenious plan – to run for Congress himself, using the name of a recently deceased Congressman that shares his same name, hoping that the voters in the district would automatically elect him due to his shared name.

However, once elected, Johnson faces a steep learning curve when he realizes the complexities of the legislative process and the culture of corruption in Congress. He discovers that the game of politics involves more than just winning votes; it also involves currying favor with influential lobbyists to secure funding, cracking under-the-table deals, and dodging landmines set up by the opposition party.

Johnson’s character is both interesting and witty, as he quickly comes to terms with the reality of his new role as a Congressman. He recognizes the benefits of utilizing his street smarts to sway opinions and seeks out allies to carry out his agenda.

Thus, with the help of his office team, which includes Celia Kirby, portrayed by Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Arthur Reinhardt, played by Lane Smith, Johnson begins plotting a strategy to get ahead and make progress on his campaign promises. The plot of the movie revolves around Johnson’s attempts to establish himself as a powerful and influential Congressman.

He devises a strategy to gain influence by playing the game of politics, sticking to his promises, and simultaneously exposing the corrupt practices of his fellow congressmen. He is not afraid to use the same strategies as his opponents, whether bending rules, cultivating relationships or launching a smear campaign against his opposition in the race.

As Johnson’s profile rises and his reputation as a savvy politician and influencer of legislation grows, he is able to accumulate more power and make a real difference for his constituents. He eschews immediate financial gains for long-term prospects that can benefit his constituents and places their welfare at the forefront of his actions.

However, when his opposition, led by the shrewd Congressman Dick Dodge, played by Joe Don Baker, begins to dig up evidence that exploits Johnson’s shady past, he finds himself at the mercy of criticism and controversy. Johnson feels the weight of his past transgressions as they begin to surface and attempts to stay ahead of the game by spinning the narrative and rallying the support of his colleagues.

With his career on the line and the evidence mounting against him, Johnson is forced to use every trick in his book to clear his name and maintain momentum on his legislative initiatives. In the end, Johnson is able to clear his name, defeat his opponent, and deliver on his promises.

Overall, “The Distinguished Gentleman” is an entertaining movie with an interesting plot that is well-executed by the superb cast. It showcases the harsh realities of American politics and the corrupt nature of Washington while also offering a positive take on the potential for change when someone is willing to stand up for what is right.

Production of “The Distinguished Gentleman”

“The Distinguished Gentleman” was directed by Jonathan Lynn, and the script was written by political speechwriter Marty Kaplan, with an uncredited contribution from Adam Resnick. The film was produced by the Touchstone Pictures unit of the Walt Disney Company.

Touchstone Pictures was known for producing films targeted at an adult audience from independent companies. The movie’s production was elaborate, and the filmmakers went to great lengths to give the film an authentic feel.

Capitol Hill is a central setting in the film, and the production team wanted to make sure that the movie did justice to the building’s grandeur. The production team was granted permission to film a few scenes in the historic Capitol building in Washington, D.C. The permission allowed them to use many of the building’s corridors, the rotunda, the House of Representatives’ balcony, and hearing rooms.

The filmmakers also used advanced technology to ensure that the audience has a front-row seat to the political drama taking place on the screen. The sound effects are superb, and the music by Randy Edelman complements the film’s tone and story cleverly.

The special effects, which include green screen work depicting crowds of people at Johnson’s rallies, are also top-notch. The costume designers went to great lengths to ensure that the characters’ wardrobes were fitting for their respective roles.

Johnson’s conman attire evolves into that of an elegant and respectable congressman, with usual flashy necktie and suits. Kirby’s character as a congresswoman reflected a powerful, confident, and stylish look.

The distinction between the clothing designs of different characters helped in bringing out the contrast between the characters and was a silent storytelling aspect in the film. While the film’s budget was on the high end of the spectrum, the filmmakers did not fall short when it came to location scouting.

They filmed in both California and Florida. Some scenes were filmed in Brevard County, Florida, including the office scenes of Jeff Johson, Jr., the late congressman character used by Johnson to get elected.

The film’s opening scenes were shot in South Florida in the town of Davie. This filming schedule gave the movie an authentic and diverse feel, adding to the story’s groundings and realism.

Overall, the production of “The Distinguished Gentleman” was impressive, and the dedication of the production team paid off, as the movie was well received both critically and commercially. Much of its success was attributed to the filmmakers’ commitment to giving the audience an authentic experience by blending sophisticated production values with the drama, humor, and satire that made the movie a beloved political classic.

Production of a satirical political movie requires sophisticated planning, attention to detail, and an excellent sense of humor to execute, and “The Distinguished Gentleman” achieved just that, a rare combination of entertainment, comedy, and commentary. Release of “The Distinguished Gentleman”

“The Distinguished Gentleman” was released in December 4, 1992, by Touchstone Pictures and was distributed in theaters across North America.

The movie has a runtime of approximately 1 hour and 52 minutes. The film was received to mixed reviews from critics but was generally praised for its comedic timing, witty script, and engaging plotline.

Box Office Performance

“The Distinguished Gentleman” performed well at the box office, grossing $24.6 million domestically during its theatrical run and earning an additional $3.6 million internationally. Although not considered a box office blockbuster, it was a significant commercial success for Touchstone Pictures, given its production budget of $50 million.

Marketing Campaign

The marketing campaign for “The Distinguished Gentleman” was focused on showcasing the film’s political satire, humor, and the star power of Eddie Murphy. The studio utilized the tagline, “From con man to congressman.

He’s Sleazy. He’s Slick.

He’s Stupid,” on posters and trailers showcasing the award-winning comedian’s prowess in the film. The film’s trailer was released ahead of its release in theaters, garnering the interest of both fans of Eddie Murphy and those interested in political comedy.

The studio also ran a targeted marketing campaign aimed at reaching an adult audience, which consisted of print ads in prominent publications, including magazines like Time, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone.

Critical Reception

Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film was lauded for its comedic timing, clever script, and engaging plot by many viewers. Eddie Murphy’s performance, in particular, was highly praised by critics, with his role as Thomas Jefferson Johnson hailed as his most well-rounded character at the time of the film’s release.

Critics particularly applauded the film’s complex and nuanced take on the political system, despite its comedic tone. The New York Times praised the movie for exposing the inner workings of Congress with wit and charm, while the Washington Post heralded the film for its ability to showcase Washington’s corruption, while also offering a vision of a new kind of politician.

Through it all, the film was largely seen as an edgy political comedy that entertained its audience while also delivering a potent message about the state of American politics.


In conclusion, “The Distinguished Gentleman” is a critical and commercial success that continues to entertain audiences with its biting humor and spot-on satire. The movie’s marketing campaign drove its success at the box office, where it went on to perform well and satisfy audiences of all backgrounds.

Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film made its mark, highlighting political malpractices while also providing a glimpse of hope regarding the potential for positive change. Despite being released almost three decades ago, The Distinguished Gentleman still resonates among the young and old audiences alike, serving as a testament to the movie’s enduring appeal and influence.

Soundtrack of “The Distinguished Gentleman”

“The Distinguished Gentleman” features a notable soundtrack that complements the film’s political drama and satire perfectly. The music was composed by Randy Edelman, who has an extensive background in scoring films.

Edelman’s score for the movie is both evocative and engaging, using different musical styles to create a diverse sound that captures the film’s varied moods. The soundtrack showcases Edelman’s superior orchestrating skills and brilliant ability to evoke multiple moods effortlessly.

The main theme of the movie is a beautifully-crafted melody that is both catchy and heartwarming. Listeners are enthralled by the beautifully arranged orchestration used to create this main theme, which serves as the leitmotif for Thomas Johnson’s relationship with the Washington elite.

The score evolves from light-hearted to a more serious, optimistic tone, which is indicative of the character development of Thomas Johnson. One of the most memorable pieces from the soundtrack is,” To Congress,” a track that is played when Johnson arrives on Capitol Hill as a newly elected Congressman.

The peaceful piano melody helps signify Johnson’s sense of hope and wonder regarding his newly acquired job. The film’s score also features some fantastic jazz and blues pieces, with the character of Jeff Johnson Jr., the Congressman whose name Johnson used in the election, being one of the central figures in the plot.

There are several jazz pieces that play in the background when Johnson Jr.’s character is on screen, which is fitting for the character’s age and interests. The soundtrack also includes a cover of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” through a synthesizer with a stirring electric guitar solo that is played during one of the film’s most dramatic scenes, where Johnson, while giving a rousing speech, united the Congress to chant the national anthem.

The album was released by Hollywood Records and is available in CD format and digital streaming platforms. Of the 21 tracks available on the album, the score makes up the bulk of the soundtrack.

The music for the movie underscores and highlights the political satire, adding an extra layer to the film’s commentary on American politics. Overall, the soundtrack of “The Distinguished Gentleman” is a perfect blend of orchestral and jazz genres, creating an atmosphere that is both engaging and entertaining.

Randy Edelman’s music score contributes a lot to the movie’s success and is a testament to the power of a good film score. In conclusion, “The Distinguished Gentleman” is a political satire that showcases Eddie Murphy’s wit and charm in a complex and nuanced portrayal of American politics.

The film’s engaging plotline and top-notch production, coupled with a well-executed soundtrack, make for a memorable cinematic experience that continues to entertain audiences of all backgrounds today. This article has covered a wide range of topics related to the movie, including its plot, production, release, and soundtrack.

For those who may still have questions or concerns, here are the answers to some common FAQs:


– Who directed “The Distinguished Gentleman”?

Jonathan Lynn directed the film.

– When was “The Distinguished Gentleman” released?

The movie was released on December 4, 1992.

– What is the plot of the movie?

The film follows a small-time con artist named Thomas Johnson, played by Eddie Murphy, who runs for Congress using the name of a deceased Congressman in hopes of cashing in on politics.

– How did the movie perform at the box office?

The movie grossed $24.6 million domestically during its theatrical run and an additional $3.6 million internationally.

– Who produced the movie? The Touchstone Pictures unit of the Walt Disney Company produced the movie.

– Who composed the music for the movie? Randy Edelman composed the movie’s music.

– What is the main theme used in the movie?

The main theme of the movie is a catchy and heartwarming melody composed by Randy Edelman.

– Where can I listen to the movie’s soundtrack? The soundtrack is available on CD format and digital streaming platforms.

– Does the movie have any memorable scenes?

Yes, the movie has several memorable scenes, including the opening sequence and Johnson’s speech to Congress, which are considered highlights of the film.

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