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John G. Adolfi
With the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, General George Washington took Colonel Hamilton with him into the newly formed government. While the main disagreements in the early days was over paying the soldiers who had fought in the War, Hamilton also dedicated his energies towards a national bank so that the United States would be able to trade with other countries. He fought eight long years for his Assumption Bill while considering the new Residence Bill. While he is engaged in running a clean treasury, his arch rival, Senator Roberts, takes every opportunity to slander and cast Alexander as a dishonorable man. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Just A Lonely Guy, Set Up Cuz He Was Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places
During the first years of sound, George Arliss was Warner Brothers featured answer to what Jack Warner saw as class films for the studio, biographical films. Later on Paul Muni fulfilled the same function.
One of the worst, maybe the worst of the ones he did was Alexander Hamilton. In this film we have the 63 year old Arliss playing the 30 something Hamilton in a play where his financial assumption plan and the eventual selection of a southern capital got interposed with America's first sex scandal, Hamilton's affair with Maria Reynolds.
Historians will be aghast at this screenplay, but even more aghast at the casting of Arliss as Hamilton, next to younger actors like Montagu Love as Thomas Jefferson and an even younger Alan Mowbray as George Washington.
After a brief prologue with Washington and Hamilton at the end of the Revolutionary War, where Hamilton expounds on his nationalist views, the action fast forwards to the early 1790s and the first Washington term as president. Arliss is trying to push his financial plan for the federal government to assume all state debts to put the new United States of America on a sound financial basis. Love and his supporters which include a completely fictional character, a Senator Timothy Roberts played by Duddley Digges, see the idea as a power grab. They want the capital relocated to somewhere in the southern states.
Digges wants more than that. He offers to swing votes Hamilton's way in order to get a plum ambassadorship to gay Paree, in the midst of its own revolutionary problems. Arliss is mortified by the offer and flat turns him down. Digges vows revenge.
The revenge comes in petticoats in the person of June Collyer as Maria Reynolds. Her husband, encourages the affair with Hamilton and then seeks to blackmail him. Of course Hamilton is vulnerable in this way because his dear wife Elizabeth has had to visit her sister Angelica in Paris. Elizabeth is played by Daisy Kenyon.
The only thing this travesty got right was Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton's total devotion to her man. Hamilton however never missed an opportunity for a long affair or quick roll in the hay in his life. Including that unseen sister Angelica who also at a different time was involved with Thomas Jefferson.
The worst thing about Alexander Hamilton however was the casting. Arliss was a co-author of the play this movie is based on and I'll bet it was a role he did on stage many times. The key here is that Hamilton had an active libido, but it was a young man's libido and that Washington was a father figure for him. Hamilton was of illegitimate birth and rose from poverty, a fact he never forgot. The last thing he was would have been a lonely guy pining for his wife who was away over the seas.
Hamilton was at times, brilliant, loyal, arrogant all in the same person. Not the wizened old fox we see. In real life Hamilton was 49 when he died years later in that duel with Aaron Burr. His assumption plan and the deal for the capital was struck much before the Reynolds affair.
A great deal is made of Hamilton's honesty and in financial matters he was scrupulously honest. In real life his choice of subordinates was not always the best. His first Under Secretary of the Treasury had to resign because he was caught speculating in those bond obligations Hamilton wanted the federal government to assume. It was the first insider trading scandal in American history. Hamilton took quite a few hits from that one also from Jefferson, etc.
A cast of classically trained players do a decent job in bringing this historical travesty to the screen. Make no mistake, you are NOT seeing anything resembling the real Alexander Hamilton though.
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