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The Phantom President (1932)

Too bad for presidential hopes of banker T.K. Blair; his party feels he has too little flair for savoir faire. But at a medicine show, the party bosses find Blair's double: huckster Doc ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Theodore K. Blair / Peeter J. 'Doc' Varney
...
Felicia Hammond
...
Curly Cooney
...
Boss Jim Ronkton
...
Prof. Aikenhead
Louise Mackintosh ...
Sen. Sarah Scranton
...
Jerrido
Julius McVicker ...
Sen. Melrose
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Storyline

Too bad for presidential hopes of banker T.K. Blair; his party feels he has too little flair for savoir faire. But at a medicine show, the party bosses find Blair's double: huckster Doc Varney. Of course, they scheme to make Varney T.K.'s public spokesman; at first, he even fools Blair's girlfriend Felicia, providing a romantic complication. As election eve approaches, the conspirators face the problem of what to do with Varney...who has difficult decisions of his own to make. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's nonsense and - I love it!

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

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Details

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Release Date:

23 September 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Falso Presidente  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Richard Rodgers, George M. Cohan deeply resented having to work with Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart on the film. Cohan was bitter that the type of musical theatre that he had created was now out of fashion, and that it was being supplanted by the more literate and musically sophisticated shows of Rodgers and Hart, among others. During the filming Cohan would sarcastically refer to Rodgers and Hart as "Gilbert and Sullivan". See more »

Quotes

Prof. Aikenhead: Blair lacks political charm. Blair has no flair for savoir faire.
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Soundtracks

ROBINSON CRUSOE
Written by Arthur Johnston
Lyrics by Jimmy Durante
Briefly included by Durante in "Medicine Show" routine
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User Reviews

 
George M. in delicious, gentle satire
9 January 2005 | by (Jersey City, New Jersey) – See all my reviews

Light weight but winning political satire even in its day, the big news in this well reviewed Rodgers and Hart not-quite-musical (there are just four main musical sequences - the best known song is "Give Her A Kiss") was George M. Cohan's first appearance in a talkie - he would make but one more in 1934 (GAMBLING), three years before Cohan returned to Broadway with Rodgers & Hart in their 1937 hit I'D RATHER BE RIGHT, playing a real president - FDR.

Playing the dual role here of a candidate and his more likable double, Cohan more than justified the hype, and ably assisted by the always wonderful Claudette Colbert as the candidate's girlfriend (shades of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA) and Jimmy Durante who almost steals the film as the nice Cohan's manager (catch Durante in MGM's 1934 STUDENT TOUR playing a crew coach named Merman in an in joke!), Cohan makes this a must-see in any year. In an election year like this one, we can only wish the finale were reality rather than a gentle satire of pandering to public perceptions.

The pleasant surprises don't stop with the leads however. Watch the singing portraits of past presidents in the opening for Alan Mowbray as George Washington and later, Sidney (Charlie Chan) Toler's appearance as a political boss - all smiles but as rooted in what "works" as any current campaign manager - is a joy to behold.

If you've seen Jimmy Cagney dancing to an Oscar as Cohan in the World War II YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (a decade after this effort), take a look at Cohan doing the original steps (in black-face, yet in an "on stage" number) and you'll wonder if Cagney didn't study this film specifically.

In the great legacy of film musicals, THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT is probably little more than a footnote, but it's a very enjoyable, important one.


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