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Gabriel Over the White House (1933)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Romance  |  31 March 1933 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 774 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 14 critic

A political hack becomes President during the height of the Depression and undergoes a metamorphosis into an incorruptible statesman after a near-fatal accident.

Director:

(as Gregory LaCava)

Writers:

(screen play), (additional dialogue), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Karen Morley ...
...
Arthur Byron ...
Jasper Brooks - Secretary of State
...
C. Henry Gordon ...
David Landau ...
Samuel S. Hinds ...
Dr. H.L. Eastman (as Samuel Hinds)
William Pawley ...
...
Claire Du Brey ...
Nurse (as Claire DuBrey)
Edit

Storyline

Newly inaugurated President Judson Hammond is content to live out the next four years exercising a hands-off approach and leaving the problems of Depression America to local authorities. But after a miraculous recovery from an auto accident, Hammond is ready to take on every social ill and neither Congress, gangsters nor the nations of the world will stop him. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El despertar de una nación  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (preview)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The protest march of the "army of the unemployed" in the story was no doubt a reference to the protest march of the "Bonus Army" in 1932, where veterans of WWI marched on Congress to demand payment of promised bonuses. They were attacked with tanks and tear gas by the U.S. Army led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur on orders of President Herbert Hoover. William Randolph Hearst, who railed against that action in his newpapers, saw to it that the President in this film helped the people. Meanwhile, Louis B. Mayer, a staunch Republican, delayed the movie until Hoover was out of office. See more »

Goofs

When John Bronson and his daughter, Alice, are seated on a bench with the "Army of the Unemployed", he is approached by someone and gets up from the bench. In the next shot, he is again seated and gets up again. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Thieson: Mr. President, my paper's indictment against the government is a staggering one. Starvation is wanton everywhere, from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico. Millions of dollars are poured into new battleships. Farmers burn corn and wheat, food is thrown into the sea while men and women are begging for bread. Men are freezing without coats while cotton rots in the field. Thousands are homeless, millions of vacant homes. Over 5000 gang land murders last year, and only five gangsters in prison...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hagan Reviews: Gabriel Over the White House (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
(1861) (uncredited)
Music by William Steffe (1856)
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe
Sung a cappella by the army of the unemployed after the
president's reassuring words
Reprised at the signing of the covenent
See more »

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User Reviews

Understand something about Wm R. Hearst
14 November 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Fascinating and important historical document.

I want to briefly address the historical comments that this was "left wing" propaganda. This is a real misreading of the film and the historical context. This was an earnest, non-ironic celebration of proto-fascist ideals by Wm. Randolph Hearst, including not so veiled references to the "foreigners" who he felt were responsible for all ills in American Society. I am, by the way, a fairly consistent Republican, so I'm not writing on behalf of the left wing.

Let's not give such credit for "prescience" as to misread the film entirely out of its time, as a pre-emotive critique of FDR. Some modern viewers mis-interpret the film as "left wing" because, to modern eyes, it is so obviously "corny" and wrong-headed that they assume it is meant as ironic. Hearst was notoriously sympathetic to fascist ideas --and as this was pre WWII, the ideas of fascism were not yet fully discredited in the US, and enjoyed some widespread support given fairly desperate times and the intellectual movements of the day. This film was produced by Wm Randolph Hearst in 1932, before FDR was elected. It was held over for distribution by Louis B. Mayer (who did not sympathize with its fascistic views) till after the Hoover-FDR election, to avoid influencing the election.

The film does, of course, have relevance to FDR (and others) who would subvert the Constitution for expediency. However, to understand what the film maker meant, you have to view it as a pro-dictatorial document, by an individual who was not afraid to state those views, in the context of his time. Today, we have the luxury to see how obviously wrong those views were. But to miss the endorsement of proto-fascism in the movie is to forget the history of those who, in desperate times, with receptive elements of the population, were once willing to embrace a form of fascism in the USA.

Hearst's views were also, to some degree, responsible for an under-reporting of the ominous nature of Nazi Germany, as it is well documented that he instructed his news gathering organization to be sympathetic to that fledgling regime, and not to focus on abuses of Jews and others under the Nazis. This movie is a fascinating window into a mindset that was real, had an effect on history, and which found resonances in the ideas of Father Coughlin, Huey Long etc.

.


60 of 71 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Tend to agree with the synopsis poster Romojo
How can we see it ? jean-no
Other Films Depicting the Bonus Army Marchers? chrismo1
That's one calm crack-up pepperdoggie
Hearst's Revisions and FDR's Enthusiastic Response gvb0907
We're living this now... Polly_Sigh
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