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The President's Mystery (1936)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 28 September 1936 (USA)
A millionaire with a crumbling personal life comes up with an idea on how he can disappear, start a new life without anyone knowing who he is and be able to take all his money with him.



(story conceived by), (story) | 7 more credits »

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Credited cast:
James Blake
Charlotte Brown (as Betty Furness - courtesy MGM)
George Sartos
Ilka Blake
Barnett Parker ...
Mel Ruick ...
Wade Boteler ...
Guy Usher ...
Police Lieutenant
Robert Homans ...
Sergeant (as Robert E. Homans)
Si Jenks ...
Arthur Aylesworth ...
Joe Reed
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Antrim ...
Inspector A.R. Lahey
Undetermined Supporting Role (unconfirmed)


A millionaire with a crumbling personal life comes up with an idea on how he can disappear, start a new life without anyone knowing who he is and be able to take all his money with him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Franklin D. Roosevelt's tale of suspense! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 September 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One for All  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is the only film where a sitting President of the United States has been credited as a writer. See more »


James Blake's dog accompanies him on the fishing trip, and then doesn't appear when he goes into the meeting hall or after that at all. See more »

Crazy Credits

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, talking with a magazine editor on one of his favorite subjects - mystery stories - advanced the question: "How can a man disappear with five million dollars of his own money in negotiable form and not be traced?" Challenged by this, the editor enlisted the aid of six famous authors. The result was a thrilling story. The same problem intrigued the producers of this photoplay, and in another form is now brought to the screen. The proceeds of the sale of the plot, both for publication and motion picture rights, have been given voluntarily by the publisher to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. See more »


Featured in Red Hollywood (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

FDR pitches a story idea
30 September 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Reading some of the information about how The President's Mystery came into being it seems like that story would make a far better film than The President's Mystery itself. Even if I had seen the director's cut which was originally 80 minutes. Sad to say about 3/8 of this film seems to have been gutted and I had to fill in a lot of blanks.

Another president named Warren G. Harding had a campaign song that came about just about like this film. At the famous Republican convention of 1920 several prominent songwriters did a collaborative effort and came up with a campaign song that featured such gems as "we need another Lincoln to do our country's thinking, Mr. Harding we're behind you". None of the writers which included Irving Berlin and George Gershwin took copyright credit.

Here Franklin D. Roosevelt pitches a story idea about whether a rich man could liquidate his assets and just disappear. Six prominent authors of the time and their names are listed on the credits of The President's Mystery wrote a collaborative story. Of course when have that much variety in the mix the result can be bland.

This film can't make up its mind whether it's a screwball comedy, a murder mystery, or in the end a Capra like populist song for the common man. Henry Wilcoxon is our protagonist who does liquidate his assets and leaves an unhappy marriage with Evelyn Brent and moves down south and finds a company town where the cannery is shut down and everyone on relief as they called public assistance back in the day. He gets the place started again, but some old enemies in the person of Sidney Blackmer try to defeat his plans. It turns out someone murdered Evelyn after Wilcoxon left town and he's looking good for it.

Betty Furness is the country girl who wins Wilcoxon and Barnett Parker is his former butler who saves the day.

The film was shut on a nickel and dime budget by the even tighter than usual fisted Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures. Since the overhead was cheap, FDR's Warm Springs Foundation for Infantile Paralysis I'm sure got a nice check from Republic where the picture credits say all profits went to.

Maybe the film might be higher rated if we could see the whole thing, but we have to go with what we have.

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