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Tennessee Johnson (1942)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | December 1942 (USA)
A chronicle of the life of Andrew Johnson from his first arrival in Tennessee to his time as President of the United States.



(screen play by), (screen play by) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Maude Fisher
Blackstone McDaniel
Mordecai Milligan
Alec Craig ...
Sam Andrews
Senator Jim Waters
Congressman Hargrove
Lincoln's Emissary
Sheriff Cass (as Noah Beery Sr.)
Major Crooks
Chief Justice Chase
Mr. Secretary


A chronicle of the life of Andrew Johnson from his first arrival in Tennessee to his time as President of the United States.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Campeão da Liberdade  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its USA television premiere in Los Angeles Tuesday 26 February 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by Seattle 3 April 1957 on KING (Channel 5), by Norfolk VA 11 April 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), by Portland OR 4 May 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), by Chicago 24 May 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), by Tucson 18 June 1957 on KVOA (Channel 4) , by Philadelphia 10 August 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), by Altoona PA 7 September 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), by Minneapolis 13 November 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9) and by San Francisco 25 January 1958 on KGO (Channel 7); but it was not aired in New York City until 7 April 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


The Vice-Presidential oath administered by the Chief Justice is incorrect (using the Presidential oath, adding "Vice"). In reality, the Vice-President's oath is the same generic oath taken by a Senator or Congressman. See more »


Thaddeus Stevens: You're a great stickler for the Constitution, aren't you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening outline includes a disclaimer about historical facts being changed for entertainment purposes. See more »


Battle Hymn of the Republic
Music by William Steffe (circa 1856)
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1961)
Played by a marching band when Lincoln wins the 1864 election
In the score at Lincoln's deathbed
Reprised in the score for the last scene
See more »

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User Reviews

Not Your Current View of Andy Johnson
13 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

Though Tennessee Johnson boasts fine performances by Van Heflin, Ruth Hussey, and Lionel Barrymore as Andrew Johnson, Eliza McCardle Johnson, and Thaddeus Stevens respectively, the wrong story about Johnson was told here.

The accepted historical view of Andrew Johnson's presidency now is that had he been a bit more of a politician and also had been able to rise above the prejudices of his poor white class, the whole impeachment would never have happened. His actions through the use of the presidential veto in stalling the Reconstruction set racial equality in the USA aside for a century. Men of good will on both sides had they been willing to give a little might have settled on a compromise Reconstruction policy without all the rancor that characterized it and U.S. politics for decades.

The real story is Andy Johnson's rise to the presidency. As is showed here young Johnson arrives in Tennessee escaping a kind of slavery of his own. He was an indentured servant to a tailor and learned the trade, but after differences with his employer in his native North Carolina, Johnson escapes to Tennessee.

Andrew Johnson is the only United States president who never spent one day inside a school classroom. He was taught to read and write by the woman who later became Mrs. Johnson. There's was a real love story, one of the most romantic in our history.

Johnson's real moment of courage was after a slow rise up the political ladder that saw him elected as Mayor of Greenville, Tennessee, the state legislature, the House of Representatives, governor and then senator from Tennessee. In 1861 he was the only southern Senator to not walk out of the Senate when the south seceded. He became military governor of Tennessee when the Union Army captured enough of it to set up a government. Johnson's very life was in peril every minute from the firing on Fort Sumter to Lee's surrender at Appomattox. That's a story worth telling.

Unfortunately Johnson represented the poor white class in Tennessee and saw freed slaves as a rival labor force. He had all the prejudices of his class and wasn't hesitant to voice them. That part of the story is not told in Tennessee Johnson.

I did like Charles Dingle's performance as Senator Waters, why he wasn't given his real name in history of that of Ben Wade of Ohio is beyond me. As President Pro Tempore of the Senate with no sitting Vice President, he was first in line of succession had Johnson been impeached. From what I know of Ben Wade, Dingle fitted the role well.

Though it made good cinema, Andrew Johnson never addressed the Senate personally during his impeachment trial. There was an ill Senator who cast a deciding vote that saved Johnson's presidency. But unlike William Farnum's character of Senator Valley, James Grimes of Iowa had been felled by a stroke and no one expected him to be in the Senate that day. But he was carried in and voted not guilty.

The real story of Andrew Johnson is one of the most dramatic about one who turned out to be one of our worst presidents. Too bad it wasn't told in Tennessee Johnson.

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