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Wilson (1944) Poster

(1944)

Trivia

This was, perhaps, the only box office disaster in the history of Hollywood to have received so many Oscar nominations (10), to have won as many Oscars as it did (5), and to have received so much critical acclaim.
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The film, a pet project and labor of love for producer Darryl F. Zanuck, was a notorious box-office flop in its day, despite good reviews and several Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor, and despite the fact that when it played the Roxy in New York, it grossed more than any one movie had in a single theatre up to then. Zanuck was so heartbroken over the movie's failure that he forbade anyone who came into his presence to ever mention the film again.
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Franklin D. Roosevelt screened the film at the Second Quebec Conference in 1944. Among those watching were Winston Churchill who was decidedly unimpressed and left early to go to bed.
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The film paints a rather saintly picture of Woodrow Wilson. In reality, he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Darryl F. Zanuck was so proud of the film that he ordered that the world premiere be held in Wahoo, Nebraska, Zanuck's own home town - presumably so that Zanuck could show off his pet project to the local citizens. The plan backfired; nobody in Wahoo was really interested in Woodrow Wilson, and attendance at the film's showings was extremely poor.
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In 2013, it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio had optioned the latest biography of President Wilson--by Pulitzer Prize-winner, A. Scott Berg, and hoped to play the President himself.
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Character actor Dwight Frye was originally going to play Secretary of State Newton D. Baker, however he passed away following a heart attack three days before filming was supposed to begin. Afterwords, the character was written out of the script.
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Woodrow Wilson's daughter, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo, served as technical advisor on the film.
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Three years later when Darryl F. Zanuck stood on the Oscar podium picking up his Best Film Academy Award for Gentleman's Agreement (1947), he said "I should have won this for Wilson (1944)".
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Despite being a box-office flop, the film won five Oscars, but this made no difference to the movie public.
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Numerous allusions are made throughout this film comparing Woodrow Wilson to George Washington, and more so to Abraham Lincoln, including musical cues used in prior Lincoln biopics.
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Per the 'Guinness Book of Movie Facts & Feats', this movie production surpassed Gone with the Wind (1939) as the most expensive movie ever produced up to that time.
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Cinematographer Leon Shamroy replaced Ernest Palmer, who fell ill during production.
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A rare leading role for popular character actor, Alexander Knox.
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This was Darryl F. Zanuck's first production after returning from service in the North African front in World War II.
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Henry Fonda and Gary Cooper were both considered for the lead role.
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Of all the prestige productions that Darryl F. Zanuck oversaw, this was his favorite.
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Alexander Knox had 1194 lines in 294 scenes.
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The film cost a then gargantuan $5 million to produce, an insane amount of money to spend on such a box office risk. (It actually cost more than Gone with the Wind (1939).) Consequently, it was known in the trade as "Zanuck's Folly".
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Made its US DVD debut in March 2013.
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Alexander Knox is credited last in the lengthy list of actors in the opening titles.
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Ironically, Alexander Knox who plays the 28th US President was actually Canadian by birth and rarely traveled to the States.
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