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Sunrise at Campobello (1960)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | 26 September 1960 (USA)
3:32 | Trailer

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In 1921, unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt contracts poliomyelitis and, with the help of his wife Eleanor Roosevelt and close friend Louis Howe, battles his newfound disability.



(screenplay), (story)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Missy Le Hand
James Roosevelt
Anna Roosevelt
Dr. Bennett
Pat Close ...
Elliott Roosevelt
Robin Warga ...
Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.
Tom Carty ...
Johnny Roosevelt
Mr. Brimmer
Capt. Skinner


The story of Franklin Roosevelt's bout with polio at age 39 in 1921 and how his family (and especially wife Eleanor) cope with his illness. From being stricken while vacationing at Campobello to his triumphant nominating speech for Al Smith's presidency in 1924, the story follows the various influences on his life and his determination to recover - based on the award winning Broadway play of the same name. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Was there ever such a sunrise . . . so charged with human emotion . . . since the world began? Was there ever such a motion picture . . . so filled with laughter - through - tears . . . since the screen was born? See more »


Biography | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

26 September 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dez Passos Imortais  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to the home-video sleeve notes, "interiors [were] painstakingly duplicated from the real-life Roosevelt homes". See more »


No competent orthopedist would have given Franklin D. Roosevelt crutches so short that he would have to lean forward and use them to walk on all fours, as Ralph Bellamy does. (Besides, the paralysis would have kept him from moving his legs.) Crutches should be long enough so that the user can stand up straight, support his weight on them and propel himself forward with his shoulder muscles. See more »


Franklin Delano Roosevelt: I have no personal complaints. I'm lucky. I had rich parents.
See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Skydivers (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Incipient Presidential Greatness
11 November 2008 | by See all my reviews

Before Franklin D. Roosevelt could lead the nation in overcoming economic depression and fascist aggression, he had to overcome one of the greatest of personal challenges any would be president ever had to overcome. The years 1921 to 1924 in his life are the subject of Dore Schary's play Sunrise At Campobello which won a Tony Award for Best Play and for Ralph Bellamy as FDR.

Bellamy and Alan Bunce as Alfred E. Smith are the only ones who repeated their stage roles in this film. Bellamy, a most respected player was certainly not a leading man in a traditional sense nor any kind of box office. Mary Fickett who played Eleanor Roosevelt on stage was replaced by Greer Garson. I'm not sure why Henry Jones who also won a Tony for playing Louis McHenry Howe was replaced, but Hume Cronyn certainly did an admirable job as the asthmatic, cigar smoking former reporter who became FDR's devoted acolyte and one of the very few whom he vested 100% trust in during his life.

You can read the various biographies of Roosevelt by James McGregor Burns, Frank Freidel, Emil Ludwig and a host of others and most recently by British author Conrad Black and you'll find that Schary sticks very closely to what exactly happened in those four years. For people who grew up in the Roosevelt era like Schary, like my parents, Roosevelt approached almost deification in their minds. I would have expected nothing less than that from Dore Schary, a certified New Deal liberal in his politics.

One summer after spending a day swimming in the Bay of Fundy on Campbello Island where the Roosevelts had a summer home, Roosevelt was taken down with chills which quickly developed into paralysis, infantile paralysis, a dread scourge back in those days.

Roosevelt's career was thought to be over. At the time the disease struck him he was contemplating his next move after having run for Vice President with James M. Cox in 1920 on the Democratic ticket. It was thought he was finished then, he would retire to his estate at Hyde Park with people occasionally remembering what might have been. That was certainly what mother Sara, played by Ann Shoemaker wanted.

It's not what Eleanor wanted and definitely not what Louis Howe wanted who gave him the spark to overcome the limitations the disease put on him, if not the disease himself. That's the story of Sunrise At Campobello.

Sunrise at Campobello got four Oscar nominations, Best costume design, best art&set direction, best sound and for Greer Garson, best actress. Greer unfortunately was up against a sentimental vote for Elizabeth Taylor who had battled back from disease herself that year for Butterfield 8.

However the film is best remembered for Ralph Bellamy as FDR. He became the actor most identified with the role even though many like Dan O'Herlihy and Arthur Hill have played FDR in other venues. Bellamy got to repeat his portrayal of FDR in the acclaimed mini-series The Winds Of War. It's certainly something better to remember him by than what he had done before in films, usually the earnest goof who loses the leading lady in the end.

I highly recommend this film, especially for younger viewers who want to get a glimpse of incipient presidential greatness. It holds up well and will continue to for centuries.

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