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I must admit, before seeing this movie my expectations were somewhat low. However, I was surprised to learn that it is a really intelligent, sober and most importantly, truthful TV movie describing how an "ordinary American" and farmer, Harry S. Truman, rose to become the leader of the free world in the atomic age. The acting is really impressing. Especially Sinise as Truman, is really breathtaking, showing once and for all that he is undoubtly one of Hollywood`s most underestimated actors. The movie is also true to a great number of historical details, which improves the film even more. For all you historical and political junkies out there, this is a must see.
This solid, theatrical caliber bio of President Harry S. Truman covers
much ground and offers Gary Sinise giving one of his finest
performances to date.
An Emmy-winning production, this also boasts lavish period detail and a strong supporting cast (lead by Diana Scarwid as Bess Truman). It also features one of my all-time favorite character actors, Richard Dysart. He plays Secretary of War Henry Stimson and is quite memorable in an otherwise minor supporting role. All in all I gave this an IMDb '10'. Even with a whitewash of some details, this has to be one of the best presidential bios ever. They obviously put lots of time, money and effort into it.
I knew that I was going to be interested in this film from the beginning,
having read and enjoyed David McCullough's book of the same name. What I
wasn't expecting was the incredible performance turned out by Gary Sinise as
Truman. While I thought that he was the *only* good thing about the film
Forrest Gump, I still wasn't completely sold on his acting ability. This
film changed my mind, because I felt like I was watching Truman himself in
action. I can't even fathom the amount of research he must have put into
his role, but he was amazing.
As for the film itself, it was very well done, used stock footage well (although I would swear that I caught a glimpse of FDR in some footage after he had supposedly died) and was a good overview of the very lengthy source it came from. Having read the book, I would have liked to have seen the film act as more of a thesis than a summary, so while adding another hour may have alienated some in terms of length; it would have provided a more in-depth portrayal of a sometimes underrated president.
Based on David McCullough's weighty biography of Harry S Truman, this film is a fascinating and gripping 'biopic'. By refusing to resort either to simple hagiography or revisionist 'debunking', Frank Pierson has directed an excellent account of Truman's road to and period in the White House. He lets characters and events speak for themselves rather than imposing on them some wayward, overly-personal, directorial interpretation (who knows what Oliver Stone would have made of this one). In an age when all politicians, whatever their merits, are usually the targets of ridicule, it was interesting to watch a film which portrayed the difficult, if not impossible, decisions with which political leaders are routinely faced (the use of the Atomic Bomb, the Korean War and recognition of the state of Israel were just some of problems with which Truman had to grapple). Of course, the director's job was made a great deal easier by an excellent cast and flawless acting. 'Acting' is not really an accurate or adequate way to describe Gary Sinise's portrayal of the former President and the word 'performance' suggests impersonation - on the contrary, he seems simply to have 'become' Harry Truman for the duration of the film.
Gary Sinese goes a great job portraying the farmer who became a president- a man who could make tough decisions and live with them. Though surrounded by corruption, he never stooped to it. His letters to his wife are touching- since Bess did not cotton to Washington society. The whole movie- from his early days in haberdashery to the Korea and MacArthur are documented very well. I also liked the touch of his defending he daughter Margaret against the music critic of the Washington Post- He was a strong man- stubborn as a Missouri mule but also a man of intergrity.
This is truly a great film. Gary Sinise must have looked a countless number of footage from news reels of Truman to get the, voice, (perfect), mannerisms and walk of Harry Truman. As a former actor, I can appreciate a fellow performer really getting into the character. The only objection is that they did not use more look-a-likes in the other main character roles (with the exception of Dean Atchenson, who was superb!). The scene in the kitchen where he brings the Birthday cake to the kitchen help actually happened, BTW.
After seeing Gary Sinise in this movie he became one of my favorite actors. I live in Independence, the proud hometown of Harry S. Truman. I was fortunate enought to meet Gary, who is one of the friendliest actors around. ( Only said hi but he smiled and said hi back with such warmth.) I think he's a great actor who will hopefully be around for years to come!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot spoilers ahead.
HBO Productions did very well with "Truman." Gary Sinise is excellent as our 33rd president. This movie traces Harry S. Truman's life, from his humble beginnings as a Kansas City judge, to his decade in the Senate, to both of his terms as president. This movie does not sugar coat Truman's legacy at all, and is not afraid to tackle controversy. Among the events that the movie tackles are the decision to drop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima; Truman's decision to force railway workers to end their strike with the threat of a draft; his decision to fire popular general Douglas McArthur; and, of significantly less importance, his decision to write a fiery response to a theater critic who had panned his daughter's performance. Sinise manages to humanize Truman, and makes the role all his own. His performance was realistic and seldom over the top. This film treats Truman with the respect and dignity worthy of his place in American history.
Harry Truman was an American president of rare integrity. Steadfastly
honest and loyal to his friends, his causes, and his own heart, and
born into a lower middle class farming family, Truman stands out as a
real anomaly in 20th century American politics. Like similar men of
profound integrity, such as John Adams, his presidency was a turbulent
time of great triumphs for freedom and democracy and huge problems for
ethics, nationalism and human rights. And as the symbol and scapegoat
of those times, Truman, again like Adams, played his role - whether
cast as hero or villain - with profound dignity. This film tells his
story from his enlistment in the armed forces during World War One, at
the age of 33, to his retirement from politics about 35 years later.
The characters of this film are portrayed sensitively and authentically. Truman and his wife, and the controversial Generals Marshall and MacArthur are particularly impressive. In some cases - particularly the Trumans themselves - this must have been a fairly difficult effort. Truman was not a very dramatic and flashy person, and his wife was fairly detached and private. Sinise and Scarwid play the parts and the relationship perfectly.
Since the study of history is a big part of my career, I am writing from a slightly unusual perspective. "Truman" has all the pedigree for what should have been a really powerful biographical film - a great lead actor, a solid supporting cast, a good production team, a great story and a very strong writing team. And it is refreshing to see such an accurate portrayal of a true hero of American politics and such a vivid realization of his times. Despite all of this, I feel that Truman could have been a better film - more dramatic, more visually powerful and more poignant. Somewhere between the script and the directing, a bit of cinematic art was lost and never quite recovered. Historiographically, this is a satisfying film, but it does not go too far past "satisfying".
the thing I remember most in any of the bios and books about Truman was
that he was a man of his word.
which became evident to stalin for instance during his adventurisms. he didn't think America under Truman would react to the invasion of south Korea that he agitated. in fact Truman responded immediately and decisively just as he said he would.
there is an anecdote about the use of stamps at the white house, where Truman insisted the stamps for his personal correspondence were paid for by him and kept separate from those for official letters.
Truman wasn't the back room deal maker type like so many before and all since, he was straightforward and honest. and tough as they come when he needed to be. I personally have for a very long time decided he was right to order the use of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and a few days later Nagasaki. I call Hiroshima the wake up call and Nagasaki the message. these weapons allowed the Japanese civilian authority a window in which to seize control from the militarists under toejam tojo just long enough to sue for peace and surrender in tokyo bay. thereby saving somewhere between 1/2 million and 10 million Japanese civilians and American soldier's lives.
Truman's popularity was very low at the time of the end of his 2nd term. but gradually increased over time as the American people realized his great qualities. he was certainly a quick study and didn't make very many serious mistakes. Harry Truman, Mr 'The Buck Stops Here'.
the film was a real delight, well acted with the necessary physical resemblances that add to the understanding and dramatic value.
one compares the buffoons that have somehow lucked into the oval office like the present day frat boy squawking parrot for big oil and you realize just why America has so many enemies in the world now.
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