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Of Thee I Sing (1972)

TV Movie  -  Comedy | Musical  -  24 October 1972 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 18 users  
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CBS' updated version of the classic Gershwin musical, cast largely with stars who were all appearing in then-current CBS television series.

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Title: Of Thee I Sing (TV Movie 1972)

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Cast

Credited cast:
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John P. Wintergreen
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Mary Turner
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Diana Devereaux
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Senator Robert F. Lyons
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Francis X. Gilhooley
Bob Duggan ...
Senate Clerk
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Louis Lippman
Paul Hartman ...
Chief Justice
Shirley Kirkes ...
Miss Benson
Garrett Lewis ...
Sam Jenkins
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Hotel Chambermaid
Jesse White ...
Matthew Fulton
Ted Zeigler ...
White House Guide
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CBS' updated version of the classic Gershwin musical, cast largely with stars who were all appearing in then-current CBS television series.

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Genres:

Comedy | Musical

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Release Date:

24 October 1972 (USA)  »

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Trivia

The original Broadway musical play "Of Thee I Sing" won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1932. Only eight musicals have won the Pulitzer Prize in drama - one per decade from the 1930s to the 1990s. They are as follows: "Of Thee I Sing" in the 1930s, "South Pacific" in the 1940s (movie version: South Pacific (1958)), "Fiorello" from in 1950s, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" in the 1960s (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)), "A Chorus Line" in the 1970s (A Chorus Line (1985)), "Sunday in the Park with George" in the 1980s (American Playhouse: Sunday in the Park with George (1986)) "Rent" in the 1990s (Rent (2005)), and Next to Normal (2009). See more »

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References Mary Tyler Moore (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wintergreen For President
13 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Of Thee I Sing" should somehow be revived as often as "Porgy And Bess" or "An American In Paris" or "Rhapsody In Blue". But this, the first musical comedy to win the Pulitzer Prize, is never revived. Some of its songs are sung, in particular "Of Thee I Sing Baby", but most of them are very deeply connected to the plot of the musical. How to understand a song like "She's the illegitimate daughter, of the illegitimate son, of the illegitimate nephew of Napoleon." which happens to deal with a plot problem concerning the promise of a marriage to the winner of a contest by the victor of the Presidential election. See what I mean: the songs can't be on their own feet, like the best loved melodies of George and Ira Gershwin.

Yet it has never been forgotten, as so many other Pulitzer play winners (who recalls the story of "Why Marry?" the first play to win, or "Men In White", which we all remember is about hospitals...and then what?). The reason is the spoofing of the political system in the story, at a critical moment of American history, remains cogent to this day.

Set in the 1930s (in an alternate universe, where Herbert Hoover was not replaced by Franklin Roosevelt), a convention that is deadlocked nominates one John P. Wintergreen for President. It later turns out that Wintergreen, a little known delegate, yelled his own name at a critical moment, and it swept the convention hall. A Vice Presidential candidate was also chosen as well, but nobody is paying attention to that (in fact, in the play's directions the name of the Vice President on the banners is constantly hidden from view). Wintergreen discusses campaign strategy with several managers (each representing a portion of the country: the urban immigrant voters represented by a Jewish fellow, a southern Democrat type, etc.). But the Vice President is never seen. He is a nonentity - indeed he becomes the monument to the concept of nonentities.

It is decided to run on a "Love Ticket", in which the handsome Wintergreen, if elected, will marry the winner of a national beauty contest. Here the song "Love is Sweeping the Country" would come in - the other major standard that came out of this show. The winner of the contest is Miss Devereaux, who is from the south. John wins the election, but he has met Mary, and he wants to marry Mary. This is an insult to the southern delegation to congress, who demand his head. Soon it becomes an international matter, when it turns out that Miss Devereaux is a relative of Napoleon (hence the song I mentioned before). Wintergreen is threatened by impeachment from the U.S. Senate, and war from France unless he marries Miss Devereaux.

But while this is going on, we finally meet the Vice President: Mr. Alexander Throttlebottom. A harmless nothing, nobody pays any attention to him. He can't get a library card in Washington as he has no pair of references. But when the possibility that Wintergreen being removed occurs, suddenly Throttlebottom becomes a desirable person to know. And he knows it.

Victor Moore played Throttlebottom in 1931 to William Gaxton's Wintergreen. Moore had been a Broadway figure for two decades (he was in "Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway" in the first decade with Fay Templeton - see the program that is briefly shown in "Yankee Doodle Dandy"). But this role is the one we remember him for, and it is not on film or video or even radio broadcast. He and Gaxton were paired for a decade on Broadway, and Moore went on to Hollywood, sometimes playing clones of Throttlebottom like Senator Loggenberry in "Louisiana Purchase". It made him a real star. Gaxton had less movie success (see him in "Best Foor Forward").

The 1972 television version was a flop really. Jim Bachus, by the way, played the southern senator, not the French ambassador. Herb Edelman was the Jewish adviser. Carroll O'Connor was fairly good as Wintergreen, but the role should have been for a slightly younger man. Jack Gilford did well as Throttlebottom, but one would have rather seen Moore's bobble headed characterization. Cloris Leachman and Michelle Lee did well as Mary and Miss Devereaux. But the production was not that good and has never been revived.


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