Newly inaugurated President Judson Hammond is content to live out the next four years exercising a hands-off approach and leaving the problems of Depression America to local authorities. But after a miraculous recovery from an auto accident, Hammond is ready to take on every social ill and neither Congress, gangsters nor the nations of the world will stop him.Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
This film's initial television presentation took place Monday 28 January 1957 in both Chicago and Minneapolis on WBBM (Channel 2) and on KMGM (Channel 9); in Altoona it first aired 17 February 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Philadelphia 28 March 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Memphis 14 May 1957 on WHBQ (Channel 13), and in Omaha 20 August 1957 on WOW (Channel 6) . Because of its age, obscurity and the dated political nature of its story, other major market telecasts eschewed it at this time, but it's now in the Turner Classic Movies inventory and vintage film enthusiasts welcome its occasional airings on TCM. See more »
Through out the whole movie Walter Huston's hair is combed differently in one continuous scene after another. It's obvious many of the cuts back to him are from different takes. See more »
I basically checked out "Gabriel Over the White House" because of Walter Huston, an actor I have always considered one of the greats. He doesn't disappoint as the President of the United States in this bizarre fantasy, produced by William Randolph Hearst and promoting his ideas of fascism.
I gave this film a high mark (8) not because I loved it but because it is a fascinating film from a historical point of view. Newly-elected President Hammond (Huston) pays lip service to the needs of the depression-ridden people by uttering platitudes, and meanwhile, is content to do what the party tells him. Meanwhile, he brings his girlfriend on as his personal assistant. He pays no attention to the head of a group of unemployed men who plan to march on Washington, though it isn't made clear why his party isn't interested in doing anything to stop the depression. One day, while driving his car at breakneck speed (as if all Presidents are encouraged to do this), he crashes and slips into a coma. When he comes to, he hears a horn playing a passage from Brahms Symphony 1 in C Minor, Opus 68 and has a change of heart. This supposedly is the angel Gabriel checking in. After that, he becomes a dictator of sorts, usurping the system of checks and balances. He forms a WPA of sorts for the unemployed, has executions of gangsters, and forms the Washington covenant to reduce arms buildup from countries around the world. Supposedly there was an assassination attempt that takes place in the film that was cut after an attempt was made on Roosevelt's life.
Supposedly this film was shelved by a nervous Louis B. Mayer until after FDR was elected. It's surprising he released it at all. There is supposedly an alternate version that acknowledges the dangers of fascism. Whatever version you see, this is a film very much of its time as far as the political climate and the thinking of a powerful man like Hearst, and as such makes for remarkable viewing.
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