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Tennessee Johnson (1942)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | December 1942 (USA)
A chronicle of the life of Andrew Johnson from his first arrival in Tennessee to his time as President of the United States.


William Dieterle


John L. Balderston (screen play by), Wells Root (screen play by) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Van Heflin ... Andrew Johnson
Lionel Barrymore ... Thaddeus Stevens
Ruth Hussey ... Eliza McCardle Johnson
Marjorie Main ... Mrs. Maude Fisher
Regis Toomey ... Blackstone McDaniel
J. Edward Bromberg ... Coke
Grant Withers ... Mordecai Milligan
Alec Craig ... Sam Andrews
Charles Dingle ... Senator Jim Waters
Carl Benton Reid ... Congressman Hargrove
Russell Hicks ... Lincoln's Emissary
Noah Beery ... Sheriff Cass (as Noah Beery Sr.)
Robert Warwick ... Major Crooks
Montagu Love ... Chief Justice Chase
Lloyd Corrigan ... Mr. Secretary


A chronicle of the life of Andrew Johnson from his first arrival in Tennessee to his time as President of the United States.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Campeão da Liberdade See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Although "William Wright" is in the cast list playing the Alderman, the actor was actually Will Wright, who often used "William Wright" for his name when uncredited. See more »


In his speech upon returning to the Senate after his presidency, Johnson says he had last stood in the chamber (as a Senator) in 1861. In fact, Johnson had previously served in the Senate until March 4, 1862, when he resigned, prior to being appointed Miltary Governor of Tennessee. See more »


all in this scene: [first lines]
Mrs. Maude Fisher: There, see that?
[pointing to the jail cuff clamped around Andrew Johnson's ankle]
Blackstone McDaniel: [Andrew quickly looks up from sewing his pantleg and appears startled and nervous] We didn't see nothin' stranger.
Mrs. Maude Fisher: [as the group approaches him] I seed ya sewin' though!
Mordecai Milligan: First time I ever see a man sew like that.
Andrew Johnson: I done tailorin'.
Mordecai Milligan: How much you want to sew the seat in a pair-a britches?
Andrew Johnson: I wouldn't work here.
[continues sewing his pants]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening outline includes a disclaimer about historical facts being changed for entertainment purposes. See more »


Red River Valley
Music by James Kerrigen
In the score introducing 1860
Played by a marching band when Lincoln wins the 1864 election
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User Reviews

Good Film - Mixed reality and history
12 April 2004 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

I doubt if a film made in 2004 or after about Andrew Johnson would be as kind as this 1943 film. Johnson did support the North in the Civil War (he was the only Southern Senator to remain in the U.S. Government during the war, and would be appointed Governor of that portion of Tennessee from 1863 - 64). Lincoln, in order to have a strong National ticket in her 1864 election chose Johnson (a Democrat)as his running mate. So Johnson became Vice President. And then John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, and Johnson became President.

Johnson was illiterate, until his wife taught him to read and write. He educated himself, and rose in the legal and political world of Tennessee (and then the nation). But he was a piece of "po' white trash", and remained so with all it's cultural baggage. He supported the North because he (rightly) distrusted the Southern plantation aristocracy (epitomized by Jefferson Davis). However - he hated slaves and free Black people. Hence his willingness to be soft on the South. Lincoln would have been soft too, but Lincoln had great gifts at managing his adversaries and probably could have arranged a compromise. Johnson was pig-headed. He antagonized the Radical Republicans controlling Congress. They waited for him to make a mistake, and he did (technically he violated the Tenure of Office Act, by firing Secretary of War Stanton without getting Congressional permission - this act was declared unconstitutional in the 1880s). Then followed his impeachment and the saving of his skin by seven Republican Senators who voted not to remove him. And those men all lost their Senatorial seats.

In 1943 Johnson was considered a hero, for saving the Executive Branch from becoming a rubber stamp for Congress. Actually, there was nothing to show that some Radical Republican President could not have restored power to the Executive Branch if Johnson had been removed. He gets high grades for his grit and courage, but his pig-headed stupidity and racism sink his historical rating.

Still Van Heflin, Lionel Barrymore, and the other actors (like Charles Dingle) make the film interesting and enjoyable enough. Good film making but mixed history. Two final points: Edmond Ross was in good health when he voted, but James W. Grimes of Iowa also voted for acquittal, and he had a paralytic stroke a few weeks earlier (he died within a year). Second: Andrew Johnson is the second Vice President of the name Johnson (and Lyndon Johnson the third Veep). The first was Martin Van Buren's Vice President, Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky, whose career as a politician might make a diverting comedy.

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