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The Bower Family Band petitions the Democratic National Committee to sing a Grover Cleveland rally song at the 1888 convention, but decide instead to move to the Dakota territory on the urging of a suitor to their eldest daughter. There, Grampa Bower causes trouble with his pro-Cleveland ideas, as Dakota residents are overwhelmingly Republican, and hope to get the territory admitted as two states (North and South Dakota) rather than one in order to send four Republican senators to Washington. Cleveland opposed this plan, refusing to refer to Congress the plan to organize the Dakotas this way. When Cleveland wins the popular vote, but Harrison the presidency due to the electoral college votes, the Dakotans (particularly the feuding young couple) resolve to live together in peace, and Cleveland grants statehood to the two Dakotas before he leaves office (along with two Democrat-voting states, evening the gains for both parties).Written by
Manus Hand <email@example.com>
There's a lot of fun in this movie, including players Walter Brennan, Buddy Ebsen, Lesley Ann Warren, and a very early appearance by Goldie Hawn, and a fine concluding musical number. However the pacing is erratic -- caused, no doubt, from its initial expansion from something intended from the Disney TV show to a theatrical release, then extensive cutting, reportedly because the management of Radio City Music Hall insisted it be cut by a third; camerawork that suggested extensive cribbing from THE SOUND OF MUSIC; and a libretto by the usually delightful Sherman twins that sounds like they were largely cribbing from OKLAHOMA! Only two or three of their songs are fist-rate, and the rest are carried by charm and orchestration. Walt Disney's death fifteen months before its release couldn't have helped.
The story centers around the family of Buddy Ebsen and Janet Blair, who pull up stakes to move to the Dakotas during the election of 1888, while the territories were applying for statehood. Considering the bitterness of the election -- if you think 2016 was bad, you have no idea! -- it's a sweet-tempered affair, more a fable than a serious story.
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