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William McKinley at Canton, Ohio (1896)

McKinley at Home, Canton, Ohio (original title)
"This view was taken upon Mr. McKinley's lawn at his home in Canton, Ohio. Mr. McKinley appears walking across the lawn in company with his Secretary, who hands him a telegram, which he ... See full summary »
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Cast

Credited cast:
... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George B. Cortelyou ... Himself
Ida McKinley ... Herself - Pres. McKinley's Wife
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Storyline

"This view was taken upon Mr. McKinley's lawn at his home in Canton, Ohio. Mr. McKinley appears walking across the lawn in company with his Secretary, who hands him a telegram, which he reads with apparent satisfaction. The characteristic walk and gestures of Mr. McKinley will be noted with interest by his friends." Written by AMB Picture Catalogue

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Genres:

Documentary | Short

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Release Date:

September 1896 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

William McKinley at Canton, Ohio  »

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1.36 : 1
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Edited into Landmarks of Early Film (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Long before Zapruder...
4 October 2003 | by See all my reviews

William McKinley was an extremely popular President. (The man who assassinated him was a crackpot nihilist, who shot McKinley merely because he was the President ... not for any motive relevant to McKinley's policies.) Among McKinley's other achievements was his very dignified method of campaigning. McKinley refused to 'run' for office: instead, he made public appearances on the porch of his home near Canton, Ohio, politely answering the questions of reporters who came to interview him.

This brief film purports to show William McKinley at the moment when he receives the Republican nomination in the summer of 1896, but it's actually a re-enactment staged several weeks later. At this early point in the history of movies, most 'newsreels' were doubly phony because the kings and generals depicted onscreen were actually anonymous actors in disguise, re-staging recent events. *This* film is also a re-enactment, but at least it features the actual people it claims to depict. William McKinley's brother Abner and his mentor Benjamin Harrison (the former President) were stockholders in the Biograph Film Company, and they persuaded McKinley to appear onscreen. A two-man camera crew arrived at McKinley's home in September 1896, setting up their equipment outside McKinley's L-shaped house. McKinley comes out of the house with his secretary, George Cortelyou, who formally hands McKinley the nomination documents (actually, a prop). McKinley glances at the papers, takes off his hat to reveal his receding hairline, and mops his large forehead with an even larger handkerchief.

That's it. If you look closely at the porch in the background, you can see McKinley's wife: the former Ida Saxton sits on a rocking chair on the porch and fans herself during this gripping action. Mrs McKinley was a frail invalid: in private, she was pushed about in a wheelchair; in public, McKinley and his advisors went to great lengths to conceal her condition. When McKinley was fatally shot (in 1901, with George Cortelyou nearby), it's noteworthy that he ignored his own condition and spent his last conscious moments imploring Cortelyou to look after Mrs McKinley. By all accounts, the McKinleys were deeply in love. If he had lived, he might have been one of America's greatest Chief Executives ... he was certainly one of the most beloved.

This movie is a vitally important historic document, but because it's a staged re-enactment I'll rate it only 9 out of 10 instead of a full 10 points.


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