Wilson (1944 film)
|Directed by||Henry King|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Written by||Lamar Trotti|
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Edited by||Barbara McLean|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox|
|Box office||$2,000,000 (rentals)|
Wilson is a 1944 American biographical film in Technicolor about American President Woodrow Wilson. It stars Charles Coburn, Alexander Knox, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Thomas Mitchell and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
The story begins in 1909, a time when Wilson (Alexander Knox) is best known as the head of Princeton University and the author of several books on the democratic process. Urged into running for Governor of New Jersey by the local political machine, Wilson soon proves that he is his own man, beholden to no one-and that he is dedicated to the truth at any cost.
- Alexander Knox as Woodrow Wilson
- Charles Coburn as Doctor Henry Holmes
- Geraldine Fitzgerald as Edith Bolling Galt
- Thomas Mitchell as Joseph Tumulty
- Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
- Vincent Price as William Gibbs McAdoo
- William Eythe as George Felton
- Mary Anderson as Eleanor Wilson
- Ruth Ford as Margaret Wilson
- Sidney Blackmer as Josephus Daniels
- Stanley Ridges as Dr. Cary Grayson
- Eddie Foy, Jr. as Eddie Foy
- Charles Halton as Colonel House
- Thurston Hall as Senator Edward H. "Big Ed" Jones
- Charles F. Miller as Senator Bromfield
- Ian Wolfe as Reporter (uncredited)
- Dwight Frye was supposed to play the former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, but died of a heart attack before filming was scheduled to begin.
The movie was written by Lamar Trotti and directed by Henry King. Wilson's daughter, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo, served as an informal counselor. Journalist Ray Stannard Baker, an authority on Wilson served as an adviser.
Though the film was mostly critically acclaimed and won five Oscars (see below), it is also remembered for being a big financial failure at the box office.
Film critic Manny Farber was particularly unenthusiastic, calling the production "costly, tedious and impotent" while writing: "The effect of the movie is similar to the one produced by the sterile post-card albums you buy in railroad stations, which unfold like accordions and show you the points of interest in the city ... The producers must have known far more about the World War, the peace-making at Versailles, and Wilson himself, but that is kept out of the movie in the same way that slum sections are kept out of post-card albums ... About three-quarters of the way through, a large amount of actual newsreel from the first World War is run off and the strength of it makes the film that comes before and after seem comical."
Despite the negative press and lackluster turnout, it was still nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning five:
- Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color (Wiard Ihnen and Thomas Little)
- Best Cinematography, Color (Leon Shamroy)
- Best Film Editing (Barbara McLean)
- Best Sound, Recording (E. H. Hansen)
- Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Lamar Trotti)
It's remaining nominations:
- Best Picture
- Best Director (Henry King)
- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Alexander Knox)
- Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Alfred Newman)
- Best Effects, Special Effects (Fred Sersen and Roger Heman Sr.)
American president Franklin D. Roosevelt showed the film at the September 1944 Second Quebec Conference with British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill. Churchill was unimpressed, however, leaving during the film to go to bed.
Despite being a pet project personally overseen by 20th Century Fox Studios' president Darryl F. Zanuck (who greatly admired Woodrow Wilson), its failure at the box office upset him to the point that for years he forbade his employees from mentioning the film in his presence.
The Academy Film Archive preserved Wilson in 2006.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 242, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 221, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- Knock, Thomas J. "History with Lightning": The Forgotten Film Wilson. American Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 5 (Winter, 1976), pp. 523–543
- "You Can Sell Almost Anything", Variety 20 March 1946
- Codevilla, Angelo (2010-07-16) America's Ruling Class The American Spectator
- Farner, Manny, The New Republic, August 14, 1944
- "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
- Erickson, Hal (Rovi). "Wilson (1944) – Review Summary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
- Wilson at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Wilson at the Internet Movie Database
- Wilson at AllMovie
- Wilson at the TCM Movie Database