Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Editor’s note: Hyde Park on Hudson cruises into theaters this week, so please get handsy with our New York Film Festival review of the film, originally published on September 30, 2012. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered to be one of our greatest presidents — a strong, charismatic leader during World War II, beloved by his nation. Roger Mitchell’s Hyde Park on Hudson reveals FDR to be all those things… and also quite the Don Juan. The film tries to reveal FDR “the man,” a history-making president who can also seduce the ladies, befriend shy kings, and possess a mean stamp collection. While Hyde Park on Hudson is consistently entertaining, its tendencies to meander in tone and to veer too far into the ridiculous prevent it from succeeding as a whole. One fortuitous day, FDR (Bill Murray) requests that his fifth cousin Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney) visit him at his country home in Hyde Park, New York. Naturally, Daisy obliges, and shortly after being dazzled by FDR’s stamp collection she becomes a fixture at his country home. Their visits turn into full days of merriment and long aimless drives on country roads. When FDR stops the car in the middle of a field of purple wildflowers one afternoon, however, there is only one direction their relationship can go in (not to reveal too much, but watching Bill Murray as FDR receive pleasure in a car is mildly disturbing and somewhat hilarious). Eventually, though, Daisy comes to realize that besides the First […]

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After The King’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture and got multiple theatrical releases, it was always just a matter of time before Hollywood tried to capitalize on its success by releasing a whole slate of King George VI movies. So here we are, getting the release of the trailer for the first of these films, Hyde Park on Hudson. It’s not quite as exciting as the inevitable news that King George will be joining The Avengers in the summer of 2014, but for now it will have to do. Seriously though, all joking about King George showing up on the cover of “Tiger Beat” aside, everyone is actually looking forward to Hyde Park on Hudson for one reason: the chance to see Bill Murray play Franklin Roosevelt. So, how does he do? From what we can tell from this first look at the film, it seems like he does wonderfully. He’s not quite doing an F.D.R. impression, but he’s not just being Bill Murray either. Most importantly, it seems as if Murray’s version of Roosevelt is a charismatic troublemaker – something of a Woody Woodpecker archetype – who’s not just being portrayed as a historical figure and a powerful man, but instead as a multi-faceted individual with his own quirks, hang-ups, and small pleasures. Quite simply, it appears as if getting the chance to watch Murray live in the skin of this character for a couple of hours is going to be a terribly entertaining experience.

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The above image of Billy Murray chomping his cigarette filter behind the wheel of an antique comes courtesy of Hyde Park on Hudson (and an interview USA Today did with director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Morning Glory). It’s a striking resemblance that almost makes him look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt by way of Kevin Kline. This is the kind of prestige role that comes in the twilight of a career, but Michell isn’t yet known for crafting Oscar-worthy content. Maybe this is the film that will turn that around, maybe it will earn Murray some Academy recognition, or maybe it’ll just be a fun gambol through an odd culture-clashing, affair-while-President moment in our country’s fair history.

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