After a bout with polio, future president Franklin D. Roosevelt fights to save his political career.After a bout with polio, future president Franklin D. Roosevelt fights to save his political career.After a bout with polio, future president Franklin D. Roosevelt fights to save his political career.
This movie documents FDR's affliction with what was surmised than as infantile paralysis, at the relatively young age of 39; a paralysis that left him incapacitated for the rest of his life. It ends in 1924 when he walks using braces and crutches to the podium to nominate Al Smith as Democratic Presidential Candidate.
But the film shows Roosevelt not only battling his handicap, but battling his mother, battling his family, battling Louis Howe, battling the politicians--the film shows a strong willed person standing up to anyone who looked at him as 'handicapped'. It is that strong will that led to the Governorship of New York in 1928 and to the Presidency in 1932.
I saw the movie when it came out in 1960, was impressed then, and am still impressed. it caught the family dynamic pretty much as it was reported in various books about Roosevelt. His mother was domineering, Mrs. Roosevelt tolerated her but barely. Louis Howe (excellently portrayed by Hume Cronyn) was looked on as something of a charlatan by both Eleanor and Sarah. But most importantly it caught that intangible something that goes into the making of a politician who is expected to lead the nation, and not let the nation wallow in self-destructive behavior.
Many years later, after this event, when Roosevelt was President, still in the early stages of the Great Depression, Roosevelt made the assertion that something had to be done or there would be no democracy. (Paraphrasing roughly) When Roosevelt said in his first Inaugural address, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" he went on to mention the fear as something that paralyzes people... Roosevelt knew what he was talking about re the metaphysics of paralysis. And the nation knew what he was talking about re the metaphysics of paralysis because the President and the Nation had been there.
There are those who say that Roosevelt gained a human touch as a result of his paralysis and that made him a successful politician able to create practical solutions to real problems. In 1960 Kennedy became President. Much later, his brother made the assertion: "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" That quote is in the progressive tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
- Jul 1, 2016