Gabriel over the White House

Gabriel over the White House

Director: Gregory La Cava, Walter Huston, Karen Morley, Franchot Tone

Cast: Gregory La Cava, Walter Huston, Karen Morley, Franchot Tone

     
 
In 1933, at the height of the bleakness and desperation of the Depression, MGM released this genuine curiosity piece -- directed by comedy (!) director Gregory La Cava -- concerning a Warren G. Harding-like partisan hand-shaker President of the United States who, after seeing a vision, revokes the Constitution, becomes a reigning dictator, and solves all of the nation

Overview

In 1933, at the height of the bleakness and desperation of the Depression, MGM released this genuine curiosity piece -- directed by comedy (!) director Gregory La Cava -- concerning a Warren G. Harding-like partisan hand-shaker President of the United States who, after seeing a vision, revokes the Constitution, becomes a reigning dictator, and solves all of the nation's problems. Walter Huston plays Judson Hammond, recently elected President of the United States, who treats his elected office as a joke and acts as a dispenser of Party favors. But after an automobile accident, he sees the Archangel Gabriel, who inspires him to declare himself dictator. His first line of business after his conversion is to fire his Cabinet. This leads to impeachment proceedings, but Hammond enters the Senate chamber and takes over the Congress. He then tackles unemployment by meeting with John Bronson (David Landau), the leader of masses of marching unemployed men. When gangster Nick Diamond (Henry C. Gordon) and his goons assassinate Bronson, Hammond uses his brown-shirted storm troopers to blast their way into Diamond's headquarters and blow him away. The President then intimidates the leaders of countries that owe money to the United States to pay their debts then forces them to disarm and pledge world peace. Hammond rapidly becomes the most popular fascist President in United States history.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Love it or hate it -- and there are plenty who will fall into both camps -- Gabriel Over the White House is an unbelievable viewing experience, with the word "unbelievable" very carefully chosen. This is one of those films that you watch with your mouth constantly falling open in wonder at what you're seeing on the screen. Not visually, mind you, for there's not much in Gabriel that is of particular visual inventiveness; it's the audacity of the filmmakers in creating a picture like this that makes one watch in fascination. That audacity counts for a lot, for much of the screenplay of Gabriel is clunky and mechanical. The plot, as one might gather, is simply incredible, and it's presented in a kind of simplistic connect-the-dots manner (which, though it doesn't give the film any points for subtlety, does add to its undeniable power.) A person's reaction to Gabriel will ultimately depend on whether s/he can buy its premise that a dictatorship that destroys everything America is founded on is A-ok, so long as the dictator is a "good" one. But even those who have some trouble with this dubious premise should be swept along by Walter Huston's stunning, mesmerizing performance. His work here is among his finest, and it's to his credit that he makes the crackpot theories expounded herein come across as almost acceptable. Gregory LaCava's direction is spirited and he gives the impression of believing in the material -- which is essential in this case.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/20/2009
UPC:
0883316213124
Original Release:
1933
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:26:00
Sales rank:
33,562

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Walter Huston Hon. Judson Hammond
Karen Morley Pendola Molloy
Franchot Tone Hartley Beekman
Arthur Byron Jasper Brooks
Dickie Moore Jimmy Vetter
C. Henry Gordon Nick Diamond
David Landau John Bronson
Mischa Auer Theesen, Reporter
Spencer Charters Vice President
John Davidson Foreign Diplomat
Claire Du Brey Nurse
Samuel S. Hinds Dr. H.L. Eastman
Henry Kolker Sen. Langham
Robert E. O'Connor Inspector
Jean Parker Alice Bronson
William Pawley Borell
Guy Usher General
Walter Walker Secretary of War

Technical Credits
Gregory La Cava Director
Adrian Costumes/Costume Designer
William Axt Score Composer
Bertram Bloch Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Bert Glennon Cinematographer
Walter Wanger Producer
Carey Wilson Screenwriter
Basil Wrangell Editor

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