Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Today is Primary Day in Florida, enabling Floridians to go to the polls and vote for the clown car of their choice.  In honor of the day, my Overlooked Film this week is The President's Mystery, a gimmicky film based on a gimmicky book.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was a fan of mystery and detective stories, suggested this plot during a lunch with magazine editor Fulton Oursler:  "How can a  man disappear with five million dollars of his own money in negotiable form and not be traced?"  Seeing an opportunity, Oursler gathered five (with himself making number six) well-known writers of the time -- Samuel Hopkins Adams, John Erskine, Rupert Hughes, "Anthony Abbot" (Oursler),  "S. S. van Dine" (Willard Huntington Wright). and Rita Weiman -- and set them to turning the idea into a collaborative novel.  The book, with proceeds going to FDR's Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, was a moderate success.

Republic Pictures released the movie just six weeks before the president's 1936 reelection campaign, making it a paeon to FDR's programs.   Modern reviewers have given the book and movie mixed reviews.  Either way, it's an interesting bit of history.  It makes me wonder what sort of mystery plot our next president can come up with.  How about it, maybe-presidents Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Clinton, Sanders, and/or "Write In Name Here"?

Directed by Phil Rosen, with a screenplay adapted by Lester Cole and Nathaniel West, The President's Mystery maybe the only feature film to give a writing credit to a President of the United States.  The movie features the acting talents/efforts of Henry Wilcoxen, Betty Furness, Sidney blackmer, and Eelyn Brent.

Enjoy.  And, if you are from any of the primary states today, vote.

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