- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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response to previous reviewer
- kevin sellers
May I suggest to Mr. Porter, who wrote that he got an "excellent historical review" from watching this film, that he not rely on 1940s Hollywood for his instruction? If he had read any one of the numerous post 1960 biographies of Johnson or studies of his presidency he would have found out that this "underrated" president was, among other things, a virulent racist who vigorously opposed the 14th amendment granting African Americans equal rights and citizenship with whites, as well as refusing to block illegally elected white representatives, chosen under segregationist Black Codes. And for good measure he publicly referred to prominent African Americans like Frederick Douglass as "damned niggers." You will of course get none of this from "Tennessee Johnson," a typical exercise in Hollywood mythology. Yes, the Tenure Of Office Act, dreamed up by Thaddeus Stevens and his fellow radical Republicans as a way to remove Johnson from the White House, was unconstitutional. Stevens was certainly no saint. But he was more than just "Mr. Potter Comes To Washington," as Lionel Barrymore plays him. He was genuinely interested in black equality just as Johnson was firmly on the other side. And in its refusal to even deal with this issue movies like "Tennessee Johnson" should be criticized, even as products of their racist time, rather than extolled as "good entertainment."
Tennesee Johnson starring Van Heflin
- Dennis Porter
I was amazingly surprised at how good this biopic was! I happened upon it accidentally while channel surfing and got sucked right into the storyline. The 100 minutes flew by and I got an excellent historical review of the life of a President I had known next to nothing about other than he was sworn in when Lincoln was assassinated... A grossly overlooked and under-rated President! I hold him dear to my heart and regard him with much respect and admiration now that I know the truth about his Administration and the trumped up charges of his impeachment trial. A MUST SEE for all who want to know the man who succeeded Lincoln!
response to previous reviewer
- kevin sellers
I agree with Mr. Seward. (By the way, any relation to William H. who was in Johnson's cabinet? Just wondering.) This movie should be coupled with a good biography of Johnson, preferably one by a post 1960 scholar who is not of the school that feels that white Southerners were the true victims of Reconstruction rather than the African Americans who were, during Johnson's administration, made to feel the first sting of the Jim Crow lash. However, I would not see the movie first, as Mr. Seward advises. I'd read the biography and then see the film. And then I would dare you to keep your anger in check, as Mr. Seward seems able to do, at a Hollywood system that engaged in odious myth making at the expense of history. The good news, as one of the other reviewers noted with his allusion to Spielberg's "Lincoln," is that the racist stereotypes prevalent at the time of "Tennessee Johnson" are thankfully so rare these days that they elicit embarrassment when seen in a lousy 1940s movie.
Decent Hollywood Historical Drama
- kenneth seward
I think it's best to approach ANY bit of history as presented by Hollywood as entertainment first and as factual information... a far off second. President Johnson's reputation has risen and fallen and risen and fallen again depending on the viewpoints of the time. Was he a hero or a villain? Was Thaddeus Stevens a bloodthirsty zealot or great abolitionist? As usual with such questions, the answers are not simple. This movie is not so much 'inaccurate' as it is simple... it chooses one version of the tale and does not muddy it with alternative opinions/outlooks. It just happens that the version of the story presented here is at odds with the opinions of certain modern factions nowadays. Reading up on the real history of those times reveals that matters were far more complicated... no one had clean hands but there was no clear cut nemesis either. As it stands, this movie is entertaining and well-made and well acted. Van Heflin, as always, seems to have a degree of inner turmoil that suits the character of President johnson. The controversial moments of Johnson's life are only really addressed in the final third of the film... content that's probably worthy of an entire film on its own. I'd suggest watching it in good humor, enjoying the classic stars and MGM production and the drama of the characters... then go read about the real story of President Johnson and the difficult situation he found himself thrust into... and decide for yourself if his decisions were for good or ill.
- kevin sellers
The previous reviewer, Wondermachine, pretty much sums up my feelings about this exercise in whitewashing history (with emphasis on the "white".) I only wish to add that if you want to get the true story of this drunken, racist lout, who devoted his presidency to championing the rights of the Caucasian South at the expense of its African American citizens, then read the excellent biography "Andrew Johnson" by Hans Trefousse.
Horribly Inaccurate Story
Nice cast wasted on a dated and horribly inaccurate version of history. Clearly a product of a more racist period in Hollywood storytelling that glorified white Southern slaveholders and villainized the Reconstruction period when valiant senators like Thaddeus Stevens attempted to bring a more equitable society. This movie is of the Gone With the Wind variety and only worthwhile as a documentary artifact of the (thankfully) bygone racist Hollywood. Watch the more historically accurate Lincoln by Spielberg and compare their treatment of Thaddeus Stevens.
A Great Story Of An American President.
- Michael Skaggs
I have always believed Andrew Johnson's story was part of a lost chapter of America's history. This movie gives the other side of the story which is seldom told about Johnson. Terrific cast and story. Made by MGM during it's great years makes this film worth watching.
Tennessee Johnson Movie
- gloria miller
I recently watched this movie on Turner Classic Movies and it was a great movie. Since I was not into history in school, I have since become very interested in all history at the ripe old age of 87. I thought this was one of the best movies and woiuld like to have a copy on DVD to keep for my family to cherish. Surely hope all of these good reviews will bring all of us good luck. I would appreciate being notified if and when it is out on DVD.
I cant find this film anywere no one has it for sale its not on dvd not even Amazon, on july 15th it will be playing again I'm going to fire up my vcr and record it 4:30 pm in the afternoon its a really good movie, iv missed it the last 2 years not this time.
- Judith Farrington Stewart
Andrew Johnson is a long lost relative of our family and I would love to have a copy of this movie. He was an important part of history as well and I would like my children and grandchildren to understand who he was and his place in history.
I enjoyed this movie very much and would like to own a copy. Not much of a review, but hope it says something that I would buy it if available
This is a watchable film. I don't know how historically accurate it is, but I did enjoy learning more about our past. It is interesting that they chose not to show Lincoln except in a photo. I think because most actors have a hard time doing him justice. It was hard seeing Barrymore as such an unlikeable character. I generally like him in his roles, but Stevens was a bit much.
Back to the Courage of Former Days
- Bonnie Barsness
I think we need more of this kind of portrayal of courage to "fight for the right". When westood strong in WW 2 our country did well. Everyone was trying to do his part in the war effort. I joined in upon my high school graduation in 1945- working in a Portland, Ore. Shipyard. There I met my husband-to-be. He was from Minn. and I from Tenn. originally.We have been married 64 yrs. this fall. I close with a verse from the bible- "Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." Proverbs 14:34
great hx lesson
tuned in to movie in progress but got caught up in this history that I was not familiar with. thouroghly enjoyed and reminded me of the many times in our history when our republic was challenged and yet we survive!
NOW, MORE THAN EVER!
In these uncertain times, it is most appropriate to be reminded of the basic workings of our government, its flaws and its virtues, as well as the charges imposed on it by the Constitution and the American people. We need all the encouragement we can get and the reminder that one man can make a difference is critical. Despite the need for movie theatrics, the issues covered in this movie are true. Please run it again....soon.