The President's Lady


1h 36m 1953
The President's Lady

Brief Synopsis

Future president Andrew Jackson defies scandal to marry a divorced woman.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Historical
Biography
Release Date
Apr 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in Nashville, TN: 17 Mar 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Calabasas, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel President's Lady: A Novel of Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Irving Stone (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,790ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

In 1789, Rachel Donelson Robards meets Tennessee's attorney general, Andrew Jackson, for the first time when he seeks room and board at her mother's farm near Nashville. John Overton, Andrew's law partner and Rachel's cousin, had recommended Andrew, and Mrs. Donelson welcomes the young attorney, who also has experience fighting Indians. Andrew becomes infatuated with the lovely Rachel and is disappointed when her moody husband, Lewis Robards, comes from Harrodsburg to ask her to return home. Lewis apologizes for his jealous, antagonistic behavior, but upon their return, Rachel discovers that Lewis has been having an affair with a slave girl. The sympathetic Mrs. Robards writes to Mrs. Donelson, telling her that Rachel wishes to go back to Nashville, and Mrs. Donelson sends Andrew to retrieve her. Infuriated, Lewis pulls a gun on Andrew, but Andrew easily disarms him and leaves with Rachel. The couple evade a band of Indians, then stop for the night at an inn to avoid further danger. When they arrive at the farm in the morning, they learn that Lewis has arrived before them. Lewis demands that Rachel leave with him, and when she refuses, he threatens to return the following morning with gun-toting relatives. Desperate to protect Rachel, Mrs. Donelson asks flatboat owners Capt. and Mrs. Stark to take Rachel to Natchez, but the Starks refuse to accept the responsibility unless a man accompanies Rachel. Andrew volunteers, and after they fend off an Indian attack, the couple kiss and realize that they have fallen in love. In Spanish-controlled Natchez, Andrew tells Rachel that she could obtain an annulment there and they could marry, but that their marriage would not be legal in the United States. Rachel refuses to let Andrew give up his career and asks him to return to Nashville to obtain a divorce for her. Before he leaves, however, Andrew receives a letter from John announcing that Lewis has gotten a divorce, charging Rachel with adultery. Although she is crushed by the accusation, Rachel marries Andrew, and after they return to Nashville, the couple spend two happy years together. Rachel is sad that they do not have children, but is content to be with Andrew. One day, John arrives with news that he had been mistaken, as Lewis had only petitioned for a divorce without actually obtaining one. Now, however, Lewis has divorced Rachel on grounds of adultery. Rachel begs Andrew to marry her again, although he believes that holding another ceremony will be an admission that they were in the wrong. After the wedding, Rachel and Andrew go to town, where Lewis' cousin Jason makes a crude remark about Rachel. Andrew almost beats Jason to death before being pulled away, then, during the drive home, Andrew and Rachel learn that Rachel's brother has been killed by Indians. Heading a militia troop, Andrew leaves to fight the Indians, and Rachel and her slave Moll work the fields alone for a year and a half until Andrew returns. Rachel is delighted to see her husband, and overjoyed that he has brought her an orphaned Indian infant, whom they name Lincoya. Andrew was forced to sell their home to equip his men, although he soon builds Rachel a fine new home in Nashville, which they call "The Hermitage." Rachel spends the next eight years happily, although Andrew is often gone fighting Indians or serving in Congress. One day, Rachel is invited to join a ladies' club, but is upset to learn that most of the women, still believing that Rachel is an adultress, have refused to allow her admittance. Humiliated, Rachel returns home, where she is horrified to discover that Lincoya has died suddenly during her brief absence. Andrew finally comes home, and soon makes a large gentleman's wager on a horse race. Rachel is thrilled when Andrew wins and is told that he has been appointed the general of the state militia. Jealous Charles Dickinson makes a cutting remark about Andrew stealing another man's wife, however, and Andrew again loses his temper and challenges Dickinson to a duel. Rachel begs Andrew not to fight, but he insists on defending her honor. During the duel, Andrew is seriously wounded but manages to kill Dickinson. Although she is glad to have her husband home, Rachel is heartbroken that their lives have again been disrupted by scandalmongers. Andrew promises Rachel that he will lift her so high that no one will dare whisper a word against her, but his promise is delayed by the war of 1812, during which he is away fighting for two years. Andrew returns home a hero, but when politics call again, he returns to Washington, leaving Rachel home alone. Finally, in 1825, Andrew is persuaded to run for president, although John warns him that his enemies will run a virulent campaign against him and he will have to control his temper. Rachel, who is in failing health, sneaks out one night to listen to Andrew speak at a rally, and is crushed to hear the jeering crowd yell out that they will not have a murderer for a president or a prostitute as the first lady. Rachel collapses as she stumbles through the streets, and Andrew stays by her bedside night and day. When Andrew receives word that he has won the election, Rachel tearfully acknowledges that he kept his promise to raise her to grand heights. She then tells him that she will not be able to accompany him, and with her dying breath, asks him not to carry spite with him. Soon after, in Washington, just before his inaugural speech, Andrew gazes at a miniature of Rachel and vows that his memories will keep him company for the rest of his life.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Historical
Biography
Release Date
Apr 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in Nashville, TN: 17 Mar 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Calabasas, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel President's Lady: A Novel of Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Irving Stone (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,790ft (10 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1953

Best Costume Design

1953

Articles

The President's Lady


If you think presidential elections are vicious in this day and age, take a look back at the 1828 race between incumbent President John Quincy Adams and the victor in that contest, Andrew Jackson. Adams was an unpopular leader who had bested Jackson four years earlier only because the outcome had to be determined by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment when neither candidate secured a majority of the electoral vote. Jackson ran again four years later, and it was no holds barred.

Jackson's campaign accused Adams of having pimped a servant girl out to the Czar of Russia while Adams served as minister to that country. It was also claimed that the incumbent used public funds to stock the presidential residence with gambling devices (in reality, a chess set and a pool table). Jackson, for his part, was slammed as an unscrupulous slave trader (a charge not without merit), but the most vociferous denunciation concerned his wife, Rachel.

When the two were married in 1791, they did not know that her divorce from first husband Lewis Robards had not been finalized. After two years of this illegal marriage, Rachel obtained the divorce and they married again. But the incident plagued them throughout their lives, resurfacing as a full-fledged scandal during the campaign. As one Adams camp pamphlet put it to voters: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be placed in the highest office of this free and Christian land?" Jackson always maintained that the brutal attacks on the character of a woman known for her honesty and kindness contributed to her ill health and her death in December 1828, shortly after the election but before his inauguration.

The President's Lady purports to tell this story, and does it fairly well, at least in Hollywood terms. Rachel may not have been the rough backwoods type she was often painted to be. She was also likely not quite the looker she is here, personified by Susan Hayward. (Beulah Bondi may have come closer in her Oscar-nominated performance in The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936.) For his part, co-star Charlton Heston manages to have the long, angular granite face we associate with Jackson, a president who has been portrayed on screen by actors as diverse as Lionel Barrymore, Brian Donlevy, Jack Palance, and Kris Kristofferson.

According to an August 30, 1951, report in the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the rights to Irving Stone's novel while it was still in galley proofs, the author already having proven himself in the same subject area with his story and screenplay about First Lady Dolly Madison, Magnificent Doll (1946). Producer Sol Siegel, according to the news item, hoped to star Olivia de Havilland and Gregory Peck. Hayward and Heston, however, were hot names of the moment. She had three of her five Academy Award nominations under her belt by the time this film was released and enjoyed her pick of roles after a string of hits. Heston still had his best years ahead of him, but notable roles in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and the romantic melodrama Ruby Gentry (1952) boosted his rising star. Second billed to Hayward here, he would be top-billed for almost all of his pictures to follow this.

Studio publicity at the time claimed that Andrew Jackson IV was an extra in the election rally scene, but that has never been confirmed.

According to an October 1952 news item in the Hollywood Reporter, some sequences were shot on location at the studio's ranch near Calabasas, California.

The film received Academy Award nominations for its black-and-white art direction-set decoration and costume design, but reviews were generally tepid. The New York Times noted that "history plays a curious second fiddle to love's old sweet song" and called Henry Levin's direction "unimaginative." Hayward won Photoplay magazine's Gold Medal Award for her performance.

Heston played Jackson again a few months later in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, co-starring Joan Fontaine (De Havilland's sister), and in the Paramount adventure drama The Buccaneer (1958).

Stone's novel was adapted by John Patrick, an Oscar nominee for the original story of the noir thriller The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). Stone's novels also provided the basis for the Vincent Van Gogh bio Lust for Life (1956) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), in which Heston portrayed Michelangelo.

Director: Henry Levin
Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Screenplay: John Patrick, based on the novel by Irving Stone
Cinematography: Leo Tover
Editing: William B. Murphy
Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Susan Hayward (Rachel), Charlton Heston (Andrew Jackson), John McIntire (John Overton), Fay Bainter (Mrs. Donleson), Whitfield Connor (Lewis Robards)

By Rob Nixon
The President's Lady

The President's Lady

If you think presidential elections are vicious in this day and age, take a look back at the 1828 race between incumbent President John Quincy Adams and the victor in that contest, Andrew Jackson. Adams was an unpopular leader who had bested Jackson four years earlier only because the outcome had to be determined by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment when neither candidate secured a majority of the electoral vote. Jackson ran again four years later, and it was no holds barred. Jackson's campaign accused Adams of having pimped a servant girl out to the Czar of Russia while Adams served as minister to that country. It was also claimed that the incumbent used public funds to stock the presidential residence with gambling devices (in reality, a chess set and a pool table). Jackson, for his part, was slammed as an unscrupulous slave trader (a charge not without merit), but the most vociferous denunciation concerned his wife, Rachel. When the two were married in 1791, they did not know that her divorce from first husband Lewis Robards had not been finalized. After two years of this illegal marriage, Rachel obtained the divorce and they married again. But the incident plagued them throughout their lives, resurfacing as a full-fledged scandal during the campaign. As one Adams camp pamphlet put it to voters: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be placed in the highest office of this free and Christian land?" Jackson always maintained that the brutal attacks on the character of a woman known for her honesty and kindness contributed to her ill health and her death in December 1828, shortly after the election but before his inauguration. The President's Lady purports to tell this story, and does it fairly well, at least in Hollywood terms. Rachel may not have been the rough backwoods type she was often painted to be. She was also likely not quite the looker she is here, personified by Susan Hayward. (Beulah Bondi may have come closer in her Oscar-nominated performance in The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936.) For his part, co-star Charlton Heston manages to have the long, angular granite face we associate with Jackson, a president who has been portrayed on screen by actors as diverse as Lionel Barrymore, Brian Donlevy, Jack Palance, and Kris Kristofferson. According to an August 30, 1951, report in the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the rights to Irving Stone's novel while it was still in galley proofs, the author already having proven himself in the same subject area with his story and screenplay about First Lady Dolly Madison, Magnificent Doll (1946). Producer Sol Siegel, according to the news item, hoped to star Olivia de Havilland and Gregory Peck. Hayward and Heston, however, were hot names of the moment. She had three of her five Academy Award nominations under her belt by the time this film was released and enjoyed her pick of roles after a string of hits. Heston still had his best years ahead of him, but notable roles in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and the romantic melodrama Ruby Gentry (1952) boosted his rising star. Second billed to Hayward here, he would be top-billed for almost all of his pictures to follow this. Studio publicity at the time claimed that Andrew Jackson IV was an extra in the election rally scene, but that has never been confirmed. According to an October 1952 news item in the Hollywood Reporter, some sequences were shot on location at the studio's ranch near Calabasas, California. The film received Academy Award nominations for its black-and-white art direction-set decoration and costume design, but reviews were generally tepid. The New York Times noted that "history plays a curious second fiddle to love's old sweet song" and called Henry Levin's direction "unimaginative." Hayward won Photoplay magazine's Gold Medal Award for her performance. Heston played Jackson again a few months later in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, co-starring Joan Fontaine (De Havilland's sister), and in the Paramount adventure drama The Buccaneer (1958). Stone's novel was adapted by John Patrick, an Oscar nominee for the original story of the noir thriller The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). Stone's novels also provided the basis for the Vincent Van Gogh bio Lust for Life (1956) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), in which Heston portrayed Michelangelo. Director: Henry Levin Producer: Sol C. Siegel Screenplay: John Patrick, based on the novel by Irving Stone Cinematography: Leo Tover Editing: William B. Murphy Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler Music: Alfred Newman Cast: Susan Hayward (Rachel), Charlton Heston (Andrew Jackson), John McIntire (John Overton), Fay Bainter (Mrs. Donleson), Whitfield Connor (Lewis Robards) By Rob Nixon

The President's Lady -


If you think presidential elections are vicious in this day and age, take a look back at the 1828 race between incumbent President John Quincy Adams and the victor in that contest, Andrew Jackson. Adams was an unpopular leader who had bested Jackson four years earlier only because the outcome had to be determined by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment when neither candidate secured a majority of the electoral vote. Jackson ran again four years later, and it was no holds barred.

Jackson's campaign accused Adams of having pimped a servant girl out to the Czar of Russia while Adams served as minister to that country. It was also claimed that the incumbent used public funds to stock the presidential residence with gambling devices (in reality, a chess set and a pool table). Jackson, for his part, was slammed as an unscrupulous slave trader (a charge not without merit), but the most vociferous denunciation concerned his wife, Rachel.

When the two were married in 1791, they did not know that her divorce from first husband Lewis Robards had not been finalized. After two years of this illegal marriage, Rachel obtained the divorce and they married again. But the incident plagued them throughout their lives, resurfacing as a full-fledged scandal during the campaign. As one Adams camp pamphlet put it to voters: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be placed in the highest office of this free and Christian land?" Jackson always maintained that the brutal attacks on the character of a woman known for her honesty and kindness contributed to her ill health and her death in December 1828, shortly after the election but before his inauguration.

The President's Lady purports to tell this story, and does it fairly well, at least in Hollywood terms. Rachel may not have been the rough backwoods type she was often painted to be. She was also likely not quite the looker she is here, personified by Susan Hayward. (Beulah Bondi may have come closer in her Oscar-nominated performance in The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936.) For his part, co-star Charlton Heston manages to have the long, angular granite face we associate with Jackson, a president who has been portrayed on screen by actors as diverse as Lionel Barrymore, Brian Donlevy, Jack Palance, and Kris Kristofferson.

According to an August 30, 1951, report in the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the rights to Irving Stone's novel while it was still in galley proofs, the author already having proven himself in the same subject area with his story and screenplay about First Lady Dolly Madison, Magnificent Doll (1946). Producer Sol Siegel, according to the news item, hoped to star Olivia de Havilland and Gregory Peck. Hayward and Heston, however, were hot names of the moment. She had three of her five Academy Award nominations under her belt by the time this film was released and enjoyed her pick of roles after a string of hits. Heston still had his best years ahead of him, but notable roles in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and the romantic melodrama Ruby Gentry (1952) boosted his rising star. Second billed to Hayward here, he would be top-billed for almost all of his pictures to follow this.

Studio publicity at the time claimed that Andrew Jackson IV was an extra in the election rally scene, but that has never been confirmed.

According to an October 1952 news item in the Hollywood Reporter, some sequences were shot on location at the studio's ranch near Calabasas, California.

The film received Academy Award nominations for its black-and-white art direction-set decoration and costume design, but reviews were generally tepid. The New York Times noted that "history plays a curious second fiddle to love's old sweet song" and called Henry Levin's direction "unimaginative." Hayward won Photoplay magazine's Gold Medal Award for her performance.

Heston played Jackson again a few months later in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, co-starring Joan Fontaine (De Havilland's sister), and in the Paramount adventure drama The Buccaneer (1958).

Stone's novel was adapted by John Patrick, an Oscar nominee for the original story of the noir thriller The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). Stone's novels also provided the basis for the Vincent Van Gogh bio Lust for Life (1956) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), in which Heston portrayed Michelangelo.

Director: Henry Levin
Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Screenplay: John Patrick, based on the novel by Irving Stone
Cinematography: Leo Tover
Editing: William B. Murphy
Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Susan Hayward (Rachel), Charlton Heston (Andrew Jackson), John McIntire (John Overton), Fay Bainter (Mrs. Donleson), Whitfield Connor (Lewis Robards)

By Rob Nixon

The President's Lady -

If you think presidential elections are vicious in this day and age, take a look back at the 1828 race between incumbent President John Quincy Adams and the victor in that contest, Andrew Jackson. Adams was an unpopular leader who had bested Jackson four years earlier only because the outcome had to be determined by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment when neither candidate secured a majority of the electoral vote. Jackson ran again four years later, and it was no holds barred. Jackson's campaign accused Adams of having pimped a servant girl out to the Czar of Russia while Adams served as minister to that country. It was also claimed that the incumbent used public funds to stock the presidential residence with gambling devices (in reality, a chess set and a pool table). Jackson, for his part, was slammed as an unscrupulous slave trader (a charge not without merit), but the most vociferous denunciation concerned his wife, Rachel. When the two were married in 1791, they did not know that her divorce from first husband Lewis Robards had not been finalized. After two years of this illegal marriage, Rachel obtained the divorce and they married again. But the incident plagued them throughout their lives, resurfacing as a full-fledged scandal during the campaign. As one Adams camp pamphlet put it to voters: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be placed in the highest office of this free and Christian land?" Jackson always maintained that the brutal attacks on the character of a woman known for her honesty and kindness contributed to her ill health and her death in December 1828, shortly after the election but before his inauguration. The President's Lady purports to tell this story, and does it fairly well, at least in Hollywood terms. Rachel may not have been the rough backwoods type she was often painted to be. She was also likely not quite the looker she is here, personified by Susan Hayward. (Beulah Bondi may have come closer in her Oscar-nominated performance in The Gorgeous Hussy, 1936.) For his part, co-star Charlton Heston manages to have the long, angular granite face we associate with Jackson, a president who has been portrayed on screen by actors as diverse as Lionel Barrymore, Brian Donlevy, Jack Palance, and Kris Kristofferson. According to an August 30, 1951, report in the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the rights to Irving Stone's novel while it was still in galley proofs, the author already having proven himself in the same subject area with his story and screenplay about First Lady Dolly Madison, Magnificent Doll (1946). Producer Sol Siegel, according to the news item, hoped to star Olivia de Havilland and Gregory Peck. Hayward and Heston, however, were hot names of the moment. She had three of her five Academy Award nominations under her belt by the time this film was released and enjoyed her pick of roles after a string of hits. Heston still had his best years ahead of him, but notable roles in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and the romantic melodrama Ruby Gentry (1952) boosted his rising star. Second billed to Hayward here, he would be top-billed for almost all of his pictures to follow this. Studio publicity at the time claimed that Andrew Jackson IV was an extra in the election rally scene, but that has never been confirmed. According to an October 1952 news item in the Hollywood Reporter, some sequences were shot on location at the studio's ranch near Calabasas, California. The film received Academy Award nominations for its black-and-white art direction-set decoration and costume design, but reviews were generally tepid. The New York Times noted that "history plays a curious second fiddle to love's old sweet song" and called Henry Levin's direction "unimaginative." Hayward won Photoplay magazine's Gold Medal Award for her performance. Heston played Jackson again a few months later in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, co-starring Joan Fontaine (De Havilland's sister), and in the Paramount adventure drama The Buccaneer (1958). Stone's novel was adapted by John Patrick, an Oscar nominee for the original story of the noir thriller The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). Stone's novels also provided the basis for the Vincent Van Gogh bio Lust for Life (1956) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), in which Heston portrayed Michelangelo. Director: Henry Levin Producer: Sol C. Siegel Screenplay: John Patrick, based on the novel by Irving Stone Cinematography: Leo Tover Editing: William B. Murphy Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler Music: Alfred Newman Cast: Susan Hayward (Rachel), Charlton Heston (Andrew Jackson), John McIntire (John Overton), Fay Bainter (Mrs. Donleson), Whitfield Connor (Lewis Robards) By Rob Nixon

Quotes

Andrew, if I'm to be the cause of all your quarrels for the rest of your life, then you give me no choice. I must leave you! I will not let you be killed because of me, nor will I let you take another man's life. I must leave!
- Rachel Donaldson Robards Jackson
You'd leave me now??
- President Andrew Jackson
No! No! Oh Andrew, please, please don't do this! If Mr. Dickinson's bullet kills you, it kills me too! Let him say what he will about me!
- Rachel Donaldson Robards Jackson
No man can say what he will about my wife!! Rachel, I've failed you a great many times and a great many ways and I hope you'll forgive me. But I couldn't expect you to forgive me if I lived without honor!
- President Andrew Jackson

Trivia

Notes

This film is based on the lives of President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) and his wife, Rachel Donelson Jackson (1767-1828). As depicted in the film, Rachel was married when she met Jackson, and they were married for two years before learning that her first husband had not officially obtained a divorce, as they had believed. The scandal haunted the couple's otherwise happy marriage, and the hot-tempered Jackson often fought those who slandered his wife. Rachel died after Jackson was elected president but before he was inaugurated, and one of her nieces, Emily Donelson, served as Jackson's hostess in the White House during the majority of his presidency.
       Acccording to a August 30, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, when Twentieth Century-Fox purchased Irving Stone's novel while it was still in galley proofs, producer Sol C. Siegel hoped to star Gregory Peck and Olivia de Havilland in the title roles. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Joyce MacKenzie was originally signed for the part of "Jane." Other Hollywood Reporter news items include Roger Moore and Carolyn Numkena in the cast, although their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Studio publicity announced that Andrew Jackson IV appeared in the film as an extra during the election rally scene, but his appearance in the released picture has also not been confirmed. According to a October 3, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, some sequences were shot on location at the Twentieth Century-Fox ranch near Calabasas, CA.
       The President's Lady received Academy Award nominations for Best Art and Set Direction (b&w) and Best Costume Design (b&w). Charlton Heston reprised his role for a September 28, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, which co-starred Joan Fontaine. Heston again played Jackson in the 1959 Paramount production The Buccaneer, directed by Anthony Quinn.