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The Phantom President

A political satire holding a full share of laughs, it's about the first of its type for the screen, certainly as to the musical comedy vein. A lot of smart stuff packed into this footage including a gem of an opening sequence which is done in meter and kids the country's general condition.

Cast:
George M. Cohan Claudette Colbert Jimmy Durante George Barbier Sidney Toler Louise MacKintosh

A political satire holding a full share of laughs, it’s about the first of its type for the screen, certainly as to the musical comedy vein. A lot of smart stuff packed into this footage including a gem of an opening sequence which is done in meter and kids the country’s general condition.

For George M. Cohan it suffices to say that this is his first picture and maybe his last. For pictures such as these, light and frothy, he brings nothing to the screen which it has not already at hand.

With Claudette Colbert wasted in an inconsequential role, it leaves everything up to Jimmy Durante. They evidently just let Durante alone and allowed him to play his scenes about as he pleased.

The story [from a novel by G. F. Worts] has Cohan playing a dual role. As T. K. Blair he’s the colorless banker whom his party would make president but fears it can’t because of his lack of personality. In playing Peter Varney, the medicine show man, Cohan is unquestionably happier with circumstances bringing about his substituting for Blair during the pre-election campaign. Mixed into this is the girl (Colbert) who senses something different when in the presence of Varney, but who can’t figure it out. With Blair planning to rid himself of Varney, Colbert intervenes and it’s the banker who’s whisked from the scene on election day and Varney coasts to the White House.

Meanwhile there’s Durante as Varney’s helper who finally gains entrance to the convention hall and by the simple expedient of adapting his medicine show technique to the occasion stampedes his pal into the nomination. It’s the high action mark of the film, done in rhythm and lyrics [by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart] with the assembled delegates acting as the chorus.

The Phantom President

Production: Paramount. Director Norman Taurog; Screenplay Walter DeLeon, Harlan Thompson; Camera David Abel

Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 78 MIN.

With: George M. Cohan Claudette Colbert Jimmy Durante George Barbier Sidney Toler Louise MacKintosh

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