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Friday, July 22, 2016

Caught on Tape: Theodore Roosevelt

Well, my attempt to do one of these Caught on Tape segments each month has sort of flopped, but I'm going to try to correct that point forward.  I struggled to come up with a historical character to feature so I threw the idea to my husband, not expecting that he would really come up with something.  He first tossed out Atilla the Hun, which I thought might be a little tough (will continue looking into this for later), but his second idea wasn't that bad, Theodore Roosevelt.  As I thought more on it, it became a great idea!  So, you can credit this weeks theme to my husband!  I tried to select films that represented Teddy in the iconic roles of president as well as a Rough Rider.  Let's see how he is portrayed in film. 

The Wind and the Lion (1975)
The Wind and the Lion storyline weaves historic facts into a violent fictional adventure in which an American woman, Eden Perdicaris, and her two children are kidnapped by Berber brigand Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, prompting U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt to send an armed invasion force and rescue mission to Morocco.
The Wind and the Lion is a film that takes on a rather obscure to us today topic, a kidnapping of people I have never heard of, and weaves it into a historical adventure film. Theodore Roosevelt is a president that was known for his bold speeches and actions, which makes this interesting to me even though I don’t know anything about the subject. Roosevelt is portrayed by Brian Keith (another person I don’t know), but the film also stars Sean Connery as the Raisuli and Candice Bergen as Eden Perdicaris (the kidnapped woman). In the clip below, which just shows Roosevelt giving a speech while sitting down, still seems to encapsulate Roosevelt at his core (as well as the dichotomy of nature preservation and being a big game hunter).

Rough Riders (1997)
In 1898 the US government decided to intervene on the side of the Cuban rebels in their struggle against Spanish rule. Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt decides to experience the war first hand by promoting and joining a volunteer cavalry regiment. The regiment, later known as the Rough Riders, brings together volunteers from all corners of the nation and all walks of life. When Roosevelt and his men finally land on Cuba, they face ambush, intense enemy fire, and a desperate, outnumbered charge up a defended hill.
One of the things (among many) that Theodore Roosevelt is known for is his participation in the Spanish-American War and leading a group known as the Rough Riders. This made-for-TV miniseries focuses on that group and Roosevelts actions in it. The signature scene is the charge up San Juan Hill. That is the scene that is included below and it not only shows the way that battle was portrayed but, also shows Tom Berenger giving an impassioned speech to his men. I bought into the action sequences, I don’t know if I buy in to Berenger as Roosevelt – he wasn’t convincing to me. It received a handful of mixed reviews and is cited for many historical inaccuracies and anachronisms.

Night at the Museum/Battle of the Smithsonian/Secret of the Tomb (2006/2009/2014)
This trio of films revolves around how museum exhibits come to life after hours and the night watchman who experiences the craziness that ensues.
Unlike the majority of the films presented here, this is a comedy and revolves around a silly premise that is just good, lighthearted fun. It’s a film that has big name comedy actors: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. It also features Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt. This role holds a soft spot for many because of the recent loss of Williams and many of the clips I find related to this film are montage or memorial clips to Robin Williams. I haven’t seen much of this film to comment on it, but my husband has and said that being as it’s a comedy, Roosevelt plays as a little over-the-top and caricaturist of his personality as a rough rider. But it’s Robin Williams, so we love it!

This is My Affair (1937)
Navy Lt. Richard Perry becomes an undercover man out to discover the leaders of a group of well-connected men who pull off bank robberies during the McKinley administration (early 20th century).
This seems like one of those crazy films from the 1930s that I could get into! There are bank robberies, action, conspiracies, and more. Roosevelt is just a small role in the film, I think he doesn’t make an appearance until the last 10 minutes of it, and he could have really been any president. He doesn’t stand out as decidedly Theodore Roosevelt. The entire film is on Youtube, but if you want to see Roosevelt, go to the 1:32:00 mark and start there. I want to check this film out, but not for the president.

 So, have you seen any of these films or others featuring the character of Theodore Roosevelt?  I would love to hear what you think.

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